About That Whole “Civility” Thing…Althouse Gets Threats

…I think it’s (sadly) already become passe.

Ann Althouse and Meade have been covering the demonstrations in their backyard in Madison.

Today, some Madison jackass using the name Jim Shankman published a threat/blackmail letter on Scrib’ed (probably a violation of the TOS) in which Anne and Meade are instructed to apologize, pay $10,000 to the IWW and other ‘progressive’ organizations (plus free pizza for the protesters!), maintain silence about political issues relating to unions, and stay away from a statue in downtown Madison.

Read the whole piece while it’s up (it’s a massive TOS violation and won’t be there long).

I’ve had a couple people rattle my cage – nothing very serious because I’m not at Althouse’s level of prominence (or maybe because I’m the “Armed” Liberal?).

But this kind of bullying bullshit is far beyond the pale, and while it’s the work of one person – named Jim Shankman – clearly it opens the gates for him, or for someone who reads his drivel (and it’s really bad – a farrago of sexual, political, and economic frustration written by someone who isn’t smart enough to understand that overpaid public-sector workers are making his life as a marginal service worker worse) to tee off on Anne or Meade.

That’s bad.

It’s likely nothing at all except shameful to the guy who wrote and posted it, and to the whopping 82 people who have “liked” it.

This kind of personalized threat is the opposite of what our politics needs right now.

32 thoughts on “About That Whole “Civility” Thing…Althouse Gets Threats”

  1. I’ve left thousands of comments on hundreds of sites since 2002, and the only time I had to contact authorities about a reply I received was due to a reply on Althouse’s blog.

    Her commenters openly set out to get me to stop posting comments there, culminating in that. And, it was all under her watchful eye; she knew what was going on. In the past the comments at her site had been somewhat OK, but that all changed when Althouse decided to pander to the barely-sane tea parties types.

    Your buddy Instapundit also told me to “STFU”… while hiding behind a pseudonym like a little girl (I was able to determine the IP address he used).

    So, please don’t tell me about the new tone or civility: teaparty types are the most vile, most idiotic people I’ve ever seen online and off. What’s described in the post is bad, but TPers aren’t much better.

    P.S. Because the above points out facts about TPers, expect them to respond with lies about me. They aren’t capable of making an argument; they don’t even know what an argument is. So, they lie and smear. Ask them why they’re following someone who joined with Soros to give millions to the ACLU.

  2. Okay, Blather, I’m interested. What kind of threat did you receive after posting on Althouse? Who did you report it to, and what response did you get?

  3. @Blather, genuine question – where did Glenn tell you to STFU? If you’ve got screen caps or other evidence (think Patterico on Hiltzik), I’ll publish it here. Stories plus evidence mean something.


  4. Another genuine question: Why would it be newsworthy to tell an anonymous, and by all appearances very trollish commenter to STFU?

    Sure, it’s not very nice, but it’s not like, hypothetically, Instapundit is sock-puppeting around around on his own site (a la Hiltzik) to build up his own positions and bring down opponents.

    Another genuine question beyond that would be how would you get someone’s IP address off a blogger comment thread?

    I don’t think this guy’s idiocy should be indulged.

  5. Everyone always has an excuse why they and their buddies can be raving jackasses, and it’s almost always because other people on the other side (who aren’t even here) are even bigger raving jackasses.

    Which, really, makes this even more insufferable. Back a few years ago, when the Tea Party was coming to national prominence, and it was becoming apparent that they might be a movement with some staying power, some of my friends on the left were on hair-trigger alert for any conceivable threat or act of violence on the part of the Tea Party. Basically, if a stone flew anywhere within thirty miles of an election center or any public demonstration got heated, I heard about it.

    The silence on their part regarding events in Wisconsin– not the Althouse thing, but just in general– has been deafening.

    It’s not that I think every hyperventilated account of union intimidation is exactly as reported (although, having lived in a union family and spent formative years in a very union town, I’m sure some are.) Or that I think none of the accounts of Tea Party intimidation are unjustified.

    It’s that some of my friends (and I really should use scare quotes, because I won’t bother with some of them any more) carry themselves as though their political leanings define them to be a species apart, morally and ethically distinct from the rest of humanity at large, incapable of acting the way their political opponents do.

    And they’ll happily filter their news consumption until it matches their desire.

  6. AL, I am puzzled about why you would post something like this. By extension, I will admit I am equally puzzled as to why I am responding.

    You found a crazy rant on the internet. Wow. You even found some people who liked it. More wow!

    And what exactly is it supposed to mean?

    I think the issue with civility was whether the type of incoherent, crazy rant that you linked to here was moving higher up the discourse hierarchy and becoming more acceptable in “respectable” quarters; whether elected officials, candidates, spokesmen, paid TV pundits, writers and the like were descending into this world themselves, or appealing to the lunatics, or egging them on — or even merely tolerating them.

    Look, there will always be people who show up at a protest with Hitler mustaches on Obama or Bush photos; people at town hall meetings who will claim the president is a war criminal or a Kenyan-born socialist; people who post, anonymously or not, obscene incoherent rants on blogs. That’s not the point. The point is whether these views are getting official encouragement or sanction. Whether they are creeping away from the fringe and toward the center. At least that is how I understood the debate about civility.

    We should stop looking for the most outrageous figure in the other side of a debate and then try to pretend he or she represents the entire side. Stop going after the weakest link and go after the strongest.

    So, wake me up when someone in a position of power or influence posts a rant like Shankman’s.

  7. Look it up.

    At any rate, you’ve done a complete 180 from the Giffords thread, in which you argued that “I think we need to begin raising the level so it is less simplistic and appealing to the insane”, just to pick one comment you made decrying the general level of political discourse. You were quite certain, just two months ago, that it really really matters what everyone, not just politicians, say.

  8. This page isn’t that hard to find:

    “Glenn Reynolds”:http://24ahead.com/s/glenn-reynolds

    In the summary section you’ll find a link to a page about the “STFU”, just do a find for that term and look at the link.

    Then, further down on the first page, do a find for “Fein” and you’ll see an attack Insty conducted against me in which he referenced “others” telling me to “STFU”. I take that as an admission of guilt, and I’m willing to say it was him. If he says otherwise, maybe he can help find the “real commenter”; maybe FLee Bailey would be willing to help.

  9. After Giffords, people were arguing that its the loons we had to be concerned with riling up (at least after the initial feeding frenzy of assumption that the shooter was a typical tea-party extremist proved disappointingly hollow).

    In sentiment I agree with mark- there are always going to be both idiots and loons, and they are going to get photographed and recorded on the net doing idiotic and loony things. This doesn’t say anything about the merits of the arguments they wander into.

    On the other hand, this _had_ been used as a blunt weapon, and not just by the partisan hacks we expect it from. The MSM has run story after story about the extremism of the tea-party, and have actively ignored the extremism of unions in particular. The track record of both threats and actual violence should have indicated the other direction. That wouldn’t fit the narrative, and I don’t know how you can look at those facts and conclude that there isn’t a narrative.

    Like they say, a lie can run around the world before the truth can gets its shoes tied. Its important to bring this into pubic discourse because otherwise there is no reason to believe it won’t continue. And that’s damned serious, because in the case of the tea party, what we have here is an effort to _delegitimize_ a major political movement. One that happens to severely threaten the entrenched powers in our nation.

  10. Mark #7,

    I do have some sympathies for what you say, since I’ve said similar things in the past. I know you were asking A.L. why he posted, not asking me why I commented, but your post hits close enough to the mark that I’ll answer, too:

    It’s the hypocrisy. And (in my brain, anyway) hypocrisy is time-sensitive. It shouldn’t be, but it is. It’s only been a few months since outlier lunatic comments from the Republican/Tea Party end were held up as a contributing factor in Giffords’ death. When you make a national case like that, there’s an obligation to one’s own sense of integrity to apply that national case even-handedly.

    And it’s also a reaction to my own personal past, and broken friendships over hypocrisy. I sat through enough hand-wringing “This is the end of Democracy!” episodes a few years back to still think poorly when those very same people turn a blind eye to the exact same problem.

    So in short, it’s the hypocrisy, and the bad fucking timing.

  11. To Marc, Marcus & Mark (from mark — can we get a Marco in here): (that was a genuine closing parenthesis and a colon, not a stupid sideways smileyface, btw)

    I’m sure you all share my sense of feeling a little odd chatting about this given all that’s going on around the world at the moment. Not exactly a slow news week. Still…

    About this supposed hypocrisy. Don’t you think there is a significant difference between accusing someone in authority of rhetoric that might lead to a lunatic taking action and accusing a lunatic of rhetoric that might lead to another lunatic taking action.

    It seems to me that the hypocrisy model only works if you put this jackass Shankman in the same category as a person of influence. I mean that the “shame on you for being irresponsible” fingerpoint can only be directed at those you feel ought to be responsible in the first place. Directing it at Shankman is rather like being disappointed that hell is hot, or crime illegal.

    There are leaders and there are followers. The ire following Giffords shooting was not directed at followers, but at leaders. Shankman is an example of the lunatic fringe, not of someone appealing to the lunatic fringe.

  12. That could be true, but where exactly is the evidence that tea-party leadership was using this kind of explosive invective, and critically, doing so in ways that others of similar stature weren’t?

    For instance the charge of using a crosshairs to designate election foes was a story. Was it also a story for those outlets when (inevitably) bloggers dug up democratic campaigns using crosshairs?

    Now the _real_ fun has been fairly high profile democrats that made a stink about the Giffords affair using equally if not more martial and strident language themselves _after_ the fact in regards to this Wisconsin to do. Like Chris Matthews bagging on Palin for martial language… and then issuing a ‘call to arms’ against the unpatriotic? Or like Rep Michael “Get a little bloody” “Capuano”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703775704576162533209090102.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion or State representative “You’re F*&$ing dead” “Gordon Hintz?”:http://www.620wtmj.com/shows/charliesykes/117064153.html

    The point is everything the tea party leadership (such as it exists) has been accused of is in fact so common that blatant hypocrisy within _days_ has been impossible to avoid.

    The only objection i have is asking one side to unilaterally disarm (to risk eliminationist rhetoric of my own).

  13. Blather, one more try:

    When you say you contacted authorities after posting on Althouse, are you referring to your threat to sue commenters who accused you of being a paid shill?

    Pseudonyms cannot be defamed, and anonymous persons can’t sue for libel. Perhaps your attorney has explained this to you already.

  14. Glen Wishard: I realize this is going to be difficult for you to understand, but there’s a difference between civil and criminal. When I point out that I contacted authorities about a reply I received at Althouse’s site, I’m obviously referring to a criminal matter: a criminal threat. That’s different from civil matters such as libel. Obviously, those are just the broad strokes of the issue, but anyone who knows anything about legal matter would realize that I wouldn’t be contacting authorities about someone simply lying about me.

    Regarding your other legal claims, they’re false. If I claim “Nabisco causes leprosy” or “Atrios is a philanderer”, I could be sued. The first isn’t a person, but it doesn’t matter. The second was “anonymous”, but was also a clearly identifiable person as I am whether using this handle, LonewackoDotCom, or 24AheadDotCom. There’s no difference between saying “Atrios is [false statement]” and “D.B. Black is [false statement]”. In fact, the first is even worse. If you disagree, let me know your state/bar number or that of the lawyer who told you otherwise.

    Armed Liberal: obviously I’m LonewackoDotCom, now better known as 24AheadDotCom. I’m using this handle because that’s how I signed up to typepad as many years ago.

    To recap:
    * One poll where I got the “STFU” message was on Insty’s site, another was on the site of his buddy Althouse.
    * The poll on Althouse’s site was about Insty.
    * One of the IPs is located in Knoxville.
    * The other IP belongs to UTenn. When dealing with major entities it would be extremely rare to find a case where the last digit of an IP (i.e., 256 possible IPs) are shared among entities.
    * Insty has promoted other childish activities, such as holding up bunny ears behind politicians’ heads.
    * In a post attacking me, he linked to a minor variant of “STFU”, referring to me:

    The last is definitive as far as I’m concerned. So, I have no qualms about directly accusing Insty of hiding behind a pseudonym to tell me to “STFU”. The possibility that it could be someone else is so exceedingly remote that I think it’s been proven. Others who believe in miracles are welcome to disagree.

  15. @toc – you’re absolutely right, I should have posted something! We actually managed to just drop a phone call on them a day after the quake. Her family lives in A southern suburb of Tokyo, in Yokohama, and in Nagano, up in the mountains.

    The quake hit them but no damage to houses – one cousin had to walk about 13 miles home (see “get home kit”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/003051.html ), and other than the Nagano folks worrying about the reactors (I sent some info about the very real lack of deaths from Chernobyl), they are all fine.


  16. This kind of personalized threat is the opposite of what our politics needs right now.

    I don’t expect it to go away any time soon. Whether we need it or not, it is what we are going to get.

  17. A.L, #21:

    You get the feeling that we’re getting the full quota of historical events for 2011, all jammed into the first three months?

  18. Wow, someone call Alcoa industries. I think i just found a metric ton of aluminum foil that could be recycled.

    Second note, I highly doubt Glen Reynolds would post under a sockpuppet and tell you to “STFU”. His style would be more “Heh, look at this idiot” and then link to your rantings.

    Third, care to explain why you feel it was acceptable to threaten, and attempt to extort Althouse?

  19. Let’s just hope it’s not a decade’s worth of history all jammed into 2011.

    For what it’s worth, the thought struck me a few weeks ago that many of the headlines this year are directly or indirectly related to the financial crash of 2008. I meant to write something more substantial and send it to you to see if you wanted to put it in a separate article, but I recognize now that I’m never going to have time, but in brief, my thoughts are:

    — Wisconsin, and similar movements around the country, are driven by the same dynamics that are driving the Tea Party (and are also being driven by the Tea Party itself), namely, we’re out of money and the crash made that more apparent.

    — Many European headlines that were actually about European affairs have been about the ifs, hows, and whos of various bail-outs: Portugal? Spain? Paid for by Germany? At what political cost, and cost to whom? That’s obviously still the echos of the 2008 credit crunch.

    — The mid-East was sparked by Tunisia, but the specific events in Tunisia were motivated by the crappy economy, which seems to have plummeted faster than the autocrats, dictators and thugs in the region could adapt to. And those economies were also affected by the crunch.

    — The seeming exception is Japan, which earthquake was obviously not crunch-created. But the recovery is crunch-limited which is just as significant, and yet to be seen. Massive amounts of nuclear generating power have been knocked off-line, and they’re back to even heavier dependence on petroleum at a time when Chinese and Indian demand is up, and production is limited due to turmoil in the Middle-East. Not to mention, they’re in debt to the eyebrows, so who is financing the rebuilding? (Not to mention, either, the supply chain disruptions.)

    I think more and more that fifty years from now, the defining early 21st century global event will be seen to be the credit crunch, not 9/11. 9/11 may be the defining American event, and 2001 through 2008 an expression of America’s power, but the credit crunch seems to be having a much bigger, much farther reaching event.

    Or, hey, maybe 2008-2011 are just larger in my mind because I’m closer to them, as I write this.

  20. bq. By extension, I will admit I am equally puzzled as to why I am responding.

    I’m not confused at all; you’re responding in a weak attempt to cast a red herring across the trail.

  21. mark, you have a legitimate point. Where it triggers, I think, is that Althouse is someone I’ve met, continue conversations with, etc. etc. and the deeply personal nature of the threat, tied to the political origin of it, struck me.

    They guy is clearly a loon (which may make him more, not less, dangerous) and an outlier, but I really do see a short path from grabbing cameras and shoving photographers to this.

    Make any more sense?


  22. Yes, A.L., it does make more sense in that personal context why you would be moved to post about the threat. I can, I think, appreciate that.


    There’s no 180. I said then, as I say now, there is a big difference between the impact of what elected officials and would-be elected officials say and the impact of what the rest of us say.

    I don’t see how that view, or the view that people like Shankman exist, and will always exist, undermines my desire for a more rational and civil discourse among the rest of us.

    I see Shankman as insane. I’d like to steer the talk away from him, not towards him.

  23. Blather, read the stuff, and a) that’s a really thin reed on which to try and make a serious accusation.

    The first three digits of the IP address? When Patterico busted Hiltzek, he had full addresses, a carefully constructed timeline, etc. etc.

    None of which I see here. And while I’d gladly publish serious evidence of scamming by _anyone_ – friend or foe – this isn’t that evidence, and for you to come in and make the claims you’re making based on what you’re showing at the link is pretty inappropriate.

    b) you didn’t go by the handle Lonewacko at one point, did you?


  24. mark – you’re right, there’s a ton of stuff I should be writing about, and this weekend I’ll see if I can get an few oars in…


  25. Glad to hear it.

    I am impressed with your kit. I am not nearly that practical, but, then again, I don’t live in California either.

    I did did make me think that I should have at least some of the things around the house.

  26. *9/11 may be the defining American event*

    I think may is the operant word here. After reading your comment, I think that the 2008 meltdown has a better than even chance to surpass 9/11, especially if we have the widespread social unrest that is possible in the wake of a collapsing financial system.

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