Freedom of the Press: How the Fuck Does That Work?

Kirby Delauter, a member of the Frederick County, MD County Council, seems to be a bit sketchy on how the First Amendment works. He’s demanding that the Frederick News-Post, the local paper, not use his name or reference him in any way in an article without his permission.

Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter wrote on social media that he plans to sue The Frederick News-Post if his name or any reference to him appears in print without his permission.

In a Facebook status posted Saturday, Delauter said he was upset with reporter Bethany Rodgers for “an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article” published Jan. 3 about his and Councilman Billy Shreve’s concerns over County Council parking spaces.

“So let me be clear…………do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future,” Delauter, R-District 5, said in a Facebook status update…

Rodgers responded to Delauter’s post Sunday afternoon, stating she will continue to contact the councilman for comment as well as print his name and reference in the newspaper.

“First of all, there is no requirement to get a person’s authorization in order to mention them in the paper, particularly if that person is an elected official,” Rodgers wrote in a comment below the original post. “It is not just our right but our responsibility to report on people like you, who occupy positions of trust in our government, and I make no apologies for doing that.”

Delauter said he would pursue legal action if his name or reference were published again.

“Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney,” Delauter wrote. “Your rights stop where mine start.”

Good luck with that, you moron. The managing editor of the paper said that “to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless.” No kidding. But then the editorial board responded brilliantly:

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?

Blanks? Sure, we sometimes use hyphens in the case of expletives. Perhaps we could do that: “K—- D——-.” Or, perhaps, “Councilman [Unauthorized].” We giggled a bit more than we should have when we came up with “the Councilman Formerly Known as Commissioner Kirby Delauter,” which doesn’t seem as funny written down in black and white and includes his name, which defeats the point. Maybe we should just put his initials, “KD,” with an asterisk to a footnote (KD*), or refer to him as GLAT, the acronym for his campaign: “Govern Like A Taxpayer.” We could even make it sound a little hip-hop with a well-placed hyphen: G-Lat. Speaking of, could we get away with “K-Del”? Or we could simply go with the Harry Potter-esque “He Who Shall Not be Named.” (Cue the lightning strike and peal of thunder.)

Yet we could take the low road down even further and childishly mangle “Kirby Delauter” into references you, the reader, would still understand. “Sherbert Deluder,” say. Or “Derby Kelauter.” “Shirley Delaughter” (and don’t call me Shirley). We found a great automatic online anagrammer that generated all kinds of alternatives and could make it a challenge for our readers to decode each time we have to reference the councilman: “Rebuked artily.” That was a good one. “Bakery diluter” is just silly but does have a ring about it. “Keyed rural bit” was another that caught our eye as somewhat telling, because Kirby Delauter’s pretty keyed up. We’re sure there’s a joke in “Brutelike Yard” somewhere.

It just occurred to me that I didn’t ask Kirby Delauter’s permission to use the name Kirby Delauter in this blog post. Oh no! What shall I do?

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  • Artor

    Kirby Delauter, meet Barbara Streisand. The two of you should get along great, as long as you don’t mention eachother.

  • ragingapathy

    Apparently, Comedian – I mean Coucnilman DeLauter’s had a change of heart, or Seen the Light:

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    If you read the whole response (partially quoted in Ed’s second block quote), the first letter of each paragraph spell out Kirby Delauter’s name.

    It’s a great troll.

  • John Pieret

    They could call Kirby Delauter the Kirwood Derby.*


    * For those too young for the reference:

  • ArtK

    Unfortunately, Maryland’s anti-SLAPP law appears to be fairly weak (at least according to a 2009 PopeHat post I found.) There’s a lot of subjectivity in the law. Otherwise I would be inviting Kirby Delauter to sue me. But I don’t want to go to the trouble to try to get the venue changed to California.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that he could find some moron lawyer to take the case, although that would make me question the lawyer’s ability. If filed, I doubt that it would survive an initial motion for summary judgment. But being able to anti-SLAPP him would be even nicer.

    I’m sure that Kirby Delauter (whose permission I most emphatically do not have) is someone who claims to venerate the Constitution, while having not the slightest clue for what it means. It’s likely that his Constitutional education started and ended with memorizing the Preamble in elementary school.

  • vargostatten
  • abb3w

    @2, ragingapathy

    Apparently, Comedian – I mean Coucnilman DeLauter’s had a change of heart, or Seen the Light

    Or at least realized that he has now made the name Kirby Delauter a national laughingstock, that Kirby Delauter is a man without a legal leg to stand on, and that the fastest way to get past this is to make a flat admission of error and then wait for the balm of time to wipe the name Kirby Delauter from the collective memory. His turnaround was probably fast enough that the name “Kirby Delauter” is unlikely to end as persistently synonymous with litigious stupidity as Barbara Streisand for more than a month or two at most.

  • ragingapathy

    @7 abb3w:

    Pretty much what I meant by “Seen the Light.” I guess vague sarcasm is the worst kind :-)

  • Doug Little

    Sounds like a case that would interest Larry Klayman.

  • dcsohl

    From his change of heart: “I thought I had long ago learned the lesson of waiting 24 hours before I hit the send key, but apparently I didn’t learn that lesson as well as I should have.”

    5 minutes probably would have sufficed…

  • blf

    Does Kirpletely Deloonie have Kookoo da Lumpkin’s permission to use Kant Dethinking’s name?

  • whheydt

    Re: ragingapathy @ #8…

    As has been said…”That sounds vaguely obscene, and if there’s one thing I hate it’s vagueness.”

  • Marcus Ranum

    They should come up with a dorky graphic and use that in the paper, along with the disclaimer: (dorky graphic) formerly known as “Kirby Delauter”

  • Marcus Ranum

    I wonder if you could do a “doing business as” trademark on your name?

  • arakasi

    To be fair, since Kirby Delauter* did realize that he made a mistake and backed down, rather than doubling down, he must be smarter than 90% of the TEA Party. Can you imagine Palin, Bachmann, or Gohmert doing that?

    Of course, this means that he** is never going to become one of the big-name leaders of the movement, so maybe it was the stupid thing to do after all.

    *Kirby Delauter

    **Kirby Delauter

  • brucegee1962

    It was a pleasure to read his apology. It’s so rare to see actual apologies, rather than the “sorry you were offended” variety, that reading an authentic one feels like a cool drink of water.

  • Wes Evans

    The anagrams are fun:

    Kirby Delauter:

    Adultery Biker

    I Blared Turkey

    Beady Rut Liker

    Break It Rudely

    Bear Duty Liker

    Bare Lurid Tyke

    Tribal Dyke Rue

    Libya Turd Reek

  • Wes Evans


    Bakery Turd Lie

    Dietary Elk Rub

    Rube Ready Kilt

  • Wes Evans

    However, as much as I love making fun of this guy, in his defense, he has admitted that he was wrong and apologized for being an asshole.

  • Michael Heath

    Kirby Delauter’s so-called apology:

    As a public figure working to maintain and improve the county, it can be very frustrating to feel misrepresented or misinterpreted by a local media outlet.

  • pixiedust

    I live in Frederick County. I’ve spoken with Kirby Delauter on a few occasions.

    Let me just say that his behavior here differs from his usual behavior only in degree and not in kind. Over the last four years he has, while sitting on the dais, called a fellow elected official a “moron”, called a county staff person “a punk”, voted to privatize county inspection of construction projects that his excavation company does work on, impugned the integrity of constituents during public comment sessions, and more.

    This latest episode revealed his authoritarianism more clearly.

    I am pleased to say that he got almost no public support locally. Instead the locals who generally like him (he just won an election) attacked the newspaper for making a mountain out of a molehill. Really, it was all they had.

  • alexmcdonald

    He’s ajopolized.

    Loved the first comment:

    It’s highly commendable, Kirby, to admit that you were wrong. Next step is to admit that you’re a fucking idiot. You can do it!

  • Quodlibet

    The editorial is perfect. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. But my first laugh was at reading that he issued his demand for privacy on … Facebook. “Hey, all you gazillions of people out there! Pay attention to me while I demand my privacy!”

  • garnetstar

    Did Delaughter whine when the paper reported that he had won his election or been appointed? They must have used his name then.

  • abb3w

    @8ish, ragingapathy:

    I guess vague sarcasm is the worst kind :-)

    More importantly, it doesn’t help with Googlewhacking terms like “national laughingstock” and “litigious stupidity” into association with the name Kirby Delauter. Because while Kirby Delauter might deserve being able to live down this folly, Kirby Delauter doesn’t seem to deserve being able to live it down soon.