. . . is slowly starting to gain traction among more well-known bloggers, due in large part to his taking matters one step too far in chasing Stacy McCain and his family from their home in Maryland and forcing them to relocate to an undisclosed location to protect their safety. Ace has finally had enough and appears ready to pounce on the story in a way that only Ace can. And Michelle Malkin (see the Patterico piece linked at the beginning of this paragraph) is forcing the issue into the foreground, having endured a fair share of harassment at the hands of people like Kimberlin for years.
As I noted in my short post on this subject from yesterday, I first became aware of Brett Kimberlin after reading of the all trouble he was causing for Patrick Frey and Aaron Walker over at Patterico’s Pontifications. It was only recently that it started to really register with me just what kind of maniac we’re talking about here, though — when Stacy McCain seized on the story in his characteristic fashion. At that point, it became just a matter of time before Kimberlin acted out in his own characteristic fashion.
You can question the wisdom of McCain’s decision to do so, and even his rationale. But, whether it all came about by design or an unfortunate miscalculation of how Kimberlin would react (I’m inclined to think it’s the former rather than the latter), the fact of the matter is that this story needed to get out and Stacy McCain took a major risk in seeing to it that it did. It had been rumbling just under the surface of the broader online-right since 2010 with only a few bloggers taking notice — either out of a general reluctance to put themselves at risk by attracting the attention of a man with a history of violence and harassment, or perhaps out of the natural skepticism toward stories that seem just a bit too sensational at first blush when reported by bloggers who are personally involved.
I have to admit being guilty of taking it all with too many grains of salt, myself. Having trawled around the online conservative movement and read my fair share of blog posts that seem just a little too full of personal animus, I’ve developed a kind of dismissive attitude toward those kinds of stories. It’s a kind of “cry wolf” effect that takes hold after reading a large number of blog posts sounding alarms about some obscure figure who turns out to be a lot less menacing after digging a little deeper into the facts. After all, someone could comb through my personal history and find out some of the general miscreancy I engaged in as a teenager and, given sufficient motivation and a knack for hyperbole, portray me as a scofflaw worthy of inclusion on the Ten Most Wanted list.
That’s just the nature of politics and political activism — the tendency to inflate the malevolence of one’s opponents to an absurd degree in order to damage their reputations and render them ineffective. And it happens on both sides in an eternal tit-for-tat, so it’s not always easy to know when someone’s telling of events are colored by an overweening desire to destroy the opposition. Enough exposure to that kind of online activism will eventually give you a jaundiced view of everything you read, causing you to suspect you’re being manipulated in furtherance of someone’s personal vendettas.
So, when the Brett Kimberlin story first surfaced, I couldn’t help wondering whether it was quite the big deal it was being forwarded as, even though I was reading about it from a source I typically trust. Having seen enough blog wars to know that even the most credible, normally level-headed blogger is capable of extreme overreaction when challenged, it seems I’ve been too cavalier in my off-hand dismissal of the threat posed by Brett Kimberlin.
It’s not that I have a diminished view of Patrick Frey or Aaron Walker after witnessing some of the disagreements they’ve had with other bloggers, both on the right and the left. It’s just that I’ve been engaged in this pursuit for so long and seen so much overstatement — a guy bounces a check and he’s described as a scam artist, a barely-of-age young man gets caught in the act with his just-underage girlfriend and he’s a predatory sex offender — that encountering such language used to describe a political adversary automatically leads me to wonder whether something similar is going on.
It’s not that I necessarily doubted their accounts of Kimberlin’s activities up until now so much as the fact that I discounted the true threat as a consequence of having grown desensitized to such stories over the years. And, on top of that, knowing how politicians and activists at the national level are keenly sensitive to unsavory associations and try to avoid people with histories like Kimberlin’s, it’s hard to fathom that how any organization with substantial monetary resources could possibly allow him through the front door, let alone put him in a position of responsibility.
And yet, there he is — big as life. Rubbing elbows with the left’s upper crust in spite of a past so checkered as to prevent him from getting a job running a convenience store cash register. And all the while, he’s engaging in the same sort of psychopathic behavior that landed him in the clink for a good portion of his lifetime — only now, he’s exploiting the court system to do it rather than planting explosives and blowing off people’s limbs.
So, obviously, I was wrong to have not taken this story more seriously a long time ago. Unfortunately, it takes people like Stacy McCain — people willing to subject themselves to the kind of harassment that Kimberlin specializes in to get the truth out so that bloggers like myself and others can do what we do without a cloud of intimidation hanging over us, causing us to measure our words just a little too closely.
Well, thanks to McCain’s sacrifice and the attention it’s finally garnered for the story, we finally have safety in numbers. And those numbers will become apparent this Friday, which has been dubbed by Lee Stranahan as “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day“. Click below to see the video he’s put together in an effort to lend the much needed context behind the story.