Monday, June 11, 2012

Senators and Representatives, Can We Talk?

You see, for the last few weeks you've been receiving letters from your constituents talking about the SWATing tactics of certain elements on the Left who are trying to stifle the free speech of those who have taken to expose the past misdeeds, especially in light of his current activities, of Brett Kimberlin.

You, as Senators and Representatives, may know him best as the man who claimed to be Dan Quayle's drug dealer.  Claims which were never substantiated at all.  Claims made by a known perjurer.  Some few of you, mostly from Indiana, and specifically the areas around Indianapolis, may remember him as the Speedway Bomber.

You see, this man, and his associates and supporters, has taken to attempting to silence anyone who would so expose him.  He, personally, has used "lawfare" tactics with almost admirable finesse, if his goals weren't so ignoble.  He has even attempted to frame one of his opponents for a serious crime.  His associates have aided and abetted in these endeavors.  One or more of his supporters have begun using the tactic called "SWATing."

In response to this, Bloggers across the nation, both left and right, decided to stand up to Brett Kimberlin.  First, we undertook "Everyone Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day," suggested by Lee Stranahan in support of Aaron Walker (AKA Aaron Worthing), and Seth Allen (the first target of Mr. Kimberlin's lawfare tactics).

Along with this blogging, many of us, and our commenters and readers, sent emails and letters to your offices petitioning for redress of grievances.  Specifically, we requested steps be taken to stop Mr. Kimberlin specifically, and lawfare more generally.

As a direct result of that correspondence, most of us heard only crickets in response.  Some received form letters which did not even address the subjects of our letters.  Some of the more prominent members of our loose brotherhood received threats and intimidation.  What none of us received was a single word in support.  The closest anyone came was Mr. Hatch, who, himself, had run afoul of Mr. Kimberlin previously, but even he would not take such a small step as reading a list of the man's tried and proven crimes into the Congressional Record.

Time went on.  The media and, more importantly, your offices continued to ignore us.  So we tried again.  The next time, we tried a Blogger Day of Silence.  Across the nation, bloggers both right and left stood silent instead of talking about the issues of the day, or defending our candidates, or anything of the sort.  Again, we, and our commenters and readers, wrote letters asking for specific redress of grievance.  Again, we heard only crickets, or received responses that were, at best, tangentially related to our correspondence.  One such response will also be included.

Senators and Representatives, this must end.  The days when people will even sort of believe that a form letter is a true response, or even means you saw a letter from us, are gone.  We share information.  We know what you've said to one of us.  If you are unaware of a situation, please just admit it.  I would much rather receive a letter which says, "I was unaware of this issue and am ill informed about it.  I will undertake to research it and give it the attention it is due" than I would some full page drivel which does not actually address what I wrote.  Your staff monitors twitter (Representative Barton, I'm looking at you), yet you seldom, if ever, engage with constituents in that forum.

I understand that you cannot be informed about every issue.  I understand that every specific letter that comes to your office might not get to you.  But please understand that when we receive form letters which do not even come close to addressing what we talked about, let alone showing any compassion on the issue, we believe that you not only don't know, but that you don't care.

You are some of the most powerful men and women in the world.  Concerted, your power dwarfs that of any Executive from any nation in the world.  Even alone you wield considerable power.  With that power comes expectations- and one of those expectations is that you will listen to your constituents, and address their grievances.

Please, Senators and Representatives, be the Voices of the People we elected you to be.

1 comment:

  1. So here's pretty much the deal as I see it: (I wrote the letter to McCaskill that Dedicated Tenther used the response to.) Frankly, that letter reads like the response you’d get from a celebrity fan club. And while Senators and Congressmen may be famous, they are not celebrities, and their responses should not be drafted as such. Frankly that response was pitiful, for more than a few reasons.
    A bit of background about the letter itself will explain why. I will admit that the letter wasn’t the best thing I’ve written. It was coherent, if not a bit rambling, but I was pressed for time. It has a few typos I’m just now seeing and it’s flow is a bit off.
    I made some choices in the letter to focus on the Lawfare and SLAPP issues predominantly because I didn’t expect McCaskill to react very strongly to the SWAT-ing issue for a variety of reasons, including the partisan nature of the allegations. It was a purely strategic move. However, I compensated by providing at least one other well documented case of Lawfare that has jack to do with politics (specifically the case that Ken at Popehat discussed in length in various posts: In a later letter to my Congressman, I added a second case. My point was to make it clear that SLAPPs are a problem, and not just a political problem. Specifically I ended the letter:
    “One of the most important goals of the federal government should be to protect speech from both sides of the aisle, and as the Kimberlin and Burzynski cases show we’re doing a particularly bad job of doing it.”
    I believe that, and I only highlighted two cases, there are many more. Ken at Popehat sometimes puts up what he calls the “Popehat” symbol, a cry for pro bono help reserved specifically for bloggers threatened by frivolous lawsuits. Just yesterday, well known website “The Oatmeal” found itself the victim of an attempted shakedown for $20,000 ( This isn’t just a “problem” it’s an epidemic. And I didn’t ask Claire (whom I can now no longer consider my representative in government, since she’s shirking her duties) to keep free speech in mind when laws come up. I asked her to go make a statute to fix this problem.
    While it may seem odd on a blog dedicated to the 10th Amendment to ask for a federal statute, I don’t think this is paradoxical. As I wrote to my congressman, “Our constitution protects our right to free expression from government interference. A corollary to this is that no private individual should be able to use the machinations of government (i.e. the legal system) to squelch free expression. However, as the above examples show, this is exactly what is happening.” Simply put, this is a federal issue. I don’t have to play fast and loose with the commerce clause, I can do it simply with Amendment One.
    Kimberlin’s lawfare is an incredibly dangerous threat. He may be the most violent (based on his history). And it’s certainly true he’s the closest one to us now, but a simple Google Search (or a perusing of Popehat) shows us that there are hundreds if not THOUSANDS of people waiting in the wings to do exactly what he’s doing to Aaron Walker to anyone who dares have a different opinion on anything from medicine to politics to arts and crafts. Oh did I not mention that one? Yeah, people resort to lawfare over ETSY! ( Also by the way a case in which Ken at Popehat Anti-SLAPP’ed down the jackass. But also proof this this is a HUGE issue, and our Representatives are just ignoring it.