Angry political bloggers, put a sweater on; there's a chilling effect coming. If you hate your congressman, you have every right to say so on the Internet, but the FBI might pay you a visit if you get really vocal. Christian County blogger Clay Bowler learned that this week, when a G-man and a sheriff stopped by his house for a chat.
In the wake of last Saturday's shooting in Tuscon, federal authorities requested that members of Congress alert them about constituents who might be threats. Newly minted Republican Congressman Billy Long told them about Bowler, who calls himself Bungalow Bill on his blog. The ultra-conservative blogger was rightly creeped out and insisted he's no menace.
During a vitriolic campaign for Roy Blunt's old seat in the House,
Bowler didn't keep his feelings about Long secret. He started a blog
creatively titled Long Is Wrong, and he used it to ridicule Long for not
being conservative enough. He also attended campaign
events and made videos of himself angrily questioning Long about his
views, which he also posted on his site.
That's as far as it went, Bowler says. This is just Long's chance to hit
back. "It's political payback," he told the Christian County
Headliner News, adding, "I've poked fun at Billy. Part of it was
satire -- exposing Billy as not being a real tea party candidate."
Bowler says an FBI agent and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott had a
friendly chat with him and determined that he was not a real threat to
Long. Still, Bowler thought it was uncalled for anyway, telling KSPR-TV in
Springfield, Missouri, "I don't sit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thinking
Long." But that would be weird if he did, right?
And Bowler might not be the only pissy political online scribe to get an
FBI house call. Arnott told KSPR that Long fingered several other
people as potential threats.