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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blier Watch Probe?

There's been a flurry of activity over at the Blier Watch blog in the past few weeks, ever since I found them while doing a Google search for Kevin Blier, of the Rutland-based Center for American Cultural Renewal.

I was writing a story for Seven Days about a bill that inserts language into Vermont's anti-discrimination statutes about protecting gender identity and expression. Blier opposes the bill. Before I wrote the story, I posted about it on 802 Online. I dropped the Blier Watch people an email to let them know about the post, and when Kevin and I emailed to confirm his quotes for my story, I mentioned to him that there was a blog about him.

Kevin, predictably, does not like Blier Watch. He's emailed me about them, and called on Thursday to complain about the site.

And while I generally approve of this tactic, I have to say the tone on the Blier Watch site can be pretty nasty, as were the comments the anonymous Blier Watchers left comparing Blier to a Nazi on my blog post about the gender identity bill.

So it doesn't surprise me that Will Chamberlain's Vermont is now reporting that the Justice Department is investigating Blier Watch: Justice Department sources confirm today that documents pertaining to "BlierWatch", an anonymous blog that has surfaced in recent months here in Vermont, have been turned over to the Criminal Investigation Division for possible Telecommunications Act violations by the Federal Communications Commission.

Keep in mind, I have absolutely no idea if that is true. It is, after all, being reported by an anonymous blogger who has taken the name of one of Vermont's long-dead Revolutionary War heroes. Some enterprising person with more time than I have right now ought to make a few phone calls to find out. In response, the folks at Blier Watch have labeled old Will Wanker of the Day. Oh the anonymous world of the internet. It makes our small state seem so much bigger.

I'm watching this situation with interest, because I wonder if what the Blier Watchers are doing is really illegal, or merely annoying to their target? I mean, Kevin is a controversial public figure — he essentially opposes civil unions and legal protections for GLBT families like mine. He should naturally expect opposition in a queer-friendly place like Vermont. But how far is too far in cases like this? Where's the line, and what happens when you cross it?

March 18, 2006 at 05:51 AM in VT Blogs | Permalink


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>But how far is too far in cases like this? Where's the line, and what happens when you cross it?<

That's a question conservatives would love to have a conversation about but only on their terms. Free speech lines. Who gets'em and who doesn't. According to their argument, calling someone a faggot or a dyke is protected and the CFACR has wailed about proposed legal prohibitions against hate speech, here and abroad, as undermining their own free speech rights as hate mongering christrians (too nasty?).

Congress is about to embark on a similar exercise aimed at regulating the internet porn industry. One proposal is to move such sites to an area using a .xxx suffix rather than to remain in the .com area. We can't wait to see who they propose to send there. How long do you think it will take some GOP wingnut to include sexual orientation in some fashion like, oh say, the "right kind" vs the wrong kind?

We still await some challenge to the facts presented at our site. It is all based on pronouncements, press releases, CFACR website content, news stories and web postings made by Blier and the Klan-like folks at CFACR. And before there is any whining about the Klan reference, that comparison is easily and fairly made when you consider CFACR's well known position as heterosexual supremacists. CFACR's reliance on "science" and "research" from known hate groups opens them up for such examination and critcism. It's a line they crossed some time ago.

Posted by: Blier Watch | Mar 18, 2006 1:42:41 PM

Can't you just call the Justice Department and ask them if their probing “Blier Watch,” or try to look up the statute cited on Will Chamberlain?

"Sources say it is a violation of federal law to use telephone lines in order to "harass, mislead, or conspire to commit fraud"."

That could be any website. If Blier Watch is guilty, then arguably so is any site that links to it. So is "The Onion" for its "misleading" news. So is “Will Chamberlain” for posting under a pseudonym and thus "conspiring to commit fraud," and forget about my site- I'm going to jail!

I wonder who those "sources" are, and what "federal law" their citing. Sounds like possible BS to me.

Being "nasty" and making nazi comparisons fall well within our First Amendment Rights. So does parody. Your "doesn't surprise me" language regarding a possible investigation might give some the impression that that would be called for. But on what basis? "Nastiness" does NOT cut it.

I think all we have here is some anonymous hearsay gossip. Blier sounds like a dangerous a**hole who should be watched, but as with 'Blier Watch,' NOT by cops.

Best I can tell, the "justice" department should leave Blier Watch and The Constitution alone.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian | Mar 19, 2006 2:18:30 AM

We never are surprised when yet another evangelical extremist or their allies make some noise about how their opposition may have gone "too far" and that their opposition's free speech right is somehow more limited than their own. Kevin Blier thinks nothing of firing off tough talking letters about and to fellow Vermonters. The bullying tactics of Kevin Blier, The Center for American Cultural Renewal and the Liberty Counsel are well known and they'd prefer that their conduct, actions and positions not be discussed in critical terms.

We haven't the slightest interest or intention in contacting the Feds and asking if they're investigating. Nowadays we just assume most Americans are under some form of governmental scrutiny. Besides, we don't intend to lose our focus chasing the WC's rabbits and debating his highly selective reading of statutes. We'll have another, ahem, "hard-hitting" post up soon.

Posted by: Blier Watch | Mar 19, 2006 7:37:36 AM

I meant that maybe 7D or EZTO should check w/ the Feds &/or read the statute(s), not BW.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian | Mar 19, 2006 1:00:40 PM

Why don't you do it, Haik? I've got too much to do right now. That's why I wrote, "Some enterprising person with more time than I have right now ought to make a few phone calls to find out."

Just wanted to point this situation out and raise the discussion. If bloggers are really interested in acting like journalists, they've gotta follow up on tips like this themselves. This is your big chance!

Posted by: cresmer | Mar 19, 2006 1:34:17 PM

I have made a few phone calls, and sources tell me everything reported on "Will Chamberlain's Vermont" is true. Now I too have no more time to give this story.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian | Mar 19, 2006 9:27:04 PM

Of course, Haik reserves the right to lie -- so take that for what it's worth.

Posted by: Haik Watch | Mar 19, 2006 9:53:17 PM

Exactly. Do your own research, "jounalist." I'm not the one who tossed anonymous rumors out there for the public to chew on. Will Chamberlain is that "enterprising person" you've called on to do your work. If you don't believe his blog, why believe the anonymous masses who may or may not confirm its stories?

I'm a blogger who may not know how to be a journalist, but you are a journalist who certainly knows how to stir unsubstantiated rumor like a blogger. Who is being irresponsible here?

Spread rumors then say you don't have time to research them. Nice. Here's a thought: The more you blog, the less credibilty your "jounalism" has. Ever consider that?

I won't be shopping here anymore.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian | Mar 20, 2006 7:31:52 AM

So, um, I guess you won't be making those phone calls then?

Posted by: cresmer | Mar 20, 2006 8:14:55 AM

Haik has a hard time taking a joke.

Posted by: Haik Watch | Mar 20, 2006 9:42:20 AM

>I have made a few phone calls, and sources tell me everything reported on "Will Chamberlain's Vermont" is true.<

Blier, Blier, pants on fire.

Posted by: Blier Watch | Mar 20, 2006 10:44:06 AM

The fact that the site's authors didn't call the site "The Blier Watch Project" is indicative of something being fundamentally wrong.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Mar 20, 2006 2:20:57 PM

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