Bill Schmalfeldt of Elk Ridge, Maryland, a.k.a. “Liberal Grouch”
Aaron Walker discussed the most recent evidence that Bill Schmalfeldt is a deranged sadistic sociopath, as if more evidence were necessary. But I think people are taking too lightly the menace to public safety posed by this swarm of obsessive Internet cyberstalkers whose persistent harassment has targeted Walker, Lee Stranahan, Patrick “Patterico” Frey, Mike Stack and others.
If you have the stomach to read the vile things Schmalfeldt was Tweeting about Lee Stranahan’s family, you will notice that Schmalfeldt portrays himself as a Courageous Seeker of Truth. This is a common pose — The Last Honest Man! — favored by a certain type of Internet harasser who engages in a Walter Mitty fantasy of being an “investigative journalist,” thinking of himself as exposing the Hidden Evil he attributes to the Sinister Enemies he fanatically pursues.
The Last Honest Man posture is, of course, deeply ironic because Schmalfeldt is habitually dishonest (he got canned by the Examiner for his compulsive lying, and he’s persona non grata at Daily K0s) and this is where the factor of psychological projection figures so prominently in the bizarre vindication fantasies of such cyberstalkers: By exposing the Hidden Evil of Sinister Enemies, the cyberstalker seeks to prove himself heroically trustworthy: “See? They are the liars — not me!”
Schmalfeldt’s persistence in directing this kind of anti-social harassment at his chosen scapegoats (he’s been stalking Aaron Walker since June) reveals the insane depths of his obsession, because no amount of negative feedback can dissuade him from this behavior. He is incapable of restraining his impulses. A tendency toward sadism is intrinsic to Schmalfeldt’s disordered personality; he uses the Internet as a means to indulge his sick craving to inspire fear in others.
This is particularly relevant today, because it seems the New York Times is concerned that it is “unfair” to focus on mental illness as a contributing factor in crime, even while they find themselves forced to admit that kooks are dangerous:
Most mental health experts agree that the link between mental illness and violence is not imaginary. Studies suggest that people with an untreated severe mental illness are more likely to be violent, especially when drug or alcohol abuse is involved. And many rampage killers have some type of serious mental disorder: James E. Holmes, accused of opening fire in a movie theater in Colorado in July, was seeing a psychiatrist who became alarmed about his behavior; Jared L. Loughner, who killed 6 people and injured 13 others in Arizona, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was severely mentally ill.
Look, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I know what crazy looks like. Recall my September warning to Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown:
You don’t need a lawyer, Barrett. You need a psychiatrist, or perhaps a priest to exorcise your demons. You are traveling a road to destruction, as harmful to yourself as to any of your chosen enemies. Get help.
About a week later, Barrett Brown melted down and was arrested after recording a bizarre YouTube rant in which he threatened an FBI agent. And it was scarcely surprising to learn, from Brown’s appearance in federal court this week, that he is being treated with the anti-depressant Zoloft and the anti-psychotic drug Risperidone, used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Like I said: Get help.
The problem with crazies like Barrett Brown and Bill Schmalfeldt is that they are able to persuade some people that what they are doing is politically motivated “activism” or “journalism,” and their political allies act as enablers who validate their dangerous delusions.
When will law enforcement start taking this problem seriously? Will we have to wait until one of these cyberstalkers finally kills somebody? A couple of weeks ago I warned about John Tiessen, who went on a bizarre rant after being exposed as a convicted sex offender:
“You people who kicked me to the curb because of my lifestyle, you’re doing the same thing that you’re fighting against. . . . You want these people to get out of prison and . . . you want them to be ridiculed, laughed at, made fun of. . . .
“I still have a hard time with what I did. I know I’m guilty. . . . The coke whore that I picked up promised me a blow job if I gave her coke and then she tried to renege on it, and I said, ‘No, you’re going to do it.’ . . .
“I’m a f–king true freedom fighter. I’m not one of these f–king wannabes. . . . You want to grow some f–king cojones and be a true freedom fighter? Stand up like Jesus did. Stand up to these kings and these so-called f–king religious leaders. . . [Tell them] ‘You’re not speaking for God.’ I don’t care who you are — Obama, Putin, on and on — I don’t care. You’re speaking for the Devil, man.
“You ain’t speaking for the people. You’re speaking for the Rothschilds and the J.P. Morgans and the f–king banks of this world.”
Diagnosis: Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I joke about it, but people like that can be seriously dangerous, and ignoring them won’t make them go away.