Terrorism Against Journalism: SWATting Bloggers and Other Harrassment

Blogger Patrick Frey has recently revealed details of how he was nearly murdered for being Conservative While Blogging.

As I read this story, I had a creeping sense of horror. And my oft-stated sentiment that maybe I made a mistake ten years ago by blogging under my own real name became a genuinely fearful reaction.

Really, this should be called terrorism.

I’ve been known to call some people who comment anonymously on the internet cowards, at least when they make vicious inflammatory comments that they know no one will be able to call them out on. I’ve always been proud of the fact that, even when I’ve embarrassed myself by losing my temper or drunkblogging, writing things I regretted, I could always say without shame that at least I wasn’t hiding myself and was willing to take the heat for whatever I said. Even if I was harshly critical of a person, you knew who I was, I wasn’t hiding under a fake name so I could say nasty things and not have to own up to it.

But in my ten years of blogging, I know I’ve been professionally slandered, that it has at times hurt my career, and I’ve known people who lost their jobs just through saying things online (including commenters and guest posters on Dean’s World) that someone didn’t like. I have been targeted for online harassment, including sometimes-innocent but sometimes obviously-intentional out-of-context quotations of my work, but I shrugged it off as “just part of the internet, man.” I have received threats, but usually shrugged them off although occasionally feeling the need to note, “by the way, I do own a gun and know how to use it in defense of self and my family.”

But this appalling attack on Patrick Frey has me wondering if I shouldn’t simply pull my blog completely offline, root and branch, and start over somewhere else with a different name that no one will know. There are times when I’m pretty sure blogging here has hurt my career, and now I begin to wonder if it could hurt me or someone I love in a much more direct way.

This is not a f*n joke: they could have KILLED Patrick Frey. For the audacity of having opinions they don’t like, and for committing shameless acts of journalism they didn’t care for.

I worry about it now. I write something someone doesn’t like: about feminism, about AIDS, about Islam, about Fundamentalist Christianity and its Rapture Cult, about the Tea Party, about Occupy Wall Street, or Obama, or Bush, or the Iraq War, about men’s rights, or abortion, and not only might some lunatic come looking for me, but worse, someone might attempt what could be called “murder by cop” just because they don’t like my opinion?

The cops could have killed this man. Not because the cops were bad, but because they were doing their jobs and some slimebag who hated him filed a phony police report. One wrong move by Frey there, one rookie cop whose training slipped for just a second, and we might be talking about the man’s f*n FUNERAL.

I want to vomit.

I offer a prayer for you and your family, Patrick. We may have had our agreements and our disagreements these last 10 years, but my God man. I’m so sorry. I hope they not only find this bastard but that he does hard, serious time. They probably can’t call it attempted murder, but whatever the maximum penalty for filing a police report is, and anything else they can book him for, I hope that’s what he gets.

And by the way, let’s not forget to call this what it is: an assault on journalism and free press.

(This item cross-posted to Dean’s World.)

Author: DEAN ESMAY, Guest Voice Columnist

Dean Esmay is a long-time associate of Joe Gandelman and The Moderate Voice. He is Managing Editor of A Voice for Men. He also blogs on a variety of issues at Dean's World, one of the world's first blogs and one of the few that was archived as Historically Significant by the Library of Congress for the 2004 elections. You can also follow Dean via Twitter here.