Frothing Nutjob Gordon Klingenschmitt, His Censorship Is My Censorship Too

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57 Responses

  1. Chris Rhodes says:

    "Are angels responsible when Popehat goes down?"

    It's the ponies, Ken. It's always the ponies . . .

  2. anne mouse says:

    Or Right Wing Watch could, you know, host a video clip on their own server. Better yet, post them to BitTorrent. Then maybe Klingenshmitt will hire Steele…
    Looks like Congress is changing the rules on fuel ethanol so growers won't have quite as juicy a subsidy as they might have expected a couple months ago. I wonder if the same maize breeds can be re-purposed for popcorn?

  3. Bryce says:

    I know for a fact that the Archangel Uriel is in charge of heavenly DDOSs.

  4. Lizard says:

    As to Klingenschmitt: why should Colorado voters accept someone who bears false witness in takedown demands to shut up his critics?

    If we only voted for candidates who didn't lie, we wouldn't have anyone to vote for.

    I leave working out the problem with that as an exercise for the reader. (I suspect most PHers will not bother with the exercise.)

  5. Troutwaxer says:

    At least Obama isn't possessed by fifty ponies! That would be really bad!

  6. Now I'm going to have to go and Google "Gordon Klingenschmitt". And I'm supposed to be working too! No popcorn-maker here…

  7. Warren Vita says:

    I'm sure my in-laws are full-on supporters of this guy – he plays right into their nuttiness.

    And Ken, if Angels were responsible for Popehat going down, when would it ever be up?

  8. Jacob H says:

    Whenever RWW's channel goes out, the people always shout

    frothing nutjob Gordon Klingenschmitt
    BA DA DA DA DA DA DA

  9. LordOChaos says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else hear the silent hooves of the evil devil possessed ponies that Klingenschmucks parents gave him as a child?

    /s

  10. BruceB says:

    This seems relevant.

    (WordPress announcing today that they are suing jackasses persons who file false DMCA claims against WordPress blogs.)

    Oh hey – this is a WordPress blog isn't it? Did they ask for your help, Ken?

  11. Ed T. says:

    "Are angels responsible when Popehat goes down?"

    It's ponies, Ken. Alien ponies.

    ~EdT.

  12. ... says:

    The ease of taking things down on YouTube is a DCMA problem, not exactly a YouTube problem. YouTube is just playing CYA based on the way the DMCA is written. Fighting bogus take-downs has not traditionally gone well. Will be interesting to see how the WordPress cases proceed, though the non-US parties may screw that up.

  13. George William Herbert says:

    I was about to post the WordPress suit here, good on someone else getting here first.

    Filing the DMCA takedown notice is an act in the jurisdiction of the notified internet company, which would seem to bring the remote parties into jurisdiction…

  14. ISV says:

    > Are angels responsible when Popehat goes down?

    Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I wonder…

  15. rsteinmetz70112 says:

    @BruceB

    WordPress.com is a blog host (like Blogger) They also help develop and support the WordPress blogging software (WordPress.org) that is used by many Internet hosting providers.

    I think this action is for blogs hosted @ wordpress.com and not for anyone using wordpress software.

    I don't know where Popehat is hosted.

  16. Jack says:

    @BruceB, @rsteinmetz70112 Popehat does us the WordPress Open Source platform, but is not hosted by WordPress – it is hosted by Dream Host. Interestingly, the theme they use is called "Disciple" which I have to wonder if it was chosen ironically because of the the Popehat name?

  17. CJK Fossman says:

    Demonic Alien Ponies.

    If I still had a band, that would be its name.

    Way better than Chunky Bacon.

  18. Roscoe says:

    The guy is an obvious nut job (but I think he might be right about Madonna).

  19. Wade says:

    RWW looks like a typical lefty group that supports only the parts of the Constitution that they like. They love gay marriage but hate George Zimmerman (God knows what they will do when a gay man shoots a black person for trying to beat his spouse to death). Does anyone know what their position is on "hate speech" laws or University speech codes? I'd hate to help protect a censorship advocate from censorship.

  20. James Pollock says:

    "RWW looks like a typical lefty group that supports only the parts of the Constitution that they like. They love gay marriage but hate George Zimmerman"

    Which part of the Constitution is George Zimmerman?

  21. freedomfan says:

    If we only voted for candidates who didn't lie, we wouldn't have anyone to vote for.

    Well, since there are already almost no candidate worth voting for, it would at least streamline the process. ;-)

    I leave working out the problem with that as an exercise for the reader. (I suspect most PHers will not bother with the exercise.)

    Many potential problems, not the least of which is that not all voters would adopt the I-don't-vote-for-cadidates-who-lie rubrik. Thatwould likely lead to elections being decided by people even less concerned about political mendacity and, ironically, ensuring that lying becomes an even more effective political strategy.

  22. Jose Fish Taco says:

    I know angels are responsible when someone goes down on me. Maybe it's the same for Popehat.

  23. Jacob H says:

    @Wade

    I'd hate to help protect a censorship advocate from censorship.

    Really? I wouldn't!

  24. VPJ says:

    All of this makes Klingenschmitt the darling of some, and the frequent target of coverage by Ring Wing Watch,…

    What's a Ring Wing? A slightly sparkly version of a hockey player?

  25. David says:

    According to Genesis 3:24, some cherubim once put up a firewall.

  26. Zem says:

    This has so many possibilities. I can see it now.

    Prenda. An angel stole our homework your honour.

  27. Xenocles says:

    Edit- Just noticed the article was there from 2006, and is linked because it's about the subject of the post and not censorship in general. I'll leave the remarks on the topic of prosecuting him, but if they aren't on-topic enough please delete.

    @Trevor-

    Yes, it's generally known that you cannot associate your political speech with your status as a servicemember. Title 10 prohibits the wear of the uniform to protests in general if the wear could be interpreted as implying the support of the service for that cause. Getting up and speaking at that rally in any capacity would seem to meet that standard by any reasonable interpretation.

    That provision in the law is subject to waiver by the service itself, and the chaplain claims he had written permission. But I doubt that the permission both:
    -came from a high enough level to constitute an authorized waiver, and
    -was intended to cover anything outside his duties as a military chaplain.

    I certainly don't endorse the criminal penalties, but they are legal. This is just one of the many infringements on the speech of government employees that have been consistently upheld.

  28. bobby b says:

    Ya' know, the last thing I'd ever want to do is go on someone else's blog and start telling them they're wrong, or uninformed, or even just a bit too naive.

    It's a rude, arrogant thing to do, and when people do it to me, I get annoyed.

    But you need to know that demonic spirits DO inhabit high school track meet officials.

  29. Kevin says:

    dumb-as-a-bag-of-hair

    On the dumbness scale, is that above or below dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks?

  30. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    Why don't you endorse the penalties?

    I think it's an entirely reasonable limitation, to say "Do not wear your uniform when you do these things outside the scope of our desire for its use"–and that, if violated, you should be subject to the disciplinary system of the service.

  31. Xenocles says:

    @Grifter-

    I believe that simple speech should never have a criminal penalty associated with it. (Speech can be the vehicle for other acts that might be banned, but I separate the two. For this discussion it's enough to consider simple speech to include expressing an opinion.) I also believe that administrative penalties, like losing your job, are allowed. Thus the punishment for this fellow should have been limited to dismissal or some other lesser sanction like extra training. Something avoidable by saying "I quit" – that is, accepting the maximum penalty. By taking it to a court-martial you open up the possibility of going to jail, which I will never support for the mere act of expressing an opinion.

  32. jdgalt says:

    I'll give Popehat this much credit — left- and right-wing nutjobs usually get about equal calling out (at least unless they tread on the corns of Him Who Must Not Be Named).

    Oh, and by the way:
    If Popehat goes down it's because you forgot to sacrifice a pony to Shub-Internet.

  33. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    His discipline had nothing to do with his expression of opinion, it had to do with him co-opting the uniform of the armed services in order to do so.

    And the only discipline offered by the military on par with "losing your job" IS court-martial, AFAIK, it's not like a simple job where you can just quit or they can just fire you at-will.

  34. Matthew Cline says:

    @David:

    According to Genesis 3:24, some cherubim once put up a firewall.

    *snerk* Aaahahahahaha!

  35. Mike B says:

    I would sign the petition, but I am loathe to sign a petition when I am informed below I will be signed up for newsletters as a result. It seems counterproductive to me that the petition requires me to "affirm" membership with a group that I may or may not agree with. I do happen to agree with their mission, but this somewhat compulsory association to sign the petition is unsettling.

  36. Xenocles says:

    @Grifter-

    They can actually fire you for many things without a judicial proceeding. That's what an administrative board is for. In the days of don't ask, don't tell, being gay was one of them. Testing positive for drug use is another. At any rate, the "other such punishment" that a court-martial may direct could include jail, though in this case it did not and I suppose I should revise my remarks to say that the punishments actually awarded – a reprimand a withholding of pay – aren't offensive. But he does have a federal misdemeanor on his record, and he faced jail time. I don't think that's appropriate for an act of mere speech with no actual direct effects.

    As it is, he was charged with failure to obey an order or regulation (in this case presumably the uniform regulations, which bar the conduct). We can discuss the merits of being able to prosecute someone for disobedience, but to me this is not an acceptable cover in cases where the order is to refrain from some act of simple speech.

  37. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    Where do you draw the line, though? Again: Not his speech was at issue, but his use of the uniform.

    Are you against laws about impersonating cops, on the grounds that that is also a speech issue? How is this different, since, while he wasn't impersonating a military officer, the problem is the inherent presumption of authority to his use of the uniform?

  38. David C says:

    The ease of taking things down on YouTube is a DCMA problem, not exactly a YouTube problem. YouTube is just playing CYA based on the way the DMCA is written. Fighting bogus take-downs has not traditionally gone well.

    No, that's a cop-out. YouTube would have no actual liability from not terminating the account, because the underlying claim has no merit.

    It's cheaper to automate account terminations than to have an actual human review them. That's all that's going on here, and that's on YouTube.

  39. whheydt says:

    Dispatches from the Culture Wars (Ed Brayton) covers Klingenschmitt on a regular basis, including all manner of false claims he has made over the years about how his career as a Navy Chaplain ended.

  40. Xenocles says:

    @Grifter-

    Like I said, fire him. You can generally do that for less than criminal faults. All I'm suggesting is moving some of the currently criminal faults into the non-criminal category.

    As to impersonating a LEO, to me the actual offensive conduct is inappropriately assuming the powers conferred on police, which implies that the impersonator is going to use them without authorization, which is inherently abusive. (None of this is to say police should have any special powers to begin with, just that if they do they need to be husbanded.) I don't really see what the actual harm – the harm that justifies putting someone in jail – of improperly associating the US Navy with your message. If there's any confusion an interested person can be set straight by observing the official repudiation of the message and the disciplinary award the messenger receives.

    If I put "Grifter approves this post" on all my posts would you support jailing me?

  41. I was Anonymous says:

    Marlin Perkins????

    "Hi. I'm Marlin Perkins. Today, I'm going to stay here, safe in the helicopter, while Jim single-handedly wrestles the sex-crazed wildebeest. It's a good thing that Jim has Mutual Of Omaha(r) life insurance!"*

    *This post is not affiliated with Mutual Of Omaha in any way, shape, or form. All trademarks are the properties of their respective owners, and are used herein only as parody.

  42. NS says:

    @Wade

    I'd hate to help protect a censorship advocate from censorship.

    Why? Doesn't supporting and strengthening anti-censorship law make it easier to stomp on any insect that tries to abuse the system? Would it not be entertainingly ironic to site their own arguments in this case against them in future proceedings, should they get caught pulling similar BS?

  43. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    I'm not a government official, so the situations aren't analagous. If it were a harmful issue, I would need to go to court and prove my case, at which point you would be instructed to cease doing it–and then could, in theory, be jailed for violating the court order if you continued. Military personnel are held to the UCMJ, which is highly restrictive compared to "regular folks", which they're made aware of, and which they volunteer (in today's no-draft world) to follow.

  44. CJK Fossman says:

    @Xenocles

    We can discuss the merits of being able to prosecute someone for disobedience, but to me this is not an acceptable cover in cases where the order is to refrain from some act of simple speech.

    If he were a draftee I would agree.

    When he enlisted, though, he agreed to submit himself to the rules of the military. If that means he gave up some rights, so be it.

  45. Xenocles says:

    " Military personnel are held to the UCMJ, which is highly restrictive compared to "regular folks", "

    But Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech…

    "When he enlisted, though, he agreed to submit himself to the rules of the military. If that means he gave up some rights, so be it."

    Draftees take the same oath, and at any rate he was a commissioned officer – their oath doesn't include a promise to obey anyone's orders. The only implied obedience required is to the Constitution, which would include orders given pursuant to it – but not those in violation of it.

    I've derailed this enough. Stop me before I kill again!

  46. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    Were he a draftee, I might agree with you perhaps. He was not, so it's really not analogous–we haven't had a draft in 40 years.

    It really seems like you're focusing on his speech, and not his misuse of his uniform. Misuse of military assets is in MANY circumstances a crime. If they had been prosecuting him just for going, I'd be on your side–but they were prosecuting him for misuse of his uniform. Playing the "congress shall make no law" card seems absurd, in these circumstances–fraudulent speech is still "speech", it's just not entitled to protection, right? As are threats.

    Similarly, misuse of his uniform in direct defiance of his orders not to do so seems it would not be entitled to protection.

  47. Xenocles says:

    In order for a lie to really be wrong it has to be reasonably believable. I would be lying if I told you I fought at Gettysburg and traveled to Mars. But for you to believe that lie you would have to be complicit in the lie; you would have to fool yourself. Somehow I don't think it's reasonable to believe that the government endorses the message of a group protesting the government.

    Furthermore the uniform is not a military asset any more than the flag is a government one. As an officer he would have been responsible for paying for his uniform out of pocket, so the physical clothing belongs to him. Same for the various pieces of insignia. So it seems to me that if you cannot be criminally barred from using a US flag that you own in any way you deem fit to express your message, you should not be liable for criminal penalties for using elements of the uniform, or the entire uniform together, in a similar way.

    There's another dimension here that muddies the waters – the fact that he was a chaplain. Chaplains are hired to serve all service members in some ways, even the atheists. But they are also hired to serve as ministers to their co-religionists, in accordance with the dictates of their faith. In many ways if they are not free to act in accordance with their conscience they cannot do their jobs. I don't know where I stand on that issue, it seems to me that it's not necessary to give special protection to ministers since they should be covered under the general protection afforded to all people. But your mileage may vary.

  48. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    Again–had he gone out of uniform, not a problem, and wouldn't have gotten into trouble.

    The military's iconography most certainly is considered a regulatable asset–it's most definitely regulated, that's for sure.

    How, exactly, was his uniform part of his message, unless it's by the implied authority of his position as a military chaplain–which is an authority curtailed by its very nature as part of the military, and therefore inappropriately used?

    Per SCOTUS:

    "Our previous cases would seem to make it clear that 18 U.S.C. 702, making it an offense to wear our military uniforms without authority is, standing alone, a valid statute on its face."

    Now, that was specifically regarding its use by non-military members–but military members are subject to their code, which was applied in this case.

    I really just don't see the problem you're seeing, nor do I see it as really a "speech" issue, because it's about the use of the uniform, not the content of any speech.

    It seems similar to if someone used the feces from a Hep B clinic to spell out a message on the sidewalk–probably going to get arrested, but not for the message, whatever it may be. Obviously a ridiculous example not intended to be directly analogous, but the point here is that this had nothing to do with speech, and everything to do with misuse of a uniform.

  49. fw says:

    I completely disagree with almost everything RWW says, and I signed the petition anyway.

  50. Xenocles says:

    Here's one thing it might have contributed to his message. I don't know what was in his mind so this is just conjecture. But he was there protesting a policy that would affect military chaplains. Wearing the uniform is an easy way to say "I have a clear stake in this, I am a military chaplain."

    At any rate, it's not reasonable to infer government endorsement based on the presence of a uniform – any more than it would be reasonable to infer government endorsement of a baseball game because the US flag is flying at the stadium.

    At the end of the day, we have a speaker who made no statements that could reasonably be construed as fraudulent and did no damage to the property of others nor encouraged others to do so. I assume he was not insubordinate or contemptuous in his remarks, or they would have charged him with that as well. It is you, not me, who must make the case for putting him in the position to be imprisoned for those actions – which is what it means to be charged with that particular misdemeanor. I have conceded that the legal environment permits it. I have always been running a moral argument.

  51. Grifter says:

    @Xenocles:

    That is not a compelling justification for the use of the uniform outside of its legal use.

    Morally I think the government has a perfect stake in preventing the uniforms of their armed forces from being misused. For civilians, this means not allowing their use outside of the context of obvious theater. For those IN the service, they've ALREADY given up rather a lot of their rights by voluntarily joining the service, not least of which is an inability to "just quit". All limitations on their rights must be reasonable, but far more are allowed than are for a person "just going about their business". Among these limitations is one that says "Yes, you are entitled to wear your uniform, but not when doing things not part of your job, while expressing yourself in ways not approved by us." This is an order–and it's one that he ignored. Military discipline requires that orders not be wildly flouted for no reason. When orders are violated, punishment goes up to and including jail time depending on the infraction. I think more of his pay should have been docked, since he knew better. I think the discipline that was issued was wholly appropriate. That he MIGHT have gotten worse discipline isn't really at issue as much as you're making it–it's the statute they used, it was appropriate that it be used, and in this context he was given an appropriate punishment to his crime.

    It seems your complaints are that the government shouldn't have the moral ability to control the usage of the uniforms of its armed services in any way, even among actual service members, and that, though he WASN'T given a worse sentence, he could have.

  52. Grifter says:

    I have no idea why it double posted but I blame my fat palms, which must have clicked the touchpad–sorry!

  53. Xenocles says:

    I'm running out of string but I'll take this one point:

    "It seems your complaints are that the government shouldn't have the moral ability to control the usage of the uniforms of its armed services in any way, even among actual service members, and that, though he WASN'T given a worse sentence, he could have.

    That's almost it. The government, as an employer, should be free to control its employees – and the means of that control should be limited to the means available to other employers. I disagree with the notion that the government needs or merits special powers over any of its employees – or that those employees need or merit any special protection from their employer.

    In my opinion the existence of a special set of laws for the military is an archaic holdover from the time where the nature of the armed forces made it otherwise impossible to try offenses in a timely manner. These days they can fly an accused murderer halfway around the world after a brief stay in a local brig. (The other reason for it that I can see is to have an extra stick to enforce order – a tool that is neither appropriate nor necessary for a force of volunteers serving a free country.) But that's really all I have to say about that, and it's quite idealistic.

  54. James Pollock says:

    "Furthermore the uniform is not a military asset any more than the flag is a government one."

    This is focusing on trivia to the exclusion of the real issue.

    The problem is not misuse of a piece of fabric, but rather misuse of the goodwill accorded to service and the people who serve. A person who serves or who has served is entitled to a measure of this, but wearing a uniform while making an argument appropriates the whole of it. That's a fraud, and frauds are not protected speech.

    If I wrongly suggest that the government supports my endeavor (such as by mailing a letter that purports to emanate from, say, the Social Security Administration), I can expect to be threatened with consequences from federal authorities, and this is right and proper, and no different from the case of a fraudster trading on the goodwill created by anyone else, public or private.

  55. James Pollock says:

    "In my opinion the existence of a special set of laws for the military is an archaic holdover from the time where the nature of the armed forces made it otherwise impossible to try offenses in a timely manner. These days they can fly an accused murderer halfway around the world after a brief stay in a local brig."

    This is only true if we keep our military confined to operations in countries which are unable to offer substantial military opposition to our presence. This may or may not remain constant.

    Besides, whisking the accused away from the scene of the infraction for trial may deprive the defense of meaningful opportunities to obtain evidence or testimony from persons and places no longer accessible (admittedly, this may happen anyway because of the fortunes of war, but holding the trial back home substantially increases the odds.)

  1. November 22, 2013

    […] Frothing Nutjob Gordon Klingenschmitt, His Censorship Is My Censorship Too (popehat.com) […]