Debbie Schlussel’s demented attack on me

In August 2006, columnist Debbie Schlussel, with whom I had previously had virtually no correspondence and about whom I know almost nothing except for reading an occasional column of hers, out of the blue attacked my character and truthfulness over, quite literally, nothing. Nor has she ever apologized. The incident was so odd and disturbing, and Schlussel’s behavior so inexplicable and wrong, that I feel, a year later, that it is appropriate to tell readers about it.

Here’s what happened. Last summer I wrote a blog entry about an appalling report at WorldNewDaily that the Department of Homeland Security had given a tour of the security facilities at O’Hare Airport to officials from the Council on American Islamic Relations, an organization with many ties to jihadists and terrorists. The purpose of the tour was to satisfy CAIR that Muslims were not being profiled. After sending the blog entry to my e-mail list, I heard back from Debbie Schlussel.

Debbie Schlussel to LA:

This is old news (about CAIR touring O’Hare). I liked it better the first time, when Little Green Footballs and Anti-CAIR ran it in June, than when WND plagiarized it in August.

LA to DS:

It was new news to me, and to many others. So I’m glad WND ran it, because otherwise I wouldn’t have heard about it.

DS to LA:

Would you be glad if they stole your stuff, didn’t credit you, and then claimed it was a “WND Exclusive”?

All they had to do was give credit to the sources from whom they took it. But instead they stole it.

So, is Lawrence Auster on record as approving of intellectual property theft, so long as it’s for the right reasons? Appears so. The ends justify the means, huh?

LA to DS:

Gosh, what an argumentative person. Why are you angry with me about this? Why are you charging me with “approving intellectual property theft” and with believing that “the ends justify the means”? I don’t know the background facts here. I don’t know that WND stole anything. You apparently know that they did. But if so, your complaint is with WND, not with me.

Also, I have on several occasions severely criticized WND for their sensationalism, for making claims that were not established as factual (see this and this). But the facts reported here seemed straightforward and there were direct quotes as well, so it seemed like a legitimate story.

Also, I have linked and approvingly quoted you on several occasions. Why are you attacking me like this and needlessly generating hostility between us?

LA followup to to DS:

Andrew McCarthy copied the entire WND article at The Corner, crediting VFR for the link. You’d better write to him and tell him that by quoting this article he is supporting intellectual property theft. And by the way, what exactly IS your complaint? You never made that clear. That WND took the information from a LGF blog entry without crediting them? That WND plagiarized LGF, lifting text? If WND had simply said, “As reported by LGF,” would that have overcome the problem? You presented me with not a single fact, you didn’t even send me a link to the LGF item so that I could judge the facts myself, and all I said was that I’m glad WND ran this because it’s important news, and for that you called me a person who supports intellectual property theft and believes the end justifies the means, even though you presented me with not a single fact showing that WND engaged in intellectual property theft. Here’s the beginning of McCarthy’s blog entry:

DHS: Jihad? Oh, You Must Mean The Internal Struggle Against Sin… [Andy McCarthy]

CAUTION: Don’t read this, from World Net Daily, if you already have an ulcer. (H/T View From The Right).

DS to LA:

Ever heard of Google? Try it sometime. Ever heard of plagiarism? Try a dictionary for the definition. And please do not e-mail me again. Ever.

LA to DS:

This is fantastic. You charge me out of the blue with supporting intellectual property theft and believing the ends justify the means. I reply defending myself, and your response is to tell me never to e-mail you again!

I simply have no idea what is the basis for your hostility to me. Also, I did look this up at Google and sent you back the results in a separate e-mail.

Get this:

There was no plagiariasm. Little Green Footballs did not write anything original on this that anyone stole. LGF copied the story from the cair site. The WND story was also based on the same material at the cair site.

DS to LA:

Get this!!!!!!!!!!!! Ripping off others’ work and presenting it as an “exclusive” is plagiarism. That you don’t think so makes it a safe bet that you similarly have engaged in such practices. I hate plagiarism. Have no tolerance for it, as you apparently have oodles. Who’d want anything to do with a writer who thinks this is okay? certainly not me.

LA to DS:

Subject: The facts about WND’s “intellectual property theft”

I looked this up at Google, and found, first, an article at the website of CAIR-Chicago telling about the tour, and then an item at Little Green Footballs quoting the entire CAIR story. There was no original reporting at LGF, it was simply a straightforward quote of the story that had been posted at the CAIR site.

So there was no intellectual property theft involved here. At the most, WND might have had a “hat tip” to LGF, but since the story had been widely copied on the Web, they might not even have gotten it from LGF. Also, newspapers do not as a rule credit another publication simply for quoting material that comes from some other source. As for WND’s claim that this was an “exclusive,” the words “WorldNetDaily Exclusive” were not specific to this article but are embedded in the page on which the article is imprinted. In other words, it’s generic puffery. In any case, it does not add up to intellectual property theft, since the article is based on the article at the CAIR website.

So your charges of intellectual property theft against WND are baseless. Further, your anger at me, your insulting statement that I’m a person who supports intellectual property theft and who believes the end justifies the means, not only was wrong and offensive in itself, since I knew nothing about the underlying facts and could not be responsible for something I knew nothing about, but, as it turns out, the underlying facts show that there was no intellectual property theft to begin with.

DS to LA:

Hmmm … Sounds like I need to be on the lookout not just for WND theft, but yours, too. Since you believe lifting others’ work without credit is not plagiarism or intellectual property theft, then you likely have no problem engaging in it yourself. Too bad.

LA to DS:

But there was no lifted work. All that LGF did was copy an article that had appeared at the CAIR site. LGF did not write anything. LGF has no property rights in an article that had been published at the CAIR site and that LGF merely copied.

Let me repeat:


Do you understand this?

If your complaint is the absence of a “hat tip,” failing to give a “hat tip” is not intellectual property theft. A hat tip is when party A thanks party B for pointing party A to something. It’s a form of courtesy. But party B does not have property rights in the fact that he pointed party A to something.

Do you understand this?

I didn’t hear back from Schlussel. All I can say is, based on her intemperate and insulting attacks on me, and her apparent total inability to grasp the simple fact that WND had not inappropriately copied or lifted anything from LGF, I would not credit Schlussel’s judgment and objectivity on any matter. I had approvingly quoted her articles in the past. I will not do so again.

- end of initial entry -

Jeff in England writes:

What a maniac and I don’t say it lightly. Scary. I am sending you a Dylan song from LOVE AND THEFT which has a relevant line. Dylan is apparently referring to Debbie Schlussel in the second line of the song. I’ve got that from a good source!

Honest With Me
“Love And Theft”

Well, I’m stranded in the city that never sleeps
Some of these women they just give me the creeps
I’m avoidin’ the Southside the best I can
These memories I got, they can strangle a man

Well I came ashore in the dead of the night
Lot of things can get in the way when you’re tryin’ to do what’s right
You don’t understand it—my feelings for you
You’d be honest with me if only you knew.

Greco writes:

That woman seems totally crazed! I can picture the puzzled look on your face when she said YOU must be a plaigarist too! Nuts… Here’s what I bet happened. I bet Schlussel feels she was ripped off in the past by WorldNetDaily so she’s carrying a grudge against them. So it had nothing to do with you really. You just waved red in front of a bull, not knowing you were triggering her neurotic fixation.

On her site today she has some article about a Muslim who infiltrated NASA, but look what she puts on top of her story before getting to the news…

**** EXCLUSIVE—MUST CITE Debbie Schlussel and link to (That Means You, Sean Hannity, WorldNutDaily, and Steven Emerson) ****

Wow, she definitely must think she was ripped off in the past, no wonder she tried to chew your hand off. That chick must see potential stealers of her scoops around every corner!

JS writes:

I read your recent comments about D Schlussel. She sometimes makes good points on her website,often in a hysterical over-the-top way. She had a lot of good info about Spencer Abraham being a POS that I had heard about years ago and had forgotten.

Her response to you seems totally irrational.

It’s not PC to say so, but I tend to give very little weight to any woman’s opinion be they politicians, pundits, authors or newsbabes. There is a undercurrent of emotional unseriousness that makes me unable to give them mental time-of-day. Perhaps that’s why female authors used to take male psuedonyms. What self-respecting Victorian would knowingly have read the puerile scribblings of a woman?

LA replies:
I obviously do not agree with JS’s total dismissal of the intellectual abilities of women. I’ve been accused of denying women’s humanity merely for suggesting that the women’s vote might not on balance be a good thing for society and for saying that the increasing presence of women in top-level positions of political leadership is definitely not good for society. But that position doesn’t speak to the intellectual qualities of individual women; it points to a natural difference of social/spiritual function between the sexes. JS by contrast has made a final determination on the lack of intellect of women. He will not give any woman the mental time of day. He automatically shuts out what half the human race have to say. That does seem to be the essence of bigotry.

At the same time, it is true that there is generally a lack of intellectual seriousness and logic in women as compared to men. And then you have the extreme case of a total lack of rationality in the case of Schlussel. But to turn that into a blanket dismissal of the minds of women—of all women—is wrong. It is to dehumanize the female sex. Has JS not heard the lines of Yeats: “It’s plain the Bible means / That Solomon grew wise / While talking with his queens”?

Or consider Laura W.’s superb statement at VFR in November of last year, a statement worth reading and re-reading:

In response to “an Indian living in the West,” I would like to restate a point I’ve made before. The main reason why women should not enter politics is that they have too much to do elsewhere, preserving culture, education, tradition, family harmony and religion. These tasks require the sort of intelligence that men—in their infantile fixations on life’s horse race and their obtuse inability to understand the human soul in its daily struggle—simply lack. Once women have entered politics in significant numbers, they have generally become so materialistic and careerist that the surrounding culture is degraded. There is no longer anything worth leading.

I reject the notion that women cannot competently fill many mid-level leadership positions. It’s better that they don’t, but the tragic fact is that they can handle the job, especially if they don’t have children. However, there are some positions—senator, president, priest, orchestral conductor, corporate president, university president, to name a few—which a woman is wholly unsuited for, physically, mentally and psychologically. These are meant to be filled by father figures. And, women cannot be fathers anymore than they can be fish or cats.

Your correspondent says he is not a misogynist, but clearly this is not so. He’s had it with the entire opposite sex! If he cannot find a woman to have a decent conversation with, a woman can never be more than a sexual partner, servant or annoying co-worker to him. He truly dislikes women. There are indeed many shallow women on this earth, as there are millions of men who cannot surpass the daily sports page in their conversation. But, I have found that many men long not just for the services of women, but their companionship, their serious opinions and their different intelligence. There are some men who despise it, but most long for it and find themselves incomplete without it. I would suggest he has not truly looked for intelligent women.

In fairness to Indian living in the West, he further explained his position in that thread and denied the charge of misogyny.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 28, 2007 08:49 AM | Send

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