Defamation Nation

Posted: Jan 03, 2007 12:01 AM

Lately, I haven’t had time to watch The O’Reilly Factor or any other shows on Fox News (not even the “Hannity & What’s His Name Show”). But the last time I watched Bill’s show he touched on one of my biggest concerns; namely, that defamation of character has replaced free speech as the principal way of resolving problems in America.

Unsurprisingly, I have a few examples I wish to share:

*Last summer, I ran a column about racial epithets. In the column, I defended a black friend whose dad was called a “coon” by a mutual friend. Shortly thereafter, a group of Minnesota students started an anti-Mike Adams internet group (on, which, among other things, accused me of calling blacks “coons.” (Thankfully, some other Minnesota students started the “Mike Adams, the Real American Hero” group on Face Book, in part as a protest of the defamation).

Problem: You don’t like hearing a conservative decry racism.
Solution: Accuse him of racism.

*Last semester, a student did poorly in my class. He was one of the few students who did not do well as I had a wonderful semester with as great a bunch of kids as I’ve had in my career. But this one unhappy kid decided that the way to protest his grade was to log on to – I call it “Rape My Professors Dot Com” – and write a fictitious story about why did so poorly.

In a widely read public forum he wrote in great detail about how he did well on all of his tests. But, according to the poor victim, an unethical Dr. Adams graded him solely on personal factors. He also wrote publicly that I lied on my syllabus (by claiming that I did not take absences directly into account in factoring grades).

But there was one small problem. The kid never showed up to get any of his test grades. Therefore, he had no idea that his grade was simply the objectively computed average of all three test grades.

Problem: You do poorly in a class.
Solution: Log on to the internet and accuse the professor (by name) of a breach of ethics.

*Last spring, I offended some trans-gendered persons with a column called “The Old Rugged Cross Dresser.” Several of these fine citizens went to an internet chat room and concocted a tale about an extra-marital affair I’d had with some woman who presumably never had a sex change.

Of course, that story wasn’t true. The only extramarital affairs I’ve had were with Jessica Simpson, Anna Kournikova, and Jennifer Love Hewitt (simultaneously). And those didn’t count because I was only dreaming.

Problem: You don’t know the whereabouts of your penis.
Solution: Falsely claim knowledge of the whereabouts of someone else’s penis.

*Recently, I wrote a column in which I mentioned (offhand) that a group of hunters I was with gave a couple of hogs to a poor black family. Someone logged on to the column thread and accused my family of being in the KKK and voting for Ross Barnett.

Problem: You don’t like it when Republicans do nice things for black people.
Solution: Accuse them of hanging out with Senator Byrd and voting for segregationist Democrats.

*Last January, I got a call from a student’s advisor. The student had told her advisor in an email that I refused to let her make up an examination after she missed for a “legitimate medical reason.” This medical problem was one of those “woman’s problems” that men don’t understand. The student had been complaining to me all semester about her period, so I was “in the know.” In fact, one time she complained all period about her period in a run-on sentence desperately in need of a period.

Needless to say, the advisor (being much more familiar with periods) took the student’s side and seemed a little miffed with the man who never menstruated. But then I hit her with a bombshell: The student had missed close to 20 class periods that semester - presumably because she had 20 periods that semester – and had previously confessed that she overslept (the 11:30 a.m. exam) due to a “broken alarm clock.”

Problem: You are constantly drunk.
Solution: Blame it on PMS (Patriarchal Menstrual Sensitivity) Disorder.

And the stories just go on and on in the age of internet defamation. One day I’m impotent, the next I’m on drugs. According to some, I’ve even fathered a lesbian Senator’s child. But what is one to do about such falsehoods?

I’ll tell you what Mike Adams is about to do. This year, I’m going to pick just one person who fails to grasp the difference between free speech and defamation. And I’m going to make a very public example of him (or her) in a way that will make even cranky old Bill O’Reilly smile.

Stay tuned for the unfolding drama. You don’t want to miss this one.

To be continued…