Free Speech

Georgian Candidate Files Restraining Order Against Reporter Who Wrote Negative Story

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Thomas Mitchell Owens, a candidate for local office in DeKalb County, Georgia, filed a restraining order against a reporter-activist who covered him unfavorably. The local story is gaining national attention because of the free-speech issues it raises. From The Huffington Post:

George Chidi wrote an article on the site Peach Pundit about Thomas Mitchell Owens, a Republican candidate in a special election for the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. Chidi detailed Owens' legal troubles, reporting that three different people had obtained restraining orders against Owens in the last eight years.

Chidi spoke with Owens' former fiancée, who claimed that he had financially abandoned her and their child. The story also described an instance in which the head of a Christian charity filed a police report against Owens for allegedly coming to her thrift shop, spitting on her door and saying that she had "insufficient hate" toward African Muslims.

The article was posted at 9 a.m. on Monday, and that afternoon Chidi wrote that he was served with the temporary protective order, which prohibits him from "stalking, harassing and/or intimidating" Owens, having any contact with Owens or coming within 100 yards of him. The order was signed by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Nora Polk. A hearing on the order was scheduled for Oct. 22, just two weeks before the election.

It doesn't seem like Chidi was actually harassing Owens. Video footage of an encounter between the two—when Chidi last tried to get on-the-record comments from Owens—merely shows an eager journalist seeking answers from a conflict-averse candidate.

The restraining order applies to both actual and virtual contact:

On Wednesday, Chidi told HuffPost that he had also been served with a notice that he had violated the order by "contacting third parties via social media."

Chidi said that he's worried his case could set a dangerous precedent for journalists who write unfavorably about politicians.

"Imagine a politician who can shut off a journalist covering him in the month before an election when everybody is paying attention to politics," he told HuffPost. "It is chilling. It makes it much more fraught to report on issues of public importance, particularly around politics."

"It's dangerous to the public to have a court tell a journalist to stay away from public figures and political candidates," Chidi added.

Dangerous, indeed.

Owens has charged that Chidi is a Democratic activist and blogger, rather than a journalist. But that shouldn't make any difference—First Amendment press freedoms apply to everyone, not just traditional news reporters.

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  1. “Owens has charged that Chidi is a Democratic activist and blogger, rather than a journalist.”

    There’s an argument which proves too much.

    1. “Sorry, Ms. Greenhouse…”

  2. First Amendment press freedoms used to apply to everyone

    FTFY

    Anyway, this is obviously hate speech.

    1. I saw this on RedEye. I almost started laughing. I so wish I’d been there – I’d have offered her a wing.

      “No? You sure? It’s food, alright. And it’s delicious.

      1. “Snow business like show business!”

        1. Actually, make that:

          “There’s no business like Snow business!”

          *** gets coffee ***

      2. In a way I feel sorry for people like that. Their beliefs mean they think they live in a world of a constant ultra-Holocaust: hundreds of millions of animals raised so that their bodies can be slaughtered and eaten. They’re like religious nuts in perpetual anguish because sex and sin is happening everywhere all the time, and they can’t stop it.

        1. If God didn’t want us to eat the animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.

        2. I dunno. I mean… I kinda feel that way about us. (Libertarians, that is. Not you and me specifically, Papaya. I feel an entirely different way about that…)

          I mean, I’m like, “Taxation is theft!” and get really indignant about things like zoning regulations; I’m continuously surrounded by mountains of violations of what I see as Mankind’s inherent rights. And lots and lots of other people (a vast majority, I dare say) look at probably 95% of the stuff that pisses me off and go “So what? That’s how it has to be, because social contract” or whatever other excuse they typically use for why “leaving people alone” is just not to be condoned.

          I have definitely thought, on many occasions, that I would be much happier with a lobotomy and a full set of Team opinions.

          *shrug*

          1. I suppose anyone can do that sort of thing with any belief, but the animal rights/vegan crowd is so extreme because they think eating a chicken is the moral equivalent of eating a human. Anyone who thinks that will live forever in a nightmare world.

            1. Well, humans do taste like chicken.

              1. *Well, humans do taste like chicken.*

                Incorrect. See: “long pig”.

        3. Bloodmouth Carnist, and proud of it, baby!

      3. I watched it. The words “bat-shit crazy” came to mine.

        1. …mind

    2. I love animals. They’re delicious.

      1. One of my favorite bumper stickers:

        “If we’re not supposed to eat animals,
        why are they made out of meat?”

        1. I have a T-shirt with a picture of a hunter on the back and the caption “If God intended us to be vegetarians he would have made broccoli more fun to shoot.”

          It’s a three-fer: simultaneously pisses off vegetarians, gun control freaks, and anti-theists.

          1. I kinda want that shirt. That said, I don’t mind vegetarians — I’ve never met one that wanted to force their lifestyle on everyone, though I’m sure they exist.

            1. I like vegetarians. I’ve never met one who wanted to force their beliefs on anyone and they’re fun to argue with.

              Vegans on the other hand are a humorless bunch. I’ve never met one I liked.

      2. PETA: People for the Eating of Tasty Animals

    3. It’s videos like this that make it hard to love everyone, no matter how hateful and goofy they are, as Jesus instructed.

      I’m talking about you Papaya. I can’t unhear her shrieking “blah blah blah THIS ESTABLISHMENT!”

    4. Priceless. Truly priceless. I so wish I had been there.

    5. Couldn’t. Made it like 15 seconds.

    6. Based on the number of times that dumb shit said “her name is snow” I half expected the other tardos who came in holding up the signs to start chanting “HisHer name is Robert PaulsonSnow.”

      1. A licky boom-boom down!

  3. Sounds like DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Nora Polk should be fired.

    1. Yeah, totally this

  4. Sounds like he is quite the experienced one, with restraining orders…

    1. Most of us would appreciate restraint in an elected official but I don’t think this is what most of us had in mind…

      1. My idea of proper restraint in an elected official involves a St Andrew’s Cross…

    2. Ya know, who hasn’t had at least three restraining order on them in the last eight years? Amiright?

  5. What a stand up guy.

  6. It says the hearing is Oct 22.

    Is there any way that Chidi can get this heard immediately or quashed by a superior court?

    1. You can file an emergency motion … sounds like this judge might not be reasonable enough (drink!) to grant it.

  7. This dumbass just met the Streisand Effect.

  8. It’s DeKalb County. I’m more than willing to bet the “journalist” is a total left wing hack. Not defending the other dude, he sounds like a total fucktard in his own right.

    God I hate DeKalb county.

    1. Owens should fit right in with people like former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

      1. And Billy “J-E-W-S” McKinney and his daughter Cynthia?

    2. You really need to check out Peach Pundit and see the diversity for yourself. It was co-founded by Erick Erickson, incidentally, and today, “The Editors” declared, “We Support George Chidi. We Support the First Amendment.”

  9. I am amused by the contrast between the Hufflepuffle Post reaction to this and the reaction to Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s piece in The Week discussed below.

  10. Thomas Mitchell Owens, a candidate for local office in DeKalb County, Georgia, filed a restraining order against a reporter-activist who covered him unfavorably.

    Sounds like Owens filed a temporary restraining order only. Judges are obligated to grant those pending a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, the merits of the complaint will be weighed by the judge; the defendant will be given a chance to contest the restraining order.

    Obviously, Owen is taking advantage of an expedited process designed to protect people from stalkers or nutcases.

    Be that as it may, Chidi can still write journalistic (or hit) pieces freely. The only restriction he has is to be close to Owen, pending the hearing.

    1. “The only restriction he has is to be close to Owen, pending the hearing.”

      Mmm, don’t think so – from article:

      “The restraining order applies to both actual and virtual contact:

      On Wednesday, Chidi told HuffPost that he had also been served with a notice that he had violated the order by “contacting third parties via social media.” ”

      Not sure what the quote exactly means, or what qualifies as virtual contact, but it’s clearly not just physical proximity.

  11. Who? Running for what?

    Do you really feel this is a counter to all the Democrats in office who have actually already voted in favor of gutting the First Amendment?

    What is point of an article about someone running for some tiny office who hasn’t actually done anything regarding free speech or the First Amendment yet?

    1. DeKalb County has an annual budget of about $1.2 billion. Voters need to know who the hell is trying to get their way with it.

  12. First Amendment press freedoms apply to everyone

    Not if the prog-tards get their way.

  13. Surely this behavior by a local politician is TRULY how all Republicans really feel about the First Amendment.

    1. Didn’t the democratic party do the same thing to someone who made a movie which covered one if their candidates unfavorably? I hear they lost in court, though. I also understand that they’re still really pissed about it.

  14. “”Imagine a politician who can shut off a journalist covering him in the month before an election when everybody is paying attention to politics,” he told HuffPost. “It is chilling. It makes it much more fraught to report on issues of public importance, particularly around politics.””

    What? You mean kind of like making a movie critical of a particular politician in the month before the election?

    I’m curious what the HuffPost position is on that kind of activity?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C…..Commission

    1. Yeah, the lace of self-awareness is astonishing.

    2. That’s different. KKKochporashuns aren’t people.

  15. Shouldn’t that headline say “Georgia candidate…” and not “Georgian” since we’re not talking about the country of Georgia; or, are we going back to a pre-Civil War thinking about citizenship?

    1. I thought the same thing.

  16. “Imagine a politician who can shut off a journalist covering him in the month before an election when everybody is paying attention to politics…”

    Something that the White House does all the time.

  17. Didn’t the democratic party do the same thing to someone who made a movie which covered one if their candidates unfavorably? I hear they lost in court, though. I also understand that they’re still really pissed about it.

  18. Just bring back and legalize dueling. This sort of nonsense would stop immediately.

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