Mr. Hoge seems to regard himself as the Sheriff of Twitter. He runs this town, by gum, and he does not put up with any highfalutin’ Big City news-man who presumes to print ribald jokes and scurrilous accusations about him or his posse.
Last Friday, William Hoge filed 36 charges against Bill Schmalfeldt with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department. On Tuesday, he filed an additional 198, then Friday morning he filed another 88. Unsatisfied, Hoge decided to add 29 more charges Friday afternoon, bringing the total to more than three hundred criminal charges over just eight days for the “crime” of tweeting.
William Hoge also fancies himself a free speech hero.
Irony is dead to Hoge: he shot his sense of irony dead years ago, then hanged it from a gallows and let it swing in the breeze while crows ate its eyes out. Which is not to say that Mr. Hoge is not funny. Heck, he borrowed a joke from a 1990s Warner Brothers cartoon and has killed it in his blog every day for years now. Funny!
His campaign of “lawfare” against Schmalfeldt is also a joke, one that he likes to tell his posse every day. They always laugh. They cannot not laugh. He is the Sheriff, after all, and they shudder to recall what he did to his sense of irony.
Most sixgun street duels are caused by pride, and Hoge’s war is no different. He refuses to use Twitter’s “block” feature, and stop looking at Schmalfeldt’s tweets, because he reckons that a sign of weakness rather than horse sense.
Instead, he tries to follow Schmalfeldt’s accounts, which suggests that Hoge is actually very eager to see Bill’s tweets that he finds so offensive and threatening. Why does Mr. Hoge want to be offended and threatened? For the same reason that Wyatt Earp would corner armed cowboys at the OK Corral: he is looking for a fight. Hoge loves waging his one-man war on comedy in the Carroll County, Maryland justice system.
But like a gunfighter who drinks Redeye for courage, Hoge’s need for a daily outrage fix may become his undoing. At his current rate, Mr. Hoge will have filed thousands of criminal charges against Schmalfeldt by next February’s hearing. The District Attorney and Circuit Court clerk probably do not enjoy this prospect. Will Sheriff Hoge wear out his welcome with the townsfolk and be named a vexatious litigant? Will he get called out for playing fast and loose with the rules of the court? Will he ever confess his feelings about Miss Kitty? To find out, tune in every week for…