The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Newtown Non-Heckling: News Media Lied, Credibility Died!

A while back Juan Williams put down Michelle Malkin by saying she was not a real journalist, but rather “just a blogger.”  It is interesting about her that she didn’t point out that she was also a syndicated columnist who did excellent work in that area.  Instead she said (paraphrase), “yeah, I am just a blogger.  So what?  There is nothing wrong with that.”

And today, she and the mere bloggers at Twitchy have proven to be better journalists than people who traditionally wear that hat.

See, yesterday the pro-gun-control crowd lit up with the story of a grieving father who was “heckled” by pro-gun activists during testimony in the Connecticut General Assembly.  It starts with Neil Heslin, a man who any human being should feel compassion for.  His son, Jesse Lewis, was six when was murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre.  I don’t think most ordinary people can even imagine the inconsolable grief he must feel, even more than a month later.  I disagree with him on what the appropriate response is to this massacre, but I have nothing but compassion for his loss.

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Indeed let’s show him due respect, by sharing a picture of his son and quoting extensively from the WSJ portrait of him (right):

When Barbara McSperrin, of Beacon Falls, Conn., heard news of the shooting on Friday, she sent a text to her friend Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The response came later in the day. The text message from Ms. Lewis said only: "Jesse's gone."

Boisterous and imaginative, Jesse was raised in the village of Sandy Hook with his brother, J.T. Family friends say he played with the family's collection of animals: five horses; a mini-horse; a mini-donkey; three dogs; and chickens. Recently, he was learning to ride horseback, the friends said.

"Jesse was such an incredible light," his mother, Scarlett Lewis, said in a email on Sunday. "So bright and full of love. He lived life with vigor and passion...brave and true."

Jesse liked to think up far-fetched scenarios, asking "What if..." before spinning a hypothetical tale, a family friend said.

A woman who helps look after the family's horses said Jesse and her 8-year-old son used to play in the hayloft and dream up pranks. The last time the boys were together, they had the idea of barricading the door to the barn with bricks.

"He was a force who lit up a room when he entered," Ms. Lewis said. "Compassionate and caring," Jesse was, she said, "wise and soulful beyond his years."

He and his parents were regulars at Newtown's Misty Vale Deli, according to a manager there, Angel Salazar.

On Friday morning, Jesse had ordered his favorite breakfast sandwich—sausage, egg, and cheese—and a hot chocolate, Mr. Salazar said.

He expected to see Jesse again on Saturday morning, when he usually comes in with his mother and a friend. This Saturday, only the friend came, and she delivered the news.

"They told me he ran into the hall to help," Ms. Lewis said. "I can only hope this meant he had less fear and went quickly in his bravery. … It is unbelievable to us that Jesse is now in heaven with Jesus."

Indeed all of the children who died there are profiled here, so you should consider reading the whole thing.  Don’t let the political chattering distract you too much from the simple act of mourning.  It is normal for Second Amendment advocates to be disgusted and resentful when we see the ghouls in the gun control movement jump up and down with glee at the latest shooting.  But we can’t let that resentment cloud our normal respect for the very real and very human grief of the families of those who died at Newtown.  I am not saying you have to do, politically, whatever they want, just show some respect.

And supposedly that respect was breached at meeting of Connecticut’s General Assembly.  Soon word spread around that a grieving father was heckled at this meaning.  “OMG do these gun nuts have no heart?” or so many on the left cried out.

Except, it wasn’t true.  The real journalists at Twitchy went and found the original video of this event and proved no heckling occurred.  You can skip ahead to the 15 minute mark and watch the exchange pretty soon thereafter, but let me respectfully suggest you don’t do that, because there is much more worth watching in that video than just the exchange.


There are several things I get out of watching the whole thing.  First, there is an ordinary sense of human compassion.  You can see that even a month later he is just heartbroken.  And whether you wish to enact his policy proposals or not, we should have every bit of compassion for that and yes let him have his say.  No question.

And the second thing you get is that the people there all got that.  This man several times addresses the audience directly, saying they don’t need assault rifles and similar sentiments.  And through all of it they maintain their respectful silence.  Then finally he says:

I ask if there’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question … why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips.

And you see him at that point look at the audience.  And even then everyone is just quiet.  Then he says: “Not one person can answer that question.”

In other words, at that point, he used their silence against them.  And only then did they speak up.  So they sat patiently being asked by him over and over again to respond, and it was only when he triumphantly declared that their silence meant they had no response, that they decided to respond.  And really you have to have a special breed of chutzpah to say, “see?  No one can answer me!” and then complain if they answer you.  And to Mr. Heslin’s credit, he doesn’t seem to have that kind of shamelessness in him.  If you watch him closely he doesn’t seem offended that they spoke up.  He starts to say, “allright” and my sense of it, was he was literally about to debate with them before a public official told the audience not to respond or they would be cleared out.  Then the very next words out of Heslen’s mouth is to say everyone has a right to their opinion and that he respects those who disagree with him, a perfectly gracious response.

So Mr. Heslin didn’t have that kind of chutzpah, but pretty much all of the usual candidates in the media did.  The worst offender is MSNBC which headlined the article: “Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled by gun nuts.”  That is right, not “gun rights supporters,” but “gun nuts.”  This is what passes for objective journalism over there?

But the most egregious element is how MSNBC deceptively edited the video to bolster their point:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yes, God forbid you embed the entire exchange so that people might see here is literally asking for a response and holding their silence against them.  Nor is this the first time that MSBNC or its affiliates have selectively edited video and audio or the purpose of deception.  And when you do this, you are telling the world that you are not just getting a story wrong.  You are silently confessing that you know it is wrong, and you are knowingly lying about it.

The same can be said for the Telegraph which is usually better than this.  This is the video they embedded:


Their accompanying article is more subdued than MSNBC (no references to “gun nuts” in that one) but this line is precious:

However the tearful father's testimony was interrupted by up to a dozen members of the audience shouting "Second Amendment!", in reference to the clause in the US Constitution that the pro-gun lobby argues enshrines the right to carry arms.

Besides the basic sin of omitting all of the mitigating context so that interrupting him seemed downright reasonable, I particularly enjoyed how they characterized the Second Amendment as where “the pro-gun lobby argues enshrines the right to carry arms.”  Well, Telegraph, the Supreme Court agrees, but really, why don’t you quote it to your readers and let them see what they think?

Meanwhile, to Slate’s credit, while the original article seemed to buy into this lie with the title “Father of Newtown Victim Heckled By Gun Rights Supporters” (again, not “gun nuts”), the present article is radically different.  Now the headline reads “Was the Sandy Hook Dad Really “Heckled”?  The Video Suggests Otherwise.”  And rather than pretend they never made the error in the first place, they run the original misleading piece and then this update correcting the record:

Update: We now have video of Neil Heslin's testimony to Connecticut lawmakers yesterday—during which he was reportedly "heckled" by gun-rights advocates—and the footage suggests that the initial characterization of the incident was more than a little misleading.

At around the 15-minute mark in the video below you'll hear an untold number of gun-rights supporters shout out a variety of Second Amendment-related remarks, just as the the Connecticut Post originally reported occurred in a story headlined "Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing." But the video also shows that those who interjected were responding to a question posed by Heslin.

"Is there anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question, why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips?" Heslin said before pausing and looking around the room. He then continued: "And not one person can answer that question or give me an answer." It was at that point that the the cries of "Second Amendment" can be heard.

Now it's worth pointing out that the audience members aren't supposed to interrupt a witness—a lawmaker running the hearing can be heard asking for the crowd to be quiet—and it's possible that Heslin's question was a rhetorical one, and his pause was simply for dramatic effect. But regardless, it's fairly clear that those gun-rights advocates who spoke up were doing so in response to what they heard as a question. Even if such actions represent an interruption they nonetheless appear to fall well short of heckling, an act that most often comes with an air of harassment associated with it.

If the exchange between Heslin and the pro-gun audience members was noteworthy at all, it's likely because of how relatively civil the whole thing was. The gun-rights advocates quickly quiet down after their short responses; Heslin appears largely unfazed by the shouts.

"We're all entitled to our own opinion and I respect their opinions and their thoughts," Heslin continued after the incident. "I wish they'd respect mine and give it a little bit of thought, and realize it could have been their child that could have been in that school that day."

Here's the video to judge for yourself. Further down below is my original post, for posterity's sake. Based on the original report, the post originally ran under a pair of headlines: "Father of Newtown Victim Interrupted by Shouts of 'Second Amendment!'" and "Father of Newtown Victim Heckled by Gun-Rights Supporters".a

As constructive criticism, I don’t think that Mr. Heslin’s question can be read as rhetorical when he holds their silence against them, but that is a nitpick.  He very accurate describes what happened and then applies his analysis.  His audience is more than sufficiently equipped to disagree with him if they are inclined.  So kudos to Josh Voorhees for openly admitting his error and correcting the record.  [I should probably insert lame Friday the 13th joke here.]

Meanwhile NPR takes the weenie “decide for yourself approach.”  And refers to this report:


The report is reasonably good, especially since it didn’t seem geared toward answering the “was he heckled or not” question.  But I find it interesting in that we had the family of a Sandy Hook victim who says an additional law is not useful.

At the Daily Beast David Frum just buys the story hook, line and sinker.

And Salon continues to butcher what little reputation it had by embellishing the story:

The father of one of the victims of the Newtown school shootings was heckled during a series of gun control hearings in Hartford, Conn. on Monday.

The hearings, which lasted several hours, brought out around 1500 people to the Capitol, including a number of NRA supporters as well as proponents on harsher gun control measures.

But the Connecticut Post reports that the crowds, mostly dominated by gun owners, got somewhat out of hand:

She makes it sound like an unruly mob, which you know by now is bull.

But I saved what, in some ways, is the most egregious example for last: the Connecticut Post article that seems to have started it all.  When I started reading this when researching this post, I noticed something immediately.  Although the headline reads “Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing” the article itself... didn’t seem very concerned with that aspect.  I mean here is the lede, for instance:

HARTFORD -- Some came dressed in camouflage and others in suits.

Some wore National Rifle Association hats, casual clothing or bright power ties and sat next to each other, but on starkly different sides of the raging national argument on gun control.

And it just goes on, talking about everything and overyone but Mr. Heslin until the twenty third paragraph.  That is highly unusual in a newspaper for an incident that earned the headline.  And the discussion of the non-Heckling incident was not nearly as breathless as all of the other descriptions:

"The Second Amendment!" was shouted a couple of times by as many as a dozen gun enthusiasts in the meeting room as Neil Heslin, holding a photo of his slain 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, asked why Bushmaster assault-style weapons are allowed to be sold in the state.

"There are a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened," said Heslin, who said he grew up using guns and was undisturbed by the interruption of his testimony.

"That wasn't just a killing, it was a massacre," said Heslin, who recalled dropping off his son at Sandy Hook Elementary school shortly before Lanza opened fire. "I just hope some good can come out of this."

I mean that description doesn’t even sound like more than responding to a question, which it was.  It certainly doesn’t match the “heckling” description in the title itself.  By then my internet google monkeying “spider sense” immediately went off.  I started to wonder: was the original headline altered in some way?  What did it originally say?  A huge clue is in the web address of the article: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Newtown-dad-to-lawmakers-Change-gun-laws-4228992.php#photo-4098381  Normally I make my links nice and neat, but I want you to read where this is going to because very often web publishing programs make the address automatically match the title.  So for instance, my post on my SWATting incident, “What Happened Tonight” is given the address http://allergic2bull.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-happened-tonight.html. I didn’t command Blogger to make the address that way.  It did that on its own.

So I looked in Google’s handy cache feature, and the cache feature had the article being pretty much the same.  But it clearly indicated it had been updated today, the day after (this happened yesterday, after all).  So we were still not seeing the original.  And then I noticed something else.  I google searched for the phrase Newtown Dad to Lawmakers Change Gun Laws.  I got this:



What this is, is what happens when you float your mouse cursor over the “>>” symbol next to a news story.  Google then shows you a picture of the story as it existed at a previous point in time.  It is hard to read (and you probably want to enlarge it by opening it up in a new window) but you can see that the story was radically different in the original draft.  It more prominently featured Mr. Heslin’s story but in the part shown in the picture I can’t see any mention of the gun rights advocates saying anything, let alone heckling or anything else.  Of course it might be the case that it was mentioned in the part that is not pictured.  So the article was radically altered with a new, misleading headline added.

Now, to their credit, they have also created a second version of the article, with a different internet address, and if you go to http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Father-of-Newtown-victim-heckled-at-hearing-4228992.php?cmpid=twitter, you will see what appears to be an exact copy of the article, but notice now the address reflects the new headline.  In addition to that, they added video from CBS news (which I won't embed because it auto-starts) that shows most of the exchange but the article still mischaracterizes it as “heckling.”

Oh and for bonus points, CBS News also published a similarly misleading account.  But let’s not forget how the CT Post, which presents the article as though its reporter saw the exchange live, added to the deception, instead of clearing it up.

Mmm, come to think of it, many of the writers here have twitter addresses.  The Connecticut Post’s Ken Dixon posts as @KenDixonCT.  And at MSNBC, where they called gun rights supporters “gun nuts,” that article was written by Jane C. Timm, who tweets at @janestreet.  So maybe I should show them a little heckling of my own...

Oh, and what media bias?

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My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger’s Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

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Disclaimer:

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

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