Today, a number of bloggers will observe a day of silence to protest the strange and unconstitutional ruling by a Maryland court that had Aaron Walker arrested for, essentially, writing about someone — in a non-threatening manner. The court imposed a restraining order based on how others reacted to Walker’s posts, a clear violation of the First Amendment and existing precedent, and then threw him in jail for refusing to comply with that order. Eugene Volokh wrote a dispassionate review of those events a little over a week ago, and agreed to consult on Walker’s appeal pro bono this week.
Ace proposed the protest:
The only post on Friday will be a bold-faced Open Letter to Congress, urging them to act and not attempt to pass the buck to others.
They are our representatives; we would like some representation.
They vowed to defend and protect the Constitution; they can honor that vow now.
I will post links of Congressmen’s and Senator’s email addresses and offices and phone numbers, and urge every concerned American citizen to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that a crime in progress against the First Amendment (and people’s safety) is occurring, and we humbly request they take this seriously.
They are literally going to get someone killed. That is their endgame here.
In honor of the National Day of Blogger Silence called byAce of Spades, this blog is going dark. But far from shutting up, I’ll be spending the day calling, e-mailing, and tweeting members of Congress, GOP leaders, journalists, and influencers to ask them what they are doing to defend the First Amendment rights of bloggers. This is a day of action, not inaction. Below my column, I’ll list some contact info for elected officials who need to hear from you. …
On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) bravely stepped forward to press this vital issue. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Chambliss decried the “harassing and frightening actions” of Internet menaces who have recently gone after several conservative new media citizen journalists and activists. (VIDEO here.)
GOP Rep. Ken Marchant of Texas also added his voice, telling Holder in a statement that he is “very afraid of the potential chilling effects that these reported actions may have in silencing individuals who would otherwise be inclined to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech.” And the American Center for Law and Justice, a leading conservative free speech public interest law firm, announced it was providing legal representation to the National Bloggers Club – a new media association that has provided support and raised funds for targets of this coordinated harassment. (Full disclosure: I volunteer on the National Bloggers’ Club board of directors.)
The ACLJ described the importance of the case very simply: “Free speech is under attack.”
Sen. Chambliss and Rep. Marchant called specific attention to one terrifying tactic against these bloggers: SWAT-ting. These hoaxes occur “when a perpetrator contacts local police to report a violent incident at a target’s home.” Callers disguise their true identities and locations in order to provoke a potentially deadly SWAT/police response descending upon the targets’ homes.
As online conservatives and now ABC News have reported, recent SWAT-ting victims include New Jersey-based Mike Stack, a blogger and Twitter user targeted last summer after helping to expose disgraced former N.Y. Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s shady social media activities; California blogger Patrick Frey, a deputy district attorney at Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who recently posted a bone-chilling account and audio of his summer 2011 SWATting at his blog, Patterico.com; and CNN Contributor and RedState.com managing editor Erick Erickson, whose Georgia home was targeted by a faker claiming an “accidental shooting” there late last month.
At some point, there will probably be links to other blogs joining the protest; I’ll add them as I see them. Instapundit and Hot Air will be conducting business as usual, but we hope to drive some traffic to the protests, too. Those include: