MAYBE IT WAS the depiction of a Jewish nursing-home manager as a terrorist in a turban-but self-proclaimed journalist Paul Trummel no longer has the freedom to say what he wants on his Web site.
King County Superior Court Judge Jim Doerty, after earlier deciding Trummel lacked bona fide press credentials, has effectively appointed the court as editor of Trummel's online newsletter, posted at www.contracabal.org. Having found Trummel in contempt of an anti-harassment order, Doerty threatened a $100 daily fine if he didn't remove postings the judge found objectionable.
Rejecting Trummel's First Amendment claim, Doerty ordered the excising of personal information regarding manager Stephen Mitchell and employees of Capitol Hill's 163-unit Council House residence for seniors. The federally funded retirement facility was founded in the '70s by the League of Jewish Women.
The 65-year-old Trummel, who calls himself a onetime London journalist, claimed he was probing corruption and discrimination at the home when he was booted out earlier this year for harassment (see "Fighting words," May 31). According to a Council House spokesperson, the home has "been under a federal investigation and [been] looked at many times by state agencies and never had a problem."
Management and residents say Trummel was an insufferable agitator, finding wrongdoing where none existed. Manager Mitchell claims Trummel "terrorized" the home, and resident Nathaniel Stahl labeled him "vicious and dangerous." Trummel's attorney, Bob Siegel, says the court has disregarded "Paul's constitutional rights and visits an extreme hardship on an elderly gentleman for no legitimate reason."
National Writers Union member Terry Parkhurst, who has supported Trummel's First Amendment assertions, says Trummel told him he would be "disappearing" sometime shortly after altering his Web site. It was not certain where he would be traveling to. Trummel, who has been living at a Motel 6 in Renton, is still appealing the earlier anti-harassment ruling, his attorney says.
Though the judge ordered removal of such "inflammatory" material as the turbaned terrorist, the court selectively allowed other contentious material to remain. A visitor can still read Trummel's accusations regarding the home's "supremacist tactics" and his reference to one resident as an "in-house Marquis de Sade."