In Frederick County, Maryland, there lives a man named Kirby Delauter. Delauter is an anti-tax, anti-liberal City Council member and he hates the “liberal media”. He hates the “liberal media” so much that, when they published an article that mentioned him, he immediately took to the Book of Faces to issue a threat to the journalist who had the unmitigated gall to mention his name in her piece.
Here’s what he wrote:
What happened next is a thing of pure beauty.
First, the newspaper in question, The Frederick News-Post, wrote about his threats.
“Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story,” [managing editor Terry] Headlee said. “But to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless. It’s just a pointless, misguided attempt to intimidate and bully the press and shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the role of a public servant.”
They then followed up an op-ed so epic that it will go down in the annals of journalism history as one of the most perfectly-penned op-eds of all time. The op-ed was titled “Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter”:
Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren’t surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post with a lawsuit because we had, he says — and we’re not making this up — been putting Kirby Delauter’s name in the paper without Kirby Delauter’s authorization. Attorneys would be called, Kirby Delauter said.
In fact, we spent quite some time laughing about it. Kirby Delauter, an elected official; Kirby Delauter, a public figure? Surely, Kirby Delauter can’t be serious? Kirby Delauter’s making a joke, right?
Round about then, we wondered, if it’s not a joke, how should we now refer to Kirby Delauter if we can’t use his name (Kirby Delauter)? Could we get away with an entire editorial of nothing but “Kirby Delauter” repeated over and over again — Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter? OK, imagine we agreed because of temporary madness or something funny in the water that week, how would we reference “Kirby Delauter” and do our job as journalists without running afoul of our lack of authorization?
I highly recommend reading the entire op-ed. One thing you’ll notice is that the first letter of every paragraph spells out the word “Kirby Delauter”. While much of it is just plain fun, it does have a very serious statement to make:
Kirby Delauter’s ignorance of what journalism is and does is no joke, and illustrates one disturbing aspect too prevalent in conservatives’ beliefs: That the media are all-liberal stooges hell bent on pursuing some fictional leftwing agenda. Generally this “fact” is bleated when the facts on the ground differ from conservative talking points. Take Councilman Billy Shreve’s abstract, almost nonsensical defense of KD*: “I think media outlets are cowards and they hide behind the label of journalists and that’s a bully pulpit to expand their liberal” agenda. Cowards? Tell that to the families of the 60 journalists killed in 2014, or the 70 in 2013, or the 74 who died in 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. All in pursuit of the truth, or the most reliable version of it at hand in the most dangerous regions of the world. […]
We’ve seen this behavior before (not just from Kirby Delauter) and it’s worth highlighting again. Bullying seems to be the only way Kirby “Don’t say my name” Delauter feels he can lead. Only now, the target is not the public at hearings or occasional “punk” staff member, an arrogant, self-serving, whining middle school teacher or fellow “moron” commissioner, it’s The News-Post. Instead of taking his job seriously like the voters demanded and the rest of the council seem to grasp, he’s grabbing at distractionary shoot-the-messenger tactics that make a lot of noise but, to quote Shakespeare, a man who knew drama when he saw it, noise that “signifies nothing.” Frederick County has big issues to tackle in 2015 and we have yet to hear Kirby Delauter sound out one single, sensible idea. He used the word “govern” in his slogan. Maybe he should apply that to his temper first. […]
Reasonable men (and women) are required to move Frederick County forward. All Kirby Delauter is doing yet again is displaying his inability to control his temper, embarrassing himself, his district, the county and those who voted him into office. If he wants to govern like a taxpayer, he needs to respect the taxpayers whose money provides his paycheck, stop this silly, inflammatory nonsense, and get to work.
Delauter’s absurdity has now received international attention (and derision) and he’s being skewered far and wide for his idiocy and ignorance. There’s even a new Facebook page called “Unnecessary and Unauthorized Use of Kirby Delauter’s Name” that is “devoted to using Kirby Delauter’s name without his permission – just because we can!”
I think we can all agree that this Kirby has been soundly delautered.
Let this be a warning to elected officials who think they are beyond the reach of the First Amendment or of the media. If you are ignorant, ridiculous, and/or petulant, you might just get your Kirby delautered on the international stage.
And that’s exactly as it should be.