They made Neal Rauhauser into a left-wing supervillain because they wanted and needed one so badly. And for a moment, right wing bloggers seemed to finally be picking on someone their own size, because no one could find Rauhauser to engage him in “lawfare.” So they wrote with what little information they had, embellished and inflated it, and called the whole fiasco their finest hour.
Their obsession began with #Twittergate, a prank perpetrated by a gang of Live Journal trolls on a group of right wing bloggers. Rauhauser was incorrectly identified as the ringleader of this prank, which emerged on Twitter while Rauhauser was sparring there with one of the pranked bloggers. Another of those bloggers was Jay Batman, who reemerged this Spring to frame himself as the original Rauhauser obsessive.
That much may be true: Batman is likely responsible for more Rauhauser inflation than anyone else, and his obsession is long-running. His relentless pursuit of the Twitter trolls who had pranked him and others since 2010 led some users to worry for their safety. Rauhauser saw Batman associating with right wing blogs trafficking in what he considered hate speech, and contacted the Texas Tech Law School, where Batman was a student, to share his concerns. I will let Batman pick up the story at his Screed of Momus blog:
The issue became Neal Rauhauser when Neal insisted on intervening on behalf of Brett Warren to make false allegations that I had threatened and harassed him to my law school. He also threatened to put me on a hate crimes watchlist. I told him I would sue him for defamation if he insinuated in any way that I supported racism.
Batman took it personally, and it shows in his blogging. He has written that he is in touch with Rauhauser’s ex-wife, that her home alarm and the website registration and payment system at their daughter’s school have both been hacked. When I contacted Rauhauser to ask him about all this, he informed me that these false reports are the reason why he has disappeared from social media lately. The joke was no longer funny:
The truth is that I stopped playing along in early April of this year due to concerns that some delusional person would harm me or someone near me. I have spoken to the Omaha Police Department and had a text exchange with my ex. She denies any trouble at home or at the school, says she has never talked to anyone about me, and the Omaha PD confirm there are no reports for either location. If he is talking to anyone at all with a 402 area code number, I’d say he’s been trolled AGAIN, only this time it’s someone on the right with a grudge against me using him as a patsy. This would not be the first time a front line conservative activist has been left holding the bag for someone else’s operation.
Batman demonstrates a bipolar talent for deconstructing the inflated Rauhauser conspiracies of other right wing bloggers while maintaining and inflating his own conspiracy theory about Rauhauser. Batman documents few of his claims about Rauhauser’s past and character, yet they are all repeated breathlessly in East Blogistan. Why so much effort to inflate and conflate? I think much of it can be explained as terminal irony deficiency, for Batman seems physically repelled by humor at the expense of his übermenschen pride.
Neal is not a joke. He shouldn’t be trivialized. This man singlehandedly coordinated an online attack against Tea Party supporters and managed to get funded as a result. Twittergate made him. Everything he did afterwards tied back to that one effort.
He ruined reputations, harassed people to no end directly and indirectly, and he coordinated with other people to do more of the same. It isn’t funny. It has never been funny.
It’s psychological projection all the way down. Batman has been among the quickest right wing bloggers to disown the right wing conspiracy circle of stupid — SWAT-gate, the insane trench-mouth ramblings of Brooks Bayne, and the Breitbart legacy of fabrication — yet he still cannot seem to take the final step back from the brink of madness to regard his own work objectively. His final victory is always right around the corner:
I don’t like Neal Rauhauser, but I’m not going to lie about him. The ends do not justify the means, and the truth about Neal is so compelling that lying about him is pointless. We have before us the means to put Neal in jail, and from there to move to discovery for various criminal and civil infractions. Those means are unpaid child support, and Neal’s actions have given rise to both federal and state criminal liability. Over the past week, things have been set in motion to get warrants issued for Neal’s arrest. His time as a free man is almost up.
No one else documented this information and worked to get Neal held to an account for it via warrants and a future arrest. For a year and a half, most people just sat around and wrote about what a terrible individual Neal was. They rehashed his actions over and over again, to no avail.
Neal’s arrest, and the confiscation of his computers, servers, and hard drives are the key to unraveling who funded him and to what end. It’s the key to finally holding him accountable for his actions.
The truth about Neal Rauhauser is that he was never, ever important to the progressive movement. The truth about Neal Rauhauser is that he never, ever stopped helping his pursuers inflate his importance to ridiculous levels, which is what they wanted to do anyway. The truth is that Rauhauser was never responsible for “beandogs,” the Twitter trolls who gave Batman butthurt in 2011, but Batman has let his desire for vengeance overwhelm his sane judgment.
Neal Rauhauser is far less a criminal for being behind in child support than Joe Walsh, Republican Congressman from Illinois; Batman has no legal standing to do anything to anyone on that score. Even if Batman had actionable evidence of a crime, Rauhauser is very hard to pin down and serve with legal papers. He sent me this as an example of what he calls his “deep-seated lifestyle choice” to stay off the grid:
“[The creator of PCN] and I stopped working together in 2011 but the Progressive PST domain is still under my account. We didn’t register it until after Twittergate in 2010 so I was already in the mode of protecting my location – in this case it’s Wrigley Field. Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten three automated ‘please update your domain information’ requests. I see about one MyLife search notice a day as well. MyLife used to have a fifteen year old Omaha address, but I actually paid for a month of that service so I could ‘move’ into the same address as the domain. If they insist I may ‘move’ to 1 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA. That’s a Los Angeles County fire department lifeguard station – it’s right across from the Sea Sprite Motel, which was my favorite place to stay back when I worked in Los Angeles.”
Staying three steps ahead of right wing bloggers’ “lawfare,” Rauhauser has played pincushion for every conceivable trope over the last two years. But contrary to Batman’s wild claims, Rauhauser never, ever had funding to do it. His computer doesn’t hold the secrets of a vast criminal enterprise of left wing Twitter users and bloggers. No such organization exists, or has ever existed, outside the imaginations of right wing bloggers.
Rauhauser isn’t exactly a James Bond operative, either. In my correspondence with him for this post, he reminded me that he suffers from a chronic, debilitating illness. And he seemed eager for Batman to get better:
He disappeared not long after that and I thought it was over, but he popped back up again a few weeks ago. He looks like hell in his new profile photo – the clean cut kid I saw in 2010 has been replaced by someone poorly groomed, angry, and his eyes don’t look right to me.
One wonders how long the butthurt of Jay Batman will last, how far he will take his quest, and how many right wing bloggers will follow him down the reactionary Rauhauser rabbit-hole. In the meantime, Rauhauser sent me the picture at the top of this post, which he swears is a puzzle containing clues to his current whereabouts. Apparently, someone still has their sense of humor.