Sky Valley Chronicle; Where The 1st Amendment Meets Crazy
Via Popehat, the SVC published a story that purported to tell of its own sad tale of victimization.
Well, that certainly clears things up, provided paranoid delusions are one's norm. Whether there is truth to the claims or not is unknown. Certainly, there are people on the interwebz, be they bloggers or twitterers, who are vicious and nuts. Anyone with a keyboard and internet access can post any insane screed they like, and it can give rise to some horribly false and vicious, and quite scary, claims.
SkyValleyChronicle.com and it’s [sic] parent company are preparing to file at the earliest possible date documents and evidence designed to result in federal, or at the very least state cyberstalking charges being filed against at least one and possibly more individuals in Washington State that operate a rumor and accusation filled Internet blog and Twitter account, both of which are maintained almost exclusively, according to those who have monitored them over time, as vicious cyber-attack platforms against individuals, companies and institutions.
It would be a whole lot easier to be sympathetic to the SVC's claims if they posted anything, anything, to support their assertion, but being a local newspaper and all, why would they be expected to provide support or substance? But I digress.
After a slew of vague accusations of instability toward their unknown attackers, the SVC makes the point that is supposed to strike fear in the heart of it's (their?) nemesis. They are going to file a federal prosecution against not only the primary disturbed individual cyberstalking, but the many accomplices. it urges the accomplices to come forward to rat out the evil mastermind and thus avoid the consequences:
Should you be a person who was duped into helping the cyberstalker, not understating the full ramifications of what you were getting into or the risks you were assuming – meaning possible criminal prosecution and a conviction that may follow you forever and harm your future employment prospects and the potential of civil action which could place your marital assets at risk – we urge you to contact us with what information you have in this matter as we have no desire to file charges or seek civil remedies against persons who were duped into helping another engage in cyberstalking, not fully understanding what they were getting themselves into.
In an update, they double down on the efforts (despite claims of getting evidence, help and support from people across the country) to turn accomplices into snitches:
THE PERP WILL TAKE YOU DOWN WHEN RUBBER HITS THE ROAD
Because we are serious as a heart attack when we say we will do everything in our power on behalf of all the victims of this person to have every single person who was in consort with the cyberstalker over the years, helping that stalker do damage to many innocent people, to be charged with as many criminal counts as we can possibly help obtain.
And have you priced quality, criminal defense attorneys lately? You'll want to be able to qualify for a very large loan and 2nd mortgage the house to boot.
It's always the lawyer's fault. Ken at Popehat, bemusement at the poor writing and journalistic standards of the SVC notwithstanding, sent them an email to find out what they were talking about.
What is interesting is that I suspect Ken could have gone either way (about the underlying conduct) at that point. He, as have we all, knows the reality of the nutjobs on the internet as well as the thugs who make wild accusations to stifle free speech. It's not always easy to pick sides, even if a local newspaper writes an absurd story, compensating for its lack of substance with an abundance of crazy. Ken received this response to his email in an initial update to the story:
Dear Sky Valley Chronicle Staff,
I am an attorney, a member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, and a blogger on issues including free speech, defamation threats, internet culture, and online misbehavior.
I read with interest your November 30, 2012 post "Sky Valley Chronicle Prepares To File Federal Cyberstalking Charges." As a writer on free speech and legal threat issues — and as a former federal prosecutor — it interested me. I am preparing to write a post about it.
Is anyone at your paper willing to answer some questions about the situation discussed in the article?
A "willingness to help" isn't quite what was suggested, and Ken went on to write a post about the SVC that was neither flattering nor particularly supportive. That's just the sort of thing that makes paranoids go, well, paranoid.
And to the former federal prosecutor who contacted us and indicated a willingness to help put this perp behind bars, we appreciate the contact.
We’ll be getting back in touch with you.
Update 12/4/12: Hey “former federal prosecutor popehat.” We knew you were a tank town shill as soon as your message hit the loading dock. Why do you think no one ever contacted you? Why do think the line above was even slipped in?
Where did you toe pickers and yam heads learn to do intelligence work, amateurville? Be sure and tell cyberpunk the legal walls are slowly closing in and it is hellfire serious business that’s on the way. Oh, And say hi for us to the “sister,” hear? Oh. And did we mention the FBI is about to be contacted regarding an issue that has to do with this case? Ya'all have a nice day now, hear?
I'm informed that the names "toe pickers" and "yam heads" are considered very harsh and hurtful around Snohomish, Washington. As for the rest of it, no one seems to have the slightest clue what they're talking about.
Does the fact that whoever has their fingers on the keyboard at the Sky Valley Chronicle is batshit crazy and a poor writer mean they aren't the victim(s) of cyberstalking? Not at all. But it surely means that whatever passes for journalism around Snohomish has issues, and that the efforts to sway public sentiment toward their plight, as well as convince their nemesis' accomplices (if they exist anywhere outside the haze of a paranoid delusion) to cooperate, with their (its?) hysterical threats of filing a federal charges makes for fun reading.
To the extent there are fears that the recent Washington referendum legalizing the recreational use of marijuana may have a notable impact on the locals' ability to think, this seems to put that point to rest. At least for whoever writes the Sky Valley Chronicle, the horse has left the barn.