Bruce Speck’s Greatest Hits #6: The Turtle and the Lion

In warfare, there are a lot of strategies.

One, when a siege is likely, is to gather all supplies, fortify defenses heavily and only engage the enemy when the conditions are favorable. It is called turtling.

Bruce Speck tried to employ this tactic. Unfortunately, this strategy is usually unsuccessful against experienced commanders. In 2008, Speck established a highly restrictive policy regarding media. In 2010, he employed it fiercely largely in response to aggressive reporting from The Chart and The Joplin Globe’s Greg Grisolano.

The policy resulted in Speck’s almost complete disappearance from the public eye and drew fire from the Student Press Law Center and others. The Chart printed a critical editorial paired with a cartoon. They both portrayed Speck as a “Cowardly Lion” bunkered in his office in silence.

But as all turtlers find out, attacks intensify. And become more focused. The Chart focused on public records and document requests, and the turtle’s shell was cracked. But the culture of secrecy and paranoia went on and continues to today.


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