On Wednesday November 22, Jason Lee Van Dyke contacted Mockingbird Publishing to drop his lawsuit against us and myself personally. On Friday we agreed to his stipulation to dismiss with prejudice. That means he can not sue for the same article again. The order was filed and the judge agreed yesterday.
Before I pass out the criticism I will give thanks. So thanks to the dozens who donated to my fund raising effort both anonymously and openly. Thanks to the people that stood up on the internet. That means you Ken White. That means you Asher Langton. That means you Talib Kweli. Thanks to Andy Campbell at Huffington post for nearly becoming a co-defendant for covering the story and thanks to Mike Masnick at Techdirt for his biting slap down of Van Dyke over the whole deal. “Mockingbird's Gerry Bello responded appropriately, telling Van Dyke to fuck off, but also stating Bello's opinion (backed up with evidence) that Van Dyke is a Nazi.” It's nice when you tell someone to go kick rocks and a third party enjoys it.
“And if you know the time, give me a sign. Tell me where we draw the line. I got your back if you got mine.My enemy's enemy is my man.One dreadlock is stronger than one strand while the crackers got the upper hand.” -- Psychology, Dead Prez
My wallet is over $5000 lighter. Victory has a price. A personal victory for me and a corporate victory for Mockingbird Publishing is positive if you are me. American civil society does not share in this victory. With a few exceptions, American civil society did nothing to defend itself and it's press freedoms.
The ACLU of Texas did not help. They are suing over a bumper sticker. It gets them press in my news feed. The Proud Boys, who I took on in my original local news article, were amongst the white-supremacist groups in Charlottesville that ACLU sued on behalf of. The violent attack the night before non-withstanding, the defenders of freeze peach quickly tweeted in defense of the car that struck protestors, including a friend of mine, killing one and injuring 19. They attempted to make that look like self-defense on twitter. Their Mea Culpa in the media later was for getting the permit, not for defending murder. A month later when my freeze peach needed defending I heard only crickets.
Although my lawyer in this case is a member of the National Lawyer's Guild, they did not refer me to him. Other working reporters, who had worked the local beats in Houston did. The NLG's referral service gave numbers of liberal lawyers in Austin who declined to take the case if they bothered to return my phone calls at all. It would have been easier for me to find a lawyer in Texas if I had spanked a baby with an ax on the steps of the capitol.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation joined the ACLU in the cricket chorus. I've covered their claims before, and chastised the mainstream media for it's lack of self-defense aptitude. There has been not a word from them.
We live in times where genocide minded enemies of human rights have marched from Birmingham and Berlin to the intersection of K street and Pennsylvania avenue. As I'm fond of saying, “Liberals gotta Wiemar.” What I just witnessed and overcame was the wholesale failure of liberal institutions to defend their own values. They hide behind a Trump-esq false moral equivalency, a famed “on both sides.” I chastised this when it appeared in the Atlantic just prior to Charlottesville, and I'm about to chastise this again.
If this missive of mine has suddenly turned political, that is because the situation always was political. The plaintiff's motivations were purely political, as evidenced in his filings:
“On information and belief, Defendants are associated with a domestic terrorist collective known as “Antifa” that prides itself on harassing, defaming, and committing acts of violence against persons and groups that espouse conservative groups....”
As I said about Beinart in my Atlantic takedown:
“He refers to Antifa in terms of “Antifa is.” No, Antifa is not. Antifa are or they are not. Antifa is a plural descriptive of people with shared politics not an organization. There are many organizations that are conciously and outspokenly antifacist. Some antifascist activists engage in some well-known tactics on occasion. “Antifa is” creates a monolithic organization where none actual exists. If he does not know enough to use singular and plural in the correct context he is not qualified to draw a single conclusion from his limited, carefully currated dataset. Antifascism is an ideology. Antifa is a plural descriptor of Anti-fascist activists engaged in street action. Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP), Anti-Racist Action (ARA), The General Defense Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW-GDC), Red and Anarchist Skinheads (RASH), Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement (HARM) and the Torch Network are anti-fascist organizations. That is just to name a few with strong brand recognition. All of the above have existed for more than 5 years. All but one has existed for more than 20 years.”
So yes, I am an Anti-Fascist. I have always been one. That descriptor comes with some things, like funeral attendance. In doing this for over 20 years I've seen people die. I've consoled family members. I've helped communities fight back. This is not a secret. It's on my bio page.
So Anti-fascist is a generalized political descriptor that applies to me. Anti-Racist Action is an organization that I have never hidden my membership in. Standing up to gas chambers requires no apology. I also don't need a cookie. It's something everyone should do. My current profession is journalist and my current job is building a local publication, writing articles and producing books. This story comes not from my work as a community activist, but as a local reporter.
I was just doing my job. A source came forward with a tip. The tip became a story. The source feared retaliation. I was threatened over the story. I did not back down in the face of the threats. The retaliation landed on me not on my source. The plaintiff's filings lead me to believe he wanted the source
“INTERROGATORY 5: Identify any and all communications, or documents evidencing communications, between Defendant and any third person that relates or pertains to Plaintiff since January 1, 2017.”
My source's identity, and address, like mine would have been a matter of public record. They, like me would be open to legal and extra-legal retaliation. This whole exercise would have been a wholesale intimidation of the process of a free press in our increasingly unfree society. That societies institutions failed it with thunderous silence.
What won out the day is community self-defense. My community of old friends and my newer community of online friends stepped up. The former did so on consistancy of my life long work on this issue. The latter did so because my enemy was already their enemy, as he should be to any person of conscience regardless of political affiliation. We leftists have a word for that. Solidarity. It's tattooed on my arm.
That solidarity will be tested again. Mr Van Dyke is a self-admitted member of an organization. He is not their topmost leader, despite appearing in a puff-peice documentary on NBC. He takes orders. This is evidenced by his final communication to my lawyer:
“My supervisor has instructed me to confer with you concerning a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice for the Mockingbird case and to sign one if you are willing to agree to it.”
I was under the impression that Van Dyke was solely self-employed and ran his law practice from his home. In his libel suit he did not contest that as untrue. Perhaps he overlooked this. Perhaps he has a side job for extra cash. I take other work sometimes as well, that is the nature of the new economy. I don't take jobs that tell me who I can sue and what rights of mine I am permitted to defend. It is clear from Mr Van Dyke's threats to the Texas bar that he values his independence as well. However he signed off with:
“This letter is nothing more, and is not intended to me anything more, than compliance with an order from my immediate supervisor at the company where I am employed.”
It is clear that this is a man who takes orders from someone. Who that someone might be is not clear but I have my suspicions. Investigating and confirming my suspicions is what I do. It's my job. That truth will out, I'm a patient man.
With this Van Dyke business out of the way, there are a great many things to investigate and write about as a local beat reporter. There is local city and sports corruption (looking at you Columbus Crew, looking at you Columbus Foundation), Police misconduct (looking at you chief Jacobs, looking at you Dave Phalen), other fascists in the area and their enablers (looking at you New York Times), and political corruption that stretches from local to national (looking at you Andy Ginther).
One thing a human rights reporter does not suffer from is an oppression shortage. I hope the new friend I have made and met will be informed by my ongoing work now that I can get back to it.