Kimberlin v. Internet: Not a Partisan Issue

Ken at Popehat, writing about attacks on critics of Speedway Bomber Brett Kimberlin:

This is about everybody’s rights, not just the rights and interests of “conservatives” or any other political group. We need to transcend partisanship over this — conservatives need to transcend it because making this partisan will marginalize the situation, and liberals and others need to transcend it because this could happen to them.

I disagree with Ken. Conservatives don’t need to transcend partisanship to avoid marginalizing the situation. If they really see this as a conservatives-vs.-progressives issue rather than a censorious-thugs-vs.-free-expression issue should continue expressing that view. It says a great deal about them.

When Kimberlin’s goons try to shut down bloggers for expressing opinions, it’s no different than Joseph Rakofsky trying to do the same. There’s nothing partisan about it. Whether I agree with a blogger or not, I don’t want to see him shut down by supporters of Kimberlin. Oftimes the enemy of my enemy is my enemy as well. 

When a conservative casts the Kimberlin affair as us-conservatives-vs.-them-liberals, it doesn’t change my view, but it tells me certain things about him. It tells me that he doesn’t see the big picture. It tells me that he has a fixed “us vs. them” mentality. Most importantly, it tells me that, were the tables turned, he wouldn’t be on my side. And that’s information I want to have.

While conservatives whinge and bluster and say that someone should do something, it’s “left-leaning” blogger Ken at Popehat who is actually organizing action in meatspace, which is where Kimberlin’s thugs are doing their harm. When the bad guys are getting your house raided and having you tossed in jail, a “blog burst” is an effete response. Since retaliation in kind is not an option, you need to get law enforcement working on it; failing that you need to lawyer up, get investigators hired, and get subpoenas issued.

Nobody should be surprised that bloggers who seem left-leaning speak out against attacks on free speech. A wise conservative, realizing that he won’t always be in the in-group that decides who gets to speak freely, will support free speech for all, but free expression is by definition a progressive value: it makes progress possible. People like Ken (and Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, also tagged “left-leaning” by Michelle Malkin) love freedom and are willing to fight for the freedom even of people whom they find loathsome.

Conservative bloggers have to project Ken’s and Greenfield’s principled non-partisan actions onto their own coordinate systems—coordinate systems that include a left-right dimension but not necessarily a dimension for “civil liberties as non-partisan good.” It’s this mapping, I think, that makes Ken and Scott seem left-leaning to the conservatives.

17 responses to “Kimberlin v. Internet: Not a Partisan Issue”

    • So: because Kimberlin would use government thugs to raid my house, I can use government thugs to raid his house? That’s fucked-up.

      The founders believed they had law on their side.

      • No. My comments were about resisting the government which, choosing sides — particularly when it requires them to ignore the Constitution — does not deserve anything but armed resistance.

        And I keep hearing that this is unreasonable because dommed to failure.

        Just as was said to the founders of the United States when they forcibly resisted an overreaching government.

        Kimberlin is worth fighting. But the bigger threat is a government capable of being used by individuals like Kimberlin to attack their enemies.

        Kimberlin raided no homes. Any homes raided were raided by government agents, who should have been shot when it happened.

        I responded to your comment that, having our homes raided, we should not “respond in kind.”

        If every American responded to raids by shooting raiders, the raaids would stop. As long as we refuse to use force to try to repel raiders, they will continue to raid.

        • My post was clearly not about whether to resist the government. So either your reading comprehension sucks—as in “please don’t let this guy near a client” sucks—or you’re deliberately threadjacking this post.

          Either way, you’re done.

  1. As someone who grew up a couple of hours from Indianapolis, I should remember hearing about thugs like Kimberlin. But my hometown had it’s own thug (Anthony Martin-Trigona, now known as Andy Martin) . . ..

    First things – as somewhat of a left leaner myself (and in Montgomery County, Texas. No mean feat there), I would never characterize Ken at Popehat or Greenfield as left leaning OR right leaning (leaning against a bar, maybe). That, in itself, says volumes about those who make those claims.

    There are many areas where I differ from you, Ken and Greenfield, but I am in 100% agreement with you on this. Kimberlin is a censorious thug, plain and simple. And all defenders of free speech should be speaking out against unconstitutional limitations on free speech in the Worthing/Walker case.

  2. “Since retaliation in kind is not an option, you need to get law enforcement working on it; failing that you need to lawyer up, get investigators hired, and get subpoenas issued.”

    The folks who’ve been directly attacked have been trying to do just that. But Patterico can’t comment on that aspect, b/c he’s a prosecutor in that very office. Heck, Aaron Walker got involved, b/c he was a lawyer helping a blogger named Seth Allen with Kimberlin’s suit against him.

    There’s a donation site, since dealing with all this legal stuff is so expensive. Feel free to donate:

    Now, the guy who ginned up that donation site is being harassed:

    Those of us on the sidelines have done what we can: pass the information onto our individually small readerships because bigger media isn’t much interested yet. (Doesn’t fit their narrative like they thought Zimmerman did). So stuff your “that’s so effete” opinion in a sock, Mister.

    You appear to believe that, because I bear the label “conservative,” well that means I don’t apprehend the notion that civil liberties are a non-partisan good.

    You are wrong to make such sweeping generalizations. Must be some “mapping” of your own.

    PS I found your post via the WORM

    • Linda, my beef isn’t with conservatives qua conservatives, but with self-styled conservatives who see this as a conservative-vs.-liberal issue. I don’t trust that they’d have my back if it weren’t their political ox being gored.

      I guess I should have made that clear in my post.

      Oh, wait, I did.

      If liberals who saw this as a liberal-vs.-conservative wrote in support of Kimberlin’s goons, I would write the same about them.

  3. “While conservatives whinge and bluster and say that someone should do something,”

    “Conservative bloggers have to project Ken’s and Greenfield’s principled non-partisan actions onto their own coordinate systems”

    The above quotes are generalizations, ie, conservatives qua conservatives. Especially considering that by linking to the WORM, you cast those asperions his way, which is a mischaracterization whether you realize it or not.

    “When a conservative casts the Kimberlin affair as us-conservatives-vs.-them-liberals”

    In this quote you did limit your judgment by saying “if they cast it this way.”

    But by wording it both with and without the limitation . . . . You were not clear in your post. Mostly, you were just mildly insulting, and gave the impression that Popehat is the only person really trying to do something about this ongoing problem.

    God bless Popehat for viewing the problem clearly, and doing something about it. What I want you to realize, however, is that plenty on the right are, too. Like Donald Douglas, for example:

    I agree that this harassment is a nonpartisan issue on it’s face. But many of the left’s initial responses (like Markos: turned this into a right v. left issue, by discounting the problem b/c it happened to the right.

    And liberals can’t “write in support of Kimberlin’s goons” with a straight face. It’s unsupportable behavior. What they can do, however, is subtly use the situation to talk down to conservatives and minimize their credibility. I’m glad many on the left, like Popehat, did not choose to do that.

    Volokh is getting involved now, and bigger media starting to report on this. Sunlight does disinfect–maybe even sunlight that began with effete blogging!


    • What can I say? You see what you want to see. Lots of people want to think they’re the underdog, under attack (I blame the victimocracy); most of them aren’t.

      The WORM, whoever he is, may not have been the best example of right-wing whingeing. I’ll give you that.

      Good catch from Markos—I wish I’d seen it timely—but “one” is not “many”; what else have you got? The us-vs.-them narrative continues by the hour on the right.

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