SF author and civil-rights activist Joel Rosenberg has been unjustly arrested. Good coverage at PopeHat; essentially this is harassment following a Nov 5th assault on Joel by a cop while he was pursuing a FOIA request related to his first arrest, on bogus charges that prosecutors subsequently dropped.
I have very mixed feelings about this one, because I suspect I may, in a manner of speaking, have helped get Joel in trouble.
I don’t know Joel Rosenberg very well. I’ve met him face to face maybe twice, long ago at SF conventions. We had a few on-line dealings back in Genie/CompuServe days, pre-Internet. Neither of us had found our power yet; I was just another technogeek and Joel was a decent mid-list SF and fantasy author. Wasn’t till years after our limited contact that he discovered what he came to consider his calling as a firearms instructor and Second Amendment activist.
Joel, determined to assert his rights under the law and the U.S. Constitution, did exactly what I would do; he went to City Hall and talked with them about it. In fact, I don’t have to use the subjunctive; I did exactly that barely a day after the Heller ruling in 2008.
Because my police chief is a small-town conservative who’s actually read the Constitution and cares what’s in it, I got back a handshake and a smile rather than a criminal assault and a ration of shit. But it could have gone the other way, too, and very well might have in my nearest big city. The cops in Philadelphia have some funny (read: ignorant and wrong) ideas about firearms rights. Even in Malvern I went in aware of the outside possibility that I might be assaulted, arrested and harassed. But I went in anyway because I understood it to be my duty as an American, a patriot, and a man.
Joel understands this duty. He is an American, a patriot, and a mensch (he’s Jewish, so I get to use that fine Yiddish word that connotes decency, uprightness, moral fortitude, and a sense of responsibility). He caught the blowback that I didn’t. Not long after he was assaulted I sent him a brief supportive email.
The reply I got back was quite a surprise. He said my support meant “more to me than you know”. The rest wasn’t very clear (he had to have been under a fair bit of stress about then) but suggested that I might have at some point after I knew him become one of his heroes or role models or something not completely unlike that considering he’s three years older than me.
So, maybe I helped Joel get in this trouble. It makes me happy to think that I might have assisted him in finding the determination to challenge injustice; it’s the kind of good example I’ve worked very hard at trying to set. But by the same token I now feel like I might be partly responsible for the injuries to liberty and dignity that he is now undergoing, and that ain’t so good.
On another level, I know that’s silly. Joel Rosenberg is a man. He makes and owns his choices, and I have no doubt he took his risks with eyes open, same as I did. We should honor him for that; I know I will.
Matters have not deteriorated yet to the point where anyone is talking legal defense fund, so far as I know. If they do, I plan to give generously. So should you.
UPDATE: I have donated $100 to Joel’s defense fund. Please consider doing likewise.