David Cole Will “Get Killed Soon Enough,” Says “Christian” Conservative
Death threats are nothing new to me. I’ve gotten more than my fair share of them, and these days I find myself paradoxically numb and overly sensitive at the same time when I receive a new “you must die” missive. I’m numb because it’s old hat to me, and because I’m almost 50 and I suppose I’m nearing the point at which the fear of death gives way to the fear of a slow and debilitating illness.
A stroke? I fear the shit out of that. But a quick death from some loon’s bullet? Meh…it ain’t on my top ten list of concerns.
Yet, at the same time, that numbness, that deadened sense of “been there done that,” is accompanied by a kind of oversensitivity. I can only explain it like this. I still get a lot of flack for the fact that I “let it go” in 1997 when the Jewish Defense League put a $25,000 bounty on my head. I really did have an open-and-shut criminal case had I chosen to pursue it. Hell, even the ADL, and organization that has no love for me, conceded that the JDL’s threat was serious. Had I gone to the police, the resulting case would have been one of the first of its kind regarding threats issued over the then-burgeoning Internet. I might have been able to help create legal precedent.
Perhaps due to lingering regrets about my 1997 inaction, I now have a zero tolerance policy regarding death threats. If I receive one, and if I can identity the source, I do something about it.
I’ll give you an example. Last year, a blogger who goes by the name “Z Man” posted an essay calling for my death. I’d never heard of “Z Man” before. Politically, he seems to be a middle-grounder between the alt-right and the neocon right, and he was apparently so disturbed by the fact that Taki’s Magazine brought me on as a weekly columnist that he decided the only remedy was for me to die.
“Z Man” makes a big deal out of the fact that no one knows his real name. He’s a real-life Rumpelstiltskin, that Z Man, albeit one who has learned not to dance about at night around a campfire clumsily singing his name. Unfortunately, RumpelZMan never learned not to threaten the life of a guy who is (forgive my horn-blowing) a damn fine researcher (and when I get stuck, I have the benefit of knowing EugeneNix, one of the finest trolls in Internet history). It took just a few hours of digging to find out Z Man’s real name, where he lives, and where he works. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe in “doxxing” people. But his real name is certainly fair game; he practically dares his readers to find it. Still, as one who was “outed” with devastating consequences, I’m never keen on divulging anyone’s secret info. And in this case I didn’t have to. An email to Z Man’s personal and work email addresses, greeting him by name and asking for comment for a piece I was working on about his threat, was all it took. He immediately removed the threat from his site, and in return I’m perfectly happy to allow Z Man to retain the air of mystery that is obviously so important to him.
Unlike in Z Man’s case, the most recent death threat I received came from a person who made no attempt to hide their identity. In fact, this person was a former friend and ally: Wendy Rae Leaumont, a self-described Christian conservative activist who works as an illustrator.
Her husband, Dave Leaumont, is Director of Operations, 96th Bomb Squadron, at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Wendy Leaumont was one of my good online friends during my Republican Party Animal days. I never met her in person, as she never visited L.A. during the years we were friends, but I liked her. I thought she had a good sense of humor, and I was always eager to help her in any way I could. In December 2012, a writer named Jon Zeiderman, a Republican Party Animal and Friends of Abe member, was looking for an illustrator for his newest book. Jon was an in-person friend of mine; a funny and far-right guy whose company I really, really enjoyed. I recommended Wendy for the illustrator gig, and she was hired.
Here’s the result: Thigpen & Drndl Meet The Monsters (written by Zeiderman under the pseudonym Johnathan Berlin). I’ve never read it, but Zeiderman’s a talented guy, so I’m certain it’s quite good.
Frankly, I doubt I’d given Leaumont or Zeiderman a thought since my outing in April 2013.
Well, cut to about a month ago. Totally out of the blue, celebrated Burbank art gallery owner Bill Shafer posted a very kind comment about my book on Instagram. Bill’s Hyaena Gallery is quite the local institution, and his comment was a happy surprise, made quickly unhappy by Leaumont, who was one of Bill’s Instagram followers. She began plastering the thread with hostile comments. She menacingly pledged that I’m going to “get killed soon enough,” but she didn’t stop with a simple death threat. She ridiculed my late mother, who passed away after a lengthy illness in April 2015.
One year ago exactly. So my blood is up as I write this.
I’ve never written publicly about my mom’s passing. This is the first time I’ve mentioned it, and it’ll be the last. Suffice it to say that I have no words to describe how depraved and vile someone has to be to publicly post a taunt regarding someone, anyone’s, dead parent. That kind of evil is beyond me. Especially coming from a woman who never misses a chance to brag about what a good “Christian” she is.
Leaumont made certain to let everyone in Bill’s thread know that her taunts were on behalf of Rosie Tisch (now Rosie Maxhimer), the fashion model who outed me. And indeed that’s Rosie all over; she only attacks via proxy.
When I told a friend about Leaumont’s taunts, he replied, “She must not be afraid to die to say shit like that.” It’s true; people have gotten into fatal brawls over less. Leaumont loves to dot her Facebook and Instgram pages with photos of herself modeling clothing and accessories from the Dollywood amusement park in Tennessee. During my mom’s lengthy career as a graphic artist, Dollywood was just one of dozens of the theme parks she designed for (Disney, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry, Sea World, Excalibur and the MGM Grand being others). Seeing images of Leaumont wearing my mom’s designs while ridiculing her passing – especially considering that my mom was the one who helped pave the way for female artists like her to have the kind of job opportunities they have today – blinded me with rage.
I’ll admit, I toyed with the idea of calling Barksdale Air Force Base where she resides to find out if she broke any rules by sending the threat. But I decided against it. Instead, I wrote her a very reasonable email. I didn’t get mean, I didn’t get snarky. Sure, I was tempted to say something like “Isn’t it ironic that your husband is supposedly ‘fighting for my freedom’ to say things you think I should be killed for saying.” But no, I kept it sober and business-like: “Wendy – You are always very up-front about your Christian faith. I ask you to look objectively at what you did, and to ask yourself if the way you acted is truly in accord with your beliefs and morals.”
She never responded.
So then I told her I was going to write about the incident for my website. And just like that, she removed the comments from Instagram, leaving only a brief explanation that she had deleted them because she didn’t want the episode written about publicly. Well, Leaumont does not get the consideration I afforded Z Man. Z Man is just an anonymous Internet loudmouth, but Wendy Leaumont is a sick, evil individual. She deserves to have what she did stick to her like glue, forever.
See, here’s the thing…Irv Rubin might have tried to kill me, but he was reasonable (let me finish) in that he could be reasoned with. When I negotiated with him for my release from the death warrant, he laid down terms, and – I have to say, to his credit – he never violated them. He never asked for a penny more than what we agreed upon that day in 1997. He never used my willingness to pay for my life as an excuse to continue extorting cash from me. The dude kept his word. He was a violent man, an extremist, and a terrorist. But you could deal with him.
People like Wendy Leaumont and Rosie Tisch cannot be reasoned with, because they have no goal beyond harassment. It is harassment for harassment’s sake. It can only be fought or ignored, and my days of ignoring this kind of thing are finished. As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, “been there, done that.” I did the ignoring bit. I let death threats go. No more.
For some, age brings wisdom. For me, its primary gift has been increased irritability and a decrease in patience for irrational morons who think that asking very reasonable questions about Auschwitz should be a crime punishable by death, and for cowards who try to see that sentence carried out via proxies on social media.