Freedom of the Press When the Press is a Computer

Convicted Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin

Update: Patterico has written a Reader’s Digest version of this story. 

It seems that blogging has grown up the the point where people are starting to notice — and that’s not always the best thing.  This new medium is being attacked by those whose names appear online.  Sometimes there might be a reason to limit a bloggers writing — defamation, harassment, falsehoods or incitements to violence.

On the other hand, I’ve writing about blogger Aaron Walker and his struggles with convicted Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin.  In short, Walker wrote truthfully about Kimberlin’s past, encouraged others to do the same, and when Kimberlin took legal action Worthing wrote about that. Worthing was one of the group of people who were SWATTed, that is they were visited by police who thought a murder had been committed.  The main connection between SWATTing victims was criticism of convicted Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin or his associates.  I’m not pointing fingers, just noting the amazing coincidences involved here.  Go to for nearly daily updates.  (I can never figure out that linking thing.  Sometimes I have it; sometimes I don’t.)

It’s not hard for me to see the heroes and villains in that story.  In some cases, it might be a tougher call.  Still, the First Amendment allows truthful writing which does not encourage violence.  Lawyers are free to correct me on the nuances of First Amendment law but I’ve been a reporter long enough to know that if you write the truth, and your subject is a public figure, you’re on solid ground.

Kimberlin has Worthing arrested, and the blogger was ordered to stop writing about Kimberlin.  Eventually a competent judge overturned the order.  Now Popehat reports about another case involving a woman who was charged in a hit and run:

Just as in the Walker case, a judge is restraining the blogger from writing about the subject of his previous stories; the judge also ordered previous writing pulled down from the blog.  So, don’t write about this person, and burn your old articles.

Note to Judges: Read the First Amendment and the Supreme Court’s decision involving the Pentagon Papers.  Bloggers might have the reputation of being pajama wearing amateurs, but they still retain the rights of all citizens.

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