Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rob Riley and Liberty Duke take a thrashing as news analyst in Russia tackles my "arrest for blogging" in Alabama, under America's vaunted First Amendment

RUPosters Web site
We recently discovered that my 2013 "arrest for blogging" in Alabama has been the subject of coverage and commentary at a news forum in, of all places, Russia. Commenters in Russia seem to say the case proves America's First Amendment is not so great after all; they certainly are on target with that.

The Web site RUPosters featured the jailing of Legal Schnauzer, complete with my mugshot from the Shelby County Jail, in a piece dated January 13, 2014. The headline is "Блогера из Алабамы посадили в тюрьму за ряд скандальных публикаций о местной элите." For those who need a little translation on that, it comes to roughly "Alabama blogger jailed for row of scandalous publications about local elite."

Rob and Bob Riley
No byline appears on the story, but I have to give the writer props for pretty much trashing Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and his "gal pal" Liberty Duke. Here's how the story translates into English, more or less:

More than 200 bloggers and journalists around the world are languishing in prisons for their publications and convictions. Most of them - the inhabitants of the developing world, one way or another angered their own government. Among them, for example, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi , who was sentenced to death for "insulting Islam" and "cyber-terrorism." However, there are glaring examples in the West.

Meet Roger Schuler, a 57-year-old resident of Alabama, the only blogger in the Western Hemisphere who was imprisoned for his work and literally turned the concept of "freedom of speech" inside out. Roger has been the blog Legal Schnauzer for political investigations, scandals and intrigues for several years now . In fact, Schuler can be called a kind of “American Navalny”, only with a “yellowish” tinge, because in his publications there are very juicy details about the lives of the characters.

A blogger has repeatedly sued the political and legal elite of his state, without ceasing to disclose either the corruption schemes of those in power, or the connections of federal judges with the secret gay community. But in 2013, another series of publications ended for him with an indefinite term of imprisonment. That in itself is a blatant fact for the United States, where they are so proud of the freedom and rights of citizens.

It all started with the fact that Schuler published in his blog a series of posts in which he accused the local lawyer, Republican Robert Riley, Jr. of the immoral way of life. Referring to his own sources, the blogger argued that Riley had a relationship with the woman "on the side", which ended in an abortion. By itself, the news is not unique, if you do not take into account the fact that Robert Riley is the son of the former governor of Alabama and planned to run for the US Congress. It should be noted that for the Republican candidate for congressmen, such publications can put an end to a political career, since the party is in favor of nepotism and abortion.

In general, immediately after the announcement of the abortion, Roger Schuler had problems. At first, the governor’s son and his mistress obtained an injunction - a local judge, without going into too much detail, forbade Roger to publish any “slanderous” material about future congressman Riley and his colleagues (mistress) Liberty Duke.

Naturally, the blogger did not stop publishing (and did not delete the old materials), because he was sure that he was fully protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution . However, in October 2013, the local sheriff’s department entered the game, arresting Shuler during a car search for "disrespect for the law" and police resistance.

Immediately after his arrest, an information campaign began against him - a number of Republican bloggers accused Shuler of spreading rumors and “cyberbullying”. The goal is quite obvious - Robert Riley had to show Schuler as an ordinary custom slanderer who has nothing to do with journalism.

In November, a second trial of a blogger took place, in which the local judge made a condition: either Schuler deletes all publications about Riley concerning abortion and adultery, and also pays $ 34,000 in legal costs, or remains behind bars for an indefinite period. Naturally, such a decision was not aimed at restoring justice, but at keeping Schuler behind bars as long as possible. Most likely, until the elections are over or until he decides to remove the unfortunate materials. At the moment, Roger Schuler is still in custody, refusing to comply with the requirements of the court. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called Schuler "the only prisoner journalist in North America."

In general, looking at this whole story, it becomes obvious that the so-called "freedom of speech," as well as the right to privacy in the United States, are very vague and amorphous concepts. On the one hand, none of the public people in the USA have any guarantees that their personal lives are protected, which often ruins not only careers, but also families. On the other hand, it turns out that even the regional power in America has a very wide toolkit for closing unwanted information from the public eye, and the famous American Bill of Rights is just a historical exhibit that has long lost its relevance.

The article includes a few inaccuracies, but considering the language and cultural barriers involved, I'd say the Russian writer provided a crisp, insightful analysis. By the way, I've been putting up with misspellings of my last name pretty much my whole life, so it seems appropriate that they would get it wrong in Russia, too.

Liberty Duke
As for comments from everyday Russians -- at least, I assume they are everyday Russians and not inhabitants of a troll farm -- I found a number of them at this link. Here is the comment that jumped out at me:

hott_griff, а быть Алексеем Навальным в России, в принципе очень удобно. Можно с утра до вечера поливать государство грязью, пилить какие–то обвинительные "расследования" основанные на допущениях и "аналитических утверждениях" вместо доказательств — и тебе за это особо ничего не и будет. Это же не Штаты, где такой американский Навальный слегка наехал на сына бывшего губернатора Алабамы (ну, как "наехал", всего–то о его любовнице написал) — и тут же... хоба... наручники, суд, обвинения в клевете. А потом и дабл хоба: судебный запрет на публикации, каталажка. Да не понарошку — на 15 суток с цветами и толпой поклонников на выходе, как у Алексея в тоталитарном Мордоре, а по–взрослому. Сразу на полгодика. Для острастки. Ибо американская демократия и свобода слова, это вам не хрен собачий.

I ran that through a translation Web site and came up with this:

hotel_griff, and to be Alexei Navalny in Russia, in principle, very convenient. From the morning until the evening to water the state of the mud, cut some indictment of "investigation" based on assumptions and "analytic statements" instead of evidence — and you for that nothing will. This is not the States where such an American Navalny slightly ran over the son of the former Governor of Alabama (well, as "hit", just something about his mistress wrote)–and then... hoba... handcuffs, court, libel charges. And then double hub: judicial ban on publication, the Slammer. Yes, not for fun-for 15 days with flowers and a crowd of fans at the exit, like Alexei in a totalitarian Mordor, and in an adult way. Once in half a year. For a thrill. For American democracy and freedom of speech, this is not a fucking dog.

I can't help but chuckle at that because our Russian friend seems so sarcastic and snarky, in a way that is almost "un-American." I've highlighted the few segments I kind of understand. As for the rest, it makes for fun reading, across the oceans, even if we are not so sure what the guy is trying to say.

No comments: