Freedom of speech, abuse of the legal system, and why the first is good and the second is bad.

“This isn’t about Left and Right, it’s about liberty versus tyranny.”

– Mark Tapscott, “How to Kill the First Amendment”, The Washington Examiner, May 24 2012 (site last accessed May 25 2012)

More from the article:

Kimberlin harasses his targets by, among many other ways, filing false charges in courts that require expensive, time-consuming litigation, disrupting his targets’ workplaces, and dropping dark hints about spouses and kids.

Here’s how Patterico describes Kimberlin’s tactics against Worthing in seeking a “peace order”: “It is beyond the scope of this post to detail every way in which Kimberlin’s peace order is misleading and deceptive. Kimberlin complains that Aaron spoke of purchasing a gun, implying that Aaron’s statement was aggressive — when Aaron actually said he had bought a gun to defend himself.

“Kimberlin claims that Aaron is responsible for ‘alerts’ coming to his email inbox, suggesting Aaron is emailing him, when in fact the ‘alerts’ Kimberlin is talking about are Google alerts. If you write about this guy on the Internet, he may run to a judge and say you are causing abusive alerts to come to his email.

“You might say: What’s the harm in getting a peace order? I have watched this play out in other venues and I know just what Kimberlin is up to. As soon as he gets a ‘peace order,’ he will run back to court the very next time Aaron mentions his name in public.

“That means that Kimberlin asserts the right to abuse the court process to harass Aaron — and if Aaron tells the world how Kimberlin is abusing the court process, Kimberlin will claim that as a violation of the peace order and try to have Aaron held in contempt of court.”

Unless these tactics are vigorously repudiated by the First Amendment’s friends across the ideological spectrum, our Constitution will become little more than a parchment barrier to oppression.

Who is Brett Kimberlin? Some background:

During the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign, there were accusations that Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle has smoked marijuana. The accusation came from Brett Kimberlin, who claimed to have been Quayle’s marijuana dealer, and were reported in the New Yorker by Mark Singer.

Mark Singer agreed to do a book with Brett Kimberlin, but during the course of researching the book, Singer found more & more discrepancies in Kimberlin’s accounts. Singer eventually wrote all of this up in the book Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin, published in late 1996.

No, I have not read the book, that information was gathered from the book’s description and editorial reviews on Amazon.com.

The editorial reviews include such comments as:

  • “Through dogged reporting and with a healthy skepticism, Singer sorts through the conflicting accounts and reveals a man whose idea of the truth is utterly malleable. Kimberlin, it becomes clear, never encountered a situation that he couldn’t somehow exploit for gain.” – Kirkus Reviews, as quoted on Amazon.com.

To go even further back in time, Brett Kimberlin was convicted in 1981 of the Speedway bombings. Those were a series of bombs that went off in Speedway, Indiana in 1978. Indystar.com published a couple of articles in October 2010 about the bombings, the case against Brett Kimberlin, and the trials where he was convicted.

Those articles are:

One of the victims of the Speedway Bombings was a man named Carl DeLong. DeLong’s injuries were severe and so painful, he committed suicide in 1983. His widow Sandra filed — and won — a civil suit in 1983. The judgment against Kimberlin was $1.6 million dollars.

Kimberlin’s sentence for the Speedway Bombings was 50 years. He served only 13 years before being released on parole in 1994.

Kimberlin did not pay the judgment against him from Sandra DeLong, so his parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison from 1997 until 2001.

According to the Time magazine article “The Wizard of Odd” by Massimo Calabresi, published January 5 2007, Kimberlin first got involved in political activism after the 2000 U.S. Presidential election. After the 2004 election, Kimberlin posted a $100,000 reward on the website justicethroughmusic.org. The reward was for evidence that the 2004 election had been stolen. Kimberlin and a man named Brad Friedman co-founded the site velvetrevolution.us, which was also for political activism (the article’s exact words are “netroots voting-reform”).

[On a side note, I would highly recommend that Time magazine article for information on ways electronic voting machines can malfunction or be tampered with. This is a topic that has been covered many times in various tech & computer security forums and is well worth reading about on its own merits.]

The article does mention a couple of times that Kimberlin’s credibility is not always the strongest (for example, “While Kimberlin and others were mixing fact and fiction in the blogosphere”), although it doesn’t go into any great detail as to why his credibility is not great.

A personal note: I am not against someone being politically active. And convicted felons are allowed to speak up and use the First Amendment just as the rest of us are.

But, I do have a problem with people who abuse the court system. I also have a problem with people who get someone, and someone’s spouse, fired from their regular jobs because someone posted a truthful blog post about certain people’s criminal past. And there are allegations that is what Brett Kimberlin is doing.

So, because of his harrassment of the bloggers at Patterico and Allergic2Bull, among others, Lee Stranahan declared May 25th as “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day”.

There are a lot of links I’m not including — go check out the articles above & you’ll find lots of links about Kimberlin. Some of the links go off on tangents about some of his associates, or deal with things that are speculation. For instance, Patterico’s piece includes discussion of a fake SWAT team call to his house — a call which gave the police department the impression Patterico had just shot his wife & children and was a threat to society. Had he not answered the door in a very calm & peaceful manner, Patterico could be dead right now. And there are some statements made by some of Kimberlin’s associates which have some suspicious timing in regards to the actual fake call to SWAT. While there’s no proof that Kimberlin or his associates were responsible for the fake call, it is incumbent upon them (and all of us) to denounce such tactics. Trying to get someone killed by the police with a fake 911 call is not how you win arguments.

[Again on a side note, Patterico’s post is very much recommended reading, as it discusses ways in which online harrassment & stalking are done, including public disclosure of home addresses, calls to employers, whispering campaigns, setting up fake social media accounts in the name of the person being harrassed, etc. There is also a lot of interesting information in the comments section.]

Because Kimberlin is associated with a lot of left/liberal/Democratic/progressive causes, and many (but not all) of his targets are associated with right/Republican/conservative causes, there are people on both sides who are portraying this as a left vs. right issue. It’s not. It’s a freedom of speech issue. If anyone who exercises their First Amendment rights is harrassed and sued into silence, then there really isn’t freedom of speech.

And yes, I realize I am about 15 minutes late on actually getting this posted on May 25th.

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