Okay, we’re back up, sort of. And I Am Kathleen.


I’ve just restored my blog from backup, and I see it didn’t restore the last entry, but the last entry was just talking about us being down for maintenance. We’re slowly getting everything set up, at the pace of a couple of autistic snails, but better to have a half-broken website than an all-broken webmaster.

As for this new edition of the WordPress dashboard, yecccccch. lastcrazyhorn has already described the awfulness better than I could. This is completely disorienting and annoying me.

The other blogs should be up shortly. We’re restoring them, as far as I know, in alphabetical order by subdomain. Everything is going smoothly, and because of this Laura is wondering precisely when the inevitable disaster will occur. She has stocked up on caffeine. I am being handed old envelopes with passwords scribbled on them, and my job appears to be to restore and maintain the blogs.

I still can’t check email efficiently. There is one person I replied to, who emailed me back, and now her email to me is stuck in my apartment and I’m still failing to be in my apartment, so I can only check webmail. Problem is I think her email address is lost. I owe emails to Roz Picard as well, and probably others.

And of course, I Am Kathleen, but I have been unable to write a post on the topic. I’ve got two saved as drafts (if the database backup process didn’t eat them somehow) but I was never able to finish them. And by now everyone knows about what’s happened to Kathleen anyway.

Obviously this would affect me as I am listed on the subpoena, and she is a trusted friend of mine, meaning that in addition to thinking this whole thing is utterly disgusting for Kathleen, my own privacy (and, relatedly, safety) is at stake here as well, because we keep in touch mostly through email. The only exchanges of money we’ve had have been over things like paying her back for pizza. Back before I’d met her, I sent her something I’d written that I only sent to a small number of people I trusted. It dealt with areas of my life that I was still only just daring to figure out.

I also think the little dig at her as a Muslim is both awful and silly: I am trying to imagine a Sufi conspiracy with Big Pharma, and it is about as ridiculous as a Quaker conspiracy with Big Pharma. Then again, Quakers tend to get put on lists too. But people are clearly trying to capitalize on fears about Muslims, and that’s just basically hate propaganda. As someone, somewhere, said about this whole thing, “Muslim is the new Communist.”

At any rate, Kathleen is my friend. We have gone out for Japanese food a few times and Middle Eastern food once. I have met her husband and her teenage autistic child. They are fun and delightfully geeky.

She has helped me as moral support at two separate meetings of a formal hearing when I filed a complaint about a case manager who wanted to put me in a more restrictive living situation. She also helped fold me and stick me in the van we were driving there in the time that I was frozen or semi-frozen the whole time.

She has also helped me sort through my extremely chaotic private medical records for CNN’s fact checkers, and helped me file them in a coherent order so I could find them. She has also been there as moral support at one of my interviews with CNN.

She has helped me navigate two conferences, that I have gone to as an autistic self-advocate (like Kassi says… and Kassi was at one of them), and she read aloud my speech at one of them when I didn’t have the communication equipment to do it myself. She has also assisted me with movement at these conferences by pushing my wheelchair, putting a hand on my back to help me through doorways and over other thresholds while I was walking on foot, and once helping support my arm so I could type when I would have otherwise been frozen. She has helped me negotiate travel and airports and all that kind of stuff. And she has helped me help Kassi as well (such as the time I lent Kassi my wheelchair because the hotel people had, in their infinite wisdom, put her in a room all the way down the hall when she had a bad ankle).

She has, despite malicious rumors to the contrary, never put her words in my mouth, and in fact has always been very careful not to attempt to speak for me. She is not my puppetmaster.

And aside from all this, and more than all this, she has been a good and trustworthy friend to me. Neither of us are in the pay of Big Pharma, neither of us is in on some Big Awful Conspiracy ™. And the way to find out if someone is in the pay of Big Pharma is not to invade the privacy of (and possibly, thus, endanger the safety of many people from) their entire blogroll.

You can buy I Am Kathleen, the T-Shirt on Zazzle.

And that’s about all I have to say on that matter right now. I hope Kathleen’s motion to quash succeeds. I was at one point planning to link to every single blog post about this, but, by now, that’s just impossible and I’ll never get this posted if I keep trying to do that. Kathleen and her family have my full support in all this, whatever amount I can give.

(and the lolcats version (i r katleen. and i r leejun))


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Developmentally disabled, physically and cognitively disabled. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died in 2014 and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

25 responses »

  1. Congratulations on getting the site back up! I was worried for a couple of days, but as it turns out, the “going down for upgrade” message did get picked up by Google, and I eventually found it. (I’m not sure if the delay was them, or from me fumbling my Google-fu.)

    And sympathies on the suckage from WordPress, too. I think when I (eventually) start my own blog, I’ll be using Movable Type. WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad, have all lately inflicted major indignities upon their users.

  2. Islamophobia aside, it takes a Richmonder to assume that a person named Kathleen Seidel is a Muslim.

    And as a law student I can say that if that subpoena succeeds, I’d be completely shocked. I have no idea how anything Kathleen could say could have any relevance to the litigation at hand. It looks like they’re trying to turn a standard personal injury suit into some sort of weird defamation suit, or like their theory of the case involves a vast blogging conspiracy that somehow is causing vaccines to still be on the market.

    I also would like to call attention to the fact that the person drafting the subpoena can’t even spell “LexisNexis,” a common legal search engine. Some paralegal you’ve got there, Mr. Shoemaker.

  3. sorry, just sort of started randomly reading this blog, and didn’t realize until later that in fact she is Sufi (I did search for relevant terms on her autism blog, which turned up nothing relevant). I guess the attorney in question did more research than I did? On first look it just looked like he came up with some idea of what her religion was out of thin air.

  4. Here is the irony of course, if we were all in the pay of Big Pharma, we would have enough financial clout to overlawyer him right out of the profession and into a job stacking supermarket shelves.

    He surely cannot believe or he would not try it on.

  5. For all that it pisses me off, I still say it’s better than blogger. I started out on blogger back in 2001 . . . and it sucks the same now as it did then. They just changed the templates a little.

  6. Great to see this blog back up! When it first went down, I almost thought it had something to do with the Kathleen situation, but none of the other blogs named in the subpoena (that I looked at, that is) seemed to had gone missing. Welcome back!

    My own contribution to the “I am Kathleen” campaign is on my secondary blog at:


    … which seems to have helped lead to a chain reaction in which three other Deaf bloggers also wrote their own posts; as far as I know, we’re the only four in the deafread.com feed to contribute.

    By now, I suppose most people know that Liz Ditz is keeping a running catalog of “I am Kathleen” blog posts:


    One blog post/email is specifically meant to be copy/pasted or circulated via email to alert others who don’t already know about the campaign (and not all bloggers outside the autistic community do, I think):


  7. Yeah, I tried to comment to correct myself – apparently the attorney did more research than I did. I tried searching for relevant terms in her autism blog, which turned up nothing, so it looked like he just pulled it out of thin air.

  8. Glad to see you are back up.

    I’ve read the subpoena and noted its coincidence with Kathleen Seidel’s post about the lawyer’s income. I doubt that the timing issue will escape the judge’s notice when he/she quashes the subpoena. (And I agree with the numerous commentators that Seidel could easily have asked for sanctions under the circumstances.) I doubt that you need to worry about her actually having to hand over the stuff sought in the subpoena. It would be remarkable, to say the least, for a judge to order that.

  9. I used to hang out with a gal who claimed to be a Sufi. Had all the writings of Pir Vilayat, and all. I thought of her as more of a Baptist Hippy, actually. Last I saw of her she was attending the Atlanta Friends’ Meeting. (Which actually meets in Decatur.)

  10. Good to see your blog back. Had me a bit alarmed there for a minute.

    I can’t wait to hear how the judge reacts to the subpoena. Perhaps there will be some punishment.

    I don’t find that dashboard that awful, but I just moved over from a photo blog that ran for a few years, and the last time I had a regular blog, it was Movable Type. The dashboard is a huge improvement over ancient MT ;-)


  11. I’m so glad your site is back up!! I came here for my daily reading (I tend to get on this site reading and can’t seem to pry myself away) and seen that it was down & my heart sank!!

    So YAY I’m doing a happy dance that it is up and running again!!

    Take care,

  12. Glad to see it up and running again. I do enjoy reading your blog..

    I heard about Kathleen being “supoena’D” from AFF when I was lurking the other night. I am still chanting the WTF mantra about it. But I have a feeling this going to be cleared up soon.

    and I approve the Lolcat macro.

  13. apparently there is another lady, a doctor, who also got similarly subpoenaed………and likewise submitted a motion to quash. Should be hearing about it in……..the next ten days or so. She filed hers after Ms. Seidel…..by about the same number of days…..

    I think people should start compiling lists of such idiotic cases…….along with results…….so that if someone out there happens to be reading a blog…….and has the same kind of subpoena handed to him or her for whatever reason…..we have some examples for that person…….of others who’ve successfully gotten out of such stupidity.


  14. I just saw on neurodiversity that the subpoena got quashed (legaleze for thrown out on its ear) and the attorney has to “show cause” why he should not be sanctioned. Given that Ms. Seidel did not ask for sanctions, it appears that the court was irritated enough to raise that issue on its own…

  15. Hah, that subpoena didn’t just get quashed, it got *squashed*! It’s unclear what the “sanctions” mentioned are, but at least the lawshark is likely to face some kind of consequences.

  16. Athena: I agree, there should be some coordinated effort to document all attempts to stifle freedom of speech for bloggers.

    Unfortunately I have no time to do something like this myself but …

    My suggestions are:

    1. It should be something that ideally involves the whole blogsphere, not just people in the autistic blogging community or the disability blogging community. Freedom of speech affects ALL of us. And if you take a broader view, then what happened to Kathleen is actually the least of what could happen. In some countries where there is little freedom of speech generally, bloggers can face government persecution … arrest … torture … if they blog the wrong thing at the wrong time.

    2. Perhaps several people could run a centralized blog site together that keeps a running record of attempts to stifle the freedom of bloggers around the world, be it another Kathleen, or a threat to sue, or threats against the blogger and/or xir family, etc. Other volunteers could help (either sporadically as they have time or on a more on-going basis) by alerting them to new cases of bloggers under attack, researching the information associated with these new attacks, etc.

    There is a lot that could be found, at least initially, just by googling key phrases such as “blogger” and “free speech” or “blogging” and “censorship” etc. In the long run, if this effort became effective and visible, then bloggers involved in new cases might find the site on their own and report directly.

    3. The blog site could also consolidate information on what bloggers can do to fight back, including lawyers willing to give pro bono or low cost services, advocacy organizations, bloggers willing to blog on their behalf (as so many of us did in the “I am Kathleen” blogging campaign), stories with documentation about exactly what other bloggers have done to fight back etc., anything else that might be helpful resources for bloggers who find themselves in similar situations, or who fear being attacked in the future.

    4. Also, educate bloggers about their own responsibilities. What happened in Kathleen’s case was wrong, but sometimes there are bloggers who think they are somehow immune from things such as copyright and fair use laws, or slander/libel laws and so on and then respond with great surprise and righteous indignation when they suddenly find that they actually aren’t. Sometimes it’s the blogger who needs to take a honest look at their own behavior vis a vis ethics and the law.

    5. For bloggers who are literally risking their life to blog (i.e., people in repressive governments) there could be tips and resources on how they can do it a little more safely.

    6. Perhaps this could eventually expand into other closely related areas, such as what to do when other blog sites try to plagiarize the content on your own (for example, syndicating without seeking permission etc.)

    So what I envision is a kind of a learning resource (bloggers learn about both their responsibilities and their rights under the laws of various countries; tips for preventing attacks in the first place; and tips for how to respond; etc) … and a place to find help … and a way to get the word out so that people, including blog readers, can be more conscious of the importance of free speech everywhere, and why bloggers matter to free speech and deserve to be protected.

    Perhaps there could also be an accompanying yahoogroups or googlegroups listserv for behind-the-scenes organizing, strategizing, etc. This could also be used for discussing what kind of content is appropriate on the blog site (for example, what if a blogger complains of being attacked but further investigation reveals that the other side may have very legitimate concerns also, eg in cases of copyright violations or actual, not just imagined or exagerated, slander/libel, etc. … This is the kind of debate that should probably be hashed out in a closed listserv, not aired for all to view on a blog site.)

    Not sure what the next step should be … this would need someone taking the initiative to at least raise awareness for the idea among bloggers generally (by blogging about it, or sharing the idea on relevant listservs) and then gathering contact info for people who are willing to be involved in some way and in what way they might be willing to contribute.

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