Unless you are prepared for a veritable skyscraper of text (over 9,000 words) and a serious airing of grievances, you should probably go ahead and plan on skipping this post.
That disclaimer dispensed with, here is how it is. Over the past few years, Robert Farago – the editor of The Truth About Guns – has functionally leeched off of, exploited, stabbed in the back, maligned, abused, lied about, misrepresented, stolen from, and infringed upon the rights of countless other people, both actual pro-rights activists and people who are not at all involved in the firearm-related community. Recent events have shown us that people seem largely unaware of this pattern of misconduct in Robert’s past, so this post will serve as a centralized source of information on the same.
All of the statements, claims, and grievances posted here will be appropriately cited, sourced, and linked. If you see anything you think we missed, please let me know, and I will be more than happy to add it, so long as you have the evidence to support it.
It is worth noting that a good number of these violations of basic, common courtesy – to put it mildly – were perpetrated by someone other than Robert himself; however, Robert is, was, and remains the lead editor for The Truth About Guns, and therefore retains final responsibility and accountability for the actions of his writers on his site. A responsible editor would have serious considered letting some of the TTAG people go after repeat violations, but, then, responsible editors have some degree of backbone as well…
Robert Farago is not a friend of the Second Amendment, nor is he a friend of those who would defend it. This post will hopefully help alert people to those two simple facts.
[Note 1: I will, as much as possible, refrain from linking directly to The Truth About Guns (TTAG); just as I refuse to tacitly support anti-rights weblogs with traffic, so to do I choose to deny that tacit support to any weblog that would steal from pro-rights activists, lie about it, and comport themselves like a "syphilitic skunk", to quote Oleg Volk. In all cases, when referring to posts at TTAG, I will have screen captures of post in question and I will include the full address in the image if you really want to type all of that in yourself.]
[Note 2: This document is posted here at "walls of the city" and does bear my name as the author; however, I was greatly assisted in the assembling and writing of this post by numerous pro-rights webloggers who had finally grown tired of Robert’s constant exploitation of our community (Such is the crowdsourcing power of Google Docs… or Drive… or whatever it is called these days.). Some of these people were not even directly targeted by Robert and his merry band of authors, which just goes to show how much his behavior has offended the community as a whole.
Speaking of, though, if you have any experiences or interactions with Robert you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment here or email me at "linoge (at) wallsofthecity (dot) net".]
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Dan Zimmerman Infringed on Benjamin Toombs’ Copyright.
- Robert Farago Infringed on Say Uncle’s Copyright.
- Dan Zimmerman Infringed on Snarky Bytes’ Copyright.
- Robert Farago Infringed on Tamara Keel’s Copyright.
- Dan Zimmerman Infringed on Tamara Keel’s Copyright.
- Robert Farago Infringed on Weer’d Beard’s Copyright.
- Robert Farago Lied and Mislead People About Bob S.
- Robert Farago Hypocritically Squelched ExurbanKevin’s Criticisms.
- Robert Farago Misrepresented the Source and Content of Linoge’s “graphics matter”.
- Robert Farago Blamed Gun Theft Victims for not Securing Their Firearms “Enough”.
- Robert Farago Thought White Men Who Seek Firearm Training are “Paranoid” or “Retarded Adolescents”.
- Robert Farago Gave MikeB302000 the Valet Keys to “The Truth About Guns”.
- Robert Farago Harassed Alan Gura.
- Robert Farago Harassed Emily Miller.
- Robert Farago Got the “Blacklist” He Wanted.
- “Faragosis” Defined.
On 17NOV11, Dan Zimmerman, an author at The Truth About Guns, put up a post entitled "Obama to Public Land Shooters: GTFO"; at the top of that article was a picture taken by a Mr. Benjamin Toombs, who maintains the site Miso Studio under the name "Miso Beno". This picture was used without Mr. Toombs permission, and on 19NOV11, Mr. Toombs twice requested, as the copyright holder, that Dan Zimmerman and TTAG take down the image. (Screen capture of copyright infringement is property of Mr. Harry McNally and is used with his permission.)
On 13DEC11, when it became apparent that neither Dan Zimmerman nor TTAG had any intentions of taking down the image, Harry McNally, a friend of Mr. Toombs, posted the following on Facebook:
If a gun blog (for the sake of argument, let’s call them "The Truth About Guns") were to use a photograph in one of their posts without the permission of the photographer who owns the rights to the photograph and then ignores the photographer when he asks them to take it down, what would that make the blog? I think the precise legal term is "thieves."
You guys are thieves.
By way of response, Robert Farago, using the TTAG Facebook account, responded with a link to the Wikipedia explanation of "fair use", and when asked for clarification, explained:
What else is there to say? We used the photo under Fair Use provisions. We do so with thousands of pictures per year. If you’re the snapper, be advised: if it’s on the net it’s fair game. (Note: I didn’t make the rules. )
Personally, I would take the bolded section of the above comment to mean that Robert has given anyone and everyone permission to use, copy, paste, and reprint anything that The Truth About Guns or its authors might hold copyright for without accreditation or citation, but that may just be me. Obviously this is a wholesale misrepresentation of the notion of "fair use", which was repeatedly pointed out to Mr. Farago through the course of the Facebook conversation, with the photographer himself weighing in, saying:
Whoa dudes, you don’t have permission to use my photograph and this is not an instance of fair use. You are not an educational institution, and you are in fact generating revenue through the use of my work. The Truth About Guns is violating my Creative Commons 2.0 (A-NC-ND) license and I’m just a teeny-tiny bit mad about it.
While the conversation on Facebook was ongoing, a Reddit thread was started regarding TTAG’s copyright infringements against Mr. Toombs, wherein it was reconfirmed that Dan Zimmerman’s use of Mr. Toombs image was not, in fact, "fair use", and TTAG’s refusal to abide by Mr. Toombs’ take-down request was inappropriate. In the course of that conversation, Redditor rubberbaron wrote the following regarding Robert Farago:
I’m a writer on the internet (huzzah!) and was approached by Robert Farago to write for TTAG. I did end up writing a few articles for the site, but he and I never clicked. Our email exchanges were rather stupid, with him always asking for my writing to be more confrontational or asking me to make it different in abstract ways, by using buzz words and meaningless adjectives.
I’ve written many places around the web and never had anyone edit the content of my work before (most editors adjust for typos, etc., and/or give feedback), but Farago would alter my writing to make it fit in with his vision for the site, which made me look like a shitty writer, I thought. He’d insert jokey lines that were completely absent of my tone. Some editors do this, but you rarely do it to someone who you brought in for their specific voice.
In the end I only wrote a handful of articles, made a couple of bucks (he was late in payment but did pay), and we went our separate ways. While I wouldn’t say my time there was horrible, since the job was very passive, I can say I hated having him as an editor.
Additionally, Nick Leghorn, one of the writers at TTAG, wrote this:
Hi there. I’m Nick Leghorn, one of the writers for The Truth About Guns.
I wasn’t aware of this tussle until I saw it on Reddit this morning, and I have to say I’m disappointed. Not in you guys, in my editor. I understand how U.S. copyright law works, and I make every effort to use either photographs I personally took or those whose licenses allow for reproduction (public domain, CC with attribution, whatever) and ensure that my stuff is in full compliance with U.S. copyright law.
I thought that the other writers were doing the same, since RF has been in the business before and one or two of the other writers are actually lawyers. But I guess not. It sucks, because the (written) content for the site is all original and, in my opinion, some of the best in-depth coverage of firearms and related topics on the internet. Having a copyright spat like this detracts from our credibility without directly attacking the content, and the worst part is that it could have easily been fixed.
I’m not happy with the way this was handled. I’ve contacted RF (the editor) and let him know that unless he straightens things out and makes them right with these guys I’m quitting as a writer for the site. I won’t be associated with people who steal content from the creators and claim that they’re in the right. I hope we can resolve this, I really do. Because if you ignore the "spats" that have popped up the site produces some fantastic content and I’d hate to see that go under from something as simple as a pissed off copyright holder.
UPDATE – RF has pulled the offending information, pledged to instruct the writers on copyright law, streamlined the takedown process and admitted to being wrong. I admit to writing the outline of the mea culpa he posted, but he fleshed it out, pressed the button and agreed to the terms. I’ll make sure he makes things right with the photographers as well, because Ben is the best in the business and goons always try to help goons.
Unfortunately, while Robert does apologize (indirectly) to Mr. Toombs in the post Nick linked to, it fails for two reasons. First, it places the burden of effort and proof upon the person who feels as though their copyright has been infringed, not on the person doing the infringing:
If you see something posted on this site without permission that you created, send an email to [email protected] and include the following items:
– Your name and contact information
– A brief paragraph about what happened and why you are writing
– A link to the offending content on our website
– Some proof that you are the original content creator (a link to the source or your own website is perfect)
In other words, "we are going to continue stealing everyone else’s material, and are not going to do anything about it unless you notice and complain to us."
Permission is granted to temporarily download one copy of the materials (information or software) on http://copyrightlogo.org’s web site for personal, non-commercial transitory viewing only. This is the grant of a license, not a transfer of title, and under this license you may not:
– modify or copy the materials;
– use the materials for any commercial purpose, or for any public display (commercial or non-commercial);
– attempt to decompile or reverse engineer any software contained on http://copyrightlogo.org’s web site;
– remove any copyright or other proprietary notations from the materials; or
– transfer the materials to another person or "mirror" the materials on any other server.
This license shall automatically terminate if you violate any of these restrictions and may be terminated by http://copyrightlogo.org at any time. Upon terminating your viewing of these materials or upon the termination of this license, you must destroy any downloaded materials in your possession whether in electronic or printed format.
In other words, in the post where Robert Farago was apologizing for infringing on other people’s copyrights, he was infringing on other people’s copyrights. Did he learn his lesson? I think not.
The best thing to come out of this unfortunate incident was that the Shooters’ Journal took a moment to clarify their position and reaffirm photographers’ rights, wherein they actually admit to doing their homework, researching the photo in question, and contacting the photographer before using it on their site. You know, like responsible journalists do.
On 23OCT11, Robert Farago wrote a post at TTAG entitled "What’s Wrong With This Picture: Baywatch This Edition". The post consisted of nothing more than a photograph of a weapon light/laser combination being shined down a flight of stairs, and the text, "Image courtesy shootingillustrated.com." Except there is one small problem: "courtesy of" implies consent on the part of the original source, and SayUncle, the actual copyright holder for the image, indicates no consent was given:
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s not at AmericanRifleman.org? It’s copyrighted material that you’re using without permission? I’m not really left-handed?
At least Robert brought himself to link to the actual page where the picture was featured on Shooting Illustrated, rather than the root domain like he normally does. The image remains to this day, despite Robert being aware that he used the photo without the photographer’s consent, and the photographer’s dissatisfaction with the situation. This further confirms the notion that he did not learn his lesson regarding copyright infringements.
Apparently Dan Zimmerman did not learn his lesson either. On 15JUN12, Dan Zimmerman wrote a post on TTAG entitled "Remington Settles 700 Trigger Suit" which featured a photograph of a stainless-and-OD-green Remington 700 on a bipod; unsurprisingly, Dan did not take this picture, neither did anyone else at TTAG. Instead, the picture was taken by Alan of Snarky Bytes, who expressed his displeasure with the theft of his image in a comment on TTAG and in a post at his site. Farago’s response to Alan’s understandable indignation again reinforces the fact that he has not learned his lesson, despite numerous people in the previous comment threads and this one explaining to him exactly why his misrepresentation of "fair use" is exactly that – wrong.
Interestingly, The Truth About Guns’ theft of Alan’s Remington 700 image continues to this day, though the image is no longer featured in the original article. This rather belies Robert’s claim that TTAG "remove(s) photos when the photographer takes umbrage. As we did here."
Perhaps the most amusing thing of this particular incident, however, is after Alan told Robert that not linking back to the original source was both "impolite and breaks the web", Robert claimed "If we could embed a link we would." (Screen capture of email is property of Alan, and is used with permission.)
For those unfamiliar, Robert Farago is, indeed, the lead editor of The Truth About Guns and was previously the lead editor of The Truth About Cars, along with previously blogging at Autoblog and Jalopnik. I find it remarkably difficult to believe that neither he nor anyone else on his staff can figure out how to use HTML in order to embed a link back to the original sources of the pictures he and his employees steal from other people. In fact, if one did not know better, one would almost think that was an outright, blatant lie.
On 04APR11, Robert Farago published an article on TTAG entitled "A Modest Proposal: The Disposable Gun"; this post consisted of literally nothing more than a picture that a TTAG editor/author might or might not have taken, the text, "From booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com:", and the wholesale copying of the post in question without the Tamara Keel’s (the author) consent.
Copying part of a post in order to comment on it, expand upon the point the author brought up, or otherwise address the post or part of post in question is one thing, and is generally considered to be acceptable and within the bounds of "fair use". Copying said post wholesale and adding absolutely no commentary, additional perspectives, or anything else at all? That is thievery, plain and simple, even though Farago acknowledged where the thievery took place (this acknowledgement merely prevents Farago’s copy-pasting from being plagiarism; it has no impact on the copyright infringement involved).
Then, on 16AUG11, Dan Zimmerman published a post on TTAG called, "Safety Tip: Remember Your Chamber Checks. Always." This time, the offense was arguably "better", if such a thing can actually be said – Dan made some comments about the importance of chamber-checking firearms you pick up, commented on the value of Tam’s personal experiences with the same, even went so far as to flatter Tam… right before he copy-pasted an entire ten-paragraph post of hers.
Unfortunately, this CTRL+A / CTRL+C / CTRL+V behavior for Robert and his underlings is not terribly surprising; what is amusing, however, is Robert’s reaction to being called out about it. In the comment thread of a post we will discuss later, Robert stated on 19AUG11, and I quote:
Seriously, if I/we get it wrong—sorry "when" I/we get it wrong, ping me at [email protected] I will respond STAT, fully aware of the likelihood that I’ve made a mistake. And making the changes that need making.
Just a few hours later, Tam says:
No need to go that far back. Tuesday they copypasta’ed an entire 10-paragraph post of mine. (One long enough that I’d have to shave some words if I wanted to mail it to Kathy in exchange for a check.)
That’s just bad form.
And just a few hours after that, Robert states:
For the record, we do not lift entire posts. We cut and paste paragraphs with analysis and ALWAYS link to the original source. We have never received a single complaint in that regard. If you have one, ping [email protected]
Robert later claims that he was "not aware of this post" (the one with the 10-paragraph-whole-post-copy-paste), and proceeded to remove it from the public view of the site, though the link still obvious works. However, even if he is being honest about not being "aware" of the post in question, the simple truth is that Robert, himself, "lift(ed) (an) entire post" from Tam once before, which makes his "for the record" comment nothing but a bald-faced lie.
And just to cap off Robert’s long-standing lie of not stealing other bloggers’ material, on 29NOV11, Robert Farago posted "TTAG to Weer’d Beard: We’re Sorry" which most definitely was not an apology, nor was it without its own instance of copyright infringement – right at the top of the post was nothing more than Weer’d Beard’s header image, which was graciously provided to Weer’d by Bluesun. Neither Weer’d nor Bluesun gave permission to Robert to use the image, and when Weer’d reminded Robert of that simple fact, the latter’s response was, once again, to fall back on a blatant misrepresentation of the concept of "fair use".
The image was not discussed in the post; it was not even relevant to the post, and barely amounted to anything more than filler, and, as such, probably did not fall within the bounds of "fair use". Instead, it was nothing more than a not-so-subtle "screw you" to Weer’d and the rest of us who attempt to comport ourselves in a mature, respectful fashion… unlike Robert.
MISREPRESENTATION / LIES:
For a while (he seems to have slacked off of late), Robert had a nasty habit of reposting Oleg Volk’s pictures and launching into wholly unwarranted, vicious tirades against Mr. Volk, his photography, his style, and whatever else was getting Robert’s underoos in a wad. While this is within the realm of "fair use" for once – Robert was discussing the photographs in question, rather than simply using them as props around his posts – it struck more than a few of us as particularly reprehensible, and a few of us expressed that opinion to Robert.
One such vocal individual was Bob S., who approached the situation from the wholly understandable position of, "if you feel so comfortable incisively criticizing someone else’s photography, I am sure you will not mind us subjecting your posts to the same level of scrutiny."
Unsurprisingly, Robert cannot take what he dishes out, and, for his trouble, not only were Bob S.’ comments edited without any public acknowledgement of that the editing took place, all of those comments were eventually deleted and Bob S. banned from TTAG once Robert finally lost his temper:
Apparently Robert Farago aka "The Can’t Handle the Truth About Guns" thought I was "flaming" his site or himself. Apparently, flaming means anything critical of him.
He first edited my comment to remove the critique of him.
Let me repeat that Robert Farago aka "The Can’t Handle the Truth About Guns" edited another person’s comment to remove a critique about him. And worse in my opinion, did not note that he edited the comment.
Several emails went back and forth while I was answering other comments on the site. Then apparently when he realized I wasn’t going to go away and let him criticize others without saying something about it; he deleted all my comments.
(Emphasis in the original.)
Now, allow us to take this a step at a time. The internet largely exists and revolves around a certain level of shared trust – any time you see a firearm-related post or comment somewhere with the name "Linoge" at its top and with my little Saiga-coat-of-arms icon off to the side, you trust that is, in fact, me behind the keyboard that wrote that post or comment.
But have you ever thought about how easy it would be to spoof that? Save the icon to your desktop, generate up your own me-sounding email address, and start posting your way around the intertubes with my name and picture. Who would be able to tell the difference?
We trust that people do not do that, simply because the internet would, at least on the social level, unravel if everyone started faking being everyone else. Now, on the same level, we bloggers are entrusted with a certain degree of faith, as well; after all, once someone leaves a comment on our sites, we could open up our handy-dandy admin control panels, load up their comment, and edit it to say anything and everything we wanted.
But we do not. Because you trust us not to, because that would be misleading, and because we know it would be wrong.
Unfortunately, Robert does not seem to be limited by any of those niggling little interpersonal relationship details. More the pity, for him, at least.
"But there are exceptions! A lot of sites edit content based on X, Y, Z or Q!" And this is absolutely true; however, in the cases where those administrators choose to edit comments based on the commenting policies at their sites, they generally leave some kind of note or indication that yes, the comment was, indeed, edited by them, because of a violation of X, Y, Z, or Q. That way, everyone knows some aspect of the original comment is gone/missing, and no one thinks the author of the comment did say something he did not, or did not say something he did.
Unfortunately, Robert does not seem to find that common courtesy all that necessary either.
Make no mistake – by editing Bob S.’ comments and not disclosing that he did so, Robert lied. He indicated that Bob S. only said X and Z, when, in reality, Bob S. actually said X, Y, and Z; it may not be much of a lie, and he unquestionably does not care that it is a lie, but it is a lie nonetheless.
I know you all are not surprised but, as Bob S. indicates, that was not the end of Robert’s lies:
At no point did I say that he should ” I should proactively contact the subject of critical posts to get their comments” — which by the way is another revision without notification — it originally said “each and every”.
I said -repeatedly — that if he had a problem with the images, why didn’t he address it with the originators?
He is exactly right – nowhere did Bob S. say Robert "should" do anything; Bob S. simply asked why Robert did not do something. But, now, aside from Bob S.’ own words on on his site and the screen caps he took (I strongly recommend you read his whole post – it gives you a glimpse into the fetid corners of Robert’s mind), no one knows that Robert is lying, thanks to his Memory Hole-ing Bob S.’ actual comments.
We gunbloggers are more than familiar with this tactic, which is generally referred to as Reasoned Discourse; in fact, Joan Peterson is a known repeat offender when one of us says something borderline confrontational in her comments, she deletes the comment, and then proceeds to play the martyr for the next umpteen posts claiming we evil "gun nuts" are picking on her and abusing her and calling her mean names. Well, that is all good and well, and her fellow anti-rights cultist compatriots lap it up because it fits neatly into their preconceived bigotry, but the simple fact is we did no such thing… only we have absolutely no way of proving it any more, since she deleted the comment. In our "modern" world, though, the "victim" gets priority, even if she is a victim in her own mind, and it becomes the word of a "victim" against the word of a person who has already been castigated as a "bully" or worse; guess who wins.
I left this comment over at TTAG as a response to an incendiary article about who should and should not have the right to defend themselves.
“Short version of this article: “I’m ok, you’re seriously messed up”.
Slightly longer version of this article: “Look, I’ve had 20 people look at me cross-eyed, so I know I can handle a gun in an emergency. The rest of you can’t, and I know this because I am better at this than you are. Just ask me, I’ll tell you. And even though I give a great example of someone like you who handled things correctly, he’s the exception to the rest of you brain-dead schmucks. And he’s the exception because I say so. The rest of you guys can’t handle things as well as he did. So there.
Look, I understand that this site needs a certain amount of, ah, stimulating conversation, but some editorial oversight is necessary, lest TTAG become TMZ with guns.”
The problem is, that’s not how the article appears on the site: The critique (offered up in good faith) was edited out.
Now, compare what ExurbanKevin says he wrote to what is displayed on TTAG:
As he says, the criticism he specifically leveled against TTAG and its editorial practices was removed, although, amusingly, the criticisms he leveled against MikeB302000’s idiotic post at TTAG were allowed to remain. Apparently Robert only has a thin skin when it is his skin on the line.
ExurbanKevin goes on to say,
Blogs are only effective when they listen to and respond to user comments. Blogs that don’t do this are echo chambers, not centers of honest discussion.
Just so. By editing out any comments or parts of comments that may appear to be critical of the site, the way the site is run, or the editorial practices of the site, Robert is creating the false impression that all the commenters and readers at TTAG are happy with the site as a whole. Obviously this perception is important to Robert, since he needs to be able to show his advertisers a high-traffic, popular, positively-viewed site in order to make his money, but that perception is as hollow as the mythical Potemkin Villages of yore.
The true irony of Robert’s iron grip on the comments at TTAG will become apparent as you read farther through this post and learn about Robert decrying pro-rights authors for supposedly "denying readers access to original source material" by not linking to anti-rights weblogs. Apparently it is wholly acceptable for Robert to deny his readership the "original source material" of people who disagree with the way he is running his site, however.
And just so we are all on the same page here, Robert Farago is more than welcome to respond to this post in comments, or however else he sees fit, and so long as he abides by the commenting policy here at "walls of the city", I will be more than happy to let that comment stand. If he decides to disregard that policy, I will not hesitate to edit, or even delete, the comment as appropriate, however, I will unquestionably indicate that I did, indeed, edit the comment in question and possibly even explain why. This site is not an echo chamber incapable of standing up to criticisms… unlike, apparently, TTAG.
Speaking personally, most of my readers are probably thoroughly familiar with my "graphics matter" series of posts documenting how various pieces of anti-rights propaganda are not only wholly wrong, they are actually almost the opposite of what is currently going on. Back on 07JUN11, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence Ownership took my image, reposted it on their Facebook feed without attribution or any indication of where it came from, and misrepresented it as "proof" that the Brady Act and various other gun-rights-restricting laws "worked". Obviously, this is not the case, as we discussed in the source post for that image, but the anti-rights cultists were never ones to let little things like "facts" get in the way of their propaganda.
Unfortunately, neither was Robert Farago. He happily reposted the image the Brady Campaign had stolen with the same exact tag-line, to quote "Gun deaths plummet after the Brady Law and Assault Weapons Ban are passed". And, just like the Brady Campaign, he did so without a link back to my site, without a link back to the post the image came from, and without even mentioning where the image was from. Apparently Robert has no problems carrying the water of those who would deprive us of our Constitutionally-protected rights.
I left a comment clarifying what the graphic actually showed and calling Robert on the carpet for not only misrepresenting my work, but also failing to provide any attribution or mention of where it came from. Unsurprisingly, Robert edited my comment to remove my criticisms of him and then proceeded to completely miss the point of citations for internet purposes.
Make no mistake, I tried to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out where the image came from – there is a very clear " © wallsofthecity.net" on the side of the image in a location that would make it almost impossible (or, at least, obvious) to remove, and once at my site, searching for the keywords on the graphic will point you to the origination post pretty quickly. But Robert – one of those supposed "authorized journalists" of our time – could not be bothered to adequately research the material he was not only not-really discussing, but reposting with a blatantly specious misrepresentation of the material. I really do not care that he put up a copy of my image, after all, I pretty much say people are welcome to do so; I care that he did not even bother so much as to link back to my site, indicate that the graphic was not the product of the Brady Campaign (any paltry attempts-and-fails at citations came after or during our email conversation), or attempt to correct the malicious hijacking of the message by mental midgets who obviously did not understand the graphic they were looking at.
PERSPECTIVES ON FIREARM OWNERS:
For example, in a post on 04FEB11 entitled "Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Anyone Who Doesn’t Lock Up His Guns", Robert trots out the standard "blame the victim" mentality of people who say a woman with a short skirt was "asking for it", or people who believe we should criminally prosecute firearm owners who have firearms stolen from them but who choose not to notify the police within an arbitrary amount of time, for whatever reason.
In effect, this is nothing more than the continuation of the "collective responsibility" fallacy perpetuated by so many "gun control" extremists wherein they lay the blame for violent crime at the feet of law-abiding firearm owners and not at the feet of those who actually commit the crime. In this particular instance, Robert is all about blaming firearm owners if their firearms get stolen from them, while simultaneously trying to appease both sides of the fence by blaming the criminals as well.
Sorry, Robert, but it does not work that way. One party, and one party alone, is responsible for the theft of a firearm, or any inanimate personal possession you care to name – the person who picked up a piece of property that was not theirs and then absconded with it. It does not matter if you live in a "rough neighborhood", it does not matter if the theft could have been predictable, it does not matter if you left the door unlocked / the keys in the ignition / etc. etc. etc.; the only thing that matters is a certain person of lacking moral character took something that did not belong to them when they knew it did not belong to them. That is a conscious, willful decision that the thief made of his own free will, and he alone bears complete and total responsibility, accountability, and blame for it.
If a person takes something that is not theirs, the person who owned the property is in no way responsible for that theft, and that is all there is to it. Of course, given Robert’s wholly incorrect understanding of copyright law, "fair use", and intellectual property, it does not surprise me that he is in such a hurry to blame the victim… after all, "if it is on the internet it is fair game", in his own words.
Moving forward, Robert seemed to become increasingly willing to be a useful idiot for those who would deprive us of our rights, and in a post on 23JUL11, he happily explained that the acronym "OFWG" you will see crop up on TTAG from time to time refers to "Old Fat White Guys" who apparently "account for a disproportionately large percentage of shooters preparing for an full-on, multi-magazine gunfight", in his words.
In the same post, he proceeds to explain that only "law-abiding citizens of color living in high crime neighborhoods" "need" live-fire self-defense training, and any "OFWG" who pays for and enjoys such training is obviously (at least according to Robert’s maliciously leading questions) either a paranoiac or a "retarded adolescent replaying gunfighting scene [sic] from Hollywood’s fertile imagination". In a later comment, Robert called the training video highlighted in his post (said video has unfortunately been removed) a "fantasy camp for the permanently paranoid".
So with that racism, sexism, ageism, and apparent animosity / hatred / etc. dispensed with, in almost the same breath, Robert wants to ensure we all understand he supports and defends the Second Amendment and believes anyone who wants to carry a gun, and is legally able to do so, should.
Why do I have such a hard time believing him?
Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence regarding Robert Farago’s viewpoint of firearm owners is the fact that MikeB302000 is a writer at The Truth About Guns.
I have already extensively documented personification of "fail" that is MikeB302000 / Michael Bonomo, including his illegally owning a firearm and probable history of illegal drug abuse / dealing, so there is no need to rehash all of that here in this post; however, one thing does need to be made clear: MikeB302000 absolutely, rabidly hates firearm owners, their rights, and the fact that we are unwilling to give up either those rights or our firearms.
How can I say such a thing? Simple. I looked at his words:
Your 2A rights are the result of a purposeful distortion and twisting of the original intent. The 1A ideas, on the other hand such as freedom of religion and speech, are eternal.
The 2A should be treated as the meaningless anachronistic nonsense it is.
No, that’s not what the bullying is. The bullying is open carrying a gun. It’s demanding the right to carry in Starbucks. It’s insisting that the rest of us are safer because you carry. That’s what bullying is.
And that is just one example of his comments at TTAG. At his own site (which I will not link to), MikeB302000 goes on to explain how a person’s firearm-related rights should be forever and irrevocably denied if the person ever drops a gun, has a negligent discharge, improperly stores a firearm such that a child gets his hands on it, improperly stores a firearm such that it is stolen, brandishes his gun, loses a gun, or brings a gun to an airport because you forgot it was in a bag. Note that most/all of those situations do not even involve people getting hurt by your actions, and further note that the first one is something almost everyone will invariably end up doing.
Drop a gun – lose your rights as protected under the Second Amendment. Forever. Yeah, that sounds like the very paragon of liberty right there.
And yet this is a person Robert has entrusted with the valet keys to The Truth About Guns. Why? Well, to quote Robert:
The idea of excluding gun control advocates and leaving out links to pro-gun control websites never occurred to me. How can I respect the freedom of speech while restricting readers to one point of view? By the same token, how can I deny readers access to original source material so that they can judge the integrity of my analysis? The truth flourishes in a vigorous marketplace of ideas. It lies fallow in the cold sterility of an empty echo chamber.
Except that explanation falls short in almost every regard. How does his not giving authorship to a rabidly anti-rights extremist "restrict readers to one point of view"? Are his readers so stupid that they cannot operate Google? Are his readers so incompetent that they cannot click on the link embedded in MikeB302000’s screen name when he comments? Is he so journalistically useless that he cannot occasionally plumb the depths of the "gun control" weblogs and find something to write about there? And how does blockquoting or screen capturing – as I have done here for TTAG – "deny readers access to original source material"? It is not hard to discuss something without actually linking to it, and it is no more difficult to make it easy for people to search for the material in question if they really want to read it themselves.
No, the answer is far simpler than Robert’s assumed mantle of false piety; in fact, the answer is so simple that it can be expressed in a single symbol: $. MikeB302000 is contentious, and contentious things invariably create more comments and discussion, which invariably creates more traffic, page views, and other happy little numbers Robert can – and does, on a monthly basis now – show off to his advertisers and those he wishes would be advertisers. In the end, Robert’s interest in TTAG, and the firearm community as a whole, stems from nothing more complicated than trying to make a buck, which explains his ready willingness to exploit and abuse those around him so long as he can profit from it.
In his pursuit of the almighty dollar, though, he has given a rabid anti-rights authoritarian writer’s privileges at TTAG; this unquestionably means that MikeB302000 and his views represent the views of TTAG, which rather says something about the site, does it not? Especially a site with such a… self-aggrandizing name.
And just to come back around to a previous point, how, exactly, does Robert reconcile his admonition about "restricting readers to one point of view" and his documented history of editing out parts of comments at TTAG that are critical of himself or his site? He is, after all, restricting the site’s readership to only positive, or at least neutral, viewpoints of the site, which dishonestly colors the perception of that site.
As with so many narcissists, Robert is, of course, above the rules he would seek to impose on you.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHERS:
It should probably come as no surprise that Robert’s misbehavior and reprehensible actions are not limited exclusively to the internet; he is just as maladjusted, offensive, and troublesome in the carbon world as well. For example, this story from the 2011 NRA Annual Meetings was forwarded to me by another gunblogger (I was not present for this unfortunate event):
One of the off-site events held for gun bloggers at the 2011 NRA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh was the “Gunny Prom”. The Second Amendment Foundation had approached Breda of the gun blog Breda Fallacy to help organize the event as well as to handle the invitations to bloggers; the "Gunny Prom" was an effort to bring bloggers up to date on the legal cases brought by the Second Amendment Foundation.
The event included talks by Alan Gottlieb as well as attorneys Alan Gura and David Jensen. It also featured the awarding of the Soldier of Fortune Magazine’s 2nd Amendment Freedom Fighter Awards for 2011, which were presented to Mike Vanderboegh, David Codrea, and Dave Workman by the publisher of SOF, LTC Robert Brown, for the work they had done to bring out the facts of the Project Gunwalker scandal.
After the awards, the SAF’s presentations, and the official Q&A session, a number of bloggers gathered to ask more questions of attorney Alan Gura. I was one of those bloggers as I had questions for Alan Gura about the North Carolina case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation.
Among the questions asked of Alan were if he owned any firearms, and, if so, what were they? He was reluctant to answer this question as he explained that it was imperative for him to be seen in the courts and by the media as a civil rights advocate and not merely a gunny lawyer. He finally agreed to answer the question after he had everyone’s agreement that what he said was strictly off the record and not to be reported. One of the most reluctant to agree to this was Robert Farago.
After Alan reported on his firearm(s), Farago began berating Alan for his choices and insistently asking what training Alan had, how often he practiced, and if it could be arranged would Alan go on a training course. Farago reported on some of this discussion on TTAG:
Meanwhile, after a quick off-the-record conversation about Gura’s personal self-defense, I offered to do what I could to provide him with some free firearms training. If someone amongst TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia could help hook up gun owners’ foremost defender with some serious self-defense training gratis, I’d be much obliged.
Of all people, Alan Gura should be able to exercise his Second Amendment rights effectively. That kind of irony we don’t need, if you know what I mean.
Farago’s behavior was rude, borderline condescending, and overly aggressive. Gura’s response was to play it cool as befits an appellate attorney who has argued and won before the Supreme Court. I think he just wanted to end the discussion and get out of there.
It was later related to me by a friend of Alan’s to whom I related this incident that Alan was actually rather furious over the whole incident. While this is hearsay, the person telling me this is trustworthy beyond reproach and is very well regarded within the gun rights movement.
I am very slow to anger but I was fuming about this incident. I remember asking Brian aka Cemetery’s Gun Blob who the F@#* was this Farago guy. He told me that he used to run The Truth About Cars and had sold that site. We both surmised that Farago was only into guns as that seemed like a hot topic on which he could make a buck.
Fortunately that was the last time I saw Farago that weekend. He was not invited to the Gunny Prom after-party which was just as well. I removed TTAG from my blogroll after we got home and have never linked to him since. In my eyes, his behavior towards Alan Gura who had put it all on the line for all gun owners with his work on Heller and McDonald was unforgivable.
As I said, I was not present for any of this, but the basic details have been corroborated by other individuals who did witness Robert’s unfortunate behavior, and who had very similar responses to the same. Obviously, it is no one’s business what firearms Mr. Gura does or does not own, nor what kind of training he has had or has not had, and demeaning a man’s choices for no good reason and publishing something that person would have rather kept under wraps are wholly unacceptable behaviors for anyone, much less someone who is trying to shoehorn his way into a community that tends to look out for its own.
In a similar vein, at the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference put on by the Second Amendment Foundation, Robert had the opportunity to interview Emily Miller, and went about it in probably the worst possible way, only to outdo himself in his write-up of that interview.
For those not in the know, Emily Miller has been pretty much the voice for illuminating just how onerous, draconian, and pointless the District of Columbia’s firearm laws are, and has been thoroughly documenting her attempts to remain legal while owning firearms in her column at The Washington Times. Suffice to say, the process has not been a particularly easy one, and Emily has done an outstanding job uncovering all the ways the D.C. political machine has found to bypass, work around, and ignore the recent D.C. vs. Heller Supreme Court decision.
Anywise, as I said, Robert had the opportunity to interview this crusader for individual rights, and proceeded to grill her on what she carries, where she carries, whether or not she would be willing to ignore D.C.’s cumbersome laws on certain points, and so forth… Are we seeing a pattern of "gotcha" journalism yet? He then proceeded to blog about all of this, putting it in the public domain, including her using a head-call as an excuse to get away from this obnoxious idiot verbally assaulting her in the hallway.
Or, to put it in Emily’s words on Twitter, "I hadn’t seen that so thank you for sending it to me. I thought he was creepy and unnerved me but talked to him for 10 min." and "He freaked me out, jumping out at me in the hall alone. Pounded me with Qs about carrying." In a comment at Shall Not Be Infringed, Emily expanded on those points saying:
Thank you so much for this post. I felt ambushed by that guy. He was very creepy and jumpy, which made me nervous. I should have trusted my instincts, but instead stayed and answered all his questions politely. I don’t know why he feels the need to repeatedly attack me for being a girl and for not having extensive training in the six months I’ve owned a gun. That’s all true, but I’ve also gotten the gun laws changed in D.C. to make it easier to get a legal gun, so the haters don’t affect my work!
I guess that sexism thing is a monkey Robert just cannot shake; wonderful guy to have as a self-appointed face of the firearm community, is he not? Emily deserves a great deal of credit for taking the time to answer the impolite and frankly impertinent questions from someone who had no business demanding that kind of information from her, but, honestly, if someone comes up to you on the street and starts asking those kinds of questions from you, even if they are an "authorized journalist", your best bet is probably telling the boorish jackass to pound sand. Unlike Farago, Emily does not need to constantly proclaim her pro-rights credentials – she lives them every day – and it is absolutely no one’s business what you carry, why you carry, where you carry, or any of the rest of that nonsense. Emily has a blog; I am pretty sure if she wanted to share that information, she could figure out how.
And then entitling the post about this interview, "Gun Rights Policy Conference: Emily Miller Hasn’t Done Force-on-Force Training and Has to Go to the Bathroom Real Bad"? I once referred to Robert Farago as a "yellow journalist"; apparently I was being too kind.
Speaking of, when I pointed former Deputy Press Secretary for the State Department and current Senior Editor Emily Miller towards an explanation of the "black list" fiasco (to be discussed in a bit), her response regarding Robert’s behavior was, "WHOA! No integrity. None."
I tend to agree.
On an amusing note, Robert apparently never learned the admonition that one should be careful what one asks for. A good while back, a small number of us gunbloggers put our heads together and compared notes and realized that (A) we all had somewhat similar opinions about Robert, TTAG, and the behavior he was exhibiting there, and (2) had absolutely no reason, inclination, or desire to link back there ever again, just for the sake of not appearing to support his idiocy. It was kind of one of those "Ahah!" moments when you realize that, in fact, you are not the only person to have noticed that the sky is blue or something like that.
In any case, when Chris from AK threw out the idea that we should boycott anti-rights weblogs in their entirety, Weer’d figured we should go ahead and include TTAG and at least be consistent on that front. Eventually, Robert found out about this communal denying him of link traffic, and… well… went off the deep end. It was a conspiracy! We were being mean to him! We owed him links! It is just not FAIR! And so forth.
The sad thing was that it was just a group of likeminded folks reaching a similar conclusion in their own way, and then realizing they were not alone.
But, hey, now that you mention a blacklist, Robert, maybe we should make one. What do you say?
Yes, that is, indeed, a listing of every firearm-related weblog the authors of that particular site could find, and then a few more… well, every firearm-related weblog except The Truth About Guns, which you will find is notably lacking from that site’s list. I guess you got what you wanted after all, eh, Robert?
And just to round things out, I would like to introduce the readers of this post to a neologism created by a commenter at "walls of the city":
Faragosis (n.) – The act or attempted act of being a d*ck within the gun-rights community.
I honestly cannot think of a better example to hold up of what not to do in the firearm-related weblogging community, and wholeheartedly endorse the adoption of this new word.
In the Uniform Code of Military Justice, you will find the phrase "pattern of misconduct" used to describe situations wherein a service member has committed multiple, repeated, minor infractions against "the UCMJ, military regulations, the civil law, and time-honored customs and traditions of the military", and while each of those infractions are insufficient individually to discharge the member from the military, collectively they show a definable pattern of "conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" and thus a reason to get that rotten apple out of the basket.
Likewise, once upon a time, our Founding Fathers used the phrase "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing from the same Object" to refer to the repeated injustices King George III forced upon the American colonists; each injustice, in and of itself, was insufficient cause to engage in a shooting war, but when taken as a group… well, here we are, not speaking the Queen’s English.
When you take them one-by-one, Robert Farago’s infractions against the laws of the land, common courtesy, and the accepted mores and customs of the internet are not that serious, and something that can be waved aside as a momentary lapse in better judgment. However, when you look at the dataset as a whole, and realize that these are repeated infractions, often of the same type despite others pointing out and his admitting error in regards to similar infractions in the past… well, the "long train of abuses" or "pattern of misconduct" become quite clear.
I am not one to tell people what they should or should not do, but why would you support a site that engages in such intentionally malicious behavior, whether that support is with links, with views, or with comments? Why would you encourage such reprehensible behavior, tacitly through traffic or actively through actually defending it? Why would you tolerate these kinds of attacks – both outright and backhanded – against the rights protected by the Second Amendment and against those who would stand up to defend and exercise them?
I, for one, am not going to, and I sincerely hope you take a moment and consider the activities documented in here before you continue visiting The Truth About Guns, or link to them in the future. Thank you for your time – if you read through this whole thing you deserve some kind of award.