Frederick County, Md., Council Member Kirby Delauter threatened a local reporter with a lawsuit for using his name in a story without permission.
was mentioned exactly once in that article about parking issues. We
could explain what he said in his Facebook post on Monday; instead we'll
just point you to the screen grab, captured by The Washington Post.
Screen grab from The Washington Post
Delauter's original post appears to have been removed.
Well, today, the Frederick News-Postresponded,
in an an editorial, which is in the form of an acrostic, originally
scheduled to be published next Sunday. Its headline: "Kirby Delauter,
Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter."
The piece's tone is tongue-in-cheek. Here's an excerpt:
"Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren't surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post
with a lawsuit because we had, he says — and we're not making this up —
been putting Kirby Delauter's name in the paper without Kirby
Delauter's authorization. Attorneys would be called, Kirby Delauter
"In fact, we spent quite some time laughing about it.
Kirby Delauter, an elected official; Kirby Delauter, a public figure?
Surely, Kirby Delauter can't be serious? Kirby Delauter's making a joke,
Do head over to the Frederick News-Post for the full editorial. It's worth the read.
Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter
Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren't surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post with a lawsuit
because we had, he says — and we're not making this up — been putting
Kirby Delauter's name in the paper without Kirby Delauter’s
authorization. Attorneys would be called, Kirby Delauter said.
In fact, we spent
quite some time laughing about it. Kirby Delauter, an elected official;
Kirby Delauter, a public figure? Surely, Kirby Delauter can't be
serious? Kirby Delauter’s making a joke, right?
Round about then, we wondered, if
it’s not a joke, how should we now refer to Kirby Delauter if we can't
use his name (Kirby Delauter)? Could we get away with an entire
editorial of nothing but “Kirby Delauter” repeated over and over again
-- Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter? OK, imagine we agreed
because of temporary madness or something funny in the water that week,
how would we reference "Kirby Delauter" and do our job as journalists
without running afoul of our lack of authorization?
Blanks? Sure, we sometimes use
hyphens in the case of expletives. Perhaps we could do that: "K----
D-------." Or, perhaps, "Councilman [Unauthorized]." We giggled a bit
more than we should have when we came up with "the Councilman Formerly
Known as Commissioner Kirby Delauter," which doesn't seem as funny
written down in black and white and includes his name, which defeats the
point. Maybe we should just put his initials, "KD," with an asterisk to
a footnote (KD*), or refer to him as GLAT, the acronym for his
campaign: "Govern Like A Taxpayer." We could even make it sound a little
hip-hop with a well-placed hyphen: G-Lat. Speaking of, could we get
away with "K-Del"? Or we could simply go with the Harry Potter-esque "He
Who Shall Not be Named." (Cue the lightning strike and peal of
Yet we could take the low road
down even further and childishly mangle "Kirby Delauter" into references
you, the reader, would still understand. "Sherbert Deluder," say. Or
"Derby Kelauter." "Shirley Delaughter" (and don't call me Shirley). We
found a great automatic online anagrammer that generated all kinds of
alternatives and could make it a challenge for our readers to decode
each time we have to reference the councilman: "Rebuked artily." That
was a good one. "Bakery diluter" is just silly but does have a ring
about it. "Keyed rural bit" was another that caught our eye as somewhat
telling, because Kirby Delauter's pretty keyed up. We're sure there's a
joke in "Brutelike Yard" somewhere.
Discernibly, though, Kirby
Delauter's ignorance of what journalism is and does is no joke, and
illustrates one disturbing aspect too prevalent in conservatives’
beliefs: That the media are all-liberal stooges hell bent on pursuing
some fictional leftwing agenda. Generally this "fact" is bleated when
the facts on the ground differ from conservative talking points. Take
Councilman Billy Shreve's abstract, almost nonsensical defense of KD*:
"I think media outlets are cowards and they hide behind the label of
journalists and that's a bully pulpit to expand their liberal” agenda.
Cowards? Tell that to the families of the 60 journalists killed in 2014,
or the 70 in 2013, or the 74 who died in 2012, according to the
Committee to Protect Journalists. All in pursuit of the truth, or the
most reliable version of it at hand in the most dangerous regions of the
Edifying as it may be to lapse
into name calling -- and yes, we allowed ourselves a little childishness
above and maybe a little bit below -- we need to make one serious point
the councilman needs to hear and understand: We will not bow to petty
intimidation tactics because a local politician thinks he can score
political points with his base throwing around empty threats.
Legally, Kirby Delauter has no case.
And why? Here's how Washington
Post blogger Eugene Volokh, who "teaches free speech law, religious
freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief
Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law," nicely sums it up:
“Uh, Council Member: In our
country, newspapers are actually allowed to write about elected
officials (and others) without their permission. It’s an avantgarde
experiment, to be sure, but we’ve had some success with it." You know,
that whole First Amendment thing.
That's why we're taking his
threat with a pinch of salt. We've seen this behavior before (not just
from Kirby Delauter) and it’s worth highlighting again. Bullying seems
to be the only way Kirby "Don't say my name" Delauter feels he can lead.
Only now, the target is not the public at hearings or occasional "punk"
staff member, an arrogant, self-serving, whining middle school teacher
or fellow "moron" commissioner, it's The News-Post. Instead of taking
his job seriously like the voters demanded and the rest of the council
seem to grasp, he's grabbing at distractionary shoot-the-messenger
tactics that make a lot of noise but, to quote Shakespeare, a man who
knew drama when he saw it, noise that "signifies nothing." Frederick
County has big issues to tackle in 2015 and we have yet to hear Kirby
Delauter sound out one single, sensible idea. He used the word "govern"
in his slogan. Maybe he should apply that to his temper first.
Enough. Seriously. What's Kirby
Delauter going to do? Sue everyone who's making fun of him on Twitter
using the #kirbydelauter hashtag, or on Facebook? Boy, his attorney will
be able to retire off that.
Reasonable men (and women) are
required to move Frederick County forward. All Kirby Delauter is doing
yet again is displaying his inability to control his temper,
embarrassing himself, his district, the county and those who voted him
into office. If he wants to govern like a taxpayer, he needs to respect
the taxpayers whose money provides his paycheck, stop this silly,
inflammatory nonsense, and get to work.