“ I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire
“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” – Benjamin Franklin, The New England Courant, Jul. 9, 1722
Ladies and Gentlemen:
For those whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting, my name is Gene Berardelli, and I am from Brooklyn, NY. Along with my friend, Russell Gallo, we run a blog and an internet-based radio show called “Brooklyn GOP Radio” for the Kings County Republican Committee. I write this open letter to bring awareness of what I believe is a growing danger to the First Amendment and to those who choose to exercise it to express their political opinions.
I want to bring to your attention the ominous tactic known as “SWAT-ting”. In case you haven’t heard the term before, “SWAT-ting” is a hoax tactic being used against conservative bloggers by hackers to infiltrate a victim’s phone system to make calls appear as if they are coming from a residence. These people (and I use that term loosely) call police and make a false report of a violent crime at that home to which the police respond with force they deem appropriate given the “facts” presented to them.
Thankfully, no incidents has ended tragically. Yet.
Recently, conservative bloggers have fallen victim to such tactics – and worse – with those perpetrating these acts intending to “chill” free speech and the free exchange of ideas. While this may be the worst tactic used, it is not the only tactic. Bloggers are being harrassed because others disagree with what they write, think and feel with the goal of shutting them up. Some bloggers have been directly threatened. Some have lost employment resulting from persistent harassment. Some have even abandoned their homes for fear that harm will come to those they love.
Unfortunately, there are too many stories to outline in one letter. But in all cases, the harrassment is methodical, coordinated, pre-meditated and systematically carried out to fulfill a political end – and fundamental rights be damned.
I am not asking you to care about the content of a given blogger’s work. I’m not asking you to agree with any given blogger’s political views. I am asking that you delve deeper into the events to ensure that fundamental rights of all are protected.
The safety of ordinary people whose only offense is that they had facts of an opinion they wished to express to the world is at stake. I hope you take this threat to all of our liberty as seriously as I do.