This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The Troll Wars 7.77: Across the Great Divide
Monday June 11, 2012 8:15 am
[It's unfortunate Firedoglake.com censored an eccentric, contrarian blogger going by the pseudonym donkeytale. It's ironic, riotous, or wtf they would do so on a topic one of their top bloggers had mangled in a recent entry, one donkeytale links to below. Not to mention that one of the primary issues at hand is freedom of speech. Oops, guess I just mentioned that.
Donkeytale had two updates, but I have only been able to partially retrieve those:
UPDATE House Republicans Demand Swatting Investigation:
"On Monday, 85 House Republicans, including Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), [...]"
UPDATE II: Brett Kimberlin’s website now claims that he too was swatted on May 31, 2012 and offers $10,000 reward for information leading to the indictment of the swatter(s) of Stack, Patterico, Erickson and himself.
I also see donkeytale made a response to someone's comment, but this is all I got: I think your assessment is right on target in many ways. This is why it IS a war and it IS partisan. Shots are being fired from both sides and battles are escalating unpredictably. I also believe the motivations go deeper as well for both sides. There is fame and fortune (relatively speaking) for the participants [...]
Anyway, I just fished this out of Google cache. Enjoy! ~~ DFQ2 editor Not Brad Friedman of BRADBLOG.COM]
In the US criminal justice system you must bring your charge of wrongdoing by individuals to the authorities and then they decide whether to investigate/prosecute the case.
I think I’m fairly knowledgeable about most of the activities involved in this case. I believe that justice will be served. And if it is not, I will write about it to the best of my ability. This case is very important on several levels, both legal and ethical.
Part of the problem comes from the inevitable politicising of this case along partisan lines. It cannot be helped. The story was born out of a politically charged partisan battle between the Breitbart Media Empire and the attempts by leftwing social media players, including Kimberlin, to fight back in a mostly online battle begun after Breitbart release inflammatory hoax videos of Shirley Sherrod and ACORN which went viral into the MSM, and also related to Breitbart’s activities promoting Weinergate.
If you read virtually any comment thread on the right you see the connection is being made over and over again between Kimberlin, his funders (Soros, always useful for rightwing conspiracy theorists, among them) and the left. Essentially, the meme is that the court tactics BK implemented are how the left pushes its political agenda, meaning we routinely abuse the system for our advantage, using money from shadowy left wing financiers and Hollywood in order to do so.
Some of the connections are implied but many commenters are very explicit. And such comments occur even in the blogs of people who are reporting the story with a fair amount of objectivity. The crowdsourcer cannot control the crowd reaction.
I’m reading blogs and comment threads on both sides, including the very recent juvenile comedy /stylings of TBOGG right here at FDL, and can say with certainty that the lowest form of commentary about this case comes from those who wish to use it merely to score political points on either side of the partisan divide.
It’s become drearily partisan, in fact, although many thoughtful people of right and left, including this reporter, wish it weren’t. The real issues for bloggers involve first amendment rights and for me anyway, the uses of crowdsourcing to press for investigations and criminal charges against individuals who stand accused of committing no crime.
I believe blogging can be all about vengeance (and here I’m not implying either innocence or guilt to any participants in the Troll Wars, talking strictly the principle), perhaps even rising to the level of conspiracy if taken up by any orchestrated group. I hope that among any legal decisions, one is rendered on the use of this technique, which may be applied against anyone at any time a large group of like-minded bloggers working in concert decide to focus their speech on one person or group, for whatever reason.
I believe crowdsourcing in general to be a constitutionally protected form of speech. I believe it has the potential to shake the foundations of political and business power structures that seem ever more remote and unreachable from our systems of justice and regulation. However, I’m very concerned when individuals are targeted, and yes, even those, especially those, with criminal pasts and questionable present day activities, such as BK. The constitution was designed at its most fundamental base to protect exactly this type of individual from the wrath of the vengeful crowd. Whether the system can withstand the rising influence of social media and remain relevant is the most intriguingng question of the Kimberlin Kerfluffle for me. Its not at all about the individual actions and reactions of the actors involved in the game.
Can our court system sort this out in good faith under the constitution?
The flow of crowdsourced speech tends to run like a river at flood tide, especially if the flow goes viral as in this case. Flood speech can easily jump the banks into areas of defamation and libel, and it can cause escalating hostilities and recriminations, types of payback not anticipated by the initiators of the crowdsourcing. We are seeing this now played out in the Troll Wars.
I believe that Judge Vaughey attempted in his way to address those concerns in his ruling. The word is that there will be an appeal and famed 1st amendment lawyers are working on behalf of Walker. I say this is a good thing. The system is working as designed. Walker will have his day in court.
I see that in his most recent post about Erick Erickson, Patterico has refrained from naming the individual he suspects of swatting him, which seems to be a tacit acknowledgment that he had previously gone too far. Now, he notes only that the Erickson SWAT caller sounds like the same caller on his and Stack’s recorded SWAT calls.
The problem I have with Patterico naming the person or persons he suspects of swatting him came after, as he admitted, the police were alerted but decided against investigating the person he suspects. And. while he shaded his comments carefully with qualifiers when stating his suspicions, his story and the audiotape broke nationally in the blogs and mainstream media, with prominent mention made by name of the person he suspects, but whom the police have declined to investigate.
Likely, there were several related reasons for Patterico’s incendiary May 25 post.
Certainly, it is very reasonable to guess that among his potential motivations are revenge against the individuals he blames for his swatting, political partisanship and a very excellent self promotional sense of timing for maximum self-publicity in conjunction with Everybody Blog About BK Day. He had to know that there was a very good chance this story would be picked up in the MSM.
In fact, both Patterico and Aaron Walker had already arranged to be interviewed by Glenn Beck, where they discussed the swattings and Aaron Walker’s arrest in detail, while providing the audiotape to ensure its going viral at least to the vast right wing side of the blogosphere.
The Band - Across The Great Divide (LIVE!) 1976