Ken White, the blogging lawyer known as Popehat, posted a lovely takedown of Pax Dickinson on Tuesday. We especially enjoyed this part:
The foundation of “witch hunt” rhetoric is the notion that some free speech (say, Pax’s) is acceptable, and other free speech (say, the speech of people criticizing and ridiculing Pax and his employer) is not. You can try to find a coherent or principled way to reconcile that, but you will fail. Pax Dickinson is not stupid. He tweeted provocative things, which have a natural and probable tendency to cause social consequences, seeking the social consequences he wanted: the admiration of the like-minded, the anger of people he could laugh at, and general attention. Yet, oddly, he and his supporters seem to think that some social consequences (approval, admiration, small-scale disagreement they can laugh at) are legitimate and other social consequences (large-scale/organized criticism and ridicule) are not.
Speaking of witch hunts, Popehat seems supportive of the one mounted by right wing bloggers against Brett Kimberlin and anyone they think is connected somehow to Brett Kimberlin in some way. We also note that he supports Aaron Walker, who ran the Everybody Draw Muhammad blog before he discovered Brett Kimberlin. Remember how he used a pseudonym while saying it was his real name, and while encouraging other people to post under their real names? Remember how he turned bad pencil drawings worthy of a teenage boy’s hidden notebook into a First Amendment cause? He told the Islamists to come get him: “behead me, bitches!” Have we forgotten his comments about upholding the Second Amendment if any jihadis actually did show up? He was so brave until he was exposed, at which point he became a full-time victim and gutless coward who sends his wife outside every day to check under the car for bombs. But Popehat sees nothing wrong with that.
It’s clear that Pax Dickinson believes in social consequences himself. For instance, he believes in implicitly threatening violence when someone calls him an asshole, which is rather stretching the boundaries of social consequences…
Ken White defends Walker on completely opposite grounds from this statement. Walker does not believe in consequences. He blamed Brett Kimberlin for his firing when he was actually fired for filling his office with Brett Kimberlin “evidence.” Walker lied about that for over a year while raising money under false pretenses. The laws of Virginia call that fraud, but Ken White is sure that Walker is the real victim in the situation. He exempts Walker from any social consequences for this behavior.
Nor is Ken White the best person to ridicule others for complaining about speech. White complains vociferously about speech that he dislikes and tries to portray that speech as tyranny. He spent hours tweeting at Bill Schmalfeldt just the other day, and the results look like unhinged cyber harassment. Walker, William Hoge, R.S. McCain, and other close associates of Mr. White also complain about speech they dislike, denouncing it as a unified mob. That mob has spent nearly a year harping on the supposed tyranny of Schmalfeldt while they sue and charge him into penury with stupid conspiracy theories about Brett Kimberlin, who has supposedly tyrannized them with his speech.
Lawfare is expensive: we estimate White has already spent over $200,000 on John Patrick Frey’s defense against Nadia Naffe, who is suing him for doxing her in his blog and then using Twitter as his personal courtroom to treat her like a hostile witness. So far, that dollar figure is the only price Frey has paid for his actions, and he has certainly experienced no social consequences. In fact, Frey enjoyed the support of an angry social media mob telling him to “burn down her life.” All of these bullies have been nailing themselves to crosses for a long time with the approval of Ken White, who now turns around and says of Mr. Dickinson:
White has been a huge dick to Bill Schmalfeldt. His friend Frey was a gigantic dick to Nadia Naffe. Walker acted like a massive dick when he grabbed Brett Kimberlin’s iPad and lamely worried that it might be a bomb. McCain was a little dick when he tried to make a pass at Tetyana Kimberlin. This is a whole bunch of pricks, yet we expect White to condemn us for describing him and his friends as anything other than honorable gentlemen. Not that we care: Mr. Popehat has made a very great pretense of nonpartisan, fair-minded words. But in action, he has been a right wing nut job who excuses any misbehavior or criminality by his friends and allies, so we intend to write more about Mr. Popehat in order to provide some kind of social consequence for his words. He may scream and nail himself to a cross as he pleases.