Stalking vs. First Amendment in Dekalb? Not So Fast


There was a recent story out of Dekalb county in Atlanta about a political candidate that got a temporary restraining order earlier this week against a journalist blogger he accuses of threatening and harassing him. Let me say right up front and in no uncertain terms  that I do not take any sides in this Owens and Childi dispute. I simply do not know enough about the details or the people involved to take a side. The only thing I ask of people who have an interest in this story is to keep an open mind and not to jump to conclusions. Journalists are just as capable of breaking the law as any other profession so that is not necessarily an immediate exemption if he crossed the line.

The Atlanta Journal & Constitution reported:

The writer, George Chidi, denied threatening the politician and said the move is a way for the candidate to avoid answering questions about his past ahead of an upcoming election.

Chidi said he’s writing a book on civic engagement in Georgia and wanted to interview DeKalb County Commission District 1 candidate Tom Owens about the public’s perception of him.

“I hadn’t approached him until he became a public figure,” Chidi said. “He’s running for a seat that’s open because the incumbent has resigned and is going to jail for corruption charges.”

Owens said Chidi didn’t identify himself as a blogger or journalist, and that the protective order is based on the aggressive way Chidi approached him at a mid-September candidate forum. The order, which was issued Monday, accuses Chidi of stalking and says he also approached Owens at a suburban Atlanta swimming and tennis club on Sunday.

“He was very threatening, bombastic and he wouldn’t identify himself as any type of reporter or blogger or anything,” Owens said. “I don’t talk to anybody that threatens me.”

Chidi said he spoke with Owens twice in September before trying again earlier this week and sending a series of text messages.

“I wanted to give him every possible chance to answer the questions,” Chidi said.”


A few other sites like Huffington Post, Washington Post and several more have also chimed in with their thoughts. They all jumped on the bandwagon for the side that thought this was madness. Journalists should all be protected by the 1st Amendment and stalking orders set a dangerous precedent. But thanks to an intrepid local blogger that thought there was more to the story he decided to dig deeper than these “professional” journalists who took the story at face value.

Bill Simon wrote an article called  Stalking Statute vs. First Amendment: Which should win? He explained there was a lot more to the story than others had led the public to believe. Of course our first instinct will always be to support a free press and we view stalking orders against journalists as draconian. But Bill Simon pointed out that Mr Owens had no idea who this Childi guy was or that he was a reporter at all since Childi did not identify himself as such. He thought that since he wrote for Peach Pundit he was a well known celebrity it seems. He wasn’t nor is Peach Pundit known by more than a select few.

“Chidi ASSUMED people knew who he was because he ASSUMED he was some great dude in the political blogging world…a world that the realworking people in the world ignore because they (believe it or not…I know this will be a shock) have…gasp…other things going on in their lives!

Tom Owens is about 62 years old, has served for 20 some-odd years in the Army, putting-up with ALL kinds of stuff that punk-ass bloggers and reporters for the AJC, et al. have never bothered to do (wouldn’t have the guts TO do), and he had no idea who the “Great (sic) George Chidi” was.

So, Owens had never heard of him, and all he knew of George Chidi inside of 3 minutes was a) Chidi was an asshole, and b) Chidi was a threatening asshole, and c) Chidi was a city councilman of some po-dunk city, and d) Tom Owens did not want ANYTHING to do with Chidi, and he told Chidi to leave him alone.

After telling Chidi to leave him alone, Chidi texted him multiple times, called him on the phone, and addressed him at public events…which allconstituted violations of Georgia’s Stalking Statute.”

In Bill Simon’s article I also discovered this Childi guy works with a right wing website blog know as PeachPundit. There is another splinter group called Georgia Pundit who seem to be their twin. I had my own encounter with a complete asshat from that website recently myself by the name of Charlie Harper. Unlike the humorous and self-depreacting one from two and half men played by Charlie Sheen, this guy was the polar opposite so full of himself he would explode if someone told him otherwise. Apparently he is the senior editor of Peach Pundit and wanted to throw his weight around in some comments on this Jimmy Carter article. The previous day I had written my own Happy Birthday wish to Jimmy Carter and included his accomplishments while Governor and compared them to Nathan Deal. In the comments of the PeachPundit article I asked if any Republican would care to list Nathan Deal’s accomplishments as a rebuttal since I knew they were a right wing site. I was fully prepared to add those accomplishments in my article. I was also the first commenter and I did not leave a link to my article both of these are important points. Instead I received this nasty reply from a douchebag with a very inflated ego and I had no idea who he was prior to this interaction. Like Childi, it appears he expected to be treated as a celebrity when I had no idea I was dealing with a Real Wives of Atlanta wannabe.

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As you can see there is no link to my article. He also accused me of threadjacking. That occurs when there is a conversation in the comments on a particular subject and someone else jumps in on a completely unrelated subject. I was the first and only comment up to his snarky reply, so there was no thread to hijack. I especially love the way he ended his dictate with “Please note this isn’t open to debate or discussion” Even more humorous was his perceived gravitas over Twitter. This jackass spams the #gapol room daily with every manner of inane and uninteresting trivia and has the audacity to call someone else out for spamming?

Apparently he must have thought that I respected PeachPundit as much as he did and his threat would silence me.  I had never heard of this blog until I clicked on one of his  multiple spams to Twitter.  I also have my own blog though very new gets very respectable traffic of many thousands of unique visitors weekly.  Unlike an average commenter that might relent or back down at the threat of having their voice silenced  I have my own site so it was a very empty threat. I have no need to comment on his blog to express my thoughts and opinions.

Most of the articles they publish I have viewed were reblogs. A reblog simply means you take a published news article from another site. You copy and paste a few paragraphs as an excerpt and then you add some commentary. Very few of their articles contain more than 300 words they have actually written themselves. They might on occasion also do complete original content but it usually seems very short and nothing in-depth. After my encounter with this twat I learned many of the guest writers on PeachPundit as well as many in the #GaPol (Georgia Political room) on twitter were well aware that he was an egotistical douche with an inflated sense of himself.

There are two types of people in the world, those that have no problem turning the other cheek and those who don’t. If you are not new to my blog you can probably already guess which camp I fall in. I wasn’t about to let this self-important smug hypocrite off without letting him know how I felt.

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Did I overreact? Probably. But for some reason the idea of a smug prick with a WordPress blog not unlike me would try and lay down the law instead of simply welcoming a new Georgia political blogger just felt wrong on so many levels. I have had numerous other bloggers comment on my articles and leave links and I welcomed their comments. On occasion there is also a spammer trying to sell Nike shoes which of course are not welcome. But hospitality on a blog to other blogs is a central tenet and an unspoken rule in the blogging community. Links and sharing information helps both sites and the readers as well. That is why you often see blogrolls with links to other blogs. But Carlie Harper apparently feels no one who visits his site need ever look elsewhere for any other information. Essentially he wants to pretend he is an elite blog not unlike the Atlanta Journal when in point of fact he is just another WordPress blogger like me.

Now I realize this tangent about a pompous jerk might seem a bit off tangent. But the reason I included all of this Blog War drama is because George Childi writes for PeachPundit. So if Charlie Harper as the senior editor acts like a teenager throwing a tantrum perhaps that bad attitude might rub off on others there. I also want to make it clear my feud is not with the entire list of guest writers on Peach Pundit and I have learned that there are some very nice and talented people there as well. I am not indicting all of PeachPundit only Charlie Harper for his reprehensible behavior. In fact I would encourage all of the disgruntled PeachPundit guest writers to consider abandoning that site altogether and write here instead. 😆

Bill Simon is a very gifted and respected blogger and Political Vine has been around far longer than PeachPundit. When Bill tells you to reconsider your opinion on a topic that is good advice. Bill started his blog back in 2000 in fact. Although Bill and I might disagree on politics, he was very welcoming when I visited his blog and I also respect his writing as opposed to the lazy reblog pablum mostly found on Peach Pundit. He also was one of the very first to talk about the Pumpkingate story involving Nydia Tisdale which got picked up later by national media sites. If Bill Simon says there is a lot more to the Owens-Childi story you better believe there is. I hope all of you will read his take and decide for yourself.