Commissioner Bryan Lober: Due Diligence Fail.

In our post yesterday concerning the loathsome comments made by Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober, there were several things that struck a chord with us.

Lober claimed he had done his “due diligence” when it came to checking the activities of Maureen Rupe, saying:

Apologies, after the fact, will not be sufficient as my due diligence has revealed that you may have a history of making unreasonable public records requests and you may have a history of complaining about not receiving what you have no lawful right to inspect. (emphasis ours)

(We won’t get into how childish appears to us that a public official would accept an apology (if warranted) from a citizen of Brevard County. That’s a post for another day.)

Later in his email to Rupe, Lober wrote:

I am putting you on notice that I vigorously pursue all lawful remedies against those who publicly defame me and I have no qualms making public examples of those who are imprudent enough to do so. While you are welcome to say what you’d like, I strongly advise you to fact check any disparaging comments you may otherwise consider publishing. (emphasis ours)

Yesterday afternoon, Lober went on FaceBook and accused a person of writing the post:

(click for larger image.)

The problem is that the person he accused has nothing to do with this blog.

Bryan “Due Diligence” Lober got it wrong and made a false accusation. Other than a few comments, the person Lober accused has never written anything that has appeared on Raised on Hoecakes.

Not. One. Single. Post.

The irony is that someone who railed about a person getting things wrong and “due diligence” failed and failed miserably when it came to his own statements.

Normally, we would just note the irony, laugh at the stupidity and move on.

Unfortunately, there is more to the FaceBook post.

Lober wrote:

How did I know days ago that it was going to be published?
How did I know where it was going to be published?

The time frame of “days ago” gives a clue as to how Lober knew. We made a Public Records Request for the emails on February 14th, 2019. After a mix-up with the date (which was totally our fault and for which we apologized to the person handling the request) we got the emails on Friday, February 15, 2019.

It is our understanding that when there are specific records requests for emails concerning a specific employee or Commissioner, the County staff routinely informs the person that a request has been made.

That means that Lober knew we had made the request, knew it was filled, and it certainly wasn’t hard to find us as the request was made in the name of “A. Afterwit.”

There’s nothing magical and in fact, a case could be made that it is somewhat paranoid that Commissioners want to know when someone asks for an email.

If he had written us, we would have told him we were writing about it.

Lober then wrote this on FaceBook:

Again, you can say what you like. I’m merely pointing out that it’s cowardly to do so anonymously.

This comes up every once in a while around here. Back in 2015, we wrote this to a person who, like Lober, thought anonymous, Constitutionally protected speech was said and written by “cowards.”

We roll it out again because Commissioner Lober doesn’t seem to understand basic freedoms in this country (even though he is a lawyer.)

Anonymous speech or speech written under a pseudonym has a history as long as there has been the written word. People who attack or denigrate the right to speak and write without disclosing their legal names are attacking the foundational rights of men.

While the history is long, one only has to look at the history of speech from the founding of the United States to see the importance of anonymous speech and why protecting that speech is important.

For example, the pamphlet “Common Sense” by Thomas Payne was written anonymously. The pamphlet laid out the reasons for the American colonies to break away from England.

Paine continued his anonymous writing in the pamphlet “The American Crisis” in response to the British seemingly winning everywhere on the continent and the American Army about to fall apart. The cause and the light of independence was about to be extinguished. “The American Crisis” was so important that Washington ordered it to be read to the troops before the attack on Trenton, NJ the day after Christmas Day 1776.

After the War of Independence, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of articles and letters under the pseudonyms of “Publius” and “the Federalist Farmer.” Today we refer to those writings as the Federalist Papers, which are essential to understanding the debate and foundational discussions on the passage of the Constitution.

Payne wrote “Common Sense” anonymously because of the very real threat of arrest and prison. Today we see similar repercussions for people who have spoken out in the form of the IRS attacking Tea Party groups. We have seen the weight of the government crash down on people for attaching their name to a writing or article. While one may argue that no such thing could happen in Brevard County, you should not be deceived. We have seen City governments deny permits or increase inspections for people that have spoken out against those in City Halls around the county. We have seen government employees try to have people fired from their jobs for making comments using their real names. In some cases, their attempts succeeded. There are real, genuine concerns about the repercussions from people in government when individuals speak.

On the other hand, the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms for a different reason. The men writing the letters and articles were well known to people. It was important to the authors that the ideas carry the discussion, and not who was making a point of discussion. We at Raised on Hoecakes believe that ideas and discussions are more important than the name of those who put forth those ideas. That is why we not only allow our authors to write using pseudonyms, but we allow comments on articles to be made using pseudonyms. It is the ideas and the exchange of idea we are interested in – not who says them.

We have to wonder why some people are so interested in who says what on a blog.

As we noted, there can only be two answers. The first is so they can attack the person physically. Whether that attack takes the form of an actual attack to harm someone (Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, supporters of Prop 8 in California and others come to mind.) In the US, police have been known to harass, arrest and fabricate evidence against those who have spoken out against police unions and police in general. No one should have to go through that, but that is what those who want to end anonymous speech want and support.

The second reason people don’t want anonymous writings is so they can attack the person doing the writing rather than the actual writing itself. Such ad hominem (against the man) attacks are usually seen as being worthless, but they take up bandwidth and distract from the ideas being presented, which is what people who want to end anonymity want. Those attacking anonymous speech don’t want to others to examine the ideas which should trouble people at least on an intellectual level.

If they cannot legitimately debate and discuss the ideas, they have to try and discredit who says them.

In short, those who think that anonymous writings have no place in modern discourse have no understanding of the history of such writings and are actually acting in a manner that can be legitimately labeled as “un-American.”

We’ll let the United States Supreme Court in the case of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission explain:

Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

We don’t care if you read the blog or not. There is no advertising revenue being gained or lost by you stopping by or not stopping by. We honestly don’t care if you drive by us on the internet superhighway or not.

We do care what people have to say.

We do care about the ideas they wish to express and discuss.

We do care about those who are worried about real and legitimate threats of retaliation for ideas they put forth.

So the next time someone says “here’s my two cents” and demands that people not speak anonymously or that those who do somehow lack legitimacy, give them their money back as they grossly overpaid for an ill thought out opinion.

As an attorney, and as a Commissioner of Brevard County who has sworn an oath to the Florida and US Constitution, you’d think that Lober would respect those who exercise the enumerated rights within the Constitutions and not label people who do exercise those rights as “cowards.”

Maybe that is too much to ask.

Maybe that is too much for Bryan Lober to realize that when he attacks those who exercise their rights, he is attacking those men and women who throughout history have put their lives on the line and often pay the ultimate price for those rights.

It’s not hard when you are a Commissioner with a hammer and everyone who speaks is a nail.

What we think is “cowardly” is for Commissioners to attack citizens for no reason other than simply because they can.

We said it yesterday and will say it again today….

Commissioner Lober should apoogize, be censured, or resign.

Pick two and do the right thing.

4 Responses to “Commissioner Bryan Lober: Due Diligence Fail.”

  1. Will Rogers says:

    “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”

    • AAfterwit says:

      Will Rogers,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Some people just don’t have it in them to stop.

      It is almost like no one has ever told them they were wrong or “no” in their lives.

      A. Afterwit.

  2. Will Rogers says:

    Interesting, he seems to be implying if it’s posted on social media it must be true. Didn’t that quote “I saw it on the internet” use to be said as a kind of a tongue in cheek joke. Everyone should realize that sources of information/data need to verified, as with all software there are ways to create fake accounts or scam the system. How many twitter and facebooks accounts have these companies deleted after figuring out they were fake accounts. I like the way you’ve handled it by letting every one freely speak their ideas and let the ideas stand on their own. Assigning a name does nothing to promote or detract from the idea, and anyone who thinks it does just doesn’t understand the cyberspace environment.

  3. […] response to our post yesterday on Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober and his lack of fact checking, his lack of “due […]

  4. Matt Fleming says:

    Bryan Lober is completely unhinged and deranged. He called me a rodent and a caveman for suggesting that he and others are voting against the Lagoon Plan because they are interested in funneling money to utilities contractors and projects for development interests. In fact it’s true, and this is despite the fact that he said he would ‘smoosh’ the special interests.

    I dunno, I have screen shots. The guy really is an idiot. Wake up Brevard! you can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.