These events really happened.
I arrived home from work recently and pulled into the garage as usual. As I walked around toward the door and glanced across the street I noticed a white late model sedan sitting one house down. I also noticed the driver looking right at me, then looking down as we made eye contact. That wouldn’t catch my attention normally. But the SWATtings of conservative bloggers has my sensitivity turned up a bit.
I was curious and immediately went upstairs to see if I could get a look at the car from the front window. This would at least let me have more than a glance for description and comparison. But the car had already left. I didn’t pay the circumstance any mind, but did comment on my own paranoia to my wife and we both laughed it off.
The next day my dad called on my cell phone. A small animal became caught in his fence and was in need of rescue. So we talked about options in a relatively brief conversation. On Monday when I went to work, I had a voice mail waiting in my e-mail. (Our phone system takes a voice mail, turns it into a file and sends it to our e-mail address.) So I listen to the message on my computer.
The message is the entire conversation between my dad and I, from the rings at the beginning before I pick up my cell phone to the end when we both hang up. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. But the more I thought about it the less sense it made. Voice mail on our phones at work is completely independent of and unrelated to the cell phone service. And it’s not a cell phone voice mail, but an actual conversation. At work, there is no methodology in place to record my wireless conversation and send the recording to my voice mail on my land line.
I am a simple ground squirrel, so I go to my boss assuming there’s been some sort of truly bizarre technical glitch. It took a few minutes to explain, then he was just as confused as I was. It couldn’t be a glitch because the error was far too specific, my cell phone and my work phone? Inconceivable. We listened to the recording several times. The boss noticed that you can hear breathing during the rings before the conversation. And the volume of the breaths is louder than our voices during the conversation. This caused my boss to postulate that “It sounds as if someone recorded your conversation and then played it back to your voice mail.”
I thought for a moment about that. Then I broke into a cold sweat as my brain shifted into overdrive. Kimberlin. Rauhauser. Anonymous. Hacking. Suppression. Intimidation. And Paul Lemmen had posted mere days before about how men had appeared at his apartment and photographed everything.
Lemmen was defiant. I was soiling my pelt.
Should I call the local police? Sheriff? FBI? What the hell would I tell them? How would I even begin to explain? Should I tell my boss? Should I explain about my blogging? Will his phone be ringing soon? Should I call my wife? Will her employer receive a suspicious call at any moment? Should we quit our jobs, go home, pack our belongings and go into hiding?
The short answer: No.
When dad called my cell, he had just finished calling my office. But he didn’t hang up that call, he conferenced by accident. The timing of my voice mail greeting was the right length to end and catch the ringing and dad’s breathing, and then record the entire conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. Similarly, Lemmen didn’t have suspicious men photographing his apartment. They were from the local utility and were photographing all of the apartments where an underground line will be buried.
It’s easy to lose your head, become distracted and lose your way. You only need an imagination and tiny pinch of paranoia. But that’s the wrong direction and it’s not productive. Thankfully most of us don’t live a TV drama and don’t want to. I’m thankful that I’m not Seth Allen, Mandy Nagy, Aaron Walker, Stacy McCain, or Partick “Patterico” Frey, Mike Stack or Erick Ericksen. But I support them and fight as I can because what’s happened to them is truly un-American.
The rest of us, watching but untouched by the madness, need to provide support by being honest and tenacious, reporting and representing the facts that we encounter and allowing the truth to tell its own compelling story, no embellishment or creativity required.