Contrary to what many in the media might want to make the public think, the illegal practice of SWATting is not new. It has been used several times in the past, but not to intimidate and frustrate celebrities. It has been a weapon of choice for people seeking to silence journalists, activists, political commentators, and even members of law enforcement.
Sure, the headlines wouldn't be as sexy as they are when it's someone from Tinseltown being targeted, but that doesn't make it any less newsworthy. So, why didn't it make headlines very much? The inconvenient truth is that there is such a thing as media bias, and most of the traditional media outlets do have a tendency of either minimizing or overlooking stories that might not make conservatives look like the paranoid or crazy folks out there.
Before getting into the political finer points on this, first let's consider the dangerous nature of SWATting. As Tampa Bay Police Examiner Stephen Owsinski clearly explains, causing SWAT to be dispatched on a false call can place many people in danger, and not just the "target." There are obvious hazards to quick responses by multiple law enforcement officers, and occasionally, that does result in tragic accidents.
In June of last year, one of those SWATting incidents that didn't get the attention of the traditional media occurred. The details have been available for public perusal, and it points out that these tactics had already been used against other conservatives - presumably because of their political viewpoints, if nothing else. Legal entanglements aside, it is about people that face attacks because of their belief in the rights of free expression. Aaron, whose personal story about this terrifying kind of attack is mentioned and linked above, explains:
Of course non-celebrity-crimes can become famous. Consider, for instance, when Lorena Bobbitt maimed her husband. Neither her nor her husband were famous, but the story itself was so sensational, it garnered national attention. Or you have the Jonbenet Ramsey case where I think the news hook was seeing the ultra-creepy beauty pageant videos. Parents should not be dressing up their little girls like that, period. Again, none of the people involved were particularly famous until after the crime happened (whatever did happen). Or you look at Susan Smith, where the news hook was partially just the way the story was a parent’s nightmare, the images of her coming on TV pleading for people to help find her children, and the growing concern when she started to talk about her children in the past tense, leading to the revelation that she had killed them herself, which captures attention because it is so difficult to understand for people. Ordinary people, as criminals or as victims of a crime, can become famous but there has to be a hook. If it involves a pretty woman, it helps. If it involves an exotic crime, it helps. It if speaks to common insecurities, it helps. And frankly if the victim or the alleged criminal is white, it helps for a number of reasons.
I always did find it strange that the SWATting of Patrick Frey, a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, didn’t get more attention. He is a public official, after all, and his story is very dramatic. It wasn’t just that the SWATter had evil intent, but the result was a frankly much more dangerous situation for him than my own or how things were with Erick Erickson. He really could have been shot. The only SWATting I know of that is comparable in danger is what happened to Mike Stack. So I am surprised Patrick’s SWATting didn’t get more attention, although I am gratified to see the amount of attention it received and I am optimistic to see more.
Myself I don’t really get chagrined at the lack of coverage. I am not saying it is fair or that they shouldn’t cover non-celebrity crimes as much as celebrity crimes (either done by or to celebrities). But that is not the world we live in and since the market drives this stuff we really have no one to blame for any inequity other than ourselves. We choose to read the news stories about celebrities more often than regular folks and the market reflects that. Some people might get bitter that they are not getting the same attention, but that isn’t me.
I instead take the attitude that I am thankful to any person who does help me shed light on my situation, which goes far beyond one SWATting. As you will see in my post, I was (unsuccessfully) framed for a crime in the last year, and been subjected to many other forms of harassment, all because I crossed convicted domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin. I have said it before and I will say it again. Any attention to this story is, in my mind, a gift. And I am not going to get ungrateful because I didn’t get as much attention as anyone else.
And finally I will note that while the media might have paid more attention to celebrities, the local police and the FBI seem to take it as seriously as they would anyone else. And that might make all the difference in the world.
It is a relatively long comment, but this man has been taken out of context enough for several lifetimes. SWATting is not new - most of the media just took its time putting a spotlight on it.