That intimidation got considerably worse, when the intimidator in chief, Paul Valone of Grass Roots North Carolina, published a picture of Mark Binker's wife and small children. Dan Besse, a Winston-Salem City Councilman, could not abide the false equivalency behind Mr. Valone's targeting of a reporter's family. Hattip to BlueNC for the exchange of correspondence between Besse and Valone that followed:
Initial message to Mr. Valone (Thursday, July 26, 4:22 p.m.):
FROM Dan Besse
SUBJECT attempted intimidation
Mr. Valone, Your attempted intimidation of a reporter by posting online his nearly complete home address, together with a link to photos of his wife and small children, followed by urging your members to contact him, is truly shameful behavior. It goes beyond the usual aggressive tactics and bare-knuckled political advocacy. Arranging hostile emails to politicians is one thing. Holding up a reporter's minor children to public view and enhanced risk as an advocacy tactic is something else again -- and is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior in our country. You may wish to consider a public apology to Mr. Binker and his family, followed by a resignation from your organizational position, as a means to attempt to salvage some credibility for your organization. Dan Besse
Mr. Valone's response (Friday, July 27, 3:24 p.m.):
Thanks for the note. As I am about to point out in the Charlotte Observer, 400,000 permit-holders had no idea their personal information would be “outted” by Binker. By contrast, Binker make a willful action, exposing their information, for which he should have anticipated consequences. That he published family photos openly on the Internet while engaging in such behavior indicates an arrogant disregard for his own family. As you note, we did not publish photos, we linked to his own (which are presumably pulled down by now), we did not publish his full address, and we did not advocate contacting anybody but Binker himself and WRAL – and I would hope we agree that they are fair fame.
An aggressive response? You bet. But an example had to be set to the media to let them know that unlike decades past, they can no longer attack gun owners with impunity.
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Response to Mr. Valone (Friday, July 27, 5:31 p.m.):
Thank you for your response, but your comparison is invalid. No permit holder was “outed”—much less 400,000 of them.
The information online at the WRAL news site does not include names, contact information, addresses, or other identifying information of individual gun owners.
The information you posted regarding Mr. Binker’s family included all of those, including a nearly complete home address, and a link to a photograph of his wife and children. In the context you posted it, it constituted exposing him to personal retaliation for his reporting, and you included Mr. Binker’s wife and children among those swept into the sights.
No one “targeted” individual gun owners. You targeted an individual’s family, including his small children. That is not acceptable behavior in our country.
I continue to call for you to make a public apology to the Binker family; and I hope that your organization will ask for your resignation. If it does not, that tells us something more about the group Grass Roots North Carolina.