Maryland vs Freedom of Speech

The story of blogger Aaron Walker’s battles with Brett Kimberlin have been floating around my periphery for a week or so now.  I had previously never heard of either of these men.  The very general story I heard was that last week Walker was arrested for blogging about Kimberlin.  Apparently Walker blogs about Kimberlin’s domestic terrorism associations and Kimberlin doesn’t take kindly to that. 

I can understand that.  I have no idea if Walker writes the truth, half-truth, or outright lies.  But we do have a mechanism in our judicial system to deal with that – libel laws.  But instead of suing for libel, Kimberlin has asked the court to prevent Walker from blogging about him and he succeeded.  Walker was ordered not to blog about Walker for a six month period.   At the hearing last week, Walker was also arrested on a Maryland peace order (I have no idea what that is, and I’m an attorney.  Perhaps like contempt of court, or violating a sitting order?  I don’t quite care enough yet to do the research).

So in Maryland, apparently, the answer to speech we don’t like is to ban the speech and arrest the speaker.  But perhaps the Maryland judge, Judge Vaughey, is an aberration.  Let’s hope so.  For the transcript of the hearing is not flattering to the Maryland judiciary.

THE COURT: –You’ve decided to battle, and he comes back. And see, you’re — you — you’re the kind of guy, you don’t want to get into this to settle this, mano y mano. You want to get all these friends who got nothing else to do with their time, in this judge’s opinion, because — my God, I’m a little bit older than you are, and I haven’t got enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. And I thought by retirement, I would have less to do. I got more! Because everybody knows I’m free! So they all come to me. But you, you are starting a — a conflagration, for lack of a better word, and you’re just letting the thing go recklessly no matter where it goes. I mean, you get some — and I’m going to use word I (ph) — freak somewhere up Oklahoma, got nothing better to do with his time, so he does the nastiest things in the world he can do to this poor gentleman. What right has that guy got to do it?

WALKER: He has no right to do that, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Well, he’s — you incited him.

WALKER: But, your honor, I did not incite him within the Brandenburg standard though.

THE COURT: Forget Bradenburg [sic]. Let’s go by Vaughey right now, and common sense out in the world. But you know, where I grew up in Brooklyn, when that stuff was pulled, it was settled real quickly.

WALKER: I’m not sure what that means, your honor.

THE COURT: –Very quickly. And I’m not going to talk about those ways, but boy, it ended fast. I even can tell you, when I grew up in my community, you wanted to date an Italian girl, you had to get the Italian boy’s permission. But that was the old neighborhoods back in the city. And it was really fair. When someone did something up there to you, your sister, your girlfriend, you got some friends to take them for a ride in the back of the truck.

WALKER: Well, Your Honor, what–

THE COURT: –That ended it. You guys have got this new mechanical stuff out here, the electronic stuff, that you can just ruin somebody without doing anything. But you started it.

Emphasis, mine.

Brandenburg was a Supreme Court case that set the standard for incitement.  So this Judge Vaughey openly admits to ignoring the current law and making his own law.  Charming.  Even better, he seems to be advocating violence as a “fair” means of retribution. 

I am perplexed.  He arrests a man for incitement to violence, yet in the same ruling himself advocates for violence, or at the least is quite admiring of it.  Counterintuitive, that.  

I think this Kimberlin has made a grave tactical error.  He may have shut down one blogger for six months, but has created many more.  There was even an Everyone Blog about Brett Kimberlin day last month.  Free Speech – live long and prosper.

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