BOULDER, Colo. – Outrage in this peaceful college town has been growing ever since it was discovered that one of its inhabitants has been secretly writing a conservative blog for the past two years.
Caleb Weinen, 34, a lifelong resident and web designer, was outed several weeks ago when a coworker happened upon Weinen’s blog, The Hipster Conservative.
“What was I was doing?” said Kayla Schuman, the administrative assistant who made the gruesome discovery. “I guess I was reading an article on Slate about tech trends, and someone made a comment how the blogosphere is being taken over by Tea Party types. There was a reference to a conservative blog with a misleadingly funny name. I was curious, so I googled it. There was no name or picture, of course, but I when I read the ‘About Me’ section, I thought ‘hmmm.’ That sounds like Caleb.”
In the blog — which has since been taken down — the author wrote that he lived on “Planet Boulder” working in a design firm surrounded by “dreadlocked white tech geeks and a boss who honestly thinks all Republicans are rich neo-Nazis.” The most damning clue was that the author said he spoke fluent Spanish and had lived in Guatemala for a year.
“That had Caleb written all over it,” Schuman said. “If you know anything about Caleb, it’s that he’d done charity work in Guatemala. He loved it there.”
Schuman shared her discovery with others in the firm. They too believed that the profile matched Caleb. Rather than approach the man they say “seemed normal and open-minded” and who “did a good job of blending in,” they put together a plan to trick Weinen into a confession.
“What we did,” said Derek Greene, who works in the marketing department, “is have different people approach Caleb and bring up political topics, but at different times and on different days. Camilia, for instance, asked Caleb what he thought about progressive taxation. Sara Bowman told Caleb she had just run into [Democrat Senator] Udall in a coffee shop. Someone else was supposed to get his opinion on stem-cell research.”
“It wasn’t hard,” Greene said. “We caught him. Right away, he said that income tax amounted to stealing. As for Udall, he called the guy a ‘douche.'”
Molly Eversole, the owner of the design firm where Caleb worked, said she had no choice but to fire Weinan and inform Boulder’s newspaper, the Daily Camera, of the finding.
“Caleb was always a nice guy,” Eversole said. “He did his work and didn’t bother anyone. But in retrospect, you could see that something was steaming inside of him. He never went out to the wine bars on Pearl Street with us. Sometimes at work we’d order vegan take-out, but he never got anything. He preferred eating sandwiches he brought from home in tupperware. Also, he used to drive a truck, like a Ford or something. That behavior isn’t normal.”
When the Daily Camera exposed Weinan’s secret in a front-page article, the community demanded something be done. Even though Eversole had already fired Weinan, she was threatened with a boycott. The City of Boulder responded to the incident by sponsoring an ad campaign on how to spot signs that someone is a closet conservative, and how to help. The University of Colorado has changed its enrollment policies. All incoming students will now have to sign a pledge that they will not blog in favor of conservative ideas while using the university’s servers.
Weinan did not respond to requests for an interview, but a family member said he had returned home to live with his parents, and that he was “rather perplexed and troubled” by the extent of the outcry.