Free speech is under fire. Online thugs are targeting bloggers (mostly conservative, but not exclusively) who have dared to expose a convicted bomber, a man who is now a perjuring vexatious litigant enjoying a comfy life as a liberally subsidized social-justice operative. Where do your elected representatives stand on this threat to our founding principles?
On Wednesday, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) bravely stepped forward to press this vital issue. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Chambliss decried the “harassing and frightening actions” of Internet menaces who recently have gone after several citizen journalists and activists of the conservative new media.
Representative Kenny Marchant (R., Texas) added his voice, telling Holder in a statement that he is “very afraid of the potential chilling effects that these reported actions may have in silencing individuals who would otherwise be inclined to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech.” And the American Center for Law and Justice, a leading conservative free-speech public-interest law firm, announced it was providing legal representation to the National Bloggers Club — a new-media association that has provided support and raised funds for targets of this coordinated harassment. (Full disclosure: I volunteer on the National Bloggers Club board of directors.)
The ACLJ described the importance of the case very simply: “Free speech is under attack.”
Chambliss and Marchant called specific attention to one terrifying tactic against these bloggers: SWAT-ting. These hoaxes occur “when a perpetrator contacts local police to report a violent incident at a target’s home.” Callers disguise their true identities and locations in order to provoke SWAT and police forces into descending on targets’ homes in a high-firepower response that is potentially deadly.
Online conservatives — and now ABC News — have reported three recent SWAT-ting victims: New Jersey–based Mike Stack, a blogger and Twitter user targeted last summer after he helped expose the shady social-media activities of then–N.Y. Democratic representative Anthony Weiner; California blogger Patrick Frey, a deputy district attorney at Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who recently posted on his blog (Patterico.com) a bone-chilling account and audio of his summer 2011 SWAT-ting; and CNN contributor and RedState.com managing editor Erick Erickson, whose Georgia home was targeted by a faker who claimed an “accidental shooting” there late last month.
A common thread among these and other online targets: They all have published Web links, commentary, or investigative pieces related to Brett Kimberlin, the infamous “Speedway Bomber.”