Shoemaker’s Witch-Hunt: An Open Letter

[Lists of dozens more blog entries in support of Kathleen Seidel can be found at Holford Watch, and I Speak of Dreams, and The Voyage, and Natural Variation, and ….]

[WARNING: extreme satire ahead!]

To The Right Honourable
Clifford J. Shoemaker
Attorney At Law

Dear Mr. Shoemaker,

While skimming the “subpoena” [PDF] you recently served to Kathleen Seidel, my attention was drawn most powerfully to item #5 under “Documents and Things to Produce.” I was struck that the list in question reads like an honor-roll of weblogs whose common focus is respect for Autistic human beings. Admittedly, I was disappointed that neither my name, nor my ubiquitous online moniker, nor any of the titles of my online journals or weblogs, past or present, appeared anywhere on your list. Now, considering how sporadic my activism and writing have been over the years, I suppose I can’t complain.

Nevertheless, this omission suggested to me a possibility I had not previously considered while reading about this subpoena. On impulse, I surfed over to Seidel’s weblog and checked something. Sure enough, with the exception of one botched html tag that your office didn’t bother to edit out, your list is an exact copy of the list of weblogs and sites that appeared in the side bar of Seidel’s blog page under the heading “Autism & Disability Sites & Blogs” [EDIT: several new links, including my own, have since been added].

Now, if I may say so, Sir, that’s some damned fine investigative work on your part. Gotta love them netertoobs, huh? Never has it been so delightfully easy to “round up the usual suspects.”

As any marginally experienced “blogger” knows, inclusion of weblogs and websites in such side-bar “blogrolls,” as they are called, is overwhelmingly arbitrary and opportunistic, a spur-of-the-moment hit-and-miss accumulation of links. Thus, I did not appear in Seidel’s side-bar simply because she had not encountered any of my writings “at the right time,” such that she would feel momentarily prompted to toss my link(s) into the list. This, despite the fact that my last weblog entry explicitly references an instance of Seidel’s past activism, and in fact, links directly to the relevant page on her website; despite my having made such references to her work on countless past occasions; despite even the fact that she and I have had direct e-mail contact in years past. And, most damningly, I only yesterday posted a comment to her weblog, in which I included links to legal resources and information about “anti-SLAPP” laws, and to the “Bloggers Rights” resources at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While her omission of my link(s) on her blogroll was a reflection only on my own negligence and/or limitations, there is no mistaking my years of unbroken admiration for Seidel and agreement with the spirit and content of her work.

And thus, it is now made apparent by what “criteria” you determined just which “co-conspirators” to implicate in Seidel’s activities. You could just as easily have copied the list of contributors to the Autism Hub weblog aggregator, or the blogrolls of any one of a thousand different weblogs or sites, and your resulting list of potential “perps” would have been no less random, and no more predictably relevant to the case in question. In fact, as it is blatantly obvious that you are simply carpet-bombing random schoolyards here, I’m surprised you didn’t see fit to implicate all of the more than 18,000 members of — the vast bulk of whom are predictably and passionately sympathetic to Seidel’s views on autism, cognitive diversity, and social activism.

It should be noted, of course, that a significant majority of the “co-conspirators” you seek to intimidate are also, like Seidel herself, quite hostile to the contemporary business practices of the “Big-Pharma” juggernaut you so vaingloriously purport to be opposing. Likewise, my own contempt for the glorified drug-pushers is a matter of public record. But those facts are surely nothing more than a minor inconvenience to you. After all, when there’s money to be made, I’m sure that such an unflinchingly adept legal mind as your own would have no compunctions about misrepresenting the interests of tens of thousands of mere citizens — especially when most of the citizens in question have already been deemed by popular opinion to be of little or no value to society.

So, I hereby invite you to add my name to your list of witches to be hunted down and burned, and be assured, none of this will reflect badly on so noble a figure as your esteemed self. A personage of your stature may harass the entire blogosphere with impunity, and look good in doing it. As for Autistics, and those who are naïve enough to respect them, who cares what they think? No one reads their weblogs anyway. They have nothing to say, and no right to say it, and that’s as it should be, since they’re not really human anyway.

In my case, owing to my status in this society of yours, dispensing with me should be even easier for you, both legally and morally, than wiping a squashed gnat off the windshield of your new Rolls. Since I live in subsidized housing, and since my family pays my rent and all my meager living expenses, I have no direct financial dealings with anyone. That means I have no financial records of any kind. And that means I should make an extraordinarily easy target for your sporting pleasure — you can frivolously implicate me in any number of alleged “crimes,” and I will have absolutely no means of defending myself. In fact, countless members of the Autistic community you’ve targeted are every bit as powerless as I am. We’re like fish in a barrel, just waiting for your next round of target practice. Easy meat. We promise to be short work for you. Like drowning lame kittens in a gunny-sack. Great fun!

In other words, Bring It On, Big Man.



David K. March


17 Responses to Shoemaker’s Witch-Hunt: An Open Letter

  1. kassiane says:

    *gasps for breath*

    Brilliant. Effing brilliant.

    I’m kathleen, and so’s my…wife?

  2. What a hoot! Thanks for recognizing that the absence of your name from my blogroll was not personal; you’re right, like probably a lot of other bloggers, I update it sporadically rather than systematically. (I originally compiled it in 2005, when I started the blog.) What’s funny is that this is the third change I’ve made today in response to corrections from people who were poring over the blogroll in the subpoena and noticed mistakes.

    I’ve just added a link to dkmnow to the blogroll. Now you won’t be left out of my next subpoena.

  3. dkmnow says:

    Kathleen: “Now you won’t be left out of my next subpoena.”

    Ah, that’s a relief. I just need to remember to create a nuisance more often. When the others saw that I wasn’t listed in the subpoena, they all moved away from me there on the Group W bench…


  4. Joseph says:

    Yep, the list looks impressively thorough at first, but once you realize it’s just a cut-and-paste job, not so much. In fact, it’s a bit disappointing that the only reason my blog was included is because Kathleen had graciously added it to her blogroll, not because Shoemaker might thing I need to be shut up.

  5. I just had a thought. Mr Shoemaker wants to see all the correspondence from Kathleen’s blogroll. Mr Shoemaker has asked to see all the correspondence from Kathleen’s blogroll. Mr. Shoemaker’s email address is known. Perhaps in the interest of saving everyone time and copying expenses Mr. Shoemaker should be emailed copies of all the blogs that the bloggers on Kathleen’s blogroll have produced?

    Actually since Mr. Shoemaker has requested “Any and all documents (including emails, notes, memos, letters, etc.) pertaining communications (written or verbal) which have occurred between Kathleen Seidel or any individual or organization working for or with and any members, employees, or consultants of other advocacy groups , non-governmental organizations, concerned individuals, political action groups, profit or non-profit companies/organizations, including but not limited to …” That covers a lot more than just blogs.

    In my non-lawyerly understanding, an “individual working with” would be any individual had ever gone to Kathleen’s site and worked with what she had provided there, that is had read any of what she had posted. Presumably anyone who’s blog has been linked to (or who links there) is by virtue of that link “working with” Kathleen. As I understand it, each comment in a blog is a separate “communication” and should be sent separately.

    If Mr. Shoemaker is asking for “any and all documents pertaining to communications which have occurred between any individual who has ever gone to Kathleen’s site and any concerned individual”, that includes a lot of material. If 100 bloggers have 100 blogs each, that is 10,000 blogs. If each blog has 100 comments, that is 1,000,000 “communications”.

    I hope Mr. Shoemaker has a large inbox. A very large inbox.

  6. dkmnow says:

    I had thought of that as well. I have at least a gigabyte of unread political newsletters collecting dust on GMail’s servers. Perhaps I should forward them all to Shoemaker, and let him read them for me.

    Seeing as he has no regard for the constitutional constraint requiring him to demonstrate how any requested materials relate to his case, he should have no problem with that.

  7. Are they from “concerned individuals”? or ” profit or non-profit companies/organizations”? “non-governmental organizations”? (I presume that is every communication that is not from a government)

    I have always heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If Kathleen has been subpoenaed and you are listed, maybe you will be next. I think it might be a good idea to give Mr. Shoemaker what he wants even before he asks for it.

  8. dkmnow says:

    Given the completely open-ended nature of Shoemaker’s demands, any of it could be arguably considered “relevant.” But, alas, I was not listed in the subpoena.

    But, considering the pernicious OBSCENITY that is item #9 (which not only violates constitutional guarantees on privacy, but on religion and association as well), you can bet that jackass will be hearing from me, regardless — me and at least half a dozen civil rights organizations!

  9. “Given the completely open-ended nature of Shoemaker’s demands”

    Let’s refer to this pillock as Shitmaker, since this subpoena is basically a legalistic turd.

  10. dkmnow says:

    Heh. Well, some of my family members have been known to read this blog, so I’ll have to let you supply the anatomically-and-otherwise-correct terminology.

    But, yeah, at least one of his ends is clearly far too open. Let’s hope the judge in question has the wherewithal to bung that keg, for a while, at least, if not for good.

  11. […] Anti-Vaxxer Thuggery (mention) Bug Girl (eponymous) Chilly climate for blogging? dkmnow (eponymous) Shoemaker’s Witch-Hunt: An Open Letter (dkmnow is a little hurt to have been left off the subpoena and might be interested in rectifiying […]

  12. steve d says:

    Thanks for bringing a bit of levity to such a dastardly situation. This post is an all-time classic!

  13. “On other words, Bring It On, Big Man.”

    Aw, c’mon, man!!!! If he has to resort to SLAPPing a blogger who disclosed his doshpacket for what he does (supposedly) for his bloody living, then ‘big’ is not the word to describe this bollockhead!


  14. dkmnow says:

    Well, I could’ve just called him a third-rate recidivist pediatric pudgefacker…

    But where’s the IRONY in that?


    “On other words…”

    UGH! I can’t believe I didn’t catch that typo.


  15. autismne says:

    “Never has it been so delightfully easy to “round up the usual suspects.”

    LOL! I’m adding dkmnow to my blogroll, and if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll be subpoenaed some day!

    – Ken at

  16. dkmnow says:

    I’m honored! :-)

    I’ve added Autism News Beat to my sidebar as well (though, unfortunately, the blogrolls only show up on the main page).

  17. Liz Ditz says:

    And here’s what Shoemaker was trying to prevent Seidel from publishing:

    Billing the Adversary

    Numerous decisions issued over the twenty year history of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) document the extent to which the limits on attorney compensation have been tested by practitioners seeking remuneration from its taxpayer-financed coffers. The following review summarizes decisions involving the recently-sanctioned VICP specialist Clifford Shoemaker, Esq. — a central instigator of the campaign to convince the public of the speculative, scientifically unsupported hypothesis that a significant number of cases of autism result from vaccine injury, co-founder of the Institute for Chronic Illnesses, and a founding member its Institutional Review Board, which sponsors and provides ethical oversight of medical research and experimentation on autistic children and adolescents conducted by his long-time colleague Dr. Mark Geier.

    Inspecting the Outstretched Palm

    The potential for procedural and billing improprieties by Vaccine Injury Compensation Program petitioners’ attorneys — especially those representing numerous clients with similar, speculative claims — is made painfully evident in Special Master Denise Vowell’s recent fee and cost decision in Carrington v. HHS, Case 99-495V (Fed.Cl.Spec.Mstr., June 18, 2008) (unpublished), posted to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims website three days ago.

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