Patterico's Pontifications


Ken at Popehat on Anti-Free Speech Thuggery

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

Ken at Popehat has an excellent post about attacking people in real life to squelch their speech, using as an example the Nadia Naffe threat against me. Ken says:

Naffe released assertions publicly in a clear bid for publicity. The notion that a blogger who happens to be a lawyer can’t comment on her claims without straying into “legal advice” to a party is ludicrous. Such a wide interpretation of ethical rules would not survive First Amendment scrutiny. Similarly, the notion that an attorney is “interfering” in a public civil matter by commenting upon it is fatuous. Naffe and her hangers-on will not be producing any authority supporting their arguments, because (1) it doesn’t exist and (2) they aren’t capable of finding it if it did exist.

But Naffe and her supporters aren’t relying upon the legal force of their arguments. They are relying upon openly censorious thuggery — on politics by other means. Misconduct allegations against an attorney — even when they are sub-literate and specious — are embarrassing, inconvenient, and annoying. That’s the point of the tweet pictured above, and of Naffe’s celebrations of censorship-by-complaint. Naffe and her supporters do not seek to persuade, or to prove their cause is right — they intend to make frivolous complaints to a public entity in hopes of silencing a critic. For this, they deserve our contempt.

The “tweet pictured above” is one encouraging Naffe to file a complaint against me because doing so will reduce my power as a blogger. Or so the guy thinks, anyway.

One point I would add to Ken’s excellent observations: perversely, threats against a blogger not only serve as an attempt to intimidate, but are used as a tool to delegitimize the blogger. Here’s how it works: if a blogger criticizes someone in the public eye, the anti-free speech thug simply attacks the blogger in real life. If the attack fails to intimidate him, the thug now has the argument that anything the blogger posts about the thug in the future is done out of “revenge.” Even though the thug is the one who made it personal, while the blogger was simply reporting on the news, the thug’s personal attack on the blogger now enables the thug to claim to be the victim of a personal attack.

This is how the thugs use their weapons of real life attacks: not just as intimidation, but as attempts to delegitimize. They also can report you to the authorities for made-up crimes and ethical lapses, and then describe you as being “under investigation.”

It’s all part of a playbook. Ken does a great job explaining why it’s wrong. Read his post here. And don’t miss his epic takedown of one of these thugs in the comment section.

41 Responses to “Ken at Popehat on Anti-Free Speech Thuggery”

  1. As a recent Ken-at-Popehat appreciator, without even reading that I knew he’d slice away the nonsense, and there would be nothing but a little embarrassed figure of naked malice left standing.

    I was not disappointed.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  2. I wasn’t disappointed either, Sarah. That was one of the greatest fiskings I’ve ever read.

    I’ve been reading Popehat for a while. Often I disagree with his views, but never do I disagree with his sense of decency. Everybody should read that blog often.

    Dustin (330eed)

  3. I like how Ken-at-Popehat (KAP?) stated out front that he didn’t a lot of political overlap with Patterico, but would not sit still for thuggish nonsense.

    The responses by the thugs were to be expected, and quite predictable. They all boil down to:

    1. Republicans are evil racists.
    2. What they do is evil.
    3. When we or people we approve of do those things, well, that’s different.
    4. See step #1


    Simon Jester (7a7a69)

  4. Oh, and I left out the most important dictum:

    When we do it, it is okay, because we are good and the people we don’t like are bad. They deserve whatever we do.

    Does that about sum it up?

    Simon Jester (7a7a69)

  5. Why thank you, Patrick. That’s very kind, particularly considering the entirely gratuitous swipe I took at DAs. Which was totally out of love.

    Cordial relations with people agree with on the internet are good; cordial relations with people you disagree with are even better, and more educational.

    However, this post has surely made me a marked man amongst the nuts and vengeful political operatives. Oh, well. They can snort my taint.

    Ken (2e87a6)

  6. Ken-at-Popehat, you are just insisting on fairness. This is currently a problem in our society, and both “sides” suffer from it. If personal attacks on, say, Sarah Palin are okay, then they should be okay on Democratic women. I have many progressive friends who decry sexism and racism who have no trouble at all saying truly crude things about Sarah Palin or Clarence Thomas.


    I don’t know who said it first, but I love this:

    The best kind of rule or law is one you do not mind in the hands of your bitterest enemy.

    Simon Jester (7a7a69)

  7. I truly enjoy the opportunity that freedom of speech creates for thugs to self disclose. They are generally so self absorbed that they don’t even realize it.

    BarSinister (99d480)

  8. If personal attacks on, say, Sarah Palin are okay, then they should be okay on Democratic women.

    And they aren’t OK. They are only ‘OK’ by the logic of folks like Bill Maher… who are wrong.

    Ken is not really falsely equivocating, in my opinion. He’s not even bothering to adjudicate who is right about O’Keefe’s reputation. He’s noting the tactics used by Patterico (that is, to write a blog discussing problems with Nadia’s claims) are fundamentally OK speech, and the tactic used by Nadia and her pals (that is, to go after livelihoods) is not OK.

    Dustin (330eed)

  9. My first-ever look at Popehat and he had me @

    “I have no idea what really happened between O’Keefe and Naffe. On the one hand, I find O’Keefe to be skin-crawlingly creepy and would not let him near my daughters unless I had a Mossberg Persuader pointed at his junk.”

    He’s bookmarked for a daily read.

    Old Coot (8b4e71)

  10. So… guess the lesson for me is “More Mossberg references.”

    Leviticus (bd9a2e)

  11. Ken apparently agrees with Leviticus on both Nadia and O’Keefe, but he’s mostly focused on the anti speech thuggery. I think that makes a lot of sense. When O’Keefe is down and apparently being smeared, it seems wrong to kick him a bunch of times as he’s down there

    I admit I think some of the reaction to Leviticus was over the top. He’s not toeing the line on O’Keefe’s reputation… big deal.

    Some of the reaction, however, was expressing annoyance that Leviticus doesn’t appreciate how awful the anti speech thugs are being. I think Leviticus is a strong supporter of free speech and just doesn’t see this how I see it (in a context of many attacks on free speech that have recently done real damage to people, and should not be brushed off).

    Ken is taking that seriously, shining a spotlight on the thugs and crushing one of them with a fisking. He does it with a sense of humor that includes a swipe at Patterico and a swipe at O’Keefe, but those are meant to keep things readable and fun and show that this isn’t a partisan battle. Everyone should be angry when lefties, righties, etc are faced with censorious asshats.

    Dustin (330eed)

  12. When O’Keefe is down and apparently being smeared, it seems wrong to kick him a bunch of times as he’s down there

    Shoot. This is just me opinion rather than a summary of others. It’s not something Ken or Leviticus expressed.

    Dustin (330eed)

  13. Popehat is one stand-up fellow.

    JD (e5c06b)

  14. Popehat – come for the snarky, stay for the pithy.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  15. Holy fisk. That was awesome.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  16. Two stories on my site.

    first a big roundup of trayvon martin stories.

    second, links to today’s action in the S.C. and video of toobin being very pessimistic (thus making me optimistic

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  17. “Well, first, O’Keefe and Naffe are classic examples of nightmare clients. They are embroiled in litigation or threatening litigation and yet will not shut the fuck up.”

    True story.

    And, Naffe, at least, is going to talk herself into a jail cell, unless she learns to keep her stupid mouth shut.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  18. And don’t forget manufactured support through feeder sites and faked multiple accounts

    One example seems to be the Roman Polanski case but I honestly haven’t done much checking.

    These 2 comments made my coffee fly all over my windshield.

    JD (eabeae)

  19. There is a subsequent fisk I didn’t see the first time I visited.

    It feels good when people stand up against these thugs. One of this crew called for my “untimely and painful demise”.

    As soon as Nadia teamed up with this crew of thugs I stopped giving her the benefit of the doubt. I worry that Nadia has some serious problems and she is being exploited by goons who will use any opportunity to ‘help’ people attack their targets.

    But it’s Nadia who winds up attacking Patterico’s livelihood under the Brett Kimberlin playbook. She may not realize she was used by Neal and company yet, and I don’t defend her responsibility for what she said. But folks need to do more recognizing of these thugs.

    It’s awesome how Ken has done this with so many thug-censors.

    Dustin (330eed)

  20. One example seems to be the Roman Polanski case but I honestly haven’t done much checking.


    I could interpret that as “my checking wasn’t very honest”. Patterico repeatedly made the point that he wasn’t involved with that case and that he wasn’t speaking for the government when discussing that issue. It would take ten seconds of googling and reading one or two of the posts to see this.

    But they don’t care.

    Dustin (330eed)

  21. Ken, you forgot the ™ …

    They can snort my taint.(tm)

    SPQR (26be8b)

  22. So… guess the lesson for me is “More Mossberg references.”
    Comment by Leviticus — 3/27/2012 @ 9:31 am

    — Now that ^^^ is funny!

    Icy (e73414)

  23. ==So… guess the lesson for me is…==

    LOL Leviticus. There are many lessons for you. But hey, you’re young and smart and some of us have very high hopes for you. One of them is that (especially) when you are a fully credentialed lawyer you will be as honest and brave and fair and open minded and stand-up as popehat appears to be.

    elissa (89f75d)

  24. They can snort my taint.

    A star is born.

    lasue (b5a1cf)

  25. Heck, I can’t even show my opinions on a bumper sticker without my car getting vandalized…

    Jon (dca3a2)

  26. Thuggary isn’t “politics by other means.” Its just “politics.”
    Political actions are inherently coercive, which is why the founders tried to keep politics out of speech, for example.

    Doc Merlin (75b1ef)

  27. I liked when I read ‘Popehat’s snark about how mendacious ‘Patterico’s employers are. Then I got to the ‘epic fisking’ and I thought ‘Popehat’ would make a great LA prosector.

    Alvin H. Belt (7e149d)

  28. Maybe my above (26.) post was too mean and not put together well. Sorry. I usually like coming here, but sometimes the whole lawyer thing gets to me. I don’t want to get into whatever disagreement I may have with this.

    Alvin H. Belt (7e149d)

  29. Actually, I used to be an LA prosecutor. Not necessarily great, though. Depends who you ask.

    Ken (2e87a6)

  30. Me again. I’m still out of sorts, but maybe one of the things the guy who got fisked was talking about, or in the general topic, was .
    Sorry if I did the link wrong. Still sorta hate your guts.

    Alvin H. Belt (7e149d)

  31. I’ve been thugged into silence, too.

    Our small town went through a very contentious recall election of two council members. Online, I was very vocal in my support of the recall, but did so using an online nickname because the “other side” of the argument had a history of attacking their opponents personally, digging up whatever dirt they could about friends, families, etc. to try to smear and therefore diminish the people who stood against them.

    More important, I run a volunteer non-profit organization that was entirely unrelated to the recall, but which I was afraid would be associated with it if my anonymous posts were tied to me. It’s stupid, I know, but I felt compelled to stand up for what I believed was right, but didn’t want my friends, family, or organization to suffer for it.

    Somebody stumbled across my identity, of course. I received an email, sent to my organization’s email address, warning me that I needed to shut up or else my organization would suffer. They went on to mention I needed to worry about my wife’s job in the local school district and about my kids.

    I filed a police report, but none of the threats were of a physical nature, so no charges were filed. Their recommendation was to back away from the online forums, which I did. It took several weeks before whoever it was quit posting hints about my name, address, or organization on the online forums. I quit using the nickname and for quite awhile, didn’t post at all.

    My case is kinda pathetic. I didn’t have to post online. I could’ve used my name and simply not worry about the consequences. It’s really not that big a deal.

    But it’s sad that we’ve reached a point where we can’t debate issues without first trying to attack and undermine our opponents. That we’re happy to splatter whatever collateral damage we can inflict…as long as it silences our opponents. It appalls me to think that today’s most important issues might be decided, not based on their relative merits, but on the damage each side can inflict on each other.

    Thugged (da8d2a)

  32. Ken, missed your comment 28. Thanks for not attacking. The link in my 29 was a case in Louisiana where a prosecutor was fired for anonymously commenting on people he was prosecuting. There was more to it than just what I’ve typed though. It’s actually more a link to a link, but I’m tired and obviously lost the thread of what I’m doing.

    Alvin H. Belt (7e149d)

  33. Alvin – In what way is that relevant?

    JD (e5c06b)

  34. My case is kinda pathetic.

    No it isn’t, thugged. That’s an outrage and all to believable.

    Dustin (330eed)

  35. The link in my 29 was a case in Louisiana where a prosecutor was fired for anonymously commenting on people he was prosecuting

    I agree with JD that this isn’t even remotely related to the issue Ken was discussing. Patterico is not blogging about the cases he works.

    Frankly, I wish he would blog about the cases he works, but I guess that’s against the rules. Certainly seems to be against his rules.

    Dustin (330eed)

  36. If Naffe sues Patterico, she’s sure to lose, and not just in the “the judge or jury will not find in her favor” meaning of the term. She will lose money and here’s why.

    Such a lawsuit would almost certainly qualify as a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public policy) lawsuit. Patterico’s response, I’m certain, would be to file an anti-SLAPP motion. When the court grants the anti-SLAPP motion, not only will the case be dismissed, but Patterico will be entitled to a nearly-automatic award of his attorney’s fees (assuming he does not represent himself). I’m aware of fee awards to successful anti-SLAPP litigants of more than $25,000. Thus her lawsuit would be a double loser.
    Anti-SLAPP motion = the best civil defense motion available.

    LawOski (36b484)

  37. @LawOski

    Only is said law is robust and vigorously enforced.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  38. Seriously, the fiskings are actually getting better even though the first one was excellent. This Ken dude has stamina.

    Dustin (330eed)

  39. Ken – well done. You missed one little thing, where the nozzle whined about workers not having anyone to speak for them, when unions are one of the largest donors.

    Your new troll is the author of It is one of 3 people, all dangerous, vile, and loathsome.

    JD (e5c06b)

  40. Yes, but for the fact that Johnny Cochran is dead, and that nobody has ever shown that Patterico is blogging about people he is prosecuting, and no actual lawyers have ever filed such a motion even though his identity has been well known for a decade, and you can’t cite any authority in support of your proposition, your argument is totally persuasive.

    I mean, seriously.

    Dustin (330eed)

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