Three years ago, Karoli Kuns joined in Team Kimberlin’s effort to spin a false narrative about me and my interactions with Bill Schmalfeldt. That resulted in a chain of posts three years ago today that began with this one.
* * * * *
I see that Karoli Kuns has a long piece up at Crooks and Liars. Clearly, it was not subjected to fact checking. Consider this typical paragraph which I will fisk:
To a large extent, it succeeded. Hoge filed numerous requests for peace orders which were routinely rejected by the Court. [I filed two.] After they were denied, Hoge appealed. [Only the first one.] Finally, Hoge scored on appeal and found a sympathetic ear in Judge Thomas Stansfield of Carroll County, who had no experience with online social networks or blogs. Judge Stansfield granted Hoge his peace order under Maryland’s domestic violence laws. [No. The peace order was granted under a Courts & Judicial Procedures statute. Protective orders, which are not the same thing, are granted under a Family Law article.] Schmalfeldt was ordered not to contact Hoge at work [No. The order does not mention my workplace because I was retired at the time it was issued.] or contact him by phone. (None of these things had ever happened or could happen because Schmalfeldt does not have the physical ability or desire to visit Hoge anywhere at any time.) He was also barred from contacting Hoge via email. [He is prohibited from contacting (by any means), attempting to contact, or harassing me.]
I’ve been told that accuracy in reporting has never been Karoli’s strong suit. After reading stuff like this, I’m inclined to believe that characterization.
She is no more accurate in her description of the state of the law in Maryland.
But Maryland also needs to evaluate how they’ve structured their peace order process. A simple refinement to the law which limited peace order requests to those where there was an established domestic relationship or closer physical proximity would have eliminated this problem and ended a lot of stress and aggravation for Schmalfeldt. As it stands now, any Maryland citizen can invent the idea that a criminal act has been committed against them online, take that idea to the courthouse and turn it into a peace order. This entraps people in a litigation net who do not belong there while depriving them of the same protections other citizens receive.
In fact, Maryland has two different procedures for dealing with conflicts outside of the criminal justice system. The first, Protective Orders, deals conflicts between family members or domestic partners. This is what Brett Kimberlin sought to use against his wife, unsuccessfully in the end.
The second, Peace Orders, deals with conflict between non-related parties. To obtain a peace order, one must prove (to the “clear and convincing” standard) to a judge during an adversarial hearing that one is the victim of one or more of a specified list of crimes. In my case against Schmalfeldt that was harassment. Harassment via the Internet is harassment. There is not an exception because blogs or Twitter were used.
I am not amused by this either.
UPDATE—Karoli has taken down comments to her post that relate to the actual facts of the situation with Bill Schmalfeldt, and she has announce that she will not permit any more such comments. She claims that her post is really about how screwed up Maryland’s laws are. If they were as she describes them, I would probably agree. However, she does not correctly describe Maryland’s Peace Order stature or how it works.
Not only does she have her facts wrong, she has her facts about the law wrong.
* * * * *
That post prompted Matt Osborne to butt in and me to post this in response to him.
* * * * *
What Matt Osborne is lamely trying to do is appeal to everyone’s inherent sense of justice. Human beings are wired to favor fairness, and, of course, it would be unfair for me to engage in sadistic harassment. One of the problems with the question is its being based on the false premise that I am the harasser in the Hoge/Schmalfeldt interaction.
There is an important theological problem with Osborne’s question as well, and I intend to deal with it in a longer post later today.
* * * * *
And I wrote about that theological problem in this post called On Justice.
* * * * *
Every one of us has said it beginning from the time we were small children. Human beings seem to be wired with a predisposition to fairness. Indeed, evolutionary psychologists like Jonathan Haidt believe that the moral sense of fairness is a universal human trait. Outrage is a normal, heathy response to unfair treatment. We want the world to be set to rights. We want justice in what seems to be an unjust world.
As a Christian, I believe that the source of justice is God. It says in Genesis that we were created in His image, so it makes sense to me that more we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to be what God intends for us to be, the more we would desire justice. Sometimes Christians are called to deal with the grander problems of the world—think of William Wilberforce, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—but, most of the the time, most of us deal with the seemingly smaller injustices of the world. Sometimes a Christian is called to stand up to a bully.
Bill Schmalfeldt is a such a bully. For years, he has harassed others on the Internet, and no one was able to bring him to justice. That task seems to have fallen to me.
Schmalfeldt’s surprised reaction has been to whine, “No fair! You hit me back.” However, even that’s not strictly true. I haven’t taken personal revenge on him. I’ve reported him to the proper authorities and left any action taken to them.
The real question I face is not what Jesus thinks of my allegedly sadistic treatment of Bill Schmalfeldt. That question is based in the false premise that I am the sadist in the interactions between us. No, the real question is what Jesus would think of my failure to stand up a thug like Schmalffeldt who is bullying others.
Has my response to Schmalfeldt been perfect? Probably not. But my conscience is clear. It would not be if I had failed to step in between him and some of his victims.
* * * * *
I’m not done with him yet.