Whether to write this post was a struggle.* On the one hand, to do so only draws more attention to a bad thing. On the other hand, the writer is someone of so little significance that no one of any worth gives a damn about what he has to say, although in this instance he managed to get a post published at a soapbox somewhat over his head, giving him a broader reach than he could possibly manage on his own.
But there are more hands involved. The people this writer threw under the bus for his own self-aggrandizement are no better served by me adding fuel to this dumpster fire, even if my purposes are better intended. And on the fourth, and final, hand, these people are far more kind and considerate than the little shit who burned them, offering explanations for this bizarre affront. That is, until the writer’s reaction to a request to take the offending post down was met with their friend’s response of “fuck you.”
Sufficiently vague yet? Time to to try to thread this ugly needle. The writer is a self-proclaimed criminal reformer, Rory Fleming, who briefly wrote for the Fair Punishment Project, the same effort that took on Shaun King to buck up its numbers at the expense of its credibility.
He’s one of the new breed of law school graduates filled with self-importance and passion where knowledge, experience and integrity ought to be. He’s a true believer, even if what he believes in is largely nonsensical crap. To be clear, there’s nothing unusual about this, and he’s one of many young people who are out to change the world for the better, even if he wouldn’t know what better was if it bit him in the ass.
Despite having a law degree, he’s no lawyer. He’s never had the experience of actually dealing with people whose lives are on the line, who have to live with the decisions made by someone who puts their cause ahead of their client. He can afford to believe he knows it all because, in his world, the stakes are so low.
Until he burned his friends.
In a post at The Crime Report, he outed three people who thought they were all friends in the cause of criminal law reform. It’s not that these three people’s past lives were big secrets, but these were the worst moments of their lives, the things that happened to them, that they did, that they were not proud of. If their stories are to be told, it was up to them to tell them. It was their choice of when, where and how to expose the nightmares that haunt them.
What it was not was available for fodder for someone they believed to be friend to burn at his convenience, for his own self-aggrandizement to get a byline and a few pennies as a fee for writing. Yet, that’s what Rory Fleming did.
In the post, Fleming exposed the lives, the flaws, the crimes, of three friends. They were throwaway examples, unnecessary to the post. Maybe he just needed filler to make up the requisite number of words. Maybe he couldn’t think of anything else. Maybe he was too lazy to do a little research to find examples that didn’t involve harming friends. Nonetheless he did. With links back to them, so that it wasn’t merely the retelling of his friends’ worst moments, but connections so a reader could dig into their lives, past and current, to get the full flavor of their offenses.
When I saw the post, I was appalled. Why would these three people want to make their lives more miserable, more locked into the worst things anyone could think of when their names came up? What happened to them was bad enough, but it was crazy to make it worse, to make it as bad as it could possibly be. Years ago, it was understood that you are what Google says you are. Why would they want Google to say they were sex offenders?
So I asked one of the people what he was possibly thinking when he agreed to let Fleming use him as an example for his post. That’s when this changed from a bad decision on their part to an outrageous decision by Fleming.
They didn’t agree. They were never asked. They had no idea Fleming doxxed them.
I learned of the post only by Doug Berman picking it up at Sentencing Law and Policy. When one of the three outed friends asked, I contacted Doug to request that he pull down his post because Fleming never sought nor received permission to out them. Doug did so.
Fleming was also asked to take down his post by one of the guys he unceremoniously threw under the bus for his own benefit. He refused. It was explained to Fleming why what he did was wrong, why using information he possessed from friends that was little more than random examples, filler, to his post, harmed these people by spreading their history further, beyond where they chose it to be.
Fleming didn’t care. Worse, he became abusive toward his friends. Children do that, and Fleming is nothing if not infantile. And so he refused to take down his post, to remove their names and links to their current lives. He burned his friends once when he named them in his post without asking their permission. He burned his friends twice when his response was “fuck you.”
Even then, his friends were reluctant to go after Fleming for what he did. Was he just being foolish and immature? He’s shown exceptional hubris and bad judgment in the past, such as going after Ken White for not being as dedicated to the cause as Fleming, in all his legal experience, demanded he be. Me as well. Was he just a child who reacted to everything with defensiveness, no matter how wrong he was? Was he mentally unstable? Maybe, just maybe, he should be forgiven this violation of trust, this disgrace of throwing his friends under the bus.
Or maybe Rory Fleming is a danger and needs to learn that we don’t burn people for a byline and some filler. We don’t needlessly burn people at all. And we surely don’t gratuitously burn our friends.
*You’ll note that I don’t include a link to the post at issue, or give the names of the three people burned. This is deliberate. I am trying not to exacerbate the harm done to those who deserved better.