“… I have consulted with a lawyer this weekend. This is what I have been advised to do. First, I want the Seahawk to print an apology in the next edition of the paper for having printed the letter without vetting it and without consulting with me about the veracity of the statements made about me. At the same time, I insist that Mr. Pomarico print--in the same edition of the paper--a recantment of his allegations about my "connections to terrorist networks" and an apology for libeling me. I want to read these statements before they go to press. It is important to me that these statements go in the next edition, because of the approaching fall break.”
In my opinion, Pollard has shown no interest in adding to the marketplace of ideas but instead seeks total control of the student newspaper. Otherwise, she will sue. But, as this controversy grows, Pomarico says that more students are corroborating his version of events. And another student recently told me that he is collecting a list of witnesses on his behalf. Thus, the irony of Pollard’s decision to threaten a libel lawsuit is that it may well get her sued for libel. Falsely accusing someone of lying is often actionable. It is also worth noting that Pollard’s above e-mail claiming that Pomarico misquoted her, actually misquotes Pomarico’s editorial. Her accusations against him have also been circulated to every top administrator at the university.
Had Lisa Pollard decided to simply publish an editorial in response to Pomarico’s, she would have been in better shape. Only a few hundred people would have read the editorials and the controversy would have blown over quickly. But now, people all around the country are reading about the incident.
Perhaps some of those reading this editorial remember when Pollard said the following, shortly after our nation was attacked in September of 2001: “At least 4,500 children die in Iraq each week due to American influence. What is it we can do, after bringing Mr. bin Laden to trial, to be less of a terrorist?” In other words, we’re all a bunch of terrorists here in America. That is, except for Lisa Pollard and all her friends.
The proper way to resolve the present controversy is for the student paper to reprint Pomarico’s editorial in its entirety in both the printed and online versions of the paper. They should then give Dr. Pollard an equal opportunity to rebut the charges. Finally, they should allow any member of the university community to submit letters to the editor, in support of either the student or the professor.
In the end, it is likely that one party will be vindicated, and one will be discredited. But, more importantly, the students will have control over their newspaper. Then we can talk about a free press in Iraq.
Mike S. Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate professor of criminal justice at UNC-Wilmington. For simply daring to express a conservative opinion at his ultra-liberal university, he was once threatened with “libel.” You can read about it here.