Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Outing Tom Berkhouse

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, October 15, 2007

Sometime ago I was accused of outing Mary Smith on this blog when Mary really outed herself.  See the blog post here.  Only one person ever came forward to tell me they knew who Mary Smith really was after that post – and that was after repeated challenges.  Never the less lots of people who have no idea who Mary Smith is to this day came out to bash me and accused me of outing Mary.Here is an example of what some people wrote after that infamous incident.

I do want to say that I strongly disagree with David Keelan’s decision to expose the true identity of a commenter he doesn’t like, and one with whom I disagree (and am frustrated by) regularly. Regardless of how you feel about her, David’s decision sets an ugly precedent. Commenter’s can be held to different standards depending on their views and the threat of tracing identities through IP address (which are available for all to see by looking at the Site Meter reports — see bottom of the page) looms over all. Such things help stifle diverse debate and might prevent many worthy commenter’s from participating.

Ian “Hayduke” Kennedy October 26, 2006

Ian is entitled to his opinion and clearly indicated he had set a higher standard.

Now someone on Ian’s blog is trying to out a frequent commenter and critic of Ian’s thought process and positions.  To date Ian is silent on the developments even though the post is 2 weeks old.  See Hayduke’s blog in which he comes out favoring Big Box retail stores (although I am not clear on whether he favors them on the Crescent).

The frequent critic is Tom Berkhouse.  The people trying to out Berkhouse are treating Tom as if he did something terrible like threatened a county employee for trying to shut off his water for non-payment or something when in fact all Tom does is forcefully and at times very forcefully expresses a strong difference of opinion with Ian.  At times Tom will criticise Ian for what Tom perceives to be a twisting of the facts in order to reach a desired conclusion.  Tom is often (not always) rather enjoyable to read and makes good points but often (if not always) fails to elicit a reaction from Ian.  So in fairness to Ian perhaps Ian is just simply ignoring all commenter’s.  Perhaps Ian is too busy with his new job which is perfectly understandable.  I have a full time job too, a family, and I just started an MBA program (which is going great so far)  so I understand finding time to stay up on the local scene and one’s blog isn’t easy.


24 Responses to “Outing Tom Berkhouse”

  1. Jessie N said

    The whole thing would be a non-issue if blog commenters wrote words they could own. The way I see it, the only people who would care if they were “outed” are people who’d be embarrassed to be connected to their own supposedly anonymous writing. The lesson here: I only write what you I can own. I don’t put nasty stuff out into the blogosphere unless I’m willing to say, “Yeah, I wrote that. Sometimes I feel edgy. Sometimes I get a bit riled. OK. But those are my thoughts on the subject and I wrote that comment.” That’s my two yen.

  2. jim adams said

    You wouldn’t let it go, will you David?

  3. Jim,
    No I won’t. Not when there appears to be a double standard.

  4. observer said

    Nice comment Jim, aren’t you the king of all grudge holding? But you like that double standard as long as it makes your guys look good. You are a Dem now, I guess your submission and abandonment of your principles comes with the brand.

  5. jim adams said

    Observer, you have your eyes closed.

  6. jim adams said


    You have your eyes closed.

  7. Freemarket said

    I am very confused as to how this relates to Hayduke. Have you read pzguru’s introductory post on your very own blog, David? People were suggesting that he was Tom Berkhouse from day one. Why are you pretending that this is something new, months after the accusation was first made? Why should Hayduke be responsible for, or even respond to, anonymous comments made on his blog?

    Mary Smith is a red herring. You dropped her name on your blog after you received it in a personal e-mail from her to you, if I recall correctly.

  8. FM,

    It is completely new to me otherwise I would not bring it up. I wrote the introductory post and don’t know what you mean.

    What does it have to do with Hayduke? Why would Hayduke care about what I write on my blog.

    “Mary Smith is a red herring. You dropped her name on your blog after you received it in a personal e-mail from her to you, if I recall correctly.”

    You do not recall correctly. Mary Smith did not send me a personal email until months after she outed herself.

  9. Freemarket said

  10. John G. Boyle said

    I’m torn. I agree with Jessie N’s post above and Ian’s 10/26/06 post, but at the same time, I really don’t have a lot of patience for Anons and others who use their handles as shields (as opposed to those who makes no secret of their names).

    Personally, I’d suggest that you (CORNINESS WARNING!) “choose civility” instead of outing, etc. It’s better for your blood pressure and gives folks who don’t like you less ability to discredit you.

    Then again, if you’re dead-set on outing folks and can only achieve personal satisfaction that way, then go for it. Just make sure you’re prepared for the backlash. No one’s going to hail you as a Woodward or Bernstein.

    My two pesos.

    In the spirit of Jessie’s suggestion that we own our words, I’ll be using my full name from here on out. If you want to seek me out and argue with me in the Giant, or egg my house at Halloween, you can find my picture and vital stats on Facebook. If you want to scan my IP address(es) and check to see if I have any alter-egos, then knock yourself out 🙂

  11. FM. Thanks for pointing that out. I never noticed it before or just have a poor poor memory.

  12. cynthia vaillancourt said

    i’m a little confused about how previous posters go from the “outing” of identities to a personal attack to an insult on democrats.

    Seems like we can all agree that double standards are “bad” – but seriously – does either major party have a monopoly on that particular indulgence?

    signed with my real name, as always,
    cindy v

  13. pzguru said

    FM- if you wil notice, when I did my introductory post, and “Slim Shady” made a comment asserting that I was the real Tom Berkhouse, I did in fact respond back. I can only guess who posted the comment because I don’t care if someone wants to post under a psuedonym.

    The fact is, hayduke sets one set of rules for others and one set for himself. As long as people were bashing Chris Merdon to help Ulman’s career, hayduke was all for it and shielded those people. But, as soon as commenters post comments critical of Ulman or hayduke, then his “rules”, and I would add his convictions and principles, suddenly change.

    If I was in fact TB, what would that change? Wouldn’t that add credibility to accusations TB made against Ken Ulman? Having worked in the heart of DPZ and therefore having first hand knowledge of many projects and issues, and who did and said what, wouldn’t that add a level of proof to the accusation? Did TB break any laws? Nope. Sure, TB has been harsh on Ken Ulman and even hayduke. So, it really seems that hayduke is just reacting as a brat because he can’t refute TB’s assertions, so he tries to make a distraction by equating me to TB.

    I guess hayduke never stopped to think that I could have simply spoken to someone(s) and conveyed my knowledge of events to them and they could use that info any way they felt appropriate, including posting comments under the name TB. So, I’m afraid, that once again, hd falls a little short.

    The bigger question is why hasn’t hayduke ever tried to refute the accusations made by TB, and other commenters? He has always ducked the issue and whined about the context. And now, in his attempt to “out” TB, he has once again shown his true colors as the ultimate hypocrite (to borrow from TB). Bravo to you hd. Bravo.

    And, if you and he and lots of others were so sure that I am TB, why would he need to “out” me? Doesn’t seem to make sense.

    I am feeling inspired now. I haven’t posted in a while, but maybe it is time for me to step back up and contribute.

  14. pzguru said

    PS – I wasn’t trying to insinuate that I have any issues with you, Freemarket. I think we have agreed on some issues and disagreed on others. No biggie.

  15. Hayduke said

    PZ: When did I I try to “out” TB? I thought scorn was directed at me for failing to criticize an anonymous commenter who tried to out him?

    Your statement that I did so is a flat out lie.

    I know many of us are on the opposite sides of many issues, but the fact that so many sit by while explicit lies are told is pretty shameful. And this isn’t the first time.

    Call this whining if you want, but it’s my real name that’s being dragged through mud. I think I have a right (and others have a responsibility) to see that fairness and honesty prevail.

  16. tom berkhouse said

    this is all pretty ridiculuos. As much as I disagree with Hayduke on alot of issues, it was never hayduke who attempted to “out” me on his blog. Why are you all trying to say hayduke did it? It was an anonmous commenter. I figure he pretty he pretty much just ignores me at this point since he can’t actually address any of the facts I present to him… so i wasn’t surprised he was afraid to “get in the ring” over on his blog. its still fun to point out that he is a HYPOCRIT

  17. jim adams said

    Cindy V,

    Thanks for attempting to keep the discussion on point.

  18. timactual said

    “The whole thing would be a non-issue if blog commenters wrote words they could own.”

    Amen. Anonymity does seem to bring out the worst in some folks.

  19. pzguru said

    HD – by virtue of the fact that you let the anon comments remain on your blog instead of deleting them, as you have the ability to do since you are the blog host, you gave your tacit approval to them. Furthermore, I even gave you basically asked for you to respond to the situation in the comment I posted on your blog. Maybe you missed it. So, you’re incorrect in stating that I made a blatant lie. And, for all I know, maybe you were the anon commenter. At the very least, I’m sure you know who the anon commenter is, but that will surely remain a mystery since you obviously have a very strict policy about protecting commenters’ identities (sarcasm intended), at least those that are in your camp.

    I would also point out the irony in you accusing other people of lying. That’s a good one. It seems to me that TB is merely dishing it back on you as much as you dished it out on others, either through your direct statements or by your support of the lies that others have spread. Although, I must admit, that you are very adept at making roundabout statements so that you can always piously dismiss any assertion of inappropriateness. You like to be able to have it both ways. At least TB has the conviction to speak out, even though you may disagree with his sometimes harsh “context”, but he doesn’t seem to flip flop and pander the way you do.

    As for owning words, I can also recall a few times when TB obviously swallowed his pride and offered an apology of sorts when he was mistaken about something. I don’t seem to ever recall the same type of action coming from HD, or certain other commenters. Very telling.

    Of course, if you wanted to, you could always start addressing the content of TB’s comments, and the comments that others direct to you.

  20. veritas vos liberabit

  21. People who don’t claim their identity in connection with their perspectives and thinking are, to me, like comic book characters: made up, created, two-dimensional, flat. Why would would I give a hoot what a comic book character says?

    For those of you older than 25, remember back in the day, when chat rooms and IM were new? There was a running joke that 99% of the hot 20-year-old girls online looking for “a good time” were really a bunch of bored, horny older guys (more-n-likely not “hot”)who were typing away at the keyboard, anonymously, pretending to be hot babes.

    Well, maybe 10 years from now we’ll all look back at the early days of the blog scene and laugh about how we actually paid attention to — and possible cared about — the endless anonymous posters with opinions.

    FOLKS: Get yourselves an online identity. Give your words meaning so that others can care about them, too.

    Here’s how:
    Go to WordPress or Blogger, the two main blog platforms used in the local blog scene. Create a “user name.” It can be a pseudonym. Fill out some REAL info about yourself. Are you a birder? Do you have a few high-school aged kids? Are you a daily reader of LifeHacker? An avid cyclist? A federal wage slave? An entrepreneur? Give data to provide dimension to your otherwise flat online self. 😛

    That’s my two yen over a hot cup of home-brewed Orinoco coffee. (Tanzanian Peaberry, that’s my favorite flavor!)

  22. cynthia vaillancourt said

    I’m not totally opposed to anon posters.

    One of the complaints about Anon posts is that the audience does not have a way to assess the “standing” of the poster or the “validity” of the comment — but that ca be a good thing if the discussion can stay focused on the content.

    IMHO the content ought to be able to stand on its’ own — discussion focused on the “standing” of the poster are often an effort to divert attention from the content.

    If an anonymous post allows the discussion to remain focuses, I think that is a help.

    Of course sometimes the diversion tactic is used successfully by focusing attention on the nature of “anon posts” in general or speculation about the posters’ identity.

    As for the personal attacks and egregious ugliness – I like to describe that as the 21st century version of childish and immature people with anger issues going home and kicking the dog —

    —how brave to kick defenseless animals or make boldly aggressive or nasty comments behind from behind a computer screen with a pseudonym. I know I’m always impressed by that show of valor.

    Cindy V

  23. cynthia vaillancourt said

    please pardon typos – i actually can spell but my proof reading is a little lax.

  24. Tom Berkhouse said

    Miss Newburn – so I guess you would think the Founding Fathers of this country were just “made up comic book characters”? And “deepthroat”? And all the other “anonymous” activists that have existed throughout history. There is a reason why such people remain anonymous. Because of fear of retaliation and retribution at the hands of those in positions of power, who control, lets say, the police force, or other persons who could covertly act to harm or threaten those that dare challenge them or call them out for their misdeeds. Why do think so few people in Baltimore City volunteer to testify against thugs, drug dealers, and the like. Not to say that Ken Ulman is going to burn someone’s house down, but he certainly has the means, and the past behavior, to demonstrate that he could and probably would go to great lengths to “destroy” those who could threaten him and his throne.

    You can call that a wild fear if you want, but in the political world, there is a definite “scorched earth” mentality.

    I would also point out, that many times I have commented and not spoken “too harshly” and still the rebuttals never addressed the content. Why is that? And, did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, I was simply handling HD a little differently than I might otherwise interact with people because in my opinion, people that have behaved the way he has, and acted the way he has, and defended the lies and dispicable behavior of the candidate he was working for, DESERVE to be treated harshly. You can call it hate filled vitriol, but such behavior merits the sternest of rebukes.

    I have successfully, time and again, proved my points and called him out on his inconsistencies and deceptive tactics. Have I been completely fair to him, maybe not. I just wanted to turn the tables on him and give him a taste of his own medicine. I will be more judicious in my comments to him in the future. Whether he will ever address the facts and content is another story. He has, after all, been given ample opportunity in the past.

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