Maryland politician Kirby Delauter, apparently unaware of the existence of the First Amendment, threatened to sue a reporter for using his name without his permission, and the internet has responded by turning his name into a social media meme.
The kerfuffle began with an article published January 3 in The Frederick News-Post. In an entirely mundane piece about the parking situation at the Frederick County Courthouse (Frederick County, Maryland, pop. 240,000, is in northern Maryland, down the road from Washington, D.C.), writer Bethany Rodgers obliquely mentioned councilman Kirby Delauter, about halfway into the article, and quoted his own concerns about the parking situation.
“You’re elected to represent the entire county. We should at least have a parking space.”
For some reason, Delauter took the mention of his name, and his parking concerns, as a “hit piece,” and took the article’s writer to task on social media. In it, he threatened to sue if the writer ever used his name without his permission again.
“Use my name again and you’ll be paying for an Attorney [sic].”
Talking Points Memo captured a screenshot of Delauter’s response to the article, and posted it for all to see.
The News-Post‘s managing editor, Terry Headlee, made it rather clear that a journalist, and by extension, her publication, doesn’t actually need anyone’s permission to use their name in any context, thanks to that pesky First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of the press.
“Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story. But to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless. It’s just a pointless, misguided attempt to intimidate and bully the press and shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the role of a public servant.”
If for no other reason than to rub it in, The News Post then published an op-ed in which they used Kirby Delauter’s name no fewer than 26 times, including beginning the first letter of each paragraph with the letters K-I-R… to make an acrostic that spells the uptight politician’s name.
“We giggled a bit more than we should have when we came up with ‘the Councilman Formerly Known as Commissioner Kirby Delauter.’”
To make matters worse for the councilman, his name has become a meme on social media, garnering some 20,000 mentions on Facebook, and 11,000 mentions on Twitter, to say nothing of people having all kinds of fun with it, according to NBC News.
As of this post, Kirby Delauter has not responded to the attention his threats have gotten. This post will be updated if (when?) Delauter threatens to sue the Inquisitr for using his name without his permission.