A fundraiser for the defense against Richard Carrier’s SLAPP suit (Non-fiction)

Gillell over at Affinity is running a fundraiser for the defense fund against Richard Carrier’s SLAPP suits against Amy Frank, Lauren Lane, Skepticon, and PZ Myers. Choose which one of Giliell’s pieces of Resin artwork you want, and Giliell will tell you how much it will cost, including shipping. Donate that amount to the defense fund, and Giliell will ship it after you send the receipt. 

While I feel the defendants have an excellent chance of winning, it is expensive to defend against these kinds of cases. I’m tired of the case too, but as long as Richard Carrier keeps pursuing it, I will keep mentioning the defense fund. 

Babbler Readers: We have a Facebook Group just for you! (Mixed)

We created a Facebook group for our readers! We invite all of our readers to join so they can see the latest updates, and, hopefully, have friendly discuessions about our unbelieveable topics.  You might rub virtual sholders with a Bolingbrook politician, or become Facebook friends with a wereskunk.  You won’t know unless you join us!

Note:  This is a work of fiction, but the Facebook grouip is real. 

Just when you thought it was safe…(Non-ficiton)

Just when I thought Richard Carrier had moved on with his life, he’s filed three three libel lawsuits.  Each one in a different state and he’s representing himself. Rebecca Watson has the details:

I’ve already made another donation to the legal defense fund and would encourage everyone who can to do the same.  The only bright side is that two of the three states have anti-SLAAP suits, but these new cases will still cost the defendants to defend themselves, and there’s no guarantee that a counter-suit would be successful.  So a donation, in any amount, will help the defendants get through this.

Carrier Lawsuit: The case was dismissed but the legal bills persist (Non-fiction)

As PZ Myers recently mentioned, Richard Carrier’s lawsuit against Freethought Blogs, The Orbit, and others was dismissed, but there are still legal bills to be paid.  The GoFundMe Page is still up, and we still need donations. There are two fundraising auctions on Strderr’s blog: Auction 1 and Auction 2.

This case, to me, was yet another example of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).  These weak cases aren’t meant to correct stories, but to intimidate and bankrupt anyone who dares to be critical of the plaintiff. In my writing experience, I’ve received legal threats.  One for an editorial I wrote that was critical of Iowa City Council candidate.  The other was in response to the first weredeer article I wrote.  Years after that article, I noticed a well-connected law firm checking out many of my posts.  I’ll admit it was intimidating, and I’ve been fortunate.  It also helps that Illinois has an anti-SLAPP law.  I can, however, understand people who could be pressured into silence by the mere threat of a SLAPP suit.

So I strongly encourage everyone who reads my blog to consider contributing to this legal defense fund.  Because while I am not a free speech absolutist, legal intimidation tactics, like this suit, have no place in any democracy.

Vandalism is still not acceptable in Bolingbrook or anywhere else (Non-fiction)

Last weekend, someone slashed three tires on Bolingbrook Village Trustee candidate Maripat Oliver’s car.  Her car was the only one attacked, despite other cars in the neighborhood being equally accessible.

Apparently, this needs to be said again:  Vandalizing a politician’s personal property is a form of intimidation, and it is not acceptable.  It was not acceptable when Mayor Roger Claar’s home was vandalized.  It is still not acceptable today.  Violence should play no part in a democratic election.  Even if it turns out to just be a random attack, it should be condemned by everyone who believes in free elections.  

I also hope that in light of this incident, The incumbent First Party for Bolingbrook will revaluate its passive-aggressive campaign rhetoric.  Constantly stating “we care” implies that the other candidates don’t care.  Posting that their candidates “aren’t planning to get involved, they are already involved,” implies that the other party’s candidates aren’t involved in community activities.  Even the name ‘First Party for Bolingbrook’ implies that the other party’s candidates aren’t for Bolingbrook.  It is a follow up to Mayor Roger Claar’s statement that the 2017 race was between “residents” and “foes.”  To be blunt, that is a form of othering.  It could have influenced someone to commit vandalism against a “foe” because they’re fighting for the “residents.”

All the candidates care about Bolingbrook.  All the candidates have relevant experience for the office they’re running for.  All of them deserve to be heard.  All of them are Bolingbrook residents.

It is one thing to criticize positions or state that you don’t like a candidate personally.  That’s part of campaigning for public office.  However, violence and vandalism should not be a part of political campaigns anywhere in the world.

‘The Girl Survives Cancer In This One’ is more than the ending (Non-Fiction)

Miri over the Orbit just published a zine, The Girl Survives Cancer In This One.  It’s a collection of essays about being diagnosed with cancer at age 26 and her recovery from a double mastectomy.

The Girl Survives Cancer In This One

Cancer digs an immense well of sadness and suffering, but that’s not what these pieces are primarily about. I had some of my happiest, funniest, and most enriching times that year, too. All of that is part of the story as much as the pain is.

Compiled from her writings during her recovery, she vividly describes her pain management, her fears,  the people who helped her through recovery, and her observations about life.  The title is a spoiler, but the real story is how “the girl” survived cancer and how it changed her.  I highly recommend this zine.

The online version is $4, and the paperback version is $8.

From the webmaster: Taking a Holiday Break (Fiction)

After Monday, I will be helping the Babbler’s staff set up the new bureaus in Peotone and Palatine.  These offices will help us cover the new Chicagoland UFO bases that are opening next month.  So there won’t be any website updates until the last week of December.  Don’t worry, I promise to post our psychics shocking predictions for next year.

Until then, I urge all our secular and religious followers to have a happy and safe holiday season!

Has it really been twenty years? (Non-fiction)

Twenty years ago this month, I was renting a basement room in Bolingbrook, not far from Mayor Roger Claar’s home. At some point during the evening, I wondered what writing a Weekly World News style tabloid would be like. So I wrote a story, added some HTML tags, and uploaded it to my personal web page. 

Bolingbrook Babbler 1999

Despite what a certain podcaster believes, the Babbler really does date back to the 1990s.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had written the first story of what would become the Bolingbrook Babbler and the start of the most extended writing project of my life. In the fifteen years I’ve actively been publishing, my stories have been praised by a Congressman, Bolingbrook politicians, and residents in the western suburbs.  Being accepted into the Freethought Blogs network was a great honor and a reflection on my stories.

When I started writing the Babbler, two of my interests were secular issues and speaking up about Roger’s near-total rule of Bolingbrook.

I became active in the skeptical and atheist movement and gained some notoriety. Some of my heroes at the time, including James Randi, praised my work.  When the great rifts started, I was surprised to learn that many of the people I had admired in the skepticism had views I found abhorrent. I may have lost some readers when I drifted away from the community, but I rediscovered humanism.  Once I was mildly critical of PZ Myers.  Now I’m proud to be a part of the network he helped create.   

Roger is still the Mayor of Bolingbrook, but now a member of the opposition party sits on the Village Board, and the Bolingbrook United party will be running a full slate in the April elections.  Bolingbrook residents finally have a choice at the ballot box for local elections.  Over the years, I’ve had some friendly meetings with Roger and some tense ones.  I’ve also received a couple of midnight emails from him.  I recall looking at my analytics program and realizing that someone from the Village Hall network went through almost every page of the Babbler.  (Somehow, a person from California managed to access the village network to view my pages.)  Today, I think we’ve learned to co-exist.  Still, the memory I will have of him is from a speech he made after winning a recent election by roughly 150 votes.  He divided Bolingbrook’s voters into “residents” and “foes.”  Instead of choosing to heal the wounds from that election, he sought to delegitimize his opponents.

It’s been an adventure, and I suspect there are more adventures ahead.  President Trump and his fellow authoritarians are threatening the pillars of our government. They are going so far as trying to delegitimize the last election.  The next election in Bolingbrook could be between those who want to be the next Roger Claar and those who wish to end one-party rule altogether.  Plus, there are lots of stories going on in Chicagoland, not just Bolingbrook.

I also want to thank my wife, who wishes to remain anonymous on these pages, for her help, her support, and for putting up with my writing schedule.  I love her, and we make a great team.

To my fans, old and new, I say thank you for your support, and I hope to keep writing the Babbler for at least another twenty years.  Although I may no longer live in Bolingbrook, I feel like part of me never left.

William Brinkman
The real person behind the Bolingbrook Babbler

Update on the GoFundMe campaign to defend against Richard Carrier’s lawsuit (Non-fiction)

Richard Carrier’s lawsuit against FTB and others is still ongoing.  Which unfortunately means our legal defense fund needs more money:

The lawsuit is ongoing. Stephanie’s second birthday since the lawsuit has come and gone — she was served on her birthday, did you know that? — and we’re still entrenched in the battle with little hope of quick resolution. As of a few days ago, all the money in this fund has been spent on our lawyers, and the legal bills we have at present total about $29,000. That means, sadly, I’m going to have to raise the fundraising goal again — to defray our personal costs and hopefully build a bit of a war chest against the ongoing suit.

I’m so very grateful to those of you who’ve shared and donated and posted words of encouragement, and I’m so very sorry that we keep having to spend money on this utterly unabashed attempt at silencing the critics of Richard Carrier, who’s admitted publicly to the behaviour we’d criticized and who persists in slandering the defendants publicly. I can only hope that the longer his lawsuit continues, the more word spreads of his actual character — one where he’d admit to not following a conference’s rules about solicitation of conference-goers, and then sue the people who might dare say that’s creepy.

And he calls himself a feminist and a free speech advocate.

We need your help to stay afloat and weather this blatant use of the legal system to silence criticism of an entitled white man who feels his honour is besmirched.

Please help, if you can. If you’ve already donated, thank you so much — please spread the word.

More details can be found on the GoFundMe page.