The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Harassment Is Not Journalism

Posted on | April 7, 2013 | 17 Comments

Bill Schmalfeldt of Elk Ridge, Maryland, a.k.a. “Liberal Grouch”

“If you’re so concerned about your safety, don’t come to Maryland.”
Jim Brewer, Howard County (Md.) Assistant State’s Attorney

People who don’t use Twitter may not understand what it’s like when someone starts sending to your “handle” unsolicited messages full of accusations and obscenities. This is what Bill Schmalfeldt does to people he targets for harassment: He monitors their Twitter account and sends harassing messages to them, as well as to people he sees associating on Twitter with his targets. It is the persistence of Schmalfeldt’s obsessions with his targets that qualifies what he does as cyberstalking.

I have previously described how Schmalfeldt began cyberstalking Aaron Walker in June, when he sent these messages to Walker:

2670. Sun Jun 03 19:55:53 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209372854213558273,
@catsrimportant can someone point me to something written about this Aaron Walker case that was NOT written by some right wing shithead?

2669. Sun Jun 03 20:30:58 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209381683034722305,
@AaronWorthing Are you really comparing yourself with MLK?

2668. Sun Jun 03 20:42:09 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209384499425976320,
@AaronWorthing I know next to nothing about this case. What did Kimberlin say you allegedly said/tweeted/google that proved threating?

2667. Sun Jun 03 20:42:39 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209384626899255296,
@AaronWorthing Forgive me for asking, but I have some strong views about the First Amendment and I’m researching this story for my blog.

2666. Sun Jun 03 20:42:54 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209384689511841792,
@AaronWorthing I promise. No one will come to get you. 😉

2665. Sun Jun 03 21:10:29 +0000 2012, liberalgrouch, 209391629881192448,
@AaronWorthing Well, certainly a new Twitter chum can recommend to another new Twitter chum a website he might find interesting, say wot?

The nature of Schmalfeldt’s obsession became obvious when he began to escalate his campaign of harassment, expanding his target list to include myself and other of Walker’s friends. The situation gradually got bad enough that, on the Sunday before Election Day — while I was in Ohio covering the final push of the presidential campaign — I felt the need to call attention to what Schmalfeldt was doing: “Monsters on the Internet: Sociopathic Sadism and Bill Schmalfeldt’s Madness.” Three weeks later, during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Schmalfeldt sent me more than 200 harassing Twitter messages in the span of 48 hours, including a message in which he threatened to contact my wife.

Schmalfeldt’s motives for this weird behavior have been a subject of speculation. There are those who say that Schmalfeldt is being paid by convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin, or by persons associated with Kimberlin, and that what Schmalfeldt is doing is part of a deliberate effort to intimidate or discredit those who write about Kimberlin’s criminal past as Indiana’s notorious “Speedway Bomber.”

I remain agnostic about these theories because (a) there is no firm evidence of any such payment, and (b) crazy people don’t need rational motives to do crazy things. So whether Schmalfeldt’s harassment is hired thuggery or amateur insanity is ultimately irrelevant to this fact: It is evil.

Evil, however, is not necessarily criminal. And describing the evil that Bill Schmalfeldt does cannot stop him from doing what he does.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, stalkers gotta stalk.

John Hoge and others have attempted to have Maryland authorities prosecute Schmalfeldt for his harassment, with no success so far. This illustrates a problem with law enforcement that has become increasingly apparent since I began covering the Brett Kimberlin story last May, namely the tendency to dismiss such harassment as “just a bunch of crazy people arguing on the Internet.” Which would be true, except:

  • Many of the people targeted as enemies by Kimberlin (and Kimberlin’s avowed associate, Neal Rauhauser) are being harassed for no other reason than the fact that they wrote about Kimberlin’s criminal past, or defended those who did;
  • The harassment is, to an extent, demonstrably an attempt to silence political opponents of Kimberlin, whose 501(c) organizations have been funded with more than $2 million in contributions under the pretext of pursuing various progressive “social justice” issues, including election-fraud claims and crusades against high-profile individuals and organizations including Karl Rove, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce;
  • To intimidate Kimberlin’s opponents, people have had their employment situations jeopardized and their reputations attacked with unsubstantiated accusations of criminal wrongdoing; and
  • Because many of the targets of this harassment are citizen-journalists who use Twitter as a vital tool for gathering news, communicating with sources, and promoting their work to readers, the constant barrage of unsolicited hostile Twitter messages from persons like Schmalfeldt hinders their ability to do their jobs.

Ask anyone who has been subjected to this pattern of harassment — Mandy Nagy, Aaron Walker, Patrick Frey, Lee Stranahan, Ali Akbar, et al. — what it’s like to be besieged by a swarm of Twitter trolls, knowing full well their malicious motives, and then to see friends turn their heads because they don’t want to get involved, or because the trolls have managed, through the repetition of accusations, to cast a shadow of unfair suspicion around their target.

You can call that whatever you want — I call it cyberstalking and harassment — but don’t you dare call it “journalism.”

In an effort to encourage officials to take this online evil seriously, John Hoge has declared Monday — tomorrow, April 8 — “Everyone Blog About the Howard County State’s Attorney Day.”

Do it.




17 Responses to “Harassment Is Not Journalism”

  1. DaveO
    April 7th, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    There are two other plausible explanations:

    1. ASA Brewer is colluding with Team Kimberlin. It is Maryland after all.

    2. ASA Brewer was afraid of Team Kimberlin. The corollaries are fear for his family members, or blackmail.

    Too bad the ABA and the Maryland Bar are so far in the Prognazi camp that they can’t perform simple ethics and professional behavior audits that would disbar ASA Brewer.

  2. Mike G.
    April 7th, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    Thankfully I was only stalked by “Team Kimberlin” for a very short period. I just ignored the douche and he/they went away.

  3. Dianna Deeley
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

    At one time, I wondered if posts about Schmalfeldt were feeding his crazy. Then I read that series at Thanksgiving, and realized that whatever feeds his crazy, it’s independent of anything Stacy or anyone else is doing or has done.

  4. Melanie Calupitan Inocencio
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

    Melanie Calupitan Inocencio liked this on Facebook.

  5. WJJ Hoge
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    Although BS’ harassment of the Stranahan and Walker families is the push that set “Everyone Blog About the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office Day” in motion, the root of the problem it the apparent lack of interest in that county’s State’s Attorney to protect individuals from harassment and the shameful way out-of-state parties who sought help have been treated.

  6. Zilla of the Resistance
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    Whoever runs that Breitbart Unmasked twitter account @ name checked me in a slew of tweets while I was in the hospital last fall. I came home and saw all that crap in my timeline, tweeted for the creepy little freak to stay the hell away from me and blocked it. Apparently it was trolling Mr. Hoge who had mentioned me in a tweet so the BU creature just kept hitting “reply” and not taking out other names. I told it that it sucked at twitter before I blocked it and it has left me alone since – as far as I am aware.

  7. robertstacymccain
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

    Exactly: 200+ Tweets — unsolicited, apropos of nothing — in a span of 48 hours. There might be an explanation for that, but there is no excuse for that.

  8. robertstacymccain
    April 7th, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

    See? The mere fact that you communicate with people who are targeted by them makes you a potential target, too.

  9. Mike G.
    April 7th, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    As my friend @yesnicksearcy says…You got to punch back twice as hard… and make it hurt.

  10. Dianna Deeley
    April 7th, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

    Oh, heck, no – I agree there’s no excuse.

  11. Zilla of the Resistance
    April 7th, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

    Well I have been a target for well over a year now; ever since that political blogger moms contest when the trolls started impersonating me to destroy my reputation. This started before the BK stuff broke in the blogs.
    And of course before that I was simply a target for butthurt islamic supremacists and their leftist sympathizers who liked to threaten to kill me due to my anti-jihad writings.
    But your point is well taken, because I’ve seen how those Kimberlin Kabal trolls roll, and they do mercilessly harass anyone with even the most remote real or imagined connection to the people they’ve decided must be destroyed.

  12. Michael Smith
    April 7th, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    And yet you continue to satisfy his/their cravings/need for attention.

    Step away from the keyboard. Get outside and enjoy the real world for a change, wontcha?

  13. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 7th, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

    How to balance battling these bastards, without fueling their love of attention (good or bad and almost all bad).

  14. Connor
    April 7th, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

    Do you realize that you sound like a completely whiny-ass pussy? You are pathetic.

  15. Finrod Felagund
    April 8th, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    Your concern trolling has been noted and given the attention it deserves.

  16. Dustin
    April 8th, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that very question.

    And there’s no real right or wrong answer to it, though it can be frustrating when you ignore some trolls and then your pals shine a bright spotlight on them, giving them a much larger audience to smear you.

    The good side of this is that the thuggish trolls inspire a sense of ‘this is wrong’ in all good people, and that is why, ultimately, the bad guys have been so notoriously and publicly exposed for what they have done. In a way, Bill and Neal did more to effectively expose Brett Kimberlin than Aaron (no disrespect intended to Aaron)! It’s one thing to criticize thuggery, but another to illustrate it obsessively and ruthlessly.

  17. Everybody Blog About Howard County Maryland State’s Attorney Office Day – They Don't Fool ME!
    April 8th, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

    […] Harassment Is Not Journalism […]