Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Brett Kimberlin abuses a very abuse-friendly court system

Jerry Stratton, May 25, 2012

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. — George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman)

I don’t know enough about Shaw to know whether he meant people like Brett Kimberlin or people like Stacy McCain.

Quitting your job at a then-major newspaper in order to blog full time is pretty unreasonable, as I’m sure McCain has heard from Mrs. McCain. But just that alone has made McCain a hero of mine. He’s attempting to adapt the world to himself.

However, serial bombing is also pretty unreasonable and Shaw was a socialist.

It was about ten minutes before 10 p.m. on Sept. 1, 1978 when the first two bombs went off. A third exploded at 10:45. They'd been placed in trash cans and dumpsters and no one had been close enough to be hurt, but the blasts were plenty large enough to do some real damage.

…the next night another bomb went off, and then another.

On the fifth night, a Speedway [Indiana] police cruiser was blown up.

So far there had been no serious injuries—just some cuts from debris, but no one had been very close when the bombs went off. On the sixth night, that changed.

It was at Speedway High School where the freshman football team had just played a game and the players were still getting dressed. Hundreds of parents and students were either waiting in their cars or walking through the parking lot after the game.

A Speedway High School gym bag had been left by itself, as if forgotten by a player. One of the parents, Carl DeLong, 39, walked over to retrieve it when the bomb went off. His right leg was nearly blown off and his left leg and right hand were severely damaged. Doctors tried to save his leg but had to amputate.

On July 29, 1978, Speedway resident Julia Scyphers, 65, answered a knock at her door. A man she didn't know was standing on her stoop asking about items she'd recently tried to sell at a yard sale. She let him into the garage to look at the items and he shot her in the head.

When police began looking for a motive in the Scyphers slaying, they found there’d been a recent family clash. Julia Scyphers’ daughter had become involved with a man who seemed to Mrs. Scyphers to be inordinately close to one of [her daughter’s] young daughters. …this incident led investigators to start looking at Brett C. Kimberlin.

Police suspected Kimberlin of having Mrs. Scyphers killed, but the only witness—Mr. Scyphers—died before they could bring Kimberlin’s accomplice to trial.

Kimberlin was eventually convicted of the Speedway bombings; he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Carl DeLong committed suicide due to the constant pain. Kimberlin was paroled after serving only thirteen years of his sentence.

This is all from an Indianapolis Star retrospective, The Speedway Bombings, October 6 2010.1

Kimberlin is in the news again because he’s using the court system to harass bloggers that have reported on his past. Sometimes he does this to bloggers that just can’t show up in far courts; sometimes he loses, but his tactics aren’t just to win frivolous lawsuits: win or lose he uses them to get the identity and employment information from his targets, and then threatens their employers.

When a convicted bomber threatens you, you take notice, and Aaron Worthing and his wife have both lost their jobs because of it. Stacy McCain has vacated his house after his wife’s employer was contacted.

Kimberlin has a history of abusing the court system against political bloggers. Back in 2010, his progressive-funded Velvet Revolution filed a formal request “with the prosecutors of Maryland state and the city of Baltimore” urging prosecutors to press criminal charges against Andrew Breitbart. After writing an article about this, the author, Liberty Chick, was threatened by Kimberlin as well.

Michelle Malkin has a very good summary.

Our current justice system favors the aggressor, partly because the very act of having to defend yourself is expensive and time-consuming; this is true whether the aggressor is a jail-house lawyer type, as Kimberlin is, or an out-of-control prosecutor, such as Mike Nifong, or a corrupt copyright troll, such as RightHaven.

Our legal system, for all that it’s adversarial, assumes good faith and participants who are part of a local community. It assumes that even if a participant in Maryland accuses a participant in California, that they had some connection. Kimberlin, like RightHaven, abuses that. For our legal system to survive in a more and more connected world there needs to be real consequences to non-good-faith, frivolous court cases, whether criminal or civil. We see this everywhere in the court system, from civil to criminal to family court: whoever is willing to file, whoever is willing to lie, has an advantage. I don’t know how to change it, but it needs to be changed.

May 27, 2012: Wikipedia’s Brett Kimberlin mindwipe

Remember your mother’s advice, if you can’t find anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all? That’s very bad advice for an encyclopedia, but in some cases Wikipedia does follow it.

On the day before the blogburst as I wrote my entry in blog about Brett Kimberlin day, Wikipedia had no entry on either Brett Kimberlin or the Speedway bombings. It may be that there was never any Speedway Bombings entry, but it’s hard to tell—I also couldn’t find any systematic means of searching Wikipedia for past entries. But there was a Brett Kimberlin entry, and it was deleted because no one could think of anything good to say about the bomber:

It was sourced, but was also unduly negative, and written by people who “had an axe to grind”. Although some of the facts were sourced, there was an undertone of maliciousness in the way that the article was written.

Mr Kimberlin was not a paragon of virtue, but the article as it stood simply painted him as a man with no positive qualities at all, which is obviously problematic in a neutral encyclopedia.

Well, no, it’s not problematic for an encyclopedia when the truth is that a violent criminal lacks “positive qualities”. This is the same definition of neutrality that gets newspapers in trouble: that they should not report the truth accurately unless they can find someone to balance the truth with falsehoods. The truth can’t be balanced without turning it into a lie.

The problem is that, just as in newspapers, this definition is only invoked as an excuse to veil the real reason. There are other violent criminals on Wikipedia just as obscure as Kimberlin with no redeeming qualities listed. The Larry Fisher entry is all of three paragraphs and talks only of his murders and rapes, and of the man he let go to prison for twenty-three years in his place. The Richard Speck entry is extremely detailed, going into Speck’s family history, his marriage, his rapes, his murders, and his insanity. But if Speck ever did any good work in hospitals, it isn’t mentioned.

The difference between Speck and Fisher, and Kimberlin, is probably this:

You are a right-of-centre blogger who has an interest in a left-of-centre individual.

The truth, in this case, is seen as “right of center” and the truth impugns someone considered “left of center”. That’s what makes it not neutral.

May 25, 2012: Speedway Bombings

If you’re not on Twitter today, you should be. There have been a lot of great blog posts about Brett Kimberlin and the Speedway, Indiana bombings today, and Twitter has been spreading the news. SmallgGay has been Tweeting like a madman and is worth following. Michelle Malkin has also done a great job of publicizing some lesser-known bloggers, including yours truly.

Look in the link list for some of the blog posts that caught my attention, that you might not otherwise have seen.

In particular, I mentioned Carl DeLong in passing in the parent post. Someone named Dustin who created their blog today has written more about Carl and what Carl went through. Michelle Malkin also has a letter from a former Indiana Circuit court judge who used to work with Carl’s daughter. And Greg Allmain goes into more detail about the allegations in the IndyStar that this may have started because of a grandmother’s fear that Kimberlin held “a strange affection” for her pre-teen granddaughter.

May 25, 2012: Using the police as a weapon

Patterico’s story about police pulling him out of his home in the middle of the night is chilling. Again, our current legal system (and I’m including law enforcement in that) assumes good faith. It assumes a local community. It assumes this even from people who are provably untrustworthy.

It does not assume that when the police get a telephone call from someone claiming that they themselves have just committed murder, that the telephone call actually came from somewhere else.

At 12:35 a.m. on July 1, 2011, sheriff’s deputies pounded on my front door and rang my doorbell. They shouted for me to open the door and come out with my hands up.

When I opened the door, deputies pointed guns at me and ordered me to put my hands in the air. I had a cell phone in my hand. Fortunately, they did not mistake it for a gun.

The call that sent deputies to my home was a hoax. Someone had pretended to be me. They called the police to say I had shot my wife. The sheriff’s deputies who arrived at my front door believed they were about to confront an armed man who had just shot his wife. I don’t blame the police for any of their actions. But I blame the person who made the call.

Because I could have been killed.

You have to read the whole thing. Hat tip to Andy at Ace of Spades on this one.

In lighter times, today is Towel Day. Unfortunately, we can’t really hide from monsters by blinding ourselves to the truth. Our society as a whole falls apart in a world where there is no trust. In a sense, that’s what society is, a web of trust. We assume that the telephone number we see is the right one; we assume that the other drivers on the road don’t want to cause a massive accident; we assume that the people we meet on the sidewalk are not part of some conspiracy against us. We must assume these things. The world where we cannot assume these things is a deadly world. We cannot assume them in a world where people like Brett Kimberlin are sentenced to fifty years and get out after thirteen. We cannot assume them in a world where these kinds of deadly threats and debilitating harassment are met with indifference by those who fund and give voice to people like Kimberlin.

Today, on my home page, the following random quote came up:

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies. — Thomas Paine (Common Sense)

  1. Oddly, this article hit Memeorandum back on October 12, 2010. If you google "The Speedway Bombings" with the modifier site:memeorandum.com, it shows on four pages worth of results. But that item is no longer available on any of those results.

    I even tried running through all posts from Memorandum for that day; there were 168, and number 131 is missing. It’s very possible I don’t understand how Memeorandum works, however, because the same article is available as a subitem on the previous day.

  1. <- Election 2012
  2. Make me angry ->