the journal news and gawker media pull a commercial appeal

Not having a dog in this particular fight, I can only sit back and laugh at how quickly The Journal News and now Gawker Media are realizing that private American citizens enjoy their… well, privacy. Extra bonus points got to Gawker for labeling all firearm-owning New Yorkers as "Assholes" – way to make friends and influence people, especially in New York.

On the one hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger firearm owners – after all, firearms are high-value items that are typically useful to criminals for a variety of reasons, and The Journal News and Gawker just provided those criminals with a shopping list of locations where firearms are stored.

On the other hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger folks who do not own firearms – after all, criminals generally like breathing (shocking, I know), and may avoid homes where they are likely to be shot, instead hitting up homes they know are disarmed and defenseless.

On the gripping hand, absolutely no argument could be made that publishing these lists was necessary or good, or that any good could come of doing so. Just replace "firearm owner" with "blacks" or "gays" or "Jews" and tell me all the good that can come of those lists.

What is that you are saying? Neither Gawker nor The Journal News published addresses? So? Using nothing more than their first and last names, I was able to dig up home addresses, phone numbers, and home property tax information on the entire staff of the Commercial Appeal, a newspaper here in Tennessee that oh-so-very-kindly published a searchable database of handgun carry permit holders. Put I had to pay money to pull up all that information, right? Wrong. All of that information is publicly available on the internet, through free sources, and required nothing more than first and last names to begin searching.

So to John Cook, the editor of Gawker, who is whining about people posting his address, I can only say, "Suck it up, you privacy-invading wanker."

Speaking of the Commercial Appeal, though, I guess I should look into updating its database, since the information there is nearly four years out of date.

In the intervening years, of course, they have had a little turnover in their staff. Most notably, Joseph Pepe and Karl Wurzbach appear to have been fired (could not happen to nicer people), but, since the original handgun carry permit database was posted and maintained during their watch, their names will remain in this counter-database, as will all of the names of folks employed at CA during that period. In fact, Stephen Tomb is about the only "Vice President" to survive whatever culling the Commercial Appeal went through recently, and no one has stepped up (or been allowed to step up) to fill Joseph’s and Karl’s now-empty positions. One can only hope the bird cage liner newspaper is slowly augering its way into oblivion.

Likewise, people, like Otis Sanford, have moved; their addresses and information have been appropriately updated.

Joseph Pepe, Former President and Publisher
3195 Wetherby Cv S
Germantown, TN 38139

901-737-8784
Home Property Tax Information

Stephen M. Tomb, VP of Operations
1846 Wildcreek Cv
Collierville, TN 38017

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Chris C. Peck, Editor
21 Belleair Dr
Memphis, TN 38104

901-276-8314
Home Property Tax Information

Otis Sanford, Former Editor/Opinion & Editorials, Current "Free-Lance Columnist"
3094 Flint Drive
Memphis, TN 38115

901-368-5599
Home Property Tax Information

Eric Janssen, Former VP of Digital Media
8996 Stratfield Cv
Germantown, TN 38139

901-358-7007, Home
901-212-3597, Cell
Home Property Tax Information

Michael B. Erskine, Director of Digital Media
1898 Parkview Cv
Memphis, TN 38104-7634

901-274-2571, Home
Home Property Tax Information

Scott Sines, Former Managing Editor
2136 Wentworth Ln
Germantown, TN 38139

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Louis E. Graham, Managing Editor
228 Rhonda Cir E
Cordova, TN 38018-4326

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Gary L. Robinson, Managing Editor, Digital
Current information unknown.

Daniel R. Moehle, Former VP/Chief Financial Officer
3172 Devonshire Way
Germantown, TN 38139

901-757-5911
Home Property Tax Information

Karl D. Wurzbach, Former VP of Sales and Marketing
3098 Bentwood Run Dr
Collierville, TN 38017

901-853-4892
Home Property Tax Information

Robert Jiranek, Former VP of New Business Development
400 Forest Ridge Road
Earlysville, VA 22936-9218

434-202-1724

Robert L. Pinarski, Former Advertising Director
3961 Herons Landing Ln
Arlington, TN 38002

901-867-5294
Home Property Tax Information

Denise Holman, Former Manager of Classified Advertising
Current address/information unknown.

Paul A. Jewell, Marketing Director
1439 Vance Ave
Memphis, TN 38104

901-272-1458
Home Property Tax Information

(NOTE: Gary L. Robinson seems like the only one who keeps all his information private.)

Again, I stress that all of this information was put together from free, public sources using nothing but the above persons’ first and last names (and a healthy bit of guesswork) as a starting point. If I can assemble that much data on these folks in just a few minutes, how much do you think a dedicated stalker or identity thief can put together?

And as a final point regarding these various and sundry assholes publishing the information of who owns or carries firearms in their respective states, I give you this quote from Gawker commenter "K-leigh" (link intentionally omitted):

The journal posted my address and name for my gun ownership. My past stalker saw this. I haven’t heard from him in two years, because I disappeared. Now he is back and calling me……thanks to people like you bunch of assholes, looks like I will have to protect myself from becoming a murder victim. Gracias.

Whether or not her story is true is somewhat immaterial; the point stands. Numerous people own firearms precisely because of past negative experiences, and lists like these only serve to facilitate those who inflicted negative experiences on others – stalkers, abusers, etc. Once again, the list works both ways – it can help stalkers find old prey, but it can also help stalkers learn their current or past prey is unarmed.

And lest you think I am exaggerating:

Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News’ decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.

"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.

When even the Only Ones, and New York’s Only Ones at that, think you did something stupid… well…

Flagrantly violating hundreds of thousands (millions?) of law-abiding citizens’ privacy and security serves no rational purpose to anyone this side of the law, and I cannot say as though I am terribly fond of those who aid and abet criminals. It could be argued, I suppose, that I am doing exactly the same thing right now, but if those folks listed above believe one’s personal information should be made public on account of lawfully exercising one’s Constitutionally-protected rights… well, I am merely assisting them in fulfilling their desires, am I not? If it is good for one right protected by one Amendment, it is good for another right protected by another Amendment.

Don’t start nothin’; won’t be nothin’.

addition to fighting fire with fire

We have not talked about the Commercial Appeal’s privacy-invading database of Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Holders for a while, but that database seems to have been refreshed recently (03JUL, to be specific), and I realized that my reciprocal listing of the public information available on the staff of the Commercial Appeal might be a little lacking.

Why? Well, who is doing the database-updating? Surely not the bigoted and hoplophobic editor, Chris Peck! Nope. If one were to look at the “Staff” page for the Commercial Appeal (unlinked-to, for obvious reasons), one would find an individual with the title of “Data Reporter”. Interestingly, the aforementioned privacy-invading database is categorized under the “Data” section of the Commercial Appeal‘s webpage. Coincidence? I think not!

I name you, Grant Smith!

One Google search later, we find out that our assumption is correct – Grant Smith actually has the nerve to claim the intrusive database as his work. Have to give him credit for that, I suppose.

However, from his weblog and his Twitter feed, it becomes apparent that he lives in Memphis. As such, we have the basic set of information available through the CA’s database: full name and city. Time to put that information to use.

A quick hop over to the Shelby County Assessor’s Office tells us that the Commercial Appeal must not pay their “freelance journalist, data specialist” employees all that much, given Grant’s current abode is not exactly what you would call “posh”. And, really, living at 1845 York Avenue in Memphis must be something of a drag, what with four rail tracks less than two hundred feet from your house. Feel free to poke him if you would like to comisserate over rambunctious neighbors.

All of that information was aquired with nothing more than his first and last names and city of residence, and all were discovered through free-and-public methods. And, as with my reciprocal listing, I will be more than happy to take this information down as soon as the Commercial Appeal’s distasteful database goes away – fair is fair, after all.

So, tell me Grant, how does the shoe feel on the other foot?

In the end, he is absolutely right – public data is exactly that: public. However, that data would remain public with or without the Commercial Appeal oh-so-kindly presenting it in an easy-to-search, easy-to-stalk database. Additionally, just because something is public, that does not mean it should be public – drivers’ license records are sealed here in Tennessee. Why should handgun carry permits be any different? Thankfully, there are those of us concerned enough with our own personal privacy to be working towards that end, and we are definitely making progress.

No matter how you cut it, the Commercial Appeal’s actions are directly and knowingly endangering law-abiding Tennessee residents – is that really something to be proud of?

same gos-se, different day

Given the non-stop, unending stream of the same baseless hoplophobia, the same anti-rights stance, and the same specious arguments spewing forth from the Commercial Appeal, I honestly got out of the habit of addressing their idiotic editorials, fun though a good fisking can be. However, what with HB3125 moving forward in the Tennessee Legislature, hit would appear as though the Commercial Appeal is doing its damnest to out-hysterical its editorials from last time around:

This session Todd and other promoters of the measure are back with a clarification. They want guns to be carried into bars, after all. And restaurateurs who took the state to court over the matter will be punished with a provision in the new bill that requires any restaurants or “bars” where guns are banned to post large signs at every entrance bearing a handgun with a red circle and slash over it.

Punished? Frakking punished?! You have to be kidding me. It is now considered “punishment” for a restaurant to have to post a “No firearms allowed” sign if they actually do not want to permit firearms on their property? Is it also a “punishment” to have to put up a “No shirt, no shoes, no service” sign if you do not want to have to deal with hairy-chested, hobbit-toed customers showing off their goodies?

For that matter, what about the restaurant owners (and there are more than a few) who have absolutely no problems serving people who are legally carrying firearms? They are currently being barred, by governmental edict, from allowing those law-abiding citizens to come onto their property with their legal sidearms – what about their predicament?

And why am I not surprised that the Commercial Appeal comes down in support of the government dictating the will of anti-rights advocates, but also against individual organizations and corporations doing as they please? Those poor, poor, anti-gun restauranteurs… they will have to wear their anti-rights bigotry on their restaurants’ sleeves, rather than inducing the government to force their desires onto everyone, regardless of everyone else’s wishes. I almost feel sorry for them.

Or not.

Message to restaurateurs: Oppose us on this issue, and you will pay a price.

Jesus Christ on a pogostick – this is not some kind of dick-waving contest between the politicians and the restaurant owners, this is we, the people, demanding that the government get out of the way of our natural, inalienable right to self-defense. And if it ends up that a restaurant owner exercising his property rights to refuse service to whomever he wants suffers from a decrease in revenues, perhaps he should reconsider which he holds to be more important – his own personal bigotry or his profits.

The point is that the choice will be up to him, as it always should have been. Of course, the Commercial Appeal has a history of opposing choice.

All of the energy and time expended on guns in bars might make political sense, at least, if this was something most Tennesseans want.

Proponents are vocal, to be sure, but a Middle Tennessee State University statewide telephone poll of 716 randomly selected adults, with an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points, found 60 percent of us opposed to guns in restaurants and 80 percent against allowing them in bars.

*giggle* So, an un-linked-to (you would think that the editorial staff of the Commercial Appeal would be intelligent enough to figure out hyperlinks) telephone poll of 0.0114% of the population of Tennessee should be taken as an accurate indicator of the desires of that population as a whole?

To begin with, the findings of the above-referenced poll are available here, though absolutely no mention is given towards the specific questions, and how they were worded, and none of the actual polling data is available for public view. Likewise, unsurprisingly, the demographic information recorded from those polled differed from the statistical census information of Tennessee – unsurprisingly, because people are going increasingly wireless (12.8% of households in 2006 had no landline, ours included), and cellphones are not and cannot legally be included in telephone polls. Of course, the pollsters tried to “weight” their recorded demographics to make it come out looking correct, but once you start doing that, the potential for bias and error increases significantly.

And I will bet a dollar to anyone willing to take it that the question regarding the “guns in bars” made no mention of the fact that drinking while carrying would still be 100% illegal.

Of course, this is all without even touching the even-less-scientific polls conducted by the Commercial Appeal: will you look for restaurants that do not allow guns (only 26% of the respondents said “yes”); would you feel more or less safe in a restaurant where fellow patrons could carry their handguns (as if “feelings” matter, but only 14% said “less safe”); and, more-recently, should state legislators override the ruling that blocked handgun carry permit holders from going armed in places serving alcohol (88% said “yes”). On average, those polls had twice the number of responses as the MTSU’s telephone count.

Funny how the anonymous writer of this particular editorial neglected to mention the polls at the Commercial Appeal itself… who wants to bet he would have, if only they had gone they way he wanted?

The measure has also encountered opposition from those who understand the issue perhaps better than anyone — top brass in law enforcement agencies across the state.

Strange how the anonymous author of this editorial neglected to mention the fact that the original sponsor of the original bill, Representative Curry Todd, is a retired police officer himself.

It is additionally strange how this nameless author neglected to mention that the police chiefs standing behind Governor Bredesen during his veto of the original bill were used for a publicity opportunity, and might or might not actually support the bill.

And, finally, perhaps this nameless author can explain to me why my rights, and the choices of restauranteurs, should be limited on the opinions of elected politicians (which is all Sheriffs are here in Tennessee), especially in light of the 41 other states that allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol – 41 other states that have hardly had any problems at all.

Restaurant owners, represented by the Tennessee Hospitality Association, have serious problems with the legislation.

They have no way to police a provision of the bill that prohibits armed patrons from consuming alcohol. What are they supposed to do? Frisk everyone who orders a drink?

NEWSFLASH: They have no way to police the provisions of the current law that ban people carrying handguns from entering restaurants that serve alcohol. None. If I were to strap on my IWB holster, and drop a shirt over it, I could go into any restaurant in this state, sit down, have a meal, get up, and leave, and no one would know that I was armed except me. Even worse, I could have an alcoholic drink with that meal, and still no one would know.

Speaking of not knowing things, I never knew someone could be such an idiot and still manage to run a business like a restaurant – and those restaurant owners are unquestionable idiots if they consider the above rationale a good one for keeping the status quo.

They also strenuously object to being forced — if they don’t want guns in their establishments — to post signs that will make potential customers think twice about wandering into a place where an ominous “no guns” declaration is necessary.

Fine. So do not put up the sign. How hard is that?

Aww, but like so many petty would-be totalitarians before them, these restaurant owners want to have their cake and eat it too, by convincing the public that it is the big mean government that is keeping them from bringing their firearms into restaurants… at those restaurant owners’ request, of course. Well, I am not at all sorry to say that it is coming up on time to grow the frak up, develop a backbone, and take responsibility for your actions – put up a sign or not, but now the choice will be yours, not some faceless government weenie’s.

And speaking of choices, what about those who want to be able to open their doors to handgun carry permit holders and their firearms. Why are the property rights of the anti-firearm restaurant owners somehow suddenly more important than the property rights of the pro-firearm, or even neutral, restaurant owners? Do we really need to point out how incongruous that is?

*sigh* Now I remember why I stopped fisking these worthless editorials – every last one of them is the same hysteria, wrapped up in the same “it is good for the government to control everything” claptrap, decorated with the same “we do not care about your rights” bow, only the entire package gets spraypainted a slightly different shade of cat-barf green each time around. I got tired of the repackage and repost nonsense a while ago, and it does not look as though the Commercial Appeal has improved their writing style any… at least, at this point, it is patently obvious that they are adamantly and absolutely against firearms, individual rights, and the protection/preservation of either, especially with the “we are defeated but this still sucks” ending of their most-recent editorial. I guess I should congratulate the editorial staff of the Commercial Appeal for finally moving past denial, and into the realm of acceptance – of course, if this new bill is at all successful, something tells me to expect additional nonsensical propaganda pieces “editorials” from their presses.

Oh, and as if there was any doubt, this fulmination was most likely the product of Chris Peck, and if not him, someone else on the editorial staff of the Commercial Appeal, though it would appear as though the author of this particular editorial lacks the backbone necessary to put his name to it. I will try to act surprised.

all in the phrasing

Even though my collection of posts debunking the anti-rights claims of the Commercial Appeal, denouncing their privacy-invading database, and disproving their copy-pasting of erroneous VPC studies is still in existance and has been moved to greener pastures, I have largely given up on addressing the newspaper’s incessant anti-rights overtones, innuendo, and idiocy… for reasons like this:

A man wielding a knife was shot and killed about 3 p.m. Friday in a Family Dollar store parking lot in Frayser.

Just a guy holding a knife, and he was shot and killed? What the hell is up with that? Well, the predictably anti-self-defense Commercial Appeal leaves out a few pertinent details:

Police say a man with a knife raced through the parking lot just after 3:00 p.m.. Witnesses say the man chased a delivery driver and others, but was killed when he tried to lunge his knife at one driver leaving the parking lot. The driver pulled a gun and killed his attacker on the spot.

[…]

Witnesses say two little girls were inside the car when the attacker lunged at the driver.

“He had his two step-daughters in the car with him. So, he really was trying to look out for them when he shot him,” says Brandon Jones, who says the girls appeared to be younger than ten. “Yeah, they saw everything that happened. One of them was real shaken.”

Huh. Well, that certainly changes the tone of the “police report”. Unfortunately, it gets worse – back to the Commercial Appeal‘s take on things:

The suspect waited in the parking lot after the shooting until police arrived and took him into custody, according to officers.

Well, yeah, that would make sense – after all, the suspect was full of holes at this point, and probably is not going to be going anywhere any time soon…

Oh. Wait. By “suspect”, the Commercial Appeal means the armed citizen who defended himself and his two small children from a depraved, knife-wielding attacker. So what is he “suspected” of? Nothing.

A young man was patted down and placed in the rear of a squad car. At this point, investigators do not consider this a murder, rather an apparent case of self defense.

As usual, the Commercial Appeal manages to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some “authorized journalists” and media outlets are simply incapable of abandoning their personal bigotry, even for a four-line news blurb. Good job, numbnuts.

moving things around

Here we are, just a little over a year after the Commercial Appeal started its campaign invading the privacy of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens throughout Tennessee, and my documentation of those disgusting actions finally has its own, separate, undated page.

It has been a little while since I posted on the privacy-invading actions of Chris Peck and the rest of his editorial staff at the Commercial Appeal (honestly, it got kind of boring and repetitive to shoot down the same idiotic, hoplophobic arguments over and over and over again), but this is something we cannot simply let abide. Indiana is enjoying a remarkable degree of success at slapping the mitts of the Indianapolis Star, and it is well past time for us to do the same to the Commercial Appeal.

Here is to hoping that our legislator can get their collective acts together and protect the interests and rights of their constituents (and employers).

for them but not us

One of the favorite arguments brought to bear against those of us who are concerned about the publication of privacy-invading lists of handgun carry permit holders basically boils down to, “What, they are just publishing publicly-available information – it is not like they are trying to punish you for exercising your rights or anything!”
Funny. Then why is it that registries of sex offenders are considered to be a punishment?

The law, which was to take effect Friday, would have allowed the Nebraska State Patrol to post the names of all registered sex offenders on its Web site, including those at low risk to reoffend.

A group of 20 convicted sex offenders affected by the law has been seeking to have it ruled unconstitutional. On Thursday, less than seven hours before the law was to take effect, District Judge William Zastera issued a temporary order barring the state from enforcing it.

He said the plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed if the public notification occurred before the issue could be fully litigated. He said the temporary order should remain in effect at least until 10 a.m. Monday, when he set a hearing in Sarpy County District Court.

We law-abiding, background-checked, trained, and licensed citizens are being treated, and punished, no differently than child pornographers and rapists of minors. Exactly how is that acceptable?
(Courtesy of Joe Huffman.)

going to need a database of databases

In what appears to be a continuing trend among bird cage liners “newspapers” throughout the country, one such rag up in Indiana (going by the name of the “Herald Times Online”) decided to post up a database of all the carry permit holders in Indiana. This particular database does not contain actual names or street addresses, but what it does is indicate how many concealed carry permit holders there are on a specific address in a specific city… which presents its own problems and assaults on personal privacy, as Caleb discusses. And, not to pass up on an opportunity, he does the world a favor and puts up the beginnings of an Indiana authorized journalist database, complete with a helpful Google map – you never know where those dangerous people will be lurking.
Speaking as a Tennessee resident and a handgun carry permit holder as well, this is all something of an old hat to me – in February of this year, the Commercial Appeal posted a database of handgun carry permit holders, documenting full names, cities, and zip codes of the permit holders in question. Deciding that turnabout was fair play, I used exactly that information (full name, cities, and zip codes) to generate my own database of the staff and employees of the Commercial Appeal, showing exactly how that “small” amount of information can be used to find even more data in this “information” world. Yes, my database does provide more information than the Commercial Appeal’s database – that is the point – however, all of that information was discovered only using the full name, zip code, and city of the individuals in question, and was discoverable through Google and other publicly-available sources in less than five minutes per person.
Come to think of it, given that the Commercial Appeal has been making a big deal of updating their database relatively frequently (though they seem to have fallen off, of late – I guess this hot-button issue is no longer generating the traffic it used to), I guess I should go through my database of the Commercial Appeal staff and make sure the information contained therein is still correct… Lord knows I want to be accurate in informing the public of the dangerous journalists potentially lurking in their neighborhoods…
Remind me again how violating the privacy of over 220,000 law-abiding, licensed, background-checked, trained Tennessee residents is a “necessary public service”? And explain to me how violating the privacy of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, licensed, background-checked, trained Indiana residents is a good thing as well? The sooner these records are sealed (or restricted to the point where they cannot be publicly republished), the better it will be for all parties involved.