Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County Council member, took to Facebook a few days ago to threaten a newspaper reporter for using his name without permission in an article.
“Please understand, when you do a hit piece, you need to know who you’re dealing with,” Delauter said. “Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney. Your rights stop where mine start,” he added, very publicly displaying complete ignorance of the law.
Naturally, the Internet was gleeful with snark, mockery and a fake Twitter account. Here are the best of the responses:
The Volokh Conspiracy
Blogger Eugene Volokh was among the first to jump on the incident, writing: “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.”
Jason Linkins points out that this is a perfect example of the Streisand Effect, which refers to the singer’s attempt to get an image of her home suppressed by filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit ended up drawing far more attention to the photo than it would have gotten otherwise.
In this case, the story of Delauter’s threats has gotten far more attention that the original article about staffing and parking spots for elected officials (which mentions Delauter only once). “The news about Delauter’s bizarre Facebook meltdown is now trending on Digg and being shared on Twitter, and the Frederick News-Post story about it is outperforming the original, anodyne story about the parking spaces,” Linkins writes.
The Frederick News-Post
The absolute winner in all of this was newspaper that originally ran the article with Delauter’s “unauthorized” name. They shot back with a brilliant, snarky editorial that uses his name 25 times, plus three in the headline and a bonus: the first letter in each paragraph spells it out. In some of the best bits, they speculate about other ways to refer to Delauter:
“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 … ‘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.”
Lost in the #KirbyDelauter idiocy is @BethRogersFNP’s well-done response to Delauter, defending free speech & explaning journalistic ethics
— Andrew_Langer (@Andrew_Langer) January 6, 2015
The reporter’s original response to Delauter is just as pointed as her paper’s editorial.
No one wanted to leave this alone.
— Amber Hunt (@ReporterAmber) January 6, 2015
Kirby Delauter, Who Didn’t Want His Name In A News Story, Is Now A Story http://t.co/LOyT7QF3le
— NPR News (@nprnews) January 6, 2015
So, as I understand it, the right not to be named now reserved for Yahweh and Frederick Co. Council’s Kirby Delauter. http://t.co/o6vAbtlXND
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) January 6, 2015
I tried to keep my silence but I whispered Kirby Delauter’s name in my troubled sleep. His fell lawyers are coming now. Remember me.
— Popehat (@Popehat) January 6, 2015
— dennisjohnson (@dennisjohnson) January 7, 2015