Who is Brett Kimberlin, and why should you care?
Well, last Friday, several rightwing blogs tried to get people to care about who Brett Kimberlin is, with a lot of scare stories. I won't try to summarize it all here. You can google and come back. But before you do, be forewarned: you will read a LOT of speculation, a LOT of spin, a LOT of innuendo. You will read very few verifiable facts.
Which leads me to the obvious question… if Brett Kimberlin is such a bad guy and such a serious threat, then why must the rightosphere rely so heavily on speculation and innuendo?
Now, to be sure, Brett Kimberlin has a past. 32 years ago, as a teenager, he set off a bomb at the Indianapolis Speedway. Nobody was killed. Brett served time.
But now it's today. And I can't say with any certainty whether or not he is living a stellar life since then. All I know is…. neither can anybody else.
He apparently is involved with this organization, one of thousands of small "lefty" organizations trying to make the world a better place. Nothing illegal or untoward about it.
And that's the problem. There's very little BAD to say about Kimberlin, except for the hype. Let's look at the bill of particulars as summarized by PJ Media, this morning:
Brett Kimberlin is the convicted “Speedway Bomber” who terrorized Indiana in 1978. One of those injured by Kimberlin’s bombs later committed suicide.
He served 17 years of a 50 year sentence, passing the time becoming a jailhouse lawyer.
Upon release, Kimberlin started the non-profit Justice Through Music. It’s been funded by George Soros’ Tides Foundation since 2005.
Kimberlin’s other organization, Velvet Revolution, supports the Occupy movement.
He has filed over 100 lawsuits against individuals, left and right, who’ve written about him, or simply annoyed him; he “once sued a pornographer for selling him pornography that was not provocative enough.”
He attempts to get opponents fired and has, in one instance, succeeded.
Kimberlin or an associate allegedly filed a hoax police report that sent the SWAT team to the home of Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Frey (a.k.a. blogger “Patterico”).
Literally while I was typing this list, Erick Erickson of RedState was also being SWAT-ed — the victim of another spoofed “911″ call.
Most recently, his threats forced reporter R.S. McCain to relocate his family.
Let's unpack that. The first two bullet points are true, but are related to past wrongs. The second two bullet points have nothing to do with any kind of illegality, but are merely Kimberlin's politics (interesting that those even make the list — partisan much??). The fifth bullet point is simply wrong — he didn't attempt to get Worthing fired; it happened as a result of Worthing deciding to mix it up with Kimberlin. Worthing "blames" Kimberlin, but that's because Worthing simply lacks the honesty to blame himself for the consequences of his own actions (more on that below).
The latter three bullet points finally deal with actual wrongdoing by Kimberlin in the present tense, but it's all speculation that Kimberlin is behind the wrongdoing (and there is some speculation as to whether the last thing actually happened at all.)
And that's the kind of expose we got on Friday regarding Kimberlin. A lot of… "well, he's bad, but the only thing we can nail him on concretely is how bad he was thirty-two years ago"
Still, the rightwing blogosphere has a hard-on for getting Kimberlin. He has been accused of using the court system to "harass bloggers". Of course, what gets lost in the accusations, is that those bloggers actually are harassing him, and Kimberlin has been using the court system to try to get them to stop. There is certainly nothing illegal about using the court system to get greivances addressed. And while the First Amendment is (and should be) an obstacle to Kimberlin, Kimberlin actually has had some success in getting peace orders against his harassers. So obviously, there are impartial judges who seem to side with Kimberlin. Hard to call it "vexatious litigation" when you win.
As noted above, most of the harshest attacks on Kimberlin on "Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day" had nothing to do with Kimberlin at all. Some in the rightosphere claimed to be victims of "swatting" — a terrible tactic whereby the police receive a 911 call from someone who claims "I shot my wife" and gives an address. The police send an armed team out to the address, and then, who knows what? Of course, the original call is a hoax, and the hope is that the "victim" will end up getting killed by overzealous police.
And it seems that somebody is doing that the rightwing bloggers. That's condemnable, no doubt about it.
Unfortunately, none of victims of "swatting" accuse Kimberlin of actually doing it, but assert that it is someone else — a Kimberlin "associate". How do we know it is a "Kimberlin associate"? We don't. The blogs are guessing.
So again — what's the current beef against Kimberlin exactly that isn't speculation?
The only blog that tries to nail Kimberlin with actual wrongdoing is "Allergic to Bull" by Aaron Worthing (nee Aaron Walker), with whom I have had many an online skuffle with.
Obfuscating what happened behind a mind-numbing 22,000 word post (which he shamelessly promotes so heavily that it is hard not to see what Aaron's motives are), Aaron provides actual video of a courthouse altercation in which Aaron acts as the aggressor against Kimberlin. You can see it here in the video — from 0:58 to about 1:10, there are (among others) two men in suits, and with each frame, one of them is moving toward the other; the other one is backing up; until at 1:10 when an iPad is grabbed from the retreating man-in-suit.
The aggressive lawyer who grabs the iPad is Aaron Walker. The retreating guy is Brett Kimberlin. Basically, what you have here is video evidence that Walker assaulted Kimberlin (the grabbing of the iPad is, technically, an assault).
It's why there were criminal charges against Walker, which lead to his being fired from his job. For which… wait for it… he blames Kimberlin. He assualts Kimberlin, his job finds out, fires him for getting mixed up with Kimberlin….. and he blames Kimberlin. [I remember the days when conservatives were all about personal responsibility. Good times, huh?]
But that is the kind of thing you would have learned had you really paid attention to "Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin" Day in the rightwing blogosphere. It was basically an attempt to "get" Kimberlin. A lynching, if you will. They CLAIM it is a pushback against Kimberlin's "intimidation", but when you look for evidence of that intimidation, it's pretty scant. And even then, it's usually Kimberlin reacting to some blogger who, in effect, started it.
And of course, Glenn Beck got into on the game on Friday, so that tells you the kind of legitimacy the whole endeavor had. But none of the mainstream media, including Fox News, would touch it. That speaks volumes. They didn't touch it because it LOOKED like an internet lynching.
And that's why Kimberlin "won the day". He just let the rightosphere show its collective, mean, vindictive, bullying ass (like it did in the above video). Once he has done that, all he has to do is walk the high ground.
Now, I don't know Kimberlin. I'm not on his side. I do admit it is hard to look past what he did 32 years ago.
And maybe he is just as bad as the rightosphere says he is. But here's the thing: if the right-wing is seriously interested in removing a bad man from society, then it had better come up with something more concrete than innuendo, guilt-by-loose-association, and scare tactics. Because Kimberlin's stance is: "Hey, I'm just a guy trying to get on with my life, and these rightwing blogs are constantly going after me". That's what Kimberlin is saying — and whether he means it or not is irrelevant; by behaving in a manner that is exactly what Kimberlin says, the rightwing blogosphere is handing Kimberlin a victory.
It's hard to look at what is happening and not think of the words a judge gave to a blogger (Seth Allen) who was determined to destroy Kimberlin online:
But I will say to you, Mr. Allen, it’s, it might be the legal ruling, but morally, get off this guy’s back. Let him get on with his life. Let him get on with his business. He’s doing productive, positive things. You may not agree with what he’s doing, but he’s contributing to society in a positive way. Let him get away from his past. Thirty-two years is a long time. And even though you say you’re, you know, “propounding the truth,” what for? I mean, you made some points. They’re out there. That information was past. It’s, Mr. Kimberline should be allowed to get on with his life.
Indeed. And if the right doesn't want to look like a lynch mob, it shouldn't act like one. Because historically, lynch mobs are usually on the wrong side of things.
And the truth is…. three days after the event, nothing has changed. One or two rightwing blogs (including Aaron Worthing's) look likely to move to an all-Kimberlin-all-the-time format, meaning of course, that they will just blather on into the void.
UPDATE: As if to prove the point of my post, Aaron Worthing was arrested at his court hearing against Kimberlin. I'm not surprised.
UPDATE #2: This is making the rounds of the Internet. It's unclear why AW was arrested. It may be because of contempt of court, i.e., because he wants to be able to continue to blog about Kimberlin, and the judge is of the position that activity like that is in violation of the Final Peace Order.
It almost doesn't matter, though. My point is that Brett Kimberlin was handed a victory again today.
UPDATE #3: Now it appears that Aaron was arrested because of the assault I mentioned above — where he tried to take the iPad. That is what is being reported here.
UPDATE #4: Aaron is out of jail and we're starting to get a clearer idea of what happened. Apparently, it wasn't the iPad. It was violation of a temporary peace order. Good details and summaries here and here. The judge took the view that Aaron's blogging "incited" others to harass Kimberlin, doing (in effect) what Aaron could not do directly. Setting aside whether or not Aaron did violate the peace order, the court's action yesterday raises a whole host of troubling First Amendment issues. Of course, the right wing illiterate are simply reducing it to "Blogger jailed for blogging", which is so simplistic that it amounts to a lie. That said, Aaron should be victorious on appeal, provided of course that he doesn't let his emotions get the best of him.