Express In Conversation
NO COUNTRY FOR DICKHEADS
DERIC LOSTUTTER with Theodore Hamm
Late this past December, KnightSec, an Anonymous offshoot, created a major stir in the Steubenville case, spreading incriminating videos and other damning evidence about the rape and attempted cover-up. In March, the two high school football players in question, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were found guilty, but given minimum sentences. At the same time that KnightSec entered the picture, a website run by the Steubenville high school booster club, RollRedRoll.com, was hacked with the webmaster’s private e-mails dumped online. In February, a hacker named Batcat claimed responsibility for infiltrating the booster club’s site.
On April 15, several F.B.I. agents raided the Winchester, Kentucky home of Deric Lostutter, aka KYAnonymous, the leader of KnightSec, with a search warrant based on the RollRedRoll.com hacking. Lostutter, 26, has recorded two albums on NightShade Records as a rapper called Shadow. His mother is an ex-Hell’s Angel now working in retail and his father does maintenance work at McDonald’s. Prior to his Steubenville crusade, Lostutter had taken on Hunter Moore, the revenge-porn king, as well as the hyper-homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. While Lostutter’s tactics have been reckless at times, his sense of right and wrong is clear-cut.
A grand jury is expected to convene this summer, likely to bring computer fraud charges that could carry sentences of up to 10 years in total. Meanwhile, the Steubenville rapists, Mays and Richmond, were given two years and one year, respectively. Lostutter and Theodore Hamm spoke by phone in mid-June.
Theodore Hamm (Rail): Why did you have such a visceral response to the Steubenville rape?
Deric Lostutter: I know that everybody thinks that a white Kentucky rapper is supposed to be a misogynist, but my mom was in an abusive relationship when I was 15. Both she and her ex-boyfriend went to jail because of domestic violence—although that was only because the cops didn’t believe her side of the story. So as a teenager, I was really angry about how men treat women. When I was about 18 and living in Winston-Salem, a good friend of mine, Lauren Barbee—who just passed away during childbirth—helped me work through a lot of my own issues. But I still don’t like seeing anyone else get mistreated.
Rail: Is your perspective toward women unique in the Ohio Valley?
Lostutter: Rape culture is everywhere, not just here. But the main thing to do around here is go to parties, and people just don’t stop these things. And the victims aren’t even supposed to talk about what happened. Look at the case of Savannah Dietrich in Louisville. She got sexually assaulted by a bunch of football players, but then defied a court order to not talk about her case. And in Steubenville, without our intervention Mays and Richmond would have gotten away with even less than the slaps on the wrists they got. Basically, the message is that you can go out, get drunk, and get your rocks off—and you’ll be okay. If that happened here in Winchester, we would have stopped it. And they could have stopped it in Steubenville.
Rail: How do you explain your code of ethics?
Lostutter: Behind the mic, I come across as a little thuggish. But I’m actually very sensitive. Growing up my dad would whip my ass if I treated somebody wrong. He taught me to respect people until the point when they don’t respect me. And so that’s how I live: If you’re a dickhead, I got no love for you.
Rail: When did you first start becoming interested in politics?
Lostutter: At home, my mom and dad watched the news, but never really discussed the issues with me. So I’d say it was when I was going to high school near Winston-Salem that the light went on for me. My history teacher showed me how revolutions happen when people start making demands and forcing governments to respond or to get overthrown. At that time the Iraq War was starting, and I was going around school talking about how it was a big mistake, which most folks in my high school weren’t ready to hear. But I think a lot of them eventually realized that they’d been deceived.
Rail: How would you describe the political perspective of your generation?
Lostutter: My friends and I are the first generation to question what’s going on since the 1960s and ’70s. You can’t voice your opinion online without government taking notice. We are being spiderwebbed by PRISM and Internet-monitoring. Meanwhile, our youth are getting a steady dose of mindless crap on MTV and elsewhere. Back in high school, I also learned about our rights established in the Constitution. And so if we want to wake everybody up, we need to rally in the streets. Government is a tool of its people. When the tools are broken, it’s up to us to fix them.
Rail: Let’s talk about your case and the Constitution. What are the First Amendment issues at stake?
Lostutter: My Twitter account—KYAnonymous—was shut down during a 2,000-person rally in Steubenville on January 5. According to the First Amendment, Annotation 12, it’s not illegal to be anonymous. In general, when people ask me whether I’m a Democrat or Republican, I just say I’m a Constitutionalist.
Rail: I’ve read that you’re a fan of Alex Jones, so I imagine you have some pretty strong feelings about the Second Amendment. Doesn’t the wording of it connect the right to own guns specifically to the need to form a militia, and nothing else?
Lostutter: Well, when the Constitution was written, the types of guns available were muzzle-loaders, which you wouldn’t use for hunting. So yes, it’s about your right to form a militia against invasive forces and for your own self-defense. As for Alex Jones, I respect his right to state his opinions and I generally agree with his fight against gun control. People need to be able to defend themselves. Kentucky is a right-to-carry state and we’ve had very few murders or rapes here in Winchester. But we also have a lot of ex-felons buying guns in the state because there are almost no background checks. So I think background checks should be universal and gun shows should be regulated.
Rail: The real issues in this case pertain to the Fourth Amendment, yes?
Lostutter: Yep. When the F.B.I. showed up, they wouldn’t show me the warrant. They wouldn’t say why they were there. They said “Google vs. Columbus F.B.I.,” but they had unplugged my router so I couldn’t even do that. They finally gave me the warrant after the raid, even though I requested it multiple times prior to their entry. Three of us—my brother, his girlfriend, and I—got brought out of my house in handcuffs. None of us have any criminal history. They took our computers and equipment, then detained us against our will for over three hours—meaning we were constitutionally arrested, but never read our Miranda rights. So the whole incident is definitely an unreasonable search and seizure.
Rail: How has the raid and ensuing publicity affected your daily life?
Lostutter: Well, my I.T. business is suffering now that I’ve been outed as a hacker. And when I go to Wal-Mart, people look at me funny—kinda like “If I go near him, will I get 25 years?” [Laughs.] But I want to vindicate myself in the court of opinion. I think the jury will see first of all, that another person already confessed to the crimes that they’re charging me with, and second, that the way they did the raid violated my Fourth Amendment rights. So I’m ready to take the stand and clear my name.