Most publicity is good publicity, especially for an elected official. The editors of a Maryland newspaper, the Frederick News-Post, must be scratching their heads over the request of Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter, conveyed through Facebook, that the newspaper not print his name without his permission. In his own words: "Do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future. * * * Use my name again unauthorized and you'll be paying for an Attorney."
Bethany Rodgers, a reporter for the News-Post, responded in a proper First Amendment way, saying that the newspaper has the right and the responsibility to report on people, such as Mr. Delauter, "who occupy positions of trust in our government." That's the right answer. People who run for public office shouldn't take offense when the citizens who elected them want to get reports on what they're doing in office.
Still, it seems to me that the News-Post has missed an opportunity to simultaneously take Mr. Delauter up on his request (or hissy-fit), and to make its point in print, as I recalled Myron, a forty-year-old novel by Gore Vidal. The Supreme Court had just issued its 5-4 ruling in Miller v. California, a landmark ruling that said what is obscene depends on the standards of the local community. Vidal, in satiric protest, used the names of the five Justices who voted in the majority in place of the words that might violate the standards of more conservative communities. For instance, Vidal referred quite often in the sex scenes to the rehnquists and powells of the male characters.
The News-Post might do the same thing, and substitute another name in place of Mr. Delauter's, perhaps that of William Cosby, the governor of colonial New York who in 1734 ordered the arrest of journalist John Peter Zenger for libel. (No connection to the troubles of the modern Bill Cosby would be implied.) Or the News-Post could substitute "Mr. Bumble" for his name, in reference to the character in Oliver Twist who said "If the law supposed that, the law is a ass - a idiot." Or, more simply yet, simply call him "Myron."