Over at Crooks and Liars, Karoli has written a great piece about the continuing efforts of William Hoge, a fourth-rate right wing blogger, to use a Maryland domestic violence law for his legal harassment campaign against Bill Schmalfeldt. I have written about this sordid saga before, and after doing so I also did everything in my power to draw Hoge’s attention away from his housebound victim and towards myself. But unlike Schmalfeldt, I do not live in Maryland, so it is not possible for Hoge to obtain a peace order against me. And whereas poor Bill is stuck inside a rapidly-deteriorating body wracked by Parkinson’s Disease, with the internet as his only means of interfacing with the world, I am a harder target, capable of attending court without difficulty.
Let that be our starting point: William Hoge likes to pick only on those he perceives as weak and helpless, and he says that his Christian faith drives him to it.
In email correspondence today, Hoge told me that he draws inspiration for his fight from the first chapter of the book Simply Christian. I was able to download the preview to my Kindle, but the opening chapter left me even more confused: Author N.T. Wright is a retired Anglican bishop and noted Biblical scholar, and although he has plenty to say in this chapter about how Jesus was the manifestation of our human desire for justice, I see nothing in the text that would count as an endorsement of his actions towards Schmalfeldt. (Just to put things in perspective, Hoge also thinks that Trayvon Martin was asking for it, too.)
Alerted that I would be writing about him, today Hoge wrote a preemptive strike that demonstrates exactly the point of this post. Begin with his description of Schmalfeldt, against whom he has filed hundreds of bogus criminal charges.
For years, he has harassed others on the Internet, and no one was able to bring him to justice. That task seems to have fallen to me.
Schmalfeldt’s surprised reaction has been to whine, “No fair! You hit me back.” However, even that’s not strictly true. I haven’t taken personal revenge on him. I’ve reported him to the proper authorities and left any action taken to them.
William Hoge is the Sheriff of this town, by gum. It took him dozens of attempts, but Hoge finally hired a lawyer and found a judge who doesn’t understand Twitter, got his peace order, and proceeded to report Schmalfeldt for a criminal violation every time he tweeted. Hoge acts like a querulant, a person afflicted with schizoid grievances, but he is not insane. He just believes in irrational conspiracies: for instance, he thinks that Schmalfeldt was doing all of this “harassing” as the paid stooge of a man named Brett Kimberlin. In fact, Schmalfeldt met and spoke to Kimberlin for the first time in a Maryland courtroom — when they were both subjected to one of William Hoge’s nuisance suits.
Just as the entire Kimberlin narrative was a contrivance, so is William Hoge’s theological basis for his behavior.
As a Christian, I believe that the source of justice is God. It says in Genesis that we were created in His image, so it makes sense to me that more we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to be what God intends for us to be, the more we would desire justice. Sometimes Christians are called to deal with the grander problems of the world—think of William Wilberforce, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—but, most of the the time, most of us deal with the seemingly smaller injustices of the world. Sometimes a Christian is called to stand up to a bully.
Even as an atheist, those words have a strong moral resonance for me. I would probably rate first among the Rules For Being A Human Person that the strong must protect the weak.
For a time, I thought that Schmalfeldt was the weakening one, and that Hoge was the bully. But I have come to understand today that William Hoge is not doing this because he is strong, but because he is weak.
His blog is not very interesting. It mainly serves as a troll den similar to the Diary of Daedalus blog, which has relentlessly trolled and harassed Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs for years. Which is to say that Hoge’s online supporters make him feel strong and important and powerful, and that their continuous Google-bombing of Schmalfeldt’s name with such choice phrases as “deranged cyberstalker” and “adjudicated harasser” fills him with a sense of justification, but it actually hasn’t made him a popular blogger. All that ‘lawfare’ also hasn’t made him rich. His monomaniacal obsession with Schmalfeldt’s every move, and the relentless smearing wherever he finds a new outlet, are not the behavior of a man standing up to bullies. They are the acts of a weak person who needs to inflict punishment on someone else in order to feel strong.
In other words, a sadist. One that consciously waves a cross before himself as he declares his holy writ to act this way. What are we to make of this “Christian sadism”? I would invite Hoge to be specific and show us all which part of N.T. White’s first chapter, or the gospel for that matter, provide his scriptural foundation.
I suspect the truth of the matter is that Hoge wants to exorcise all the butthurt: the failed lawsuits; the lost initiative of “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day” in 2012; Schmalfeldt’s embarrassing revelations of Lee Stranahan’s past career as a porn photographer and pimp; and Brett Kimberlin’s state and federal lawsuits against Hoge and his blogging friends. All of it is expunged in the ritual character assassination of Bill Schmalfeldt, over and over and over again, until long after he is dead. Hoge isn’t acting in some spirit of justice — this is vengeance, pure and simple. And I’m not a Christian, but I’m pretty sure that Hoge’s bible says something about vengeance belonging to God.