Note to Jackson: Obtaining Public Records is Not “Hacking”

For the last week, Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade has been trying to figure out if Bishop Harry Jackson, who has been leading the fight against marriage equality in Washington, DC, actually lives in the District.

Using public records, Chibbaro discovered that Jackson registered to vote in DC on April 22 and then followed that up by reporting that the address Jackson used in registering is actually a one-bedroom condo owned by another man and that, as far as residents of the building as well as neighbors of Jackson’s Maryland home know, he’s not actually residing at the DC address. 

Not surprisingly, instead of clarifying questions regarding his residency, Jackson has decided to play the victim by going on Bill O’Reilly to declare that his opponents have “hacked” into his records and are endangering his family, as the Washington City Paper reports:

“Well, Bill,” he started, “they hacked into my records, found out when I registered to vote in the District of Columbia. They printed in two newspapers my home address and the addresses of houses I own in the Maryland region, outside D.C. And there have been e-mails that have gone forth saying they want to destroy my church. Kind of amazing, isn’t it?”

“It isn’t,” O’Reilly replied. “I’m not amazed by it.” He then brought up his own recent troubles, where he’s come under fire for his years of vitriol toward Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller, leading some to suggest culpability in his brutal murder. Hypocrisy, he said: “You don’t hear a word about people like you, and they’re printing your name in the paper!”

Jackson continued: “You know, Bill, people are looking for privacy, and they say their rights need to be protected. And on the other side, unlike the civil rights movement…[which] operated with a Christian spirit, this minority is going to rise up and impose their will on the majority. And they don’t care that I’ve got young adult daughters and a wife. They don’t care what happens to my family. They just want it their way, and they’ll intimidate you or me into submission if they can.”

“How are you handling all this, as a man of God?” O’Reilly asked. “Are you forgiving them? Are you angry with them?”

Replied Jackson: “Well, I am praying for them and forgiving them. Bill, this is very much a spiritual battle in my view, and I look at Martin Luther King Jr. as the ultimate model in terms of his public resistance to oppression, and I think that this is going to deepen our faith roots if you will. But very sincerely, I cannot answer back, obviously, with the same kind craziness that they’re operating with. But I’m glad that you’ve had me on tonight so that we can expose the fact that folks are saying one thing then doing something totally hypocritical on the other side.”

Cue Bill O’Reilly, tough guy: “I know you can’t do anything, but I can. And if anybody bothers you or your family, and if you believe that anybody’s putting you in danger or doing anything against you church, I want you to call me immediately. And we will deal with those people, because we are going to defend people like you.”

Then O’Reilly gave Jackson “the last word”: “Thing that I’m so concerned about is that this kind of thing has a chilling effect on people standing up for their rights. Once people see what’s happened to me, they say, ‘Shoot, I’m not going to get involved. I’m not going to say my piece.’”

“That’s why they do it to me! That’s why they do it to you!” O’Reilly interjected. “And it’s not the American way. It’s un-American.”

As for the claims that his records had been “hacked,” the City Paper points out that such records are public:

Obtaining the address and date of registration for a District voter by no means requires any “hacking.” Any person is free to visit the offices of the Board of Elections and Ethics (441 4th St. NW, 2nd floor, south wing), walk into the waiting area, log in to a public computer terminal, and look up that information for any voter in town. In fact, call 202-727-2525, ask real nice, and they might even look it up for you. And land records? Those are public, too.

If Jackson is so outraged about people trying to figure out if he actually lives in DC, why doesn’t he just explain how and why he came to register to vote in the District at an address of a one-bedroom condo owned by another man that is unable to be rented out? 

It’s a relatively simple question, so why doesn’t he just answer it?