Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hometown boy makes good -- scratch that, makes fool of himself

What started as a local kerfuffle has garnered national attention for a county councilman in the county where I live. Unhappy, with coverage in the local paper, The Frederick News-Post, Frederick County (Md.) Councilman Kirby Delauter made what can only be described as an unusual, perhaps even deluded, threat:
Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter wrote on social media that he plans to sue The Frederick News-Post if his name or any reference to him appears in print without his permission.
In a Facebook status posted Saturday, Delauter said he was upset with reporter Bethany Rodgers for “an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article” published Jan. 3 about his and Councilman Billy Shreve's concerns over County Council parking spaces.
“So let me be not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future,” Delauter, R-District 5, said in a Facebook status update.
Delauter's cluelessness quickly drew attention in the blogosphere, with Powerline inspired to create a new award in his honor:
In any case, Power Line, following Eugene Volokh and others, is delighted to join reporter Bethany Rodgers in using Mr. Delauter’s name without his permission! In fact, we’ll use his picture without his permission, too, and we’re going to name our newest award for the most clueless public official of the week after Mr. Delauter. And so, Power Line’s first ever Kirby Delauter Award for Cluelessness in Public Office goes to . . . Kirby Delauter.
Mainstream media attention quickly followed, with stories appearing on NBC, CNN and NPR websites, among others. But I have to say, the best response to Delauter came from the News-Post itself, which wrote an editorial titled "Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter:"
Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren't surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post with a lawsuit because we had, he says — and we're not making this up — been putting Kirby Delauter's name in the paper without Kirby Delauter’s authorization. Attorneys would be called, Kirby Delauter said.
In fact, we spent quite some time laughing about it. Kirby Delauter, an elected official; Kirby Delauter, a public figure? Surely, Kirby Delauter can't be serious? Kirby Delauter’s making a joke, right?
Round about then, we wondered, if it’s not a joke, how should we now refer to Kirby Delauter if we can't use his name (Kirby Delauter)? Could we get away with an entire editorial of nothing but “Kirby Delauter” repeated over and over again -- Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter? OK, imagine we agreed because of temporary madness or something funny in the water that week, how would we reference "Kirby Delauter" and do our job as journalists without running afoul of our lack of authorization?
Blanks? Sure, we sometimes use hyphens in the case of expletives. Perhaps we could do that: "K---- D-------." Or, perhaps, "Councilman [Unauthorized]." We giggled a bit more than we should have when we came up with "the Councilman Formerly Known as Commissioner Kirby Delauter," which doesn't seem as funny written down in black and white and includes his name, which defeats the point. Maybe we should just put his initials, "KD," with an asterisk to a footnote (KD*), or refer to him as GLAT, the acronym for his campaign: "Govern Like A Taxpayer." We could even make it sound a little hip-hop with a well-placed hyphen: G-Lat. Speaking of, could we get away with "K-Del"? Or we could simply go with the Harry Potter-esque "He Who Shall Not be Named." (Cue the lightning strike and peal of thunder.)
It's hilarious. And yeah, Kirby has apologized.

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