The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Desperate Cowardice of Statist Anonymity

Originally, today’s blog article was going to be about the SBA’s new report on the cost of regulation for small business. But that changed when I received an e-mail from a friend in DC. The e-mail was letting me know about a series of totally false allegations being levied anonymously on the internet against John Berlau, Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow at CEI (where I used to work). So, I thought I'd write today about a certain tactic of the statist left: the lie from the anonymous source.

One of the things I look askance at is anonymous or pseudonymous criticism. Now, I know that one of the hallmarks of a free society is the ability of someone to criticize someone else from behind the mask of anonymity. But it always seems that the most ill-thought, most base, bad-intentioned, insulting, and untrue critiques come from those writing anonymously or pseudonymously.

When I used to write on Usenet, I developed a fan base, as I’ve mentioned (and I use that term facetiously. I do not mean that these people were actual fans of mine). Some of my “fans” indeed did use their real names, but several of them wrote under pseudonyms. More often than not, these pseudonymous posters fell into that category of writing base, insulting, non-germane, and outrageously untrue things—and they were statists.

For instance, there was a poster named Devin McAndrews, who posted under the pseudonym of “Chive Mynde” (among other pseudonyms – frequently, they would talk to one another). Devin was the worst kind of extreme statist pseudonymous troll – and he reveled in the fact that his pseudonymity rendered him rather untouchable. Like many egotists (and I should take this time to caution folks against their hubris – all men are mortal), he thought he could write anything with impunity. But like all who let their egos make their decisions for them, eventually he went too far.

He stepped over the line, and he was beaten back. Swiftly and soundly. By me. And like all cowards who have been so exposed, he eventually retreated.

And pseudonymous criticism has come to the Liberty Blog, too – like the comment from Leftist Southpaw in response to my RIP sentiments for Chief Justice Rehnquist.

One of the issues that I still plan on discussing here is the role that regulations have played in exacerbating the problems caused by Katrina (and now Rita) – things like an energy policy driven by environmentalist NIMBYism that has resulted in having a substantial portion of our oil drilling, refining and shipping capacities concentrated in the middle of hurricaine country. Or the role that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the abuse of that law by environmentalists which resulted in the prevention of much-needed repairs, upgrades and expansion of lowland Louisiana’s complex levee system.

This has been studied by the House Resources Committee, and a number of commentators have written on it. One of these was John Berlau, who as I said earlier is the current Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Well, apparently Berlau’s writings have hit a little too close to home for somebody in and around the DC area, because starting soon after John’s first article exposing this important bit of dot-connecting, he found himself the target of a series of anonymous attacks. About a week ago, a mysterious post appeared on the DC Craigslist boards, strangely accusing Berlau of working with the Arlington Police Department to either entrap prostitutes or their clients, offering amnesty if they were to cooperate for an article he was supposedly writing.

Since the first post, a series appeared – the themes and players changed somewhat. Some included the mentioning of an intern. Others mentioned Jacob Sullum. All had some variation on the thought that Berlau was writing on behalf of CEI and Reason (either the Reason Foundation or Reason Magazine)

But here’s the first problem: anyone who knows Reason or CEI knows that they wouldn’t be involved in sanctioning a story like this. CEI is focused on regulation and economics, and has no interest in issues surrounding prostitution, while Reason wouldn’t be involved in anything that would smack of entrapment by law enforcement.

So it’s all a load of bull-flop. It is completely and unequivocally untrue. An utter and total falsehood. A lie. John Berlau has no intern – let alone a hot blonde one (with or without a New Jersey accent, as was asserted). He’s not doing a story on hookers and their johns, in Arlington County or anywhere else for that matter. He's not a smoker, never has been, certainly not a chain smoker. Reason and CEI are similarly not involved in this at all. Nick Gillespie, Jacob Sullum, et al, are similarly uninvolved.

The intent was clear: to taint John Berlau’s reputation (along with that of CEI, Reason and Jacob Sullum) in order to call into question Berlau’s research and writing. It’s classic misdirection: a bit of salaciously fallacious reasoning known as “argumentum ad hominem”. They can’t argue with what Berlau has written, so they’re going to try and lead you into either ignoring the substance of what he’s saying, or simply not believing the source because of their assertions regarding him.

And in the end, we’re left with nothing more than a classic tale of desperate statists who, unable to withstand the bright light of scrutiny when it underscores just how bereft of merit their public policies are, when it demonstrates just how people are far more harmed than helped by their obstructionist big government approach to issues, must turn to heinously anonymous attacks in a vain attempt to discredit their critics.

It's happened to me - I've been accused of all sorts of dastardly deeds. I've had my wife contacted (by a certain "activist" who tried bringing her unique brand of slimery onto the Liberty Blog, with no success), I've had friends call and ask, "Who the hell is this person and why does she have all these web pages written about you?" But I've stuck to my guns and weathered it - obviously, if what I said wasn't true, they simply wouldn't care.

So, take heart, John Berlau. We know it isn't true. We stand by you and what you've written, and no anonymous liars are going to change that.

- Andrew Langer


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October 07, 2005 1:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know some of you remember me because I still get emails. I guess maybe it is a cosmic coincidence that I am posting this today!

I'm the guy with the delivery company--a couple of my guys parked near the Dupont Scientology place, and the Scientologists went crazy when they mentioned blinkers. The Scientologists have been hassling me ever since then.

Well guess what I did? I went to that Scientology place on Monday afternoon.

I took the metro as I know parking is a pain around there.

I ignored the people outside, walked in like I had business there.

A young man asked if he could help me. I told him who I was and that I wanted to talk to someone in charge. His eyes got very big, but he stayed calm. He asked me to have a seat and wait.

I sat and waited. I have to tell you that they have a very nice place. I think it used to be a house. Someone obviously spent a lot of money on it.

Well a woman came out and asked me to come with her. We went into a little office.

She introduced herself, I won't give the name though.

By the way, I brought a yellow pad and made it clear I was going to take notes.

I told her I wanted the harassment to stop. I layed out what had happened, that they had been calling truck companies and had shown up when I was doing a pickup and told the people there my company was a bunch of religious bigots.

I told her as far as I knew the word blinker was the common term for the flashing lights on a truck.

I told her that hassling a small business over a word is ridiculous, and that if we could come to some kind of understanding I'd have to find another solution. I had thought about taking the two guys with me but then I thought they might have thought we'd get violent.

She said she'd wished I'd made an appointment. I told her maybe THEY should have made an appointment instead of just showing up and hassling me. I also told her that I did look on their website and it was not clear how to make appointments.

She asked me what I knew about blinkers and I asked her if she meant not the truck kind and she said yes. I told her I had looked on the web and it said that they were teleporting cats and that they were either made from cat dna or that their dna was the basis of cats. It also said that these cats are part of the invaders that are part of Scientology religion.

She said that there are many advanced teachings in Scientology. She asked me what religion I was and I would not tell her. She asked why and I told her I was there to get to the bottom of this and not to tell her my life story. She asked if I knew what was meant by a religion having advanced teachings. I told her not really.

She said in Scientology people come in at the level of preclear and move up the bridge. She showed me a picture of this bridge, there are many steps along the way to something called the OT levels. She said that OT is Operating Thetan and is the highest level.

She said along the way you have to learn various things and that L. Ron Hubbard designed the bridge so you learned things as you needed to learn them.

I asked her what the harm was in accidentally learning something early--like learning about the blinkers.

She said and was very serious that there were cases where people had learned things early and been harmed. She told me there was a court case where some other things had been leaked and they took steps to protect the judge who reviewed the leaked papers.

She also said that there are people who stole Scientology materials and use them in something called the Free Zone. She said that this violates the Scientology copyright. She told me that I should have made an appointment with something called the Religious Technology Center in Los Angeles but that since I was not a Scientologist I might not have understood the web site. I told her I did not know what that was and was certainly not going to go to Los Angeles for no reason.

She said that the Religious Technology Center protects Scientology's copyrights and makes sure that the material is used as it was designed. I asked if it was like quality control and she said yes. She said that Scientology is very precise and gets results if it is applied as designed. I told her that made sense but where was the harm in knowing about these blinker cats. In fact, I told her, the guys on the truck did not even know that the word blinker had anything at all to do with Scientology and that maybe they should use less common words for such sensitive things.

She told me that she had no control over what things were called that everything was based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

I said well it is a good thing Hubbard didn't decide that the word mover is not some other kind of monster or I'd be in even more trouble. I don't think she got the joke. She repeated what she said about Hubbard's writings.

I said well OK what happens now. I said you are harassing me for what, because we parked near you, that's our right and because someone said blinker? I think that's legal too.

She said that we did not have a parking permit. I told her we did not need one. I told her I'd been in the business for quite a while, I know what permits I need. I also told her that if we had a permit violation, DC should deal with us and not her and that it had nothing to do with bigotry or religious secrets.

I told her that they have a special meaning for the word clear, is it a problem if we say something is not clear or that glass is clear? She said no as clear is not part of an advanced teaching. I said that's nuts, how are people who are not Scientologists supposed to know all of this? I said you are hassling my business because someone said blinker. I said Catholics would not get upset if we said cross or mass outside a church and Jews would not get upset if you said pass over.

She said, and I'm not kidding, that this was one good reason to study Scientology. I said why, so people won't break some odd rule? I told her that certain things were obviously offensive to different religions but they were pretty well known. I also told her I thought it was pretty rare for a religion to hassle someone over something so minor.

Then she said well you posted this story of yours on the Internet. She said you mentioned the blinkers. I said well yes I did as the last time I checked America still had free speech. I told her they post all kinds of stuff on the Internet and why are they better than me.

She said well we don't post other religions' advanced teachings or make fun of them. I told her that if I'm making fun of anything at all I'm making fun of their intolerance of the use of a common word in its usual meaning. I told her that if there's any bigotry going on it is against what seems to be some pretty serious stupidity. I told her they had hassled me way more than I had hassled them if I had even hassled them at all. I told her as far as I knew no one had had any problems from hearing us say blinkers. I asked her what would happen if a Scientologist went to the store and someone said they had left their blinkers on and they happened to hear it.

I asked her why, if this word is so dangerous or whatever that something hasn't happened before. I asked her why if these cats exist why hadn't the government done something about them.

At this point she said something about governments suppressing Scientology but I interrupted her and just kept going.

I told her I could have lived the rest of my life and not had a clue about these flying space cats if this had not happened. I told her that there are lots of moves and deliveries in her area and that they should be used to seeing this by now. I told her that when all of the stuff for this building got moved in that someone must have parked nearby to move it.

I told her I'd had it. I told her she was costing me money and my employees did not like being hassled and followed. I reminded her that I was taking notes and that I was most certainly going to post about the meeting. I told her if she had anything to say she had better get with it and say it as I'd heard about enough about parking permits and dangerous advanced teachings.

She asked if the comment about dangerous advanced teachings was making fun of Scientology and I said well maybe a little. I told her I'd been using the word for years and nothing had happened. I told her that I'd accept that they had advanced teaching but did not see how they could be dangerous. I asked her if she could give me any evidence of this danger and she said the danger was there but she was not allowed to give me an examples.

I said well that's about it, what are you going to do about this? I told her I was really upset and since the problem started here in this building that's where I'd come back to.

She asked me to wait outside while she made a phone call. I said maybe a conference call would be best and she said no. She said she would make a call and that she would have an answer for me at the end of the call.

So I wandered around the lobby for about twenty minutes. I thought they would watch me but if they were it was through hidden cameras. But maybe not, as another woman came up and asked if she could help me and I told her I was in a meeting with the other woman, they do not seem to be all that organized, and there were a lot of people wandering around in there.

Well she came back out and asked me to come back into the office. She said she had been talking to people at the Religious Technology Center about me. She said the disclosure of the advanced teaching about blinkers was recent and a major concern of theirs. She said it was a policy order that anyone not in good standing and disseminating data about blinkers was subject to a suppressive person declaration. That's pretty much what she said and yes I did ask her what it meant.

She said that it meant that in order to control the flow of information about advanced teachings that persons doing so without authorization were declared as suppressive. I told her I was not suppressing anything. She said that I was suppressing Scientology. I said well what happens now.

She said there were various procedures. She said I really should consider becoming a Scientologist in good standing as that would be the easiest way to get the suppressive declare revoked. I said I was not about to convert to her religion over this. She said then I needed to go ahead and make amends in the form of overts and withholds although she said it is hard to do this if you are not a Scientologist.

I told her I was having nothing to do with their rules and procedures. I said you people are after me because we parked near your building and used a common word which you think is some secret religious code word or something. She said that ever since the first disclosure of the blinker teaching there had been a lot of calls into Scientology about it.

I told her I had nothing to with the discovery of this teaching. I said if it is so secret then how did someone find out about it. She said well sometimes people steal documents and leak them. She said in this case it seems someone had bought confidential documents at a garage sale. She said this person posted about the blinkers and other things.

She said that this person then sold the documents to a known suppressive person even though they offered her a fair price for the documents.

Now I will be honest and say that by now I know about that but did not know about it before. I told her. She said well see that's the problem. People talk about these teachings and it causes problems.

I said well you caused this problem. If you had not been taking pictures of my guys and then having a fit when one of them said blinker none of this ever would have happened.

She said people come and protest there and expose teachings. She showed me some pictures of people with picket signs that looked like aliens. She said the alien signs were making fun of other advanced teachings. She said she had seen the blinker pictures on the internet and it was more of the same. I said well I never made any blinker pictures.

She told me that the Religious Technology Center had told her that they could arrange a special price if everyone in my company would at least do some basic processing. I said I am not going to convert over this and it is illegal for me to even suggest it to my employees.

Then she started telling me that Scientology is compatible with all other religions and you really don't have to convert if you don't want to. I told her it would still be illegal for me to even suggest any kind of religious training or whatever it is to my employees. She said that the suppressive person declaration applies to all of you and it is your choice of what to do.

I stood up. I told her well it is my choice to post something about this meeting to the internet. I told her that if you keep messing with me I will find some way to deal with it. I told her that if they want to believe in aliens and flying cats with alien dna and so on it is fine but when a guy talks about blinkers on a truck it is no big deal.

I told her that if it did not cost so much to repaint the trucks I'd rename the company Blinker Van Lines. She had an obvious nervous reaction to this!

So I'll keep you good people informed. I'm still not giving out the the name of the company but I do appreciate all of the good wishes. But if you see an ad for a blinker special you will know it is me!

November 25, 2005 1:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha I am a prostitute and John Berlau paid me $50 to suck his little dick. I think he was looking for a free blowjob from those old postings. The man often goes to a massage place in Greenbelt but when he can't get out there he goes local.

April 22, 2006 5:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well well well now if Andy Langer can tear himself away from the ice cream and Mountain Dew and waddle on over to he'll see that the folks over there think his vanilla shake pal John Berlau caused a lot of trouble for escorts last year in Virginia.

September 16, 2006 6:55 PM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

Tell you what - if you think I'm some fat, computer-chair-bound slob, why don't you be a man and take up my challenge to meet me, in public, somewhere?

Show yer face, ace. Step into the real world so we can all see what a _MAN_ looks like.

I'll meet you anytime, anywhere. Then we'll see who's the soft-drink and ice cream-addicted wimps_it and who isn't.

Anytime, anywhere. The gauntlet has been thrown down.

September 18, 2006 9:58 PM


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