Getting wacky on Wiki with Sen. Jason Rapert | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 25, 2016

Getting wacky on Wiki with Sen. Jason Rapert

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 1:43 PM

  • Brian Chilson

Max noted yesterday that Jason Rapert, the famously thick-skinned state senator from Bigelow, has been having it out with the editors of Wikipedia. It's all a bit surprising given the senator's well-earned reputation for a go-along-get-along attitude and reflective grace in response to criticism. Just in case you didn't click through on Max's post, I've pulled out a few highlights because the drama is highly entertaining (there is a German word, surely, for the particular personality who edits his or her own Wikipedia page). Rapert's litigious, loquacious self-love turns out to be an awkward fit with the diligent community editors at Wikipedia. 

It began in October of 2013, when Wiki editors told Rapert that his edits appeared to be "less than neutral" and there was a conflict of interest problem with Rapert editing his own page. By June of 2015, they again removed Rapert's self-edits and told him, "please don't attempt to whitewash the biography." 

The whole back-and-forth makes for amusing reading, but I'll just highlight some of Rapert's rants: 

July 2015:

After several requests to have erroneous information removed from this site which pertains to me personally, I have contacted Wikipedia directly. For several months now, posts to this site have been allowed that are false and libelous, and they often have been the root of harassment and threats being made against me and my family. Most all of these posts cite blog posts from Max Brantley of the "Arkansas Times" which is a local blog organization, not a legitimate news organization, that is well known for attacking and disparaging Republican politicians and Christian advocates. If the posts do not cite him directly, they cite other posts that are based upon his posts. He is well known to attack me for my Christian beliefs and conservative policy positions. Whoever has self-appointed themselves as editor of this page has repeatedly removed edits that took down the erroneous information or information that contradicts these outrageous posts. It is quite apparent that many posts are politically motivated and are placed by someone with an agenda rather than posts that are simply biographical in nature. The legitimacy of this page is totally in question until proper oversight is given to ensure that posts are factual and legitimate and not simply political attacks. I personally object to the inclusion of posts that disparage my reputation and character. It is quite apparent that the self-appointed editors of this page allow posts that do not comply with the Wikipedia guidelines for living persons. As I mentioned, after no success in getting good edits approved on this page, I am appealing to Wikipedia governing authorities to assist. Respectfully, Sen. Jason Rapert

July 8 2015: 

I signed my message here personally. I have been communicating via e-mail with staff for Wikipedia and it is my understanding they are also looking into this matter. All of the outrageous material posted on this page referencing the Arkansas Times is not legitimate news - they are basically a political arm of the democrat party and have published material that would get them sued if I were not a public official. They are very good at pushing out ridiculous material that then gets picked up by other news sources and they attempt to gain legitimacy that way. -Sen. Jason Rapert.Sjrapert (talk) 00:53, 8 July 2015 (UTC) PLEASE NOTE: All the inferences regarding racism are based upon a personal attack that has been proven to be false by all concerned. Please see the following article written by Mr. Paul Greenberg who is also the editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Ar: In the article he points out the false attack, yet your editor on this page allows a post to be used which accuses me of racism which is blatantly false, is disparaging and warrants removal immediately. Here is another reference refuting the false charge of racism: Here is another reference disputing the false charge of racism: Everyone in the local news media has verified that these personal attacks were orchestrated by the Arkansas Times and The Nation to try and disparage me for my success in getting the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act passed in Arkansas in 2013. Allowing these falsehoods to be posted have literally been the root of death threats against my family and I would ask that you remove them immediately and keep them off of these pages. Thank you, Sen. Jason Rapert

Rapert tried to edit his page again in January of 2016 and had the same fight. He did not take kindly to the fact that legal threats will quickly get you banned from editing Wikipedia pages. Rapert's favorite thing — well, second to Jason Rapert — is empty legal threats. 

January 11 2016:

This is an old issue and the vandalism to the page about me personally continues with no one at Wikipedia taking responsibility. Why do you think YOU or anyone else has a right to post on the "Jason Rapert" page, but any comments correcting the errors or posting a disclaimer are not welcome? You are violating my right to have a disclaimer posted that warns readers that much of the information being posted is libelous and erroneous. I suggest you leave the disclaimers in place - not doing so shows that Wikipedia censors out the truth and prefers falsehoods.

January 11 2016: 

That is exactly why I posted a disclaimer - which is a last resort after multiple attempts to get editors to monitor the page and remove false, erroneous and libelous comments. I am quite tired of seeing false information left on the page ABOUT ME PERSONALLY which is meant to defame me while any information posted with truth to the contrary is removed. It is quite ludicrous.

January 11 2016:

Sir, I have already raised this issue again with the living persons noticeboard. Those of you who leave defamatory information posted about living persons are uncivil. You should be completely ashamed. I have had real threats towards me and my family as a result of physically loving goats, and foolishness posted on sites just like Wikipedia - you are responsible for your actions here. I am not interested in your responses any further because you do not understand the full implications of the issues and I very much want to speak with administrators. Have a good evening and quit vandalizing the "Jason Rapert" page by removing truthful information

Come to think of it, Rapert doesn't like Wikipedia at all: 

January 11 2016

brianhe - thanks for clarification. Are you saying no one is in charge of verifying whether or not information on a page is accurate or truthful? Are you also saying that when Wikipedia administrators are informed multiple times that someone is posting defamation on a page about a living person that this issue raises no "red flags" and no action is taken to correct the problem? It is public record that my family did indeed received death threats and even one of your posts on the Wikipedia page quotes a BLOGGER who disputes that. The same blogger has been the root cause of multiple falsehoods that have been written specifically to injure my reputation personally and have caused threats to me and my family. Do you not have anyone at Wikipedia responsible for assisting people with situations that are of a serious nature? I am very surprised at all of you - you leave erroneous information on Wikipedia but DISALLOW some of your editors keep removing TRUTHFUL information. I represent 83,000 citizens in my state and if one of my constituents came to me with a story relating how horribly they had been treated in a situation like this, I would do all I could to help them. This is ridiculous.

So Rapert decided to angle for more libel threats: 

January 15 2016:

JamesBWatson: Thank you for understanding libel is VERY serious. There have been multiple posts on the page about me that are untrue and published misrepresentations with the specific intent to try and damage my reputation. Some of the most egregious violations have tried to claim that I am a racist - which has been totally rejected by third party writers who knew that was a false charge. This specific libelous accusation has caused death threats against my family - and even then the "source" you know is responsible tried to write that those threats were false even when the State Police confirmed credible threats when their officers responded by posting 24 hour watches to protect my family and encouraged them to leave the state for a period of time. The Arkansas Times is NOT merely a news organization by any standard. They are well known as an activist organization that publishes sensationalized content typically demeaning to conservative Christians who hold elected office in Arkansas as Republicans. Very rarely do they ever attack Democrat elected offiicials. This is a fact.

I am quite shocked that Wikipedia editors can be fooled so easily into accepting sources that are blatantly trying to hurt people. I would have expected better.

As to the legal definition of libel, perhaps a review of the full impact of the concept is warranted here:

libel 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Libel is the written or broadcast form of defamation, distinguished from slander, which is oral defamation. It is a tort (civil wrong) making the person or entity (like a newspaper, magazine or political organization) open to a lawsuit for damages by the person who can prove the statement about him/her was a lie. Publication need only be to one person, but it must be a statement which claims to be fact and is not clearly identified as an opinion. While it is sometimes said that the person making the libelous statement must have been intentional and malicious, actually it need only be obvious that the statement would do harm and is untrue. Proof of malice, however, does allow a party defamed to sue for general damages for damage to reputation, while an inadvertent libel limits the damages to actual harm (such as loss of business) called special damages. Libel per se involves statements so vicious that malice is assumed and does not require a proof of intent to get an award of general damages. Libel against the reputation of a person who has died will allow surviving members of the family to bring an action for damages. Most states provide for a party defamed by a periodical to demand a published retraction. If the correction is made, then there is no right to file a lawsuit. Governmental bodies are supposedly immune to actions for libel on the basis that there could be no intent by a non-personal entity, and further, public records are exempt from claims of libel. However, there is at least one known case in which there was a financial settlement as well as a published correction when a state government newsletter incorrectly stated that a dentist had been disciplined for illegal conduct. The rules covering libel against a "public figure" (particularly a political or governmental person) are special, based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The key is that to uphold the right to express opinions or fair comment on public figures, the libel must be malicious to constitute grounds for a lawsuit for damages. Minor errors in reporting are not libel, such as saying Mrs. Jones was 55 when she was only 48, or getting an address or title incorrect. 2) v. to broadcast or publish a written defamatory statement.

Multiple times, Wikipedia editors try to politely explain Wikipedia — their attempts to achieve neutrality and rigor, their policies on conflicts of interest, their policies on acceptable sources, and the user-based consensus process for making decisions. This is not an environment in which Rapert is going to feel at ease, one gathers. One editor concluded thusly: "Please keep all that in mind, and please remain calm. Getting angry doesn't help you here, and remember when you write things, that Wikipedia is in the real world. Good luck."

Tags: , ,


Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Antwan Phillips wants to make a difference in reducing Little Rock violence

    KARK/Fox 16's push to do something about Little Rock violence includes a spotlight on people trying to make a difference — in this episode Antwan Phillips, a lawyer at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
    • Aug 30, 2017


Most Recent Comments


© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation