Latest Dirty Trick: Doxxing Political Contributors
Back in 2007, long before “doxxing” had entered our vocabulary, knuckleheads at The Roanoke Times published a list of concealed carry permit holders in Virginia.
Yes, that information was available to the public. But the newspaper gathered it together, put a bow on it and published the list to “out” ordinary decent Virginians exercising their constitutional right to carry a firearm.
There was no compelling reason to publish such a list. It served no public good. It was journalistic mischief.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Another newspaper committed an even more malevolent act in 2012 when the upstate New York The Journal News, published a list of N.Y. firearm permit holders. Along with their addresses and an interactive map to show where legal gun owners lived.
Can you imagine the horror of domestic abuse victims who had purchased a weapon for protection when they saw their names in the newspaper? And their addresses, if they were hiding from their abusers?
In both Virginia and New York this misuse of journalistic power backfired. Virginia passed a law making it harder for the public to see lists of concealed carry permit holders and New York approved a measure allowing citizens with firearms to request that their identities be shielded.
In fact, a number of other states also acted quickly to protect the identities of lawful gun owners.
I was so disgusted with these Roanoke pinheads that I supported Virginia’s law. As a journalist, it seemed odd to be arguing against governmental transparency. But petty behavior by the press made the measure necessary.
We didn’t need to worry about The Virginian-Pilot engaging in such recklessness, though. The editor at the time, Denis Finley, said the brass at the then-sister paper to The Pilot had “crossed a line.”
“I'm dead set against publishing lists of people who are engaging in perfectly legal activities and making it look like they did something wrong," Finley told me.
Which brings us to the malicious Castro brothers. No, not the ones who ruined Cuba. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas and his twin brother, Julian, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
On Tuesday, the congressman Tweeted out the names, occupations and employers of 44 of his constituents who had contributed generously to the Trump campaign.
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” Castro snorted as he provided a graphic with the identities.
Joaquin, who’s chairman of his twin brother’s campaign, argued that political contributions are a matter of public record.
He’s right. They are. And that transparency is a good thing. It allows the public to follow the money.
But the reason the Castros packaged and published this list was malevolent. Dangerous, too, in the current climate where Democrats like Maxine Waters are urging people to harass Trump supporters in public. And also while a band of angry lefties are demonstrating outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Louisville home, screaming - literally - for blood.
With his Tweet, Rep. Castro slapped targets on the backs of ordinary Texans who did nothing other than exercise their right to contribute money to the candidate of their choice.
Beyond that, it’s been reported that Castro omitted the names of Latino individuals who also maxed out their contributions to the Trump campaign, perhaps opening the door to some sort of legal action based on the fact that he “outed” only white contributors.
After a weekend marred by two mass shootings and when responsible people on both sides of the political divide called for cooling the overheated rhetoric that some believe may be fueling the violence, the Castro brothers were busy bullying law-abiding folks and stirring up trouble in San Antonio.
It’s irresponsible. It’s mean-spirited. And it’s a hell of a way to treat constituents.
This sort of rancorous behavior ought to be roundly condemned. Instead, it’s likely to be imitated.