Author: Ken White

16

Sorry, Melissa

I have a latecoming apology. 25 years ago this summer, when I interned at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office during college, I was assigned to a project with Melissa, another intern. We helped research and design "caught" posters. Imagine a wanted poster with a person's photo, only instead of saying the person is wanted, it says they have been convicted of a crime and states their sentence. The DA's Office printed the posters and put them up in the gang-controlled neighborhoods from which the defendants sprang. The DA's office thought that public shaming of gang members through four-color...

46

"Crisis Manager" Xavier Hermosillo Shrewdly Defuses Immigration Tumult By Threatening Cartoonist

Murrieta, California is a town recently known for angry crowds screaming at Immigration & Customs Enforcement buses full of kids. Apparently Murrieta thinks that sort of coverage is not a selling point for the town, because they hired Xavier Hermosillo, a "Crisis Manager." This is a typical and prudent move. Across America, if you ask public officials "how can we recapture the media narrative, calm hostility and anger, and promote sensible dialogue," they will inevitably reply "hire an internet talk show host." Hermosillo set to work. What could he do to calm the troubled waters, improve the town's reputation, and...

26

Gleeful Troll Todd Kincannon Files First Amendment Suit Against South Carolina Attorney Authorities

Todd Kincannon is a performance artist working in the medium of outrage — his own, and that of easily gulled critics. Surely you've heard of him. Perhaps you noticed him the time he got Salon in a tizzy over his obnoxious tweets about Wendy Davis, or the time he agitated the Huffington Post with his grotesque tweets about Trayvon Martin, or the time he enraged Daily Kos (and, for that matter, nearly everyone else) by saying transgendered people should be put in camps. Todd Kincannon would like to be Ann Coulter if he grows up, but lacks the subtle charm....

47

Warrants: Bulwark Of Liberty, Or Paper Shield?

We live in an age of diminished privacy and increased law enforcement power. That's why many people were enthused last month when the Supreme Court held that police generally need a warrant to search the data on your cell phone. But just how happy should we be, really?

22

Monday Schadenfreupdates (Now Updated!)

Why do bad things happen to good people? I can't tell you that. But I can tell you that bad things happen eventually to bad people. For instance: 1. Perhaps you remember David Bell, chief fraudster of the U.S. Telecom fraud ring discussed in my "Anatomy of a Scam" series. He's had criminal charges pending in San Bernardino County since 2011. Recently he entered a no contest plea to two counts of grand theft auto, plus enhancements for priors, thus not admitting guilt but admitting that the government could prove those particular counts against him. He'll be sentenced in September....

New Popehat Signal courtesy of Nigel Lew.  Thanks, Nigel! 96

Popehat Signal: Help A Blogger Threatened By A Multi-Level Marketer WorldVentures

It's time for the Popehat Signal — the call for pro bono assistance for a blogger threatened with frivolous and censorious litigation. This time the victim in need of help is Stephanie Yoder of www.twenty-somethingtravel.com. She needs your help to face a thoroughly bogus and repugnant threat by multi-level marketing scheme "WorldVentures."

48

Poseur Pastor Pouts, Pursues Preposterous Proceeding, Procures Painful Penalty

Ergun Caner was angry. There he was, a successful man of God: a published author, Dean and President of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School, a sought-after inspirational speaker. Suddenly, crass miscreants laid him low. Critics pointed out he told puzzlingly inconsistent stories about his background. Though public records and his own book suggested that he emigrated from Sweden to Ohio at the age of four, in his inspirational speeches he claimed he had been raised in Turkey, learned of America only through television, and trained as an Islamic jihadist. Perhaps the story of a foreign jihadist converting...

23

Popehat Signal Update: Dream Team Victory In Texas

I bring good news: top-notch work by generous and dedicated lawyers has produced a free speech victory in Texas. Last year I lit the Popehat Signal seeking help for J. Todd DeShong, a blogger and AIDS activist. DeShong, a longtime critic of the nutty and conspiratorial junk science occasionally directed at AIDS issues, ran afoul of Clark Baker, an ex-cop and full-blown AIDS denialist who offers "expert" "witness" services. You may recall my description of Baker's phone call to DeShong's mother: I interviewed Mr. DeShong's mother, a sweet lady with a spine of Texas steel. She told me about how...

94

Long Time, No See

I've been away from the blog for a while. There will come a time when I'll write about the circumstances of my absence, which were unpleasant. But not today. For now, I'd like to express my gratitude for the support of my family, my co-bloggers here, and the friends who have written and offered good cheer. I'm very fortunate. I'm back. Send in those story tips, requests for free speech help, abusive and confusingly scatological emails, and thus-and-such.

Department of Health And Human Services Threatens Blogger Over Satirical Posts

The blog Addiction Myth is devoted to a very out-of-the-mainstream proposition about medicine: that the entire concept of drug and alcohol addiction is a scam perpetrated by law enforcement, rehab groups, and the entertainment industry. By contrast, the United States Department of Health and Human Services is devoted to mainstream medical and scientific propositions It is perhaps inevitable that these two worldviews would conflict one day. But it was not inevitable that HHS's Office of General Counsel would bumptiously threaten Addiction Myth over obviously satirical posts. That, given minimal good sense, could have been avoided.

D.C. Court of Appeals Agrees To Hear Merits of Anti-SLAPP Appeal In Michael Mann's Defamation Case

In our last episode of the saga of Michael Mann's defamation suit against National Review, Mark Steyn, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg, I explained that the matter was wrapped in a dry, but crucial, procedural issue: the District of Columbia Court of Appeal was faced with whether a defendant who loses a motion under D.C.'s anti-SLAPP law may appeal immediately, or must wait until the end of the case. As I argued, the strategic implications are dire for defamation plaintiffs and defendants: if anti-SLAPP denials are not immediately appealable than much of the value of the statute is...

Why Should Guns Trump Principles?

Charles W. Cooke highlighted this story of state legislation proposed by Florida Republicans: With supporters pointing to Second Amendment rights, the Florida House on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill that seeks to prevent insurers from denying coverage or increasing rates based on customers owning guns or ammunition. . . . House members voted 74-44, along party lines, to approve the bill (SB 424). The Senate also passed the National Rifle Association-backed bill last month, meaning the measure is ready to go to Gov. Rick Scott. The bill would apply to property and automobile insurers and add language to...

The Procedural Tail That Wags The Substantive Dog: Update On Michael Mann's "Hockey Stick" Lawsuit

I've collected, under this tag, my posts about Michael Mann's defamation lawsuit against National Review, Mark Steyn, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg. The lawsuit is back to the District of Columbia Court of Appeal upon the National Review's denial of their renewed anti-SLAPP motion. The key issue currently presented is a procedural one that will strike many non-lawyers as irritatingly dry, obscure, and removed from the heart of the case: when a District of Columbia court denies an anti-SLAPP motion under DC's anti-SLAPP statute, can the losing party appeal immediately, or do they have to wait until the...

Supreme Court Conjures Corrorboration of Anonymous Tip Out of Thin Air To Justify Traffic Stop

Today the United States Supreme Court decided Navarette v. California, upholding a California court's determination that a traffic stop of Navarette's truck — which, as it turned out, contained drugs — was supported by reasonable suspicion, and therefore constitutional. The opinion is here. It's a 5-4 decision, with Justice Thomas writing the majority opinion and Justice Scalia writing the dissent. It should have gone the other way. The issue at hand is the power and reliability of anonymous tips. Here the California Highway Patrol received an anonymous tip through a 911 dispatcher that a silver Ford 150 pickup on a...