This essay presents the essentials of my defamation lawsuit against the National Post, its owner CanWest Global and its reporter Donna Laframboise. (One should read her article on me before continuing here. The annotated contents may also profitably be read first, and the chronology of events as needed. But for the sake of continuity, one should delay perusing the many other hyperlinked documents until a second reading of My Case.) Since their Statement of Defence makes a major issue of my alleged failure to answer any questions from an e-mail the reporter sent me, it is necessary to survey all those queries here, which I do sequentially below. As it happens, it is also highly efficient to structure my case around them. This discussion includes not merely facts I knew at the time but things learned later: from the e-mails and tapes of telephone interviews she conducted that were turned over pursuant to this court action, and also from the examinations for discovery. Which of the facts presented below were known to me originally and which only later on is generally clear, I believe, from the context when not explicitly stated. I've tried hard to assure that no claim of fact or inference is made here without plain documentary evidence or solid witness testimony. --FC
Thank you for your note. During the past few days I have conducted extensive phone interviews with [Tim] Adams, Bob Bouvier, Brian St. Germaine and Carolyn VanEe. I have also corresponded by e-mail with Mr. Bouvier and been the recipient of e-mail from others. It would be inaccurate, therefore, to suggest that I have not made good faith attempts to “hear the other side of the story.” [Note: Mr. St. Germaine and Ms. VanEe are a former vice president and president, respectively, of ECMAS-Edmonton; Mr. Bouvier was then president--FC]
As its first lines above indicate, this message from the reporter was in response to an e-mail of my own. Through her own phone calls and her local contact Louise Malenfant, word had gone out on March 21st, a day before I wrote, that on Saturday, March 24th, she would publish an exposé of the group ECMAS over its recent election of [Tim] Adams. Not knowing then that she also intended to write against me, I wrote appealing to her to put those plans on hold until hearing the whole story. Though her words as reported by others made it seem her mind was already made up, I still believed her to be a fair-minded person, one just temporarily misled by Ms. Malenfant. Far from suggesting that she would not make good-faith investigative efforts, I offered some crucial information about the election that she would need to pursue to do so. Except for quoting that one phrase above, this e-mail of hers evaded all that I'd said. Even as she asserted her fairness toward "the other side", she was refusing to inquire into what I had told her about that side.
As to the reporter's claim here that she already had sought out our side, it is highly dishonest; I'll discuss it later. For now just note that when I wrote, it appeared that she wasn't going to contact our president; and as she'd learned from the others, they had no personal knowledge of Mr. Adams' work or of his election. Except for Mr. Adams himself, of course (hearing from those others of her attack on him, he contacted her); but the word of the accused alone is not enough, and clearly, his hadn't changed her mind. Meanwhile, she had attacked me as well; yet only after getting my e-mail was she now approaching me. (The problem isn't that she spoke to others first but that she maligned us before hearing us.) And she was still not doing so to hear my side; her words below belied her avowed impartiality--as did what she'd already said, I later learned, in all her interviews. So let's begin to examine how principled she really was.
In the interests of continuing that pursuit, I would be grateful if you would answer the following questions.
1) How long have you been involved with ECMAS
The answer to this very minor question (already answered, together with the next one, for the reporter by Mr. St. Germaine) is that I have been a registered member of ECMAS since close to the time it was founded, about 1994.
2) Have you ever held any official positions
As discussed later on, this and the next question were evidently irrelevant to the reporter's real intentions in writing me. But the answer is that I have never held an official position of any kind with ECMAS. There were good reasons not to do so, because I'm not a parent, and because I've been the president of MERGE since before ECMAS existed. But I had been very active in ECMAS for two and a half years before the events described here, devoting more time to its work than to that of MERGE. The reason for that change, and related matters, are of value as background here.
My relationship with ECMAS
MERGE deals with equality between the
sexes in general--the acronym stands for 'Movement for
the Establishment of Real Gender Equality'--while ECMAS promotes the
ideal of equally shared parenting after separation or divorce; its acronym
stands for 'Equitable Child Maintenance and Access Society'. (ECMAS is not a "fathers' rights" group, except
in the statistical sense that most who lose their children in divorce are men.
Each group has a solid minority of female members.) Now, over time I've
seen divorce-reform organizations disintegrate, including an earlier local one.
And at one point, it appeared that would happen to the ECMAS branch in
For example, I urged that ECMAS go beyond its original lobbying and public-awareness role by helping individual victims of divorce and separation problems. I approached two people (one from my own organization) who appeared to have the needed talent and dedication with the idea of setting up a weekly support group for ECMAS. They liked it and got permission from the board, then together we recruited others to begin having meetings. Next I proposed a telephone help-line sponsored by MERGE and ECMAS; once given the go-ahead, I gathered resources and recruited members from both groups to take the calls. I made less-successful efforts to form committees for other tasks. But I helped set up one focused on maintenance enforcement, by presenting the idea to some capable individuals who had come to ECMAS via the help-line and the support group; that committee too has since aided many people in need.
The net result of such efforts was a large expansion of the work of ECMAS-Edmonton. The organization had had some excellent lobbying and public-awareness efforts in the past; but being able, due to early retirement, to put in a lot of time, I catalyzed some successful new projects. (I need to report these things partly to counter Ms. Malenfant's fabrications about what ECMAS was like before I was so deeply involved, the reporter's uncritical acceptance of her words being material to this case.) My plan, once enough people receiving personal help had stayed on to build up a solid institution, was to step back and focus again on research and lobbying instead of hands-on organizational work.
3) Have you ever represented yourself as a
spokesperson for ECMAS
I have never represented myself as a spokesperson for ECMAS in any context. Besides being both dishonest and a usurpation, that would have been counterproductive to local activist efforts, in fact: two independent organizations can have a greater impact on the powers-that-be than if one person appeared to be involved in everything. Clearly, the basic mandates of ECMAS and MERGE are quite different. But the two sets of issues overlap to a degree; hence by longstanding agreement, each organization has supported the other's projects and avoided duplicating its efforts. Notably, MERGE has specialized in such issues as abuse of family members and false accusations thereof, leaving those of child custody, access and maintenance to ECMAS. Due to that division of labor, at any given time a dozen or so were, like me, active in both organizations; but most of those involved in either were not active in the other.
3.5) [These questions were originally asked, as were the next two from the reporter's e-mail to me, in her earlier e-mail to Mr. Bouvier, the president of ECMAS-Edmonton. They are inserted here for the reason noted below.] If, as Ms. Malenfant claims, she raised the issue of Mr. Christensen’s controversial views about children and sex well in advance of the March 12 election:
• why did you not take steps weeks ago to disassociate ECMAS from these views?
• do you believe it is no concern of yours that Mr. Christensen disagrees with “the common idea that there is something inherently emotionally unhealthful about children, or even adolescents, having sexual knowledge or sexual activity” (p. 109)?
• do you believe it is no concern of yours that that Mr. Christensen writes that “the idea that sex is bad for young people is at best another self-fulfilling prophesy” - and that, in his view, the real problem is not sex in childhood, but society’s uptight views about it (p. 110)?
• do you believe it is no concern of yours that Mr. Christensen writes approvingly of “childhood lust” (p. 110)? [See below regarding the accuracy of this claim and the preceding one about my published words.]
• do you believe it is no concern of yours that Mr. Christensen believes young people “naturally desire” “sexual contact with peers” and that by preventing them from acting on this desire our society renders them vulnerable to pedophiles who show them pornography (p. 112)?
It is immediately obvious that, except for the first one, these questions are not standard news-reporter requests for information. They are not 'What-do-you-believe?' or 'Why-did-you-do-X?' queries, but more like 'How-dare-you?' accusations. The president had already told the reporter he knew nothing about my book; her asking him about these alleged claims by me further reveals her intent merely to accuse--as does her failure to ask me about them. Yet in her published attack on me later, she presented much the same list. Thus, I must discuss them here along with the others.
Two things are worth noting at the outset. First,
the reporter talks here as if it's obvious that these passages she cites are
contemptible. She sees no need to defend that view, and leaves no room for
debate or discussion about it by the recipient of her questions. The statements
at issue are from a book of mine (Pornography:
The Other Side, Praeger, New York, 1990) published eleven years earlier by
a respected academic press. Manifestly, that institution did not consider the
book morally offensive. Neither did a sociological research institute at the
Second, all the passages at issue are about matters of fact: biology, psychology, cause and effect. In themselves they don't address what is prudentially or morally good or bad. (The reporter herself used this facts-vs.-values distinction later, we will see.) This means that their truth or falsity can be decided only by the evidence, not by moral principles. Yes, important moral decisions hinge upon these factual matters; the seriousness of those decisions is precisely why they must be based on the facts. And I hold that my words that she quoted do have overwhelming empirical grounds. Before publishing the book I had spent ten years studying the scientific and ethnographic literature on sexuality. Yet never--here or later in print--did the reporter allege there is evidence that the claims are false, or even deny there is adequate evidence that they're true. Nor did she say that my book misrepresents the evidence, something that would justify taking moral offense. Instead she labeled its claims as my own "controversial" "views", as if she knew for a fact that they are not just standard results of sexuality research. Then in her examination for discovery, she admitted to being as ignorant of that body of research as, here and in her published writings, she had seemed. (The main such writing being her book The Princess at the Window, Penguin, Toronto, 1996.) Further, she hadn't pursued any of my book's references to specific research resources on the nature of children's sexuality. What this all means is that she was willing to inflict serious harm on me, and on people associated with me, based upon nothing but her prejudices.
Western culture, now long the dominant one in the world, has historically been very negative toward sex compared with most others. Though that has changed greatly since the 1950s (mostly for the better, though not always, in my view), to a large degree sexual attitudes are still shaped by indoctrination and conditioning, not by facts. People are still not being well educated from the large body of scientific and scholarly information available on sexuality. (This applies not only to the reporter but as well to Ms. Malenfant, quoted in print against me as if she were some kind of authority: clearly, all she had done is read some clinical abuse-literature.) So my book's purpose was to address what I see as mistaken views about sex. Its special focus was sexual desire, including sexual fantasy, as both are reflected in erotica/pornography. And because adult beliefs and emotions over sex stem largely from how one is raised, it was of value to say a few things in the book about sex and children. Despite the reporter's claims of controversiality, the evidence leaves no room for rational doubt over the basic facts on that subject as described in the next paragraph.
In essence, what the cited passages say is that children naturally have sexual feelings, and that it is not intrinsically harmful for them to act on them: by fantasizing sexually, masturbating, or having sexual contact--"playing doctor", or more, with each other. True, many children in this culture don't experience those feelings. For many, especially females, genital friction (e.g., from rubbing clothing) is needed to first "awaken" them. Consequently, those with a higher arousal threshold can go on for years--even on into adulthood or throughout life--without discovering sexual desires. In males, the threshold for sexual arousal drops during puberty, when their levels of testosterone increase. Boys who did not (due perhaps to infant circumcision) have friction-stimulated sexual sensations before do so then. But most boys experience visually aroused sexual desires from the very early years of childhood. (Like other male primates, human males are biologically programmed to be aroused at the sight or suggestion of female sex organs.) And even in this culture, many children of both genders discover masturbation while very young. All this is because the neuroendocrine system for producing sexual feelings is fully functional from birth onward. Consequently--as is known from large amounts of ethnographic data--in cultures where they are not prevented from doing so, all of the children engage from an early age in various sexual activities with peers, in some cultures even sexual intercourse.
These facts by themselves do not say what should be done, in today's conditions, about sexual behavior by children. That depends on everything from the prevalence of disease--AIDS was looming as I wrote--to how well community members all know each other, and my book did not discuss the matter. (Despite Ms. Malenfant's charges, it does not advocate any such behaviors; it just opposes inhumane ways of preventing them.) Its limited purpose was to counter specific false beliefs. But dispassionate discussion of children's sexuality, unlike that of adults and adolescents, is still taboo in our culture. This is tragic. To repeat, as is so for any subject with serious consequences, our best hope of making the best decisions lies in careful gathering and discussing of the evidence. Instead, all too often, reactions of fear and aversion dominate--and with them, ignorance and misconceptions. A case in point: many reject the idea that children naturally have sexual feelings, or at least think such must be harmful despite being biologically natural. Some even have the half-formed impression or conscious belief that before puberty, children have a built-in aversion to sex, hence that any sexual activity will do psychological damage to them. This is not just in serious conflict with the known facts. The beliefs that it is either morally evil or inherently harmful for children to have or act on sexual feelings have themselves, I hold, led to great harms in our society, much more in the past but also up to the present.
Suffering resulting from the mistaken views about childhood sexuality
Among the harms are those resulting when vulnerable children are made to feel fear of sex itself--not just rational fear of the real dangers connected with sex--or guilt over their own sexual feelings. The intent behind creating such emotions in children is to keep them from having or acting upon those feelings. Although the purpose is not to hurt children, that is often the effect. As my book stressed, adults who inculcate the fear and guilt are only repeating the way they were raised, and so don't realize the emotional harm often done. But I cited much evidence of many kinds of such harm (e.g., "frigidity"; see Chapters 8 and 12), noting standard psychological accounts of how it may result. "You are a filthy little animal for having those feelings" is a message which has left countless children emotionally scarred. For an extreme example discussed in the book, emotions of self-hatred over sex--emotions learned in youth and childhood--seem clearly to have been involved in a significant proportion of cases of rape and sexual murder.
Even ordinary anxiety and distress from those trained emotions can be serious, many victims have testified. As a child at the turn of the 1950s, I myself suffered terribly from that indoctrination. I was sent the message that I was evil, and in danger of damnation, because of my powerful felt need to see little girls' genitals and fantasies of doing so. (I never dared to act on those fantasies, but before the fear of discovery by adults silenced me completely, furtive discussions with other little boys in my neighborhood revealed that they had the same cravings.) Yet no amount of crying prayer over it would make the desires go away. Only when I got older and learned that they were biologically healthy rather than the work of Satan did I find some release from the pain of feeling hated for having such desires. I also learned later that many women had, as little girls, been taught self-hate over their acts of masturbation. I vowed then to do something to prevent others from suffering as I had. My training in science and in philosophy, with their insistence on examining every belief to learn whether or not it is true, would later open a way for me to do it.
The late-1960s "sexual revolution"
brought huge changes from the attitudes I had been raised with. But then, in
the course of the 1980s, a massive anti-pornography campaign built up. And a
major theme was the very one that had caused me so much pain as a child: males
are vile creatures for craving to see naked female bodies. (Alleged to be
"exploiting", "objectifying", etc., etc.) Many fought back,
however; and, after President Clinton stopped the federal prosecutions in the
The purpose here: correcting falsehoods to defend my character
The matter addressed in this present essay, however, is not whether any of my book's claims about the facts--notably those on childhood sexuality--are well established by the evidence, or whether it cited enough of that evidence. Nor is the issue here such moral conclusions as the book drew based on those facts. My purpose here is to argue that the Post reporter maliciously misrepresented certain of my book's claims which will be discussed later. Whatever might have been her reasons for doing that, the emotion she displays over the claims above suggests that she had a sadly familiar reaction: being so angry at my actual assertions that she would twist some of them into something else, into something she felt sure everyone would find contemptible. I also argue that she maliciously misrepresented certain of my actions involving ECMAS. Disproving her allegations and proving her malice is what My Case is about.
Along with science in general and sexology in particular, I have spent years studying, also teaching, the topic of morality and justice, a major branch of philosophy. This, too, was an essential part of my book's treatment of its subject matter. But just as the reporter ignored the book's scientific grounding, she disregarded its careful discussion of moral principles. Not pausing to reflect that she might not already possess all moral insights, she simply lashed out against me. I wrote in the first place in order to change minds with reasoning and evidence, and remained ready to defend any of the book's claims. All of that is in vain, however, when a person refuses to debate the issues--facts or moral convictions--and attacks one personally instead. The purpose expressed by me all through the book was the prevention of needless suffering. (The same as my goal in working for justice through groups such as ECMAS.) But the reporter did not treat me the way one treats someone who is attempting, even misguidedly, to prevent harm. Nor did she treat me as a person honestly mistaken about facts or morals. Rather, as revealed by the article and her other words discussed below, she made determined efforts to paint me as personally corrupt, sexually and otherwise. That is the reason why ultimately this essay has to be, not about defending my book, but about defending my character.
Three special points regarding these quotations from my book
For a closer look at the reporter's words above, consider her assertion that I wrote “approvingly of 'childhood lust'”. To repeat, the sentence she cited (page 110 in my book) refers to a claimed fact. Even if I were mistaken that it is a fact, I was not expressing any approval or disapproval of it; I only alleged that many try to hide it from themselves. But since the book's ultimate purpose was to make moral judgments about sex, elsewhere I did speak disapprovingly of certain things done about childhood sexuality; more on this shortly. Next consider her claim (it too citing p. 110) that my book says "the real problem" in harms to teenagers and children involving sex is negative societal attitudes. Though I indeed hold there is serious harm from that source, in the very sentence that she appears (from the word 'real') to intend, I included other things as real sources of serious harm: venereal disease, pregnancy, and coercion (into sexual activity). In question 4 below, the reporter is explicit in denying that I consider coercion a problem. But we'll see that, when it suited her purpose, she changed her story about each of these two claims she attributed to me.
To discuss the last of these challenges she hurled at the president, consider the cited passage from my book (p. 112):
One currently popular argument against pornography involves its use by child molesters as "bait", to entice children into sex with them. [Here the book is discussing ordinary pornography; it later accepts a similar argument for banning adult-child portrayals.] Now, banning the sale of such materials certainly would not stop this practice, since it is easy enough for such people to make their own, or to employ other lures such as candy. In fact, this and similar tactics by pedophiles are possible because young people are prevented from having the sexual knowledge, and the sexual contact with peers, that they naturally desire.
That is, children lured by pornography--just like those lured by candy or friendship--can be lured only because they already have certain desires or curiosity that would make the offered items appealing to them. (Note especially boys' visual desires, and note that the reporter omitted one of the desires I cited, desire for knowledge.) Surely this is just a matter of logic: where there is no natural outlet for a given interest or desire of children, the interest or desire can be exploited. Also surely, those concerned for young people's safety would want to be told about the danger--whatever they regard as the best way to counter it. Yet the reporter implies that my pointing out the danger is a moral outrage.
4) Do you, in fact, believe - as you suggest on p. 113 of your book, PORNOGRAPHY: THE OTHER SIDE - that the real problem with children being coerced into sex by adults is not the coercion, the childhood sex, or the unequal power relationship, but the fact that children would feel distressed because we live in a society that is uptight about sex?
This question and the next involve two linked sentences in my book--the reporter's single message to me mentioned nothing else in it. Contrary to her later statement in the Post article that she had asked me "what he means by certain passages in his book", she did not ask me to explain anything in it. A reporter should have done so; but as seen here, her questions were of the 'Do-you-admit?' ilk. She told me what I'd meant to convey, leaving no room for discussion about that; she only asked me whether I believe it. (She did not say that my words "suggest" the claim above, or that some would understand them that way, but that I myself suggest it.) So this question, too, is not seeking information; the reporter's mind was already made up. Further, as we're about to see, what I wrote is not as she here describes it.
The quoted statement in context
At this point in the book I was discussing child pornography, and I weighed arguments for having it illegal. Because having it so was already the common view, I didn't need to argue strongly or at length. And in that pre-Internet time, its distribution had been all but eliminated by vigorous law enforcement. (Again, the book's purpose was to oppose a then-escalating attack on healthy sexuality, not to explore deviant sexuality. For the sake of completeness, however, I needed to say a bit about every type of pornography.) I rejected the idea that it produces a tendency to find children sexually arousing (causes pedophilia), but endorsed three other arguments. First, I cautiously accepted the argument that having child pornography legal might send the message to pedophiles that child sex abuse, though itself illegal, might not be so bad. Next, I considered an argument involving a special type of child pornography: that portraying (pictorially or verbally) sexual contact between adults and children. Such materials, I agreed, could be used to give children themselves the idea that adult-child sex is acceptable, which is a stronger argument against its being legal.
The final argument for having it illegal I labeled the strongest of the three, since it involved materials created using real children: photographic pornography. From all I'd heard, the overwhelming majority of materials of this type just portrayed nudity. Sometimes a child was photographed masturbating or in some kind of sexual contact with another child, and rarely (presumably; I'd then heard of no examples) was shown in sexual contact with an adult. To repeat, the book had cited evidence that the former sort of activities--sexually displaying their bodies to peers, masturbating, and having physical sexual contact with other children--are in themselves not harmful. But given that in our culture, so many children have been raised with feelings of fear and shame over nudity and sex, I worried that most children would engage in such activities, in the presence of an adult with a camera, only if they were being coerced into it in some manner. And being forced to do something that raises extreme negative emotions could be very damaging.
I wrote: "Given that children are particularly vulnerable to coercion, protecting them from being pressured or forced into something which, in present social conditions, can be highly distressing or even psychologically damaging is a serious concern." (This wasn't saying that sexual manipulation of a child is serious--I took for granted that it is very serious--but that photographic child pornography is itself serious, since it is apt to have been produced by means of such interference. And my phrase 'protecting them...' was about protecting children by having such materials illegal.) This is the sentence question 4 cites. Now, her phrase 'coerced into sex by adults' is ambiguous, but may have meant 'coerced by adults into sex with adults'. When I wrote my sentence, I was thinking not of photography of adult-child contact, but of the far more common types of photographic child pornography. Yet of course, if coercing actions that are natural for children is apt to be emotionally harmful, coercing sexual contact with an adult would surely be so.
Analyzing the attitudes and misrepresentations in question 4
Clearly, now, I raised the subject of coercion very deliberately. If I had not seen it as a serious matter, I would have used a neutral phrase such as 'engaged in' rather than both 'coercion' and 'forced into'. (Of course, being forced into something frightening is far more hurtful than, say, being forced to eat one's peas.) To repeat the earlier point here, when I wrote (p. 110) of "the real sources" of harm to young people involving sex, I didn't just mention learned guilt and fear as such sources, but continued "other than [emphasis added] those involving unwanted pregnancy, coercion and disease". And my quote above labels children "particularly vulnerable to coercion". Yet here the reporter says I denied coercion to be a real problem. (Would anyone deny it?) As for the unequal power relationship, that is exactly what makes children vulnerable to coercion: they are easily controlled by adults, often fearful to tell adults "No".
So the reporter's accusations about what I'd said regarding two of the three causal factors she listed were erroneous. Her third alleged factor in the harm, "the childhood sex", implied that she was rejecting the claim my book actually does make, that sexual desire and behavior in children are not in themselves harmful. (Noted repeatedly in the book, which made it odd for her to ask if I believe it. To repeat, this question was not asked in order to explore my views.) So that part of her sentence didn't misconstrue my words. But then there was her use of the trivializing word 'uptight' to describe my book's other claim involving children, that raising them to feel guilt and irrational fear over sex is a major factor in causing harms connected with sex. Since my book provided so much evidence of tragic effects from that source, and because of her next question, it was clear that this is a claim she was not willing to discuss seriously.
In the Post article, however, question 4's description of my words did not appear. The reporter certainly should have realized later that it was in error, and become more cautious in her allegations. But evidently not. In her examination for discovery, she reversed her claims that I denied coercion matters, saying I'd written that child pornography is "a problem" only when coercion is used in making it. (Which is equally false. Ironically, one passage in her book says--surely inadvertently--that adult-child sex is bad just when force is used.) Neither of these conflicting claims is cited in my lawsuit, but switching allegations so casually displays a 'by-any-means-necessary' attitude. And that is central to the suit--namely to the issue of malice, in the legal meaning of the word. For it argues that her purpose in writing against me was not to present the truth as she sincerely (even if perhaps mistakenly) saw it, but to harm me. As we'll see, she supported her libels by the use of many other untruths--all solid evidence that this was her underlying intent.
5) Do you, in fact, believe - as you also suggest on p. 113 - that pedophiles coercing children into sex "is potentially no more [serious] than [society's] practice of coercing them NOT to act sexually"?
This question is referring to a parenthetical comment attached to the sentence just discussed under question 4. I had added it by way of noting again the harm traditionally done by punishment and indoctrinating children with guilt or fear over their sexual feelings and behavior. Having said that coercion into sexual behavior under society's existing conditions of strong negative emotion can be very distressing or even psychologically harmful, I added "though it is potentially no more so than the practice of coercing them not to act sexually" (emphasis in original). Either kind of treatment is capable of causing serious damage to a child's feelings of security or self-worth. Now, the last question and this one indicate that the reporter disbelieves what she describes me as having written, but they give no reasons why. Not until publishing her article did she say how she was interpreting my words, or reveal her objections. I will soon discuss how I replied to her disbelief back then. But first consider what she wrote about my book in the article.
The amorality accusation and the main misrepresented passage
The article hid the fact that the quoted words were about making photographic child pornography; it talked as if I'd been discussing pedophilia as a topic in its own right. (In fact, the book ever mentions pedophiles only in passing, in discussing related issues.) The reporter thus wrote as if I'd been referring just to adult-child sexual contact, not to all types of things portrayed in photographic child pornography. This made it seem I'd meant that child sex abuse, not child pornography, is "a serious concern"--which sounds troublingly weak--and that such abuse, not sexual acts by children on their own, is serious just "in present social conditions". It is true that in introducing that third argument, I unwittingly used the ambiguous phrase 'such materials'; that could be read as referring to the type of materials--those depicting adult-child sexual contact--cited in my second argument, instead of to my basic topic of child pornography in general. But a careful reader would look to see what different things the phrase might refer to. (Surely my legality arguments would not ignore the vast bulk of photographic child pornography.) A careful reader would also see that my phrase 'coercing them not to act sexually', stressing the word 'not', is meant to contrast with 'coercing them to act sexually'; it is about coercion into any sexual behavior--and mostly, again, about coercion into nude self-exhibition.
This matter is not crucial here, however. On no possible reading--even that very narrow, unintended one--does the sentence at issue say what the reporter twisted it into. Her article labeled my discussion of children and sex amoral ("outside of a moral context"). That is a serious allegation, for her major focus--again, unlike mine--was pedophiles. Further, she flatly made this accusation: "he equates loving parents, who teach their children sexual restraint, with pedophiles". (She then quoted the linked sentences, in a way readers could interpret as indicating that they illustrate a discussion in the book that does such equating.) That is just vicious. It misrepresents in not one but several ways.
First 'equates' misrepresentation: the untruths about teaching morality and self-restraint
First, educating is very different from coercing, whether the latter is done by punishment or by "teaching" fear or self-hatred. My book certainly does reject that way of stopping children's sexual behavior, but this 'equates' charge implies that it rejects legitimate ways of teaching. My 'coercing' phrase is plainly not about educating children--but without its context, that fact wouldn't be plain to Post readers. My harsh examples of coercion, in the book and in an e-mail I sent the reporter (more about this soon), make the distinction starkly clear--but she kept those from readers.
As to what her charge speaks of as being taught--self-restraint regarding sex--it would be read (especially in light of the amorality claim) as saying I reject teaching children that. This again deceived her readers: My book argues that teaching sexual guilt to children would rightly be seen as sexually abusive, but nowhere so describes teaching self-restraint. In fact, it tacitly and explicitly endorses teaching the young both self-restraint and a moral approach to sex. Although denying that sexual behavior per se is emotionally harmful to them, it notes the special dangers they face from such harms as unwed pregnancy and disease (pp. 100-1, 108-9). It warns that pornography on its own could seriously mislead them (p.111). Against such dangers in life, it pointedly says, minors need guidance and discipline, including self-discipline (pp. 88-89, 110-11). In presenting my views regarding genuine sexual morality, the book continually discusses moral values in general--and flatly asserts (p. 153) that young people must be taught morality.
Second 'equates' misrepresentation: distorting potentially-as-harmful into simply-as-harmful
Next notice that one can change another's meaning drastically just by adding or deleting a single word. For example, consider the sentence 'Sound waves are potentially as harmful to the eardrum as inserted objects'. Surely this is true: at high intensity, sound, too, will damage the eardrum. Now note what happens if the word 'potentially' is removed: it then says that sound waves are in general as damaging as inserted objects--which is absurd--not merely that they can be as damaging. So note well: what that comment in my book asserts is that coercing children not to act sexually is potentially no less harmful than coercing them to do something sexual, not that it is equally harmful in general.
What level of harm actually results in a given case, of course, depends on many variables. Since it claims so little, a statement that something is possible can be proven with one instance. But recall that my book cites many examples of grave harm from coercing by instilling sexual self-hatred, even such outcomes as rape and suicide. (In a startling incongruity, the same newspaper that censured my book with this article later published large excerpts from another --Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors--whose message was the trauma children suffer because of punitive responses to their sexual behavior.) Thus it is false that no way of coercing a child not to behave sexually can do as much harm as coercing sexual behavior. It is even false (on the reporter's seeming interpretation) that it cannot do as much harm as sexual contact with an adult. But the current point is this: I did not equate coercion into and out of sexual behavior (much less equate persons doing each) or even general effects of the two kinds of coercion, but just potential effects.
Third 'equates' misrepresentation: distorting equally harmful outcomes into morally equivalent actions
The charge that I equate loving parents with pedophiles must surely be read--especially given that amorality claim--as saying that I see no moral difference between the motives of the two: no moral difference between a loving desire to guide and protect, and a desire for self-gratification in a person with distorted sexual feelings. Again, that is just vicious. My book clearly identifies pedophilia as a sexual pathology; see below. And ironically, one reason it warns against instilling children with negative emotions over sex is the danger (Chs. 8 and 12) of causing such pathologies in them. Doing that may or may not be involved in causing this sexual disorder. (Adult erotic attraction to children would appear to involve arrested psychosexual development.) But society has a grave need to discover its origins, and it will not do so if we react as the reporter does, from angry prejudice rather than facing and exploring the facts.
Finally, the section of my book at issue here doesn't even mention parents; among those using coercion to suppress children's sexuality are pastors, social workers and other non-parents And much photographic child pornography is not made by pedophiles: it begins innocently in nudist parks, or is even made by parents to get money. Elsewhere, however, my book does use the phrase 'loving parents' in discussing the forms such coercion has taken (pp. 23-24):
During the Victorian era, many parents resorted to such deterrents as mittens and straps, chastity belts and devices to cause pain if an erection occurred--even painful types of circumcision and cutting out or cauterizing the clitoris were used. Loving parents were willing to inflict pain, humiliation, and mutilation on their children to prevent the supposed evil [of masturbation]. Such is the power of superstitious fear.
Plainly, I was not talking about loving parents in general, but about some terribly misguided ones in the past. And I was not equating even such seriously misguided actions with a psychological disorder such as pedophilia. I used the phrase 'loving parents' to highlight the sad fact that even the best of intentions can have horrible consequences when guided by irrational beliefs. Surely Post readers would have agreed, had they been told my actual claims. Indeed, the reporter herself described that past hysteria in her book. This fact shows that she was aware that many children have sexual feelings, not just curiosity about genitals, and knew that horrid coercion has been used to curb their sexuality.
The other misrepresented passage from my book: pedophiles luring children
Next recall my book's claim, made in reply to the anti-pornography argument that pedophiles use sexual materials to entice children, that that usage is made possible by misguided efforts to shield the young from sexual experience and knowledge. And recall that the reporter had described that claim well enough when she wrote the ECMAS president. Yet her article's description of it, like her main misrepresentation, hid the fact that it was talking about pornography. Instead she converted its noun 'lure', which I had used to refer to such materials, into a verb, making it sound as if I were referring to the pedophile's goal rather than to that tool for reaching it. She wrote, "Pedophiles, he believes, are able to lure children because, in our culture, 'young people are prevented from having the sexual knowledge, and the sexual contact with peers, that they naturally desire'." She thus alleged I'd said some young people would find sexual contact with pedophiles enticing, not that they would find enticing the sexual knowledge or titillation offered by the materials themselves. I had written only about pedophile tactics made possible by efforts to keep youth and children sexually naive; she led readers to see me as saying that, except for those efforts, pedophiles would not succeed with children at all. Putting such outrageously false claims into my mouth could only have outraged readers against me.
The question of honesty and malice
How could anyone misrepresent so baldly? In examinations for discovery, the reporter revealed that she hadn't read the entire book. (Despite indicating to ECMAS-Edmonton's president that she had done so--to lend credibility to her allegation to him, evidently.) At Ms. Malenfant's instigation, she looked at one five-page section only. She said she'd read the book's early chapters years before, but didn't re-read that part, much less all of the rest, in writing the article. In an evident attempt to justify this lack of investigation, she alleged that she could well enough recall the part she'd read before--but what she "remembered" was a patent fabrication. All of this raises the question of how she could set out to destroy a person's name and life-plans while bothering to look at so little of the evidence right before her. Yet reckless uncaring doesn't explain her false and misleading claims about the part she read. What does explain them?
The distortions people commit in presenting the views of others are often the result of error, not deliberate. But some misrepresentations are not honest mistakes; they are, in the legal sense, malicious. I submit that the false statements about my words as discussed just above--especially since written by someone as intelligent as her years of writings reveal the reporter to be--are too glaring to be plausibly seen as just the result of misinterpretation or reasoning error. Note also that not all attempts to deceive take the form of asserting flat falsehoods. That's why our language contains such words as 'sophistry' and 'dissimulation', and the more ordinary expression 'deliberately misleading'. For one can create false beliefs in others by insinuation or by withholding relevant information, and yet still be able to proclaim, "Hey, every word I said was true!" The goal is to deceive without actually lying. Ironically, however, it is often the use of such tactics that most clearly reveals an intent to do that: calculated distortion looks very different than does inadvertent error. I will argue that the Post reporter has committed oblique as well as flat deception over and again.
Defences offered in examination for discovery: the amorality claim
First consider her claim "While children's sexuality has decided moral dimensions for most Canadians, in a section titled Sex and Young People Prof. Christensen discusses these issues outside of a moral context". In discovery, the reporter defended this by alleging there is virtually no mention of morality in that section. Indeed, she asserted, the chapter (8) the section is in is merely about psychological health, not morals. I find this incredible. The book's very purpose is to discuss morality in regard to pornography and related topics; morality is the context. For background, Chapter 1 cites some basic facts of sexual desire/fantasy, and Ch. 2 sets out general principles of morality--notably the one that what makes an act wrong, in part, is knowing that it may cause harm. With that foundation, the ensuing chapters examine standard claims that use of pornography is morally wrong: said to be wrong because it is allegedly degrading, allegedly does emotional harm, allegedly incites violence, etc. Thus, Chapter 8 discusses alleged and real harms to emotional wellbeing. But with morality explained in terms of harm at the start, and that idea reinforced all through the book, discussing bodily or psychological harm is precisely how any given chapter does address morality.
As to the section at issue, it says that young people's sexual behavior is too large a topic to discuss in its own right in a book on a different subject; its topic is youthful sexuality as it relates to pornography. At the time I wrote, a major argument used by would-be censors of adult pornography was that all explicit portrayals of sex or nudity should be banned, to keep children and teenagers safe from them. Hence, the section's main point is that it is not intrinsically harmful (hence not automatically morally wrong) for them to be exposed to sexuality. However, it further notes the harms to them (hence the potential moral wrongs) that are extrinsically linked to sexuality. The section concludes by discussing harms associated with (hence moral objections to) the special type of pornography that portrays children. Linked here is the complete section itself, so that readers of this essay may see for themselves what it actually says.
Not having re-read those foundation chapters, might the reporter have failed to see the connection between morality and harmfulness? Hardly. Everyone is familiar with reasoning from 'X is harmful' to 'X is bad' to 'knowingly causing X to someone else without excuse is morally bad'. Indeed, her own moral reasoning is harm-based. E.g., at p. 271 in her book she defends "consensual sex that harms no one...regardless of how bizarre it might be". Further, the section she read contains my arguments against child pornography being legal; has criminal law nothing to do with right and wrong? Under close questioning, she admitted the presence of certain clear moral judgments in those pages. Finally, she herself read moral judgments (albeit falsely) into the section when it suited her: note her 'good and positive' and 'not such a bad thing' claims below, and her 'approvingly' claim in question 3.5. From all this, I submit that she knew the section is fully about morality toward its announced issues--it just doesn't make the moral claims she might wish.
Part of the reporter's defence is that she did not accuse me of total amorality on children and sex, just the one part of my book. (To interviewees she made her claims about the entire book; see below.) So it's crucial to have realized her accusation of amorality was knowingly false even as a claim about that section alone. But the one-part-only point is irrelevant anyway, for she portrayed the section as the place where a book that is otherwise about pornography states my views on sex and children. Further, her published sentence is not drawing a contrast with what "most Canadians" assert in one section of their minds, but with what they believe in general. Nor would readers think that that outside- of-morality talk meant only that I was writing in a morally neutral scientific way for a few pages; doing that would hardly have warranted a newspaper exposé. Readers would see me as calling morality irrelevant to child sexuality.
Defences offered in examination for discovery: the 'equates' and 'restraint' claims
The claim "he equates loving parents...with pedophiles" was alleged in discovery to hinge on an easily-overlooked preceding phrase: 'when discussing the harm he believes society's attitudes toward childhood sex cause'. Her lawyer drew from it that the equating referred to harm done in the two cases--not, as seems so plainly stated, to parents and pedophiles themselves. Now, even that would be outrageous: alleging I'd said that lovingly teaching restraint is just as harmful as sex abuse. But in fact, 'he said X when discussing Y' implies no specific link--or any link--between X and Y; compare 'when discussing the budget, he equated trickle-down theory with voodoo'. So what the reporter is now claiming to have meant isn't what ordinary readers would understand. Surely one who meant to equate the harm caused by two agents would not engage in such circumlocution. But one hoping to make another's views sound evil while retaining an excusing "out" might well do so. And such behavior would be a prime illustration of sophistry.
The reporter defended her view that I reject teaching children sexual restraint on grounds of my writing that sexual feelings are natural for them. This seems to imply, she said, that teaching restraint runs "against what's natural and positive". Does saying sexual feelings are natural for adults reject sexual restraint for adults? Of course not; it is just stating a fact. (Before, she denied all moral significance to my harm-claims; now she sees a moral "implication" in a bare fact. To repeat, she went on to blithely violate the facts-vs.-morals distinction she used defending her amorality claim.) Surely she is not rejecting restraint over X each time she says 'X is natural'. And though being natural argues that a tendency is probably healthy, just calling a thing healthy--say, adult sexual desire--does not imply abandoning prudential and moral restraints either. (My chapter on value-beliefs explicitly rejects the idea that every natural trait is good.) Also, as noted earlier, the need for self-restraint is affirmed in the five pages; so the reporter could see that even in context, my 'is natural' has no such implication. She was just stretching (maybe after publication) to find any possible excuse to accuse me. As a last defence, she might say that by 'restraint' she really meant 'total abstinence'--even from sexual thoughts and masturbation--and so was accusing me only of rejecting such total abstinence, not of amorally rejecting all sexual restraint. Such a claim, I submit, would be an admission of further verbal manipulation.
5A) The reporter's telephone slander and the events that ensued from it. [This section-title, of course, isn't one of the reporter's e-mailed questions. It is one of two inserted in order to discuss a vital issue which she avoided.]
At the time (Thursday, March 22nd) I sent her my first e-mail, the reporter was talking to the president of ECMAS-Edmonton, saying things to him that turned my world upside down. That and ensuing events must now be discussed.
The defamation uttered to ECMAS-Edmonton's president
In that conversation, as the president described
it to me immediately afterward, the reporter alleged that I condone sex between
adults and children, saying I should be expelled from the group over it.
Terribly distressed at this horrid charge, he told her he could not make such
decisions without a meeting of the board of directors. She answered that she
would delay publishing over the weekend, to allow time for that to happen. When
told of all this, I was horrified. I assured the president that her claim was
false, promising him a copy of the book so he could see for himself. I then
immediately began making phone calls to locate a defamation lawyer in
Anyone who knows how despised adults who have sexual contact with children generally are--despised by everyone from the people next door to murderers in prison--can imagine what I went through after hearing about the reporter's allegation as related by the ECMAS president. If she were to go on to publish it, my career as a public advocate for justice--not just my involvement in ECMAS--would be over. I even had the odd vision of vigilante visits at my door. Not feeling certain that the article really would not appear on Saturday morning, I got no sleep that Friday night.
The reporter sent her e-mail to me early Friday afternoon; I found it Saturday morning. That it did not accuse me of condoning child sex abuse was puzzling. Was it because of my lawyer's warning? (She gave no hint of having seen it yet.) Or because she knew better than to put such an accusation in writing? Either way, her intention to attack me wasn't changed; now she was merely hinting at making different allegations instead. And her intent to drive me from my work made it absurd for her to expect me to answer questions. ("If she is already certain the facts condemn me, why would she pretend to be seeking any facts now?") Even on the basis of this e-mail by itself it seemed clear, we will continue to see, that she was too hostile and biased to listen to anything I might say. ("She spoke in person to all the others; if she sincerely wants information, why just e-mail me--doing it so accusatorily?") Given her willingness there to ignore the explanations already in my book, even to dogmatically distort my words, attempts to reason with her might merely have provided her with more to distort and to attack me over in print. To protect myself from that danger, I wrote only a quick reply, declining to communicate further with her except via legal counsel. Frightened of being lied about to the whole nation, I copied the reply to a few individuals I thought might know some way to help.
The appeal I made to the editor of The Post
Instead I attempted to convince Kenneth Whyte, the editor-in-chief of the National Post. I didn't know how to reach my new lawyer on the weekend to explain that the reporter's accusations seemed to have changed. But with so little time before the article was to appear, I felt I had to act immediately on the new ones. I did so by e-mailing a quickly written reply-article (later copied to the reporter) to him, asking that The Post publish it if her article went ahead in some form. Of course, I could not know in advance any details she would write, but the way in which her questions 4, 5 and 5.5 were framed reflected her underlying attitudes. So I said that if they agreed to print a response from me, I could quickly alter what I had written just before deadline to fit those details. But most of all, I hoped that bringing her plans and my response to her superiors' notice would induce them to veto those plans. Later, to defend myself, I copied this e-mail to a list of persons Ms. Malenfant had accused me to, also to a few others I felt needed to know.
As the reporter's e-mail didn't say or imply that I condone child abuse, my proposed article discussed just the issues it did raise. In answer to her question 5 with its strong disbelief, I there argued that coercive efforts to prevent sexual activity by children, notably those that involve creating horrible feelings of guilt or fear, can indeed cause as much harm to them as (and, importantly, can increase the harm of) sexual abuse itself. To respond to question 4, I disputed its implied claim ('the childhood sex') that all childhood sexual experience tends to be traumatic, then countered its untruth on what I'd written about coercion by noting harm from that source. In reply to both queries' attitude that our society is merely "uptight" over children and sex, I argued that it is often highly irrational, on grounds that legitimate fears over the actual harm to children cannot explain the widespread witchhunts of recent years. False claims of sex abuse, coached out of children (in daycare centers, divorce cases, etc.) or induced as false memories in adults, have ruined thousands of innocent lives--including those of falsely alleged victims. That illustration was also in answer to the reporter's claim, in her later question 5.5, of conflict between my "views" and dealing with such false allegations: The witchhunts' occurrence reveals, I argued (as discussed below), that the opposite is true. Since she and The Post had themselves decried those gross injustices, I hoped they would now realize that irrational attitudes about children and sex were a crucial source of them. Finally, my reply protested the gross injustice of the reporter's attack on me.
Ex parte journalism
Not even through legal counsel did anyone at The Post respond to my message to its editor. Then, in discovery, the reporter said that no one at The Post ever discussed the article's contents with her, and that she didn't know whether anyone but her supervising editor and likely one other had even read it. Later, the person she identified as her editor denied having been in that role. She had told various people she herself could make no final decisions on the articles' contents, and once falsely indicated four editors had vetted them--yet may have been wholly unsupervised. Whatever the truth of that, this much is clear: despite the seriousness of her charges and despite my entreaties to those running the newspaper, they didn't so much as raise any concerns with her. (Hoping to elicit compassion by some means, in my essay I even laid bare, as the book had not, my own childhood pain. It was in vain.) My good name, and the fate of a little volunteer group struggling to help people, evidently didn't matter to any of those powerful individuals.
On the following Friday an article
was published, one only about ECMAS and Mr. Adams. But the reporter told key contacts that one on me was next--giving them leave to tell Alberta media,
always loath to let national
media scoop them in their own territory. During the same time, Ms. Malenfant was contacting local news media saying The Post would be attacking my book. The result
was a public
disturbing questions about me,
in the Calgary Herald and on a talk-radio program from
When the article appeared, it included the words 'neither condones nor advocates inter-generational sex', taken from my lawyer's warning. Surely this was a bad-faith legal cover. To start with, the very purpose of attacking me in print was to say that to some degree I depreciate the wrongfulness of child sex abuse--i.e., condone it. And saying I equate molesting a child to lovingly teaching restraint means that I regard the former as no more wrong than the latter--thus not rightly treated as a criminal act. Indeed, to claim I discuss such acts outside morality is to say I treat them as not morally wrong. On this emotion-laden topic, dark hints can do as much harm as flat assertion, raising people's worst fears. So I submit that the most plausible way to read that 'neither condones' disclaimer is as telling readers "We are saying this to avoid a lawsuit, but you can read between the lines". Finally, with all her other slurs on my character, the reporter was painting me as morally corrupt. As we examine the others, her intent here will become even clearer.
On top of all its libels, The Post scorned my moral right to reply in print, either in an article by me or in theirs about me. Indeed, the reporter's questions had given me no chance in the first place to correct any of the distortions which she was going to print. To repeat, her e-mail gave no hint--except for implied general attitudes--of the accusations to come. Two of its queries (5 and 5.5) didn't say what it was about my words that she objected to, and the claims made in the third (4) were not subsequently published. She even told the president (3.5), but not me, some things she later would write against. None of the defamatory claims she voiced or published about me did she tell me of in advance.
Defence of the allegation the reporter made to ECMAS-Edmonton's president
CanWest's Statement of Defence in my lawsuit denies that the reporter told the president I condone adult-child sex. (Suspiciously, until then she did not dispute ECMAS's claim that she had done so.) But in the transcript of her taped interview with him, her words accuse me of "suggesting that sex with kids is maybe not such a bad thing". How then could she make such a denial? During her examination for discovery, she emphasized the two words 'suggesting' and 'maybe': "It's not clear. Maybe with adults. Maybe not". (Her published phrase 'neither condones nor advocates' was emphatic; her later saying 'maybe does condone' proves bad faith--one time or the other.) Now, these two qualifying terms have fully legitimate uses, but can also be employed as weasel-words to deceive. And she could tell from the ECMAS-Edmonton president's reactions to her that he didn't notice her using them. Had she really meant 'maybe', I hold, she would've urged the president to investigate before taking any actions. And she herself would have explored further, reading more of the book and asking me about the matter, which we've seen she did not. Instead she told him flatly--no 'maybe' about it--that my views are "really disturbing", enough so to require my expulsion from the group.
But even with those qualifying terms, the claim that my book "suggest[s] that sex with kids is maybe not such a bad thing" is absolutely false. Queried in discovery, the reporter cited the sentence in the book (p. 109) rejecting "the common idea that there is something inherently emotionally unhealthful about children, or even adolescents, having sexual knowledge or sexual activity". She said "I think I am interpreting it in that way". It was a desperate attempt to justify her slander. That sentence of mine is about facts--indeed, it's a mental-health claim--while her 'not such a bad thing' would be heard as 'not morally so bad'. (By her own words, a health claim is not about morals--does not even "suggest" a thing is or is not morally bad.) And the specific moral claim she read in is vile. That sentence of mine is about sexual knowledge/activity per se ("inherently"); it's not about children engaging in fetishism, sadomasochism, rape, or in sexual contact with adults. To call anything inherently harmless, from eating to love, is not to "suggest"--not even "maybe"--that every form it can take is harmless; in fact, 'inherently' suggests just the reverse. By the same reasoning as the reporter employed, to say that adult sexual activity isn't inherently harmful is to suggest that maybe all sexual activities by adults are acceptable, from rape to sexual contact with children. The book-section even warns against exposing children to depictions of deviant sex; yet she says it suggests that maybe adult-child sex is just fine.
She defended her reading-in by insisting "it would have been very easy" for me to add 'with their peers' after 'sexual activity'. (The five pages say that their feelings are toward peers.) Her malice in this is seen from those earlier words recalling being a sexually active teen and defending "consensual sex that harms no one...regardless of how bizarre it might be": It would have been "very easy" for her to add 'by adults with other adults', yet she didn't. (Is her failure to do so grounds--decisive grounds--to drive her out of her work?) And it would've been very easy to ask me about the sentence she cites now before she attacked me--or even after--yet she did not. Had she actually done the reading that she pretended in order to utter her slander, she would have known all of the following. Wherever my book mentions any specific kind of child or teen sexual behavior in an accepting way, it is by an individual alone or with age-peers. (At pp. 2, 16, 49, 73, 173. Again: the book talks of child or adolescent sexuality very little. But if I'd wished even to leave the door ajar to adult-child sexual contact, it would have been "very easy" to say so.) And in the few locations where pedophiles are mentioned, they are said or implied to have a psychological disorder (pp. 106, 129ff, 152-3) or, as in my arguments on pp. 55 and 133-4 and those against child pornography being legal, to be a danger to children.
Yet other things reveal that the reporter meant to convey no degree of uncertainty in making this accusation against me. At one later point, the president was reflecting on what expelling Mr. Adams and me would say about ECMAS; she interjected that it would show that the organization doesn't "condone sex with kids". Later, she insisted that she was then referring only to Mr. Adams. But she had been urging that both of us be expelled, and made no attempt at that point to differentiate me from him. Here again, she knew very well what message the president was receiving. She made the accusation to another person as well. Regarding my views on "sex with children", she said, "he seems to think it's okay". Attributing this claim to others (falsely plural--to lend it more authority?), she falsely said they'd alerted her to its presence in the book after she began investigating Mr. Adams. In discovery she admitted that that wasn't true--then finally granted that this wording carries the message that I condone adult-child sex. How could she justify such deceit? To get others to view me as she did, she explained, she felt that she had to "push the envelope".
Thus, these untruths--the condonement untruth itself and untruths told (again) in support of it--expose the malice of a 'by-any-means-necessary' mindset. And the fact that she said it repeatedly proves it was no brief judgment lapse; it was premeditated. She got this vicious falsehood from Ms. Malenfant, who made it to her--without any 'suggests' or 'maybe'--for at least a week before the interviews; she even declared that according to my book, one falsely accused of child sex abuse "is no more persecuted than the person who has sex with children". The reporter couldn't possibly have failed to recognize the falsity of this person's twisted claims--then why did she ally herself with her? Later we'll learn more about the reporter's awareness of her ally's untruths, and more about their motives. For now consider this:
Ms. Malenfant twice copied to the reporter an e-mail she'd sent the president saying I think "taboos against sex with children and child pornography should be eliminated". Because of all he knew of her character and mine, because he knew her rage at me had arisen from personal conflict (more about this later) and because of her intemperate words and wild accusations, the president had ignored Ms. Malenfant at the time, except to worry how far her malevolence might go. That's when she first took the claim to the reporter. The reporter endorsed it--in this no-'maybe' form--by demanding that the president justify his not acquiescing to Ms. Malenfant. But it is very revealing: neither of the two repeated publicly the allegation she had made to him; each used weaker or less direct claims instead. Even privately, the reporter didn't put in writing, to me or the president, her charge that I condone child molestation--not even using 'suggests' and 'maybe'. So of course she didn't admit to readers that she and her ally had alleged that to him. She also hid it from her editors, going so far as to censor it and other things out of a Malenfant e-mail she forwarded to them.
5.5) [This and her previous question were originally both labeled '5'.] Do you think it is inappropriate for a person such as yourself, who holds controversial views about child sex, to be associating with a group seeking to help non-custodial parents, many of whom face false allegations of child sex abuse?
The obvious answer to this query is that I do not consider it inappropriate, or else I wouldn't be thus associated; this is another implied accusation of wrongdoing, not a request for information. A reporter seeking the truth (rather than trying to "get" someone), knowing how easily misunderstandings arise, would ask for facts and for explanations. But things this reporter already knew, or should've known, reveal that even what the question did convey was insincere.
There was no involvement of any such views in ECMAS
First, the Post reporter has long claimed to be an advocate of free speech. If that ideal means anything, it means that punishment is appropriate only for behavior, not for beliefs a person is known to hold. But her purpose here was not the libertarian one of opposing "bad speech" solely by correcting its errors with "more speech". Her purpose was to cause action against me for what I had written--for exercising my freedom of academic and scientific expression as a philosopher of science. The action she sought, to repeat, was driving me out of the labor she knew I had spent much of my time in for years. She may also have known that I'd devoted my life to that work since retiring early to do so.
Her rationale for destroying someone this way was the above-implied conflict between what I wrote and that labor. But I had never introduced the subject into the work of ECMAS; there had been no reason to do so. (My argument below, that a true picture of child sexuality would reduce both making and believing false allegations of child sex abuse, is irrelevant to helping individuals deal with such allegations--and is unrelated to all of the usual troubles in divorce.) Further, having changed my focus from sexuality issues to gender-equality issues before ECMAS existed, I hadn't been promoting any of the book's content in any other way likely to have impacted on ECMAS. How could just being written in an old book, or just existing inside my own head, have been harming the group or anyone in it? The reporter didn't ask me whether anyone now even knew of my book's "views". Before she sent me these words, ECMAS-Edmonton's president told her repeatedly that he'd never heard of the book or any of its sexual ideas before this affair arose. She ignored him; she meant to attack me regardless of anyone knowing about them. In the words she uses above, it is "inappropriate" for me just to be "associating with" certain people while being one who "holds" certain views among the things I believe. She was accusing me not of speech-crime, but--literally--of thought-crime.
Next there is the question of just what sort of problem the reporter is claiming here. Mere controversiality, she told others, is not her concern. Rather, she is alleging a conflict--a highly specific conflict--between my beliefs and what this particular organization does or stands for. It involves her claim here that "many"--there were actually very few by 2001--coming to ECMAS "face false allegations of child sex abuse". (My study of child-sexuality research was quite "appropriate" to that problem years before, when I provided material to a lawyer in a local trial whose outcome launched a large decline in uncritical acceptance of such allegations.) So let us closely examine this alleged conflict.
First recall that it is MERGE, not ECMAS, which has worked to help individuals facing false accusations, including allegations in divorce of sexually abusing their own children. By long agreement, persons approaching either group with a problem specialized in by the other are directed to the other. MERGE then even maintained two committees, for dealing with police and with child-welfare officials, to do this and similar work. Ms. Malenfant knew all of these things; having no volunteers with the time and talent, I paid her via my small research institute to come to the city to investigate and write up stories of individuals these MERGE committees were trying to help. And the reporter knew at least that I'm the leader of MERGE and that I, not ECMAS, hired Ms. Malenfant--noted in the article--to work on allegation cases. (She had also read MERGE's former magazine, whose topics included both divorce issues and false accusations.) So despite knowing that my own group was or probably was the one aiding the accusation victims, she reportedly sought no details. Nor did she mention MERGE in her article, while deploring my ties to ECMAS. Why?
Had the reporter's real motive been some threat I pose to these falsely accused, she would've investigated this work in MERGE and challenged me over it, not over my work with standard custody, access and maintenance problems in ECMAS. Then why did she and her informant drag that group into the battle? A motive for the latter is clear from her earlier foiled attempt to get control of ECMAS; this will be discussed later. And we'll be seeing that the reporter unswervingly supported Ms. Malenfant in everything she wanted. But for now, one manifest motive of the reporter was this. To link my activism to the book in a news story after all these years required tying the two to some current newsworthy event; and, she indicated to ECMAS-Edmonton's president, the recent election of Mr. Adams was such an event. Unless she made a connection to that organization, she would not be able to attack me over my book at all.
The book's claims do not conflict with the wellbeing of the falsely accused
Finally, note that the Post reporter does not here state the nature of the conflict that she implies exists between my "controversial views about child sex" and involvement with those facing the allegations; just how might such people be hurt? It's obvious how association with someone who actually condones child sex abuse could reflect on a person accused of child sex abuse, but, again: here she did not state or insinuate that I condone such behavior. The issue of what factors contribute to the harm in cases of sex abuse is not relevant to whether an individual actually did it. Nor does the claim that children have sexual feelings, or the claim that using coercion to prevent the expression of those feelings can be very harmful, reflect negatively on accused adults. Then just what is the conflict that she is alleging?
Ms. Malenfant once told the reporter--in essence--the following: "The belief that sexual feelings are natural for and not intrinsically harmful to children, even if not applied to adult-child sexual contact, encourages child sex abusers and makes others take the problem less seriously". On this thinking, even if not condoning child sex abuse, one may be promoting it, just by saying (as does the Levine article) that children are sexual. But by the same (bad) reasoning, saying that women are naturally and healthily sexual hurts men who are falsely accused of rape--and the claim that many child sex-abuse accusations are false encourages and camouflages pedophilia. (Having publicly decried, as I have, false accusations of child sex abuse, both women have been targeted by people charging them with giving aid and comfort to pedophiles.) In all three cases, the reasoning is illicit because matters of fact are at issue. For claims about facts can be decided neither by moral concerns, nor by such concerns as whether any might misconstrue them or distort them to corrupt ends; they can be judged as true or false only by the evidence. There is no incompatibility, I submit, between what my book actually says, and the wellbeing either of children or of falsely accused adults.
In fact, as I said earlier, the opposite is true: ideas which my book opposes can help to encourage false allegations of child sex abuse--as the reporter herself realized. Far from hurting these falsely accused, correct information on child sexuality can prevent such false accusations. In response to this charge of hers--of conflict between my book's ideas and the welfare of these falsely accused--my proposed article argued thus: Irrational fears over children having any sexual experience is a key part of what causes such allegations to be made and be uncritically believed. Another part is the false belief that children, not being naturally sexual, do not behave sexually unless introduced to it by an adult; this has often led to allegations against a father when a child is discovered masturbating or "playing doctor". Yet the reporter herself used this example not long after, in a column where she herself decried the role played in hysterias over sex abuse by misunderstood child sexuality. There she also noted that such misunderstanding results in children being subjected to harmful therapy--a point quite like one my essay had made. Given all of the above, despite saying that I'd evaded her questions, surely she understood my response to this query 5.5. But my idea about that source of false sex accusations is not central here. Even if it were to prove incorrect, and even if my claims on child sexuality were false, the fact argued above would remain: those claims do not conflict with the welfare of the falsely accused.
It is highly revealing, then: Neither in her e-mails to the president and me, nor in print, did the reporter ever say what she thinks the conflict is, between saying that children have sexual feelings (or that harsh responses to their sexuality can do much harm, etc.) and dealing with persons falsely accused of child sex abuse. In The Post, she even failed to report what Ms. Malenfant claimed the conflict to be. The reason for these persistent omissions, I suggest, is that the reporter knew her allegation of conflict cannot be defended. That is to say, without her original claim that I condone child sex abuse, there is no conflict for her to describe between the book's claims and my involvement in ECMAS. Yet she couldn't attack that involvement just by saying the book's claims are bad; she had to label them incompatible with my being there. Her seeming solution: to present Ms. Malenfant--to repeat, quoted as if she were an authority--as simply alleging, without argument or explanation, that a conflict exists. A similar motive could explain why she felt she had to keep the public from seeing any of the arguments I presented in the reply that I submitted to The Post.
Why publish a claim that is three ways illegitimate?
The discussion in the three preceding subsections has revealed something of very great importance. For if there is--on all three or any one of the grounds just cited--no justifiably alleged conflict between claims in my book and the volunteer work I do with ECMAS, it follows that there was no legitimate story to be based on such a conflict. There was a legitimate news report to be made about the election of Mr. Adams (though I will also challenge her claimed objections against the group over that, later on). But there was no basis for any published linking of ECMAS to my book, much less for a news article. That alleged conflict, I suggest, was merely a pretext to enable the Post reporter to wield her great media power against me. She wanted to help Ms. Malenfant, and wanted to attack me over words written long since. So this claim of conflict provided a phony excuse--her only available excuse--for doing it. The claim was central to her attacks on both Mr. Adams and me; later we'll see that it was illegitimate in his case as well.
We have now seen a significant new aspect of the reporter's behavior. Earlier discussion discovered many grounds for saying that she knew her defamations, both stated and implied, were false; discussion under this latest question has uncovered multiple signs that the stated and implied reasons for her attack on me were not her real reasons. But pretence in regard to one's motives is a further indicator of malice. We'll see many more words from her that appear to be even plainer cases of this: of expressing insincere concerns and bad-faith objections. As for her alleged reason to be asking me this list of questions--finding out the facts--we will continue to see proof that it was not her motive.
6) Have you ever considered the possibility that your association might be tainting ECMAS and thereby harming the people who turn to it for help?
The purpose of this question, too, was not to get information but to accuse me: to suggest that I don't care whether I taint ECMAS or harm those who come to it for help, otherwise I wouldn't be thus associated. (Consistent, of course, with her having already declared to ECMAS that I was a threat, and urged my expulsion.) Now, the word 'tainting' evidently refers to a negative image; this question differs from the last in claiming, not conflict itself, but a possible perception of conflict, by those knowing my book's "views" and my work in ECMAS. That claim, too, is revealing.
Those giving and seeking such help harmed by the reporter's own controversial views?
My book was basically defending pornographic portrayals of nudity and ordinary sex. However, it presented some serious concerns about violent pornography. It stressed that the large majority of those who use and enjoy the violent materials (including women who fantasize about being raped) would never want to commit or to suffer such things in real life. But there is reason to think that for some people, linking sex to violence and normalizing the link in their minds can inspire actual violence. These harms provide an argument for this type of pornography (and various other types of violent portrayal) being illegal. I did not press that it should be banned, since any kind of censorship carries risks of leading to serious injustice; but I did reveal the grounds that could justify that sort of censorship. In contrast to my cautious approach, however, that of the reporter to materials of this type is fully accepting. Ch. 7 of her book and the 'Pink Kink' section of her website describe and quote, in a positive way, many graphic passages from novels for women featuring rape, sadomasochism, bondage, submission, etc. She clearly knows little about all the research into effects of violent portrayals, and curtly dismisses (p. 252 in her book) any danger of their eliciting real violence.
This casts doubt on the sincerity of the reporter's last two queries. As to question 5.5, it argues again that she did not really perceive a conflict between my book and ECMAS ideals. If she felt that the sexual facts I've claimed in some manner promote child molestation, surely she would believe it promotes rape to send graphic messages that women fantasize about being raped. As to question 6, she had herself been "associating with" groups that work for justice in divorce, with national prominence, through her writings. Further, she knew that many men now going to the divorce groups--in recent years, far more than have been accused of sexually abusing their own children--have been accused of attacks on their wives, including sexual ones. Thus, many of these men might be upset to be linked with someone who supports portrayals of assaults on women, even if it is just fantasy. They might be "tainted" by association with an individual who rejects worries about those portrayals leading to real violence, and who has ignored concerns that young people get access to them--say, by logging onto her website. If she truly did fear a tainting of the innocent by controversial sexual ideas, surely she would've worried about these views--unlike mine, widely known--of her own.
Indeed, the reporter has views some would say commit the exact offense she falsely alleged against me. For one, she had written a Post column saying non-photographic child pornography should be legal. She argued, "If short stories about having sex with children tell paedophiles it's okay to abuse children, why don't endless books about people being murdered encourage us to commit homicide?" (Recall that my book does see value in the 'tells them it's okay' argument which she thus rejects.) In fact, in earlier years she defended the notorious Gerald Hannon, who actually condones adult-child sex. (Yet defended her attack on me, recall, by saying only that my book lacks disapproval of pedophile acts.) She can't in good faith deny harm to children from that pornography and from Hannon's actual 'it's okay' message, yet hold that my academic account of healthy child sexuality somehow promotes child sex abuse. Further, many are outraged by these claims of hers--often on grounds, even if mistaken, that in making them she is condoning such abuse. The reporter was strongly criticized over such columns (notably by another Post writer). Did she take this reaction to her as a lesson in how easily one's ideas on a sensitive subject can be misconstrued? Not one that she was willing to apply to me. In fact, those responses to her views may have helped to motivate her assault on me. For the defensive tactic of deflecting blame onto someone else ("Go after him, not me--he really is bad!"), then leading the attack on that person to prove one's own righteousness, is another regrettably familiar human reaction.
Not in fact much known about: not my ECMAS involvement, not the book-section, hence both by almost no one
Next notice that question 6 presupposes two things: (A) that my activity in ECMAS is known about by appreciable numbers of people, and (B) that the claims in my book to which the reporter objects are known to appreciably many. Just as she did not ask me if the claims had been raised in ECMAS, she did not ask me whether B is true--although her questions 2 and 3 suggest she realized that A is crucial. Yet if either presupposition is false, it is not possible that those claims of mine are tainting that group. And both of them are false--or were until she published her article.
Indeed, she was plainly insincere in accusingly assuming B, and likely also insincere regarding A. Repeatedly before the reporter wrote me, Ms. Malenfant copied e-mails to her in which she said ECMAS and the public were unaware of my book's claims, hinting that she'd expose them herself. (She habitually invented facts to meet immediate needs, but this time she was right. The book attracted little notice in town even when it was new, and no one had previously objected to the passages that she and the reporter denounced.) This was confirmed to the reporter when the president told her he'd never heard of any of my ideas about sex. Again: she didn't even ask--me or anyone else (further details later)--if those ideas were at all known. As noted under question 5.5, she didn't care about that; she simply wanted to punish me for having them. As to presupposition A, Ms. Malenfant had already sent two e-mails to her alleging that I went to some length to hide my involvement in ECMAS. That is absurd; but it means the reporter had been told by Ms. Malenfant, who she insisted was very reliable, that my ECMAS activity was unknown outside the group--which is true. As said under queries 2 and 3, I've been publicly identified just with MERGE, not ECMAS. Only those who attended its functions knew I'm involved in ECMAS at all, and only the few who came to multiple events would see I was greatly involved. For this reason alone, there was little chance for my book’s claims to be "tainting" ECMAS.
That the book's claims would taint ECMAS if known is likewise false
A third assumption of question 6 is that many, if they did know of my book and activity in ECMAS, would share the reporter's reaction. It is tied to her claim of controversiality. But we've seen what twisting her article did to make the book's contents seem evil; people cannot be outraged by things it doesn't say. And the reason a person distorts words is that she knows most won't be upset over the real claims. She has now basically admitted to this--to feeling she had to "push the envelope". As for my actual ideas which she has decried (including those about natural child sexuality, which her article didn't distort): all are facts well established by the evidence, or else obvious conclusions from those facts. There is no room for reasonable controversy over any of them. Yes, many people have a negative reaction to that information, but few share the reporter's extreme reaction. And when shown the evidence in a clear (and a non-sensational) way, I believe, nearly everyone will accept those facts. Finally, almost none would see the tainting she alleged. Compare the high emotions over abortion: would some group be tainted, as seen by one side in that conflict, merely for including--along with many on their own side--one on the other side who didn't promote it in the group?
The falsity of this claim about others' reactions is also revealed by
actual reactions. Ms. Malenfant took her charges about my book to the
conservative Report news magazine, telling the Post
reporter that they, too, were planning an article exposing me. Though that publication had campaigned against the
"normalization of pedophilia", they did not publish about me.
Evidently, they not only recognized her untruths but felt no need to condemn
what the book does say on child sexuality. Indeed, she told the
reporter, well in advance of the article on me, that no local media would publicize her claims. Despite knowing of
those claims--and The Post's plans--for 2½ weeks,
For question 6 to involve pretext in any way is damning. For though the reporter knew my book hadn't been hurting ECMAS, she also knew that what she and her ally were doing would bring great harm upon that organization and its work (the radio-host's real concern). She knew that their own acts would taint the group terribly. Thus, by suggesting it had already been tainted, the Post reporter may have felt she could absolve herself of responsibility for that result. In fact, she told us she just wanted to save ECMAS from a worse scandal via some other reporter doing the exposing --even though, but for her actions, there would've been no scandal over me at all. After eleven years with no trouble, she had to realize, no other journalist would have attacked me, much less ECMAS, over my book in any such way.
The article's central claim was fraudulent
So determined was the reporter, it seems, to promote this idea about reaction to my book, that she used coercion and fabrication to make it appear true. Her article begins, "An Edmonton fathers' rights group is self-destructing amid a scandal that includes...an activist who holds controversial views about childhood sex." The result of the scandalized feelings in that group, as she then framed the story, was the board meeting to consider terminating my membership. With very dishonest content (details as we go) and this summarizing claim, her account did two things. The message of scandal and action against me in ECMAS-Edmonton--even to the point of its nearing destruction--made it appear that appreciable numbers of its officers or members angrily opposed me over my book. And describing their actions involving me as autonomous ("self-destructing") is saying that they were taken by those leaders and members out of their own volition, not because of external pressure. But both representations are deliberately and outrageously false.
First as to scandal and destruction: There was no angry conflict in ECMAS-Edmonton, only panicked meetings and
communications over how to deal with the threatened article. The board and all of the active members and I went on
working amicably together as always. (Even, for a few months, the couple--upset at other things, not my book--to be
discussed later on. Angry words about the book--due to Ms. Malenfant's claims--by two sisters, also discussed later,
even those meetings and messages were long past when the reporter said scandal and destruction were going on. The
reason she put it in present tense would seem to be as follows. The part of the story about me was delayed--perhaps
due at first to my lawsuit warning--into a separate article three weeks after the expulsion deliberation. So at that late
date, the original article's "news hooks" were long gone. Some current newsworthy happening was required, even if
it had to be fabricated: such as the fictitious scandal having continued to boil, even turning into fictitious destruction.
Now as to the autonomy claim: The president had ignored Ms. Malenfant, and no one else had made an issue of the book to the group. The reporter knew--having scolded him over the fact--that ECMAS did nothing about it until she came with plans for a newspaper exposé. Far from being self-caused by ECMAS, the events The Post reported were orchestrated by its own agent: Her claim that I condone child sex abuse, and warning to remove me or face a public smearing, stunned the president into calling a meeting (details to come) to consider expelling me. But after the board saw the book and discussed what it really says, he told her clearly that ECMAS had rejected her slander. Why would the article indicate otherwise, then? Two motives seem obvious. First, how better to promote her (now revised) false claims on my book than to make it appear those claims are found believable and actionable by many who know me? And, of course, to hide the real source of their actions: in no way did the article disclose her influence upon them, or (as noted earlier) reveal her own hostility to me. But whatever her reasons, the article's core news report was a fraud. Its basic event was caused by coercive deceit to begin with, then both cause and effect were wholly falsified in print.
7) How long have you known [Tim] Adams?
As with everyone in ECMAS, I've known [Tim] Adams since (two years earlier) he got involved with the group. As we shall see, this question was not asked to find out how much I could vouch for Mr. Adams' character. Instead, the next four questions turn from my book to challenging me over him. Because I'd written the reporter defending him, they appeared to have been sent only to dispute with me about that. They gave no indication of what later turned out to be her agenda: a second attack on me, one over my behavior in the group. When the article appeared, it insinuated that I had an unsavory relationship with him. Now that I know the undisclosed intent that lay behind these questions, I can present key information about each of them. Let me begin with the simple truth about my connection with Mr. Adams: it has been just the same as with the others regularly involved in ECMAS, that of workers on a shared task.
you read the full text of the
This query and the previous one are at least seeking information, though what they requested appeared trivial to me. At the time her e-mail was sent I'd read only the news story on Mr. Adams; that had seemed adequate, for it revealed that he had not misled us. But the point of the question wasn't clear. Was it hinting I was remiss, either for not going to such lengths to inform myself, or for failing to act in some unstated manner since the date of reading the decision? The reporter had already accused the ECMAS president of unconcern over Mr. Adams' crime. She thus appears here to be suggesting that I should have investigated the matter beyond his account and the one in the newspaper.
The reporter's seeming bad faith: in charging us with lack of concern, and in her own expressions of concern
It turns out that in a parallel situation (where there was no concurrent news story to read), the Post reporter had not investigated--not even by asking to see Ms. Malenfant's copies of the records--some serious things she had told her about: her conviction for theft, the government's seizure of her child or her former alcoholism. Now, that conviction and apprehension may or may not have been just; my only point here is the reporter's manifest double standard. For she had reported positively and extensively on Ms. Malenfant as a parents' rights activist. But an alcoholic parent, or one whose child had been rightly seized, could seriously taint the movement. So by the reporter's own reasoning, she should have investigated these things. Her failure to do so, I suggest, again exposes bad faith behind her insinuations (including the next one, in question 9) of tainting the movement and of not caring about those coming to us for help. And when the president of ECMAS-Edmonton asked whether he should look into Ms. Malenfant's background, not just Mr. Adams', the reporter replied "if she has a criminal record, yes"--but she did not disclose that record to him.
After being disbarred, Mr. Adams set up practice as a paralegal. In that role, he could provide information about law and court procedures but not legal advice on specific cases. And the reporter knew that many who aren't members of the Bar lawfully give such help: paralegals, legal agents, court counselors, law students--none of whom, in general, even have law degrees. Yet later on in print, we will see, she wholly blurred the crucial distinction between the kind of legal help he could give and the kind he could not. Note also that Ms. Malenfant had no legal training, yet advised those she called "clients" on legal matters. The reporter was long told of such activities by her, but did not object or investigate. (Investigating would've revealed what ECMAS learned: much of the success she claimed was invented in her own mind.) In fact, as we'll see, the reporter expressed great fear of harm to people owing to Mr. Adams' past, but not of harm owing to Ms. Malenfant's being unqualified. Whatever were her actual views on non-Bar-members giving legal advice or legal information, she knew it was her ally, not Mr. Adams, who was apt to tragically mislead vulnerable people. So her stated fears of harm done to such people by him but not by her reflect yet more bad faith.
The published insinuation that I concealed Mr. Adams' disbarment
What this question from the Post reporter did not do was let me know of, and thus let me respond to, an insinuation that she would later publish in the article about me: that I was covering up Mr. Adams' disbarment. (That it was her intention for readers to believe this is indicated by things she had said to some interviewees.) The article quoted an anonymous source as saying, referring to my urging individuals to avail themselves of Mr. Adams' legal knowledge, "He's never said, [Tim] is a disbarred lawyer but he can still help you". As the reporter knew, however, his crime and having been disbarred were common knowledge in the group. And in directing new people to Mr. Adams I often did mention it. Usually I did not, at least when time was short, since I knew that if they spoke to him at length he would tell them all about it. The reporter too knew this, for he had personally discussed it with nearly all of her informants. But she failed to publish this fact--casting doubt on his claim of doing so by means of the above quotation about me.
The context the quoted person spoke of was the meetings of the ECMAS support group. Due to his law degree, on about three of those occasions I referred to Mr. Adams as a lawyer--not, as alleged, calling his words 'legal advice'-- adding that he was "not in practice". (I had to add that so no one would think he could be hired as legal counsel. But rarely in the meetings, though it was clear he had superior legal knowledge, did anyone mention even that he had a law degree. As discussed below, we pointedly told visitors that in this meeting we share information as laymen, not professionals.) And in fact, I did not then note his having been disbarred. Again, the simple reason was lack of time to go off-topic into the long story just then; time was always very precious in those sessions. Others having occasion there to note Mr. Adams' special knowledge also didn't mention his disbarment--including the very person quoted.
As we will see, granting that individual anonymity was illegitimate--but the reporter could have asked me about this claim of his without identifying him. (The identities of all four unnamed sources had been fairly clear to me and to others, and were later confirmed by her interview records. Despite knowing we knew who they were, CanWest long withheld from the discovery process information that "might identify" them--to me, not to the public--but that was crucial to my case. This and other obstruction by them have delayed clearing my name for years.) That person was highly outspoken in those meetings. He had once associated much with Mr. Adams, wanting to gather knowledge to become a paralegal himself, until conflict arose between them. (Despite profound ignorance, he later took paid work as a legal agent.) Up until then, he would enthusiastically recommend Mr. Adams, passing out the latter's business card to new people. Revealingly, he hid these crucial facts from the reporter. And she, even though professedly keen to hear of any cases of Mr. Adams being thus recommended (see question 10), did not ask him if he had done it. She also didn't ask him whether he had ever mentioned Mr. Adams' disbarment in those meetings. To repeat, he had not.
Also to repeat, she kept Ms. Malenfant's offence from ECMAS--and from the public. The reporter told ECMAS her concern wasn't that Mr. Adams had committed a crime, but the specific type it was--perhaps excusing her crime was the reason. For the next question presents as the main issue, not his disbarment, but the particular behavior that led to it: soliciting sex from a minor five years before. Again: her way to justify attacking my old book in a news article was to tie it to his recent election in ECMAS. So she was out to link my words on child sexuality to his crime--with all the guilt by association such linking would carry. She went on to strengthen the association through insinuations, which we've just begun to see, that something was very suspect about my support for Mr. Adams' work in ECMAS.
9) Do you think it is appropriate for a person
who has pleaded guilty to hiring a child prostitute to be the Vice-President of
a group such as ECMAS, in view of the fact that this group seeks to help
non-custodial parents, many of whom face false allegations of child sex abuse?
Do you think this reflects badly on the family rights movement in
These questions are again of the 'Dare-you-deny-wrongdoing?' ilk, not requests for information. In fact, in talking here as if I hadn't already offered my explanation of the election, the reporter plainly did not want me to answer that question--showing more bad faith. Not only that; to the president she had strongly objected, not just to Mr. Adams as an officer, but to his being involved with ECMAS at all. Since she would credit no excuse for such involvement, she was not open then to my explanation on that wider subject, either. But I can certainly discuss both subjects now.
The issues of rehabilitation and limits to punishment
What Mr. Adams did was immoral and illegal. But I
don't believe that a person who has received the law's penalties for committing
a crime should go on being punished indefinitely. And community service as an
ECMAS volunteer--he had put in hundreds of hours giving free help
to persons in need--is the sort of thing a judge might have ordered to help him
to pay his debt to society. The reporter knew of all
his volunteer work yet never acknowledged its value, so fixated was she on
condemning him. I never heard him try to excuse his actions. And he was very
concerned that his children not suffer more due to such acts by him. I have
observed him, as have others in the close-knit group of ECMAS regulars, not
just in meetings but also in his home, where he is a responsible and caring
father. The reporter was told
by the president. And it was confirmed by
Note as we go that, though planning to write about Mr. Adams' dealings in and through ECMAS, the reporter never asked me about their nature. Nor did she ask me whether I felt he'd lived down his past actions. And many others in ECMAS would have attested to his character, had she been willing to hear. (As they did me, the regulars--all but that couple--supported him fully throughout the reporter's fictional "scandal".) But as we'll see later, she refused to seek their views, or even to listen to those who tried to tell her good things about him. So the Post reporter would forgive and not investigate, and even hide, Ms. Malenfant's wrongdoing, but not look into Mr. Adams' subsequent behavior. Why would she be so unforgiving as to reflexively demand his expulsion, without carefully exploring whether he'd learned his lesson in the ensuing five years? More crucially here, why was she unwilling to credit those who believe he had adequately paid his debt and reformed? Even if she herself rejects that belief, surely it could be held sincerely on our part, and specifically on my part. The only remaining possibility--and the only thing making this accusatory question to me relevant to her allegations about my book--is this: she was hinting that I condoned his crime. Those allegations, along with others we're yet to discuss, would later tend to give readers exactly that impression about me.
The issue of the crime's relevance to parental-incest allegations
Like the reporter's charge about my book, this one about Mr. Adams is based on the issue of false allegations of sex abuse in divorce. This time her premise is not false, for he did commit the crime. But her conclusion, even ignoring that ECMAS didn't deal with such cases, is still forced. For as her question says, the allegations involve children, not adolescents. They arise in custody fights where one parent is so bent on removing the other from the child's life as to accuse the other of heinous acts toward the child. The reason that this can be attempted, however, is that the falsely alleged victim is young enough to be manipulated into making the claim, or even too young to speak. We have never encountered such cases involving teenagers, who can rarely be so fully controlled--and who in any event are allowed by the courts to decide which parent to live with, which means there is no custody battle to be won with such tactics.
What the Post reporter was doing in raising this objection, then, is blurring the large difference of degree between adolescents and children. The "child prostitute" of whom she writes was a near-adult 16 years old, hence very unlike the children involved in custody sex-abuse allegations. (What Mr. Adams did was illegal, not because of her age per se, but because she was under 18 and his client. Two years later, it would have been neither illegal nor grounds for disbarment.) I do not say this to minimize his wrongdoing. As my book notes, adolescents need special protection still, and they often lack the understanding to deal with the dangers they face in the modern world. But they are also very different from children. This fact is recognized elsewhere by the reporter herself, who has published no outrage over teenagers' sexual behavior; recall how she defended her own. And, to illustrate especially benign pornography depicting minors, she has cited a hypothetical story about sexual intercourse between her and a 17-year-old youth.
Then why, in this context, would the reporter blur the distinction between adolescents and children? One possibility is that she was hinting that Mr. Adams is a pedophile. I trust she was not doing so, but the distinction must be made clear: Like all other sexual deviations, erotic attraction to children has no real cure; thus, until such cures are found, society is justified in monitoring those who have this psychological disorder. In contrast, adult sexual attraction to adolescents is biologically natural--although in the modern world, there are good reasons to prevent sexual contact between adults and teenagers. But the attraction is nearly always just a manifestation of attraction to sexually mature persons in general. So rarely is there obsessive desire, as there is with pedophilia, for sexual contact with persons of that age. Thus, there is no perversion to be cured; rehabilitation is a relatively minor change in attitude and behavior.
Even if not including that reason, the reporter's reasons for blurring this key age distinction seem to include guilt by association: to make Mr. Adams' actions appear less forgivable, the better to justify her punitiveness. (Years before, he'd been charged for publicly soliciting a prostitute; as that involved an adult, it is among offenses she's said are not relevant.) Also, lumping a 16-year-old in with children would enhance her association between my book's words on child sexuality and Mr. Adams' crime. And--crucially--she needed to make his past seem in conflict with the specific work of ECMAS, just as she did regarding my book. (Partly, recall, so her reasons against him wouldn't apply to her ally as well.) But since the false-incest-allegation problem does not involve teens, in his case too, there is no special conflict. In fact, though presented here as the reason to oppose Mr. Adams' being in ECMAS, it arose after her intent to attack him. In her first six interviews, full of objections to him, she never hinted that his presence--or my book--might "reflect badly" on people in the group facing incest allegations. Despite a week of prior discussions with Ms. Malenfant, even to Mr. Adams himself she didn't mention this objection. If even she took so long to decide that he or I might taint these accused, it is very suspicious for her to suggest that people in general would even notice the point. So again: surely she knew her central argument was inadequate--but was bent on finding some excuse to destroy us.
The issue of the vice-presidential election
Let us now turn to the matter of Mr. Adams becoming vice president of ECMAS. Certainly, the general public did not know what the ECMAS regulars did about his character. And for an organization to have an officer (not just a volunteer) who has been convicted of a crime--a crime of any kind--risks public misunderstanding and disapproval. Because of the appearance of impropriety, I think it is indeed unwise, in general, for a group to elect such a person. What is galling to me, however, is the crucial matter the Post reporter here knowingly evades: why Mr. Adams was elected. The regular ECMAS members were sensible as well as caring people; they wouldn’t likely have voted him in, and in fact, he wouldn't have stood for office in the first place, except for some highly extenuating circumstances. He stood to gain no personal advantage in so doing; his concern was for the crucial work of ECMAS. The president tried to tell the reporter why Mr. Adams ran, but she ignored him--just as she was here evading that information as I offered it in my e-mail. (Mr. Adams himself, desperate to appease one with great power to harm him, did not tell her the reason but immediately agreed to her suggestion that he resign--more on this later.) To repeat, it was pointless at that time for me to offer the story yet again. But here now is what I would've told her, had she been willing to listen.
How Mr. Adams came to be elected: Before the AGM
Soon after arriving in
At that point, I feared that Ms. Malenfant would try to get elected to the ECMAS-Edmonton board of directors. Just as I'd seen little volunteer groups wither away, I'd seen them wrecked by disruptive individuals; I felt convinced that if she were in such a position, her behavior would be so disheartening to the gentle people already on the board as to destroy the organization. I also knew how great was the need for volunteers in ECMAS. Because of that, some not in the habit of attending the monthly meeting for members (not ECMAS "regulars", in my terminology) might turn up at the Annual General Meeting and, not being acquainted with all the circumstances, jump at the chance to fill any vacancy on the board with anyone who offered. About two months before the AGM in March, I was given a report that Ms. Malenfant was saying she might run for the presidency. I was not worried that she might defeat the current president, for whom the regulars in ECMAS felt very much respect and affection. But my fear that she would try to get elected to some other position then kicked into high gear, and I expressed it to a few other members of the group.
As the election drew near, subtle inquiries about it came from the two sisters mentioned earlier, who had sided with Ms. Malenfant. The fact that they were maneuvering quietly, rather than making open announcements of their plans, raised concerns among long-time regular attenders as to what the plans might be. Then a recent regular attender--the one who wanted to become a paralegal--said that he might run for the presidency, and it was speculated that he was involved with her. As just noted, there was no chance he would win that post; the real danger some of us saw lay in there not being an active member standing for election to each board position, leaving one for Ms. Malenfant to get. At the eleventh hour, that of vice president was still open. So at my suggestion (three of us can attest), the president sought candidates: a long-time ECMAS member and a recent regular attender. The former said she would stand for the office if no one else other than Ms. Malenfant would do it; the latter said she would consider it. Now, the latter was the girlfriend of the one who'd said he might run for president; they first met at ECMAS meetings. But she had seemed very sensible, and, at the time, I was happy for either of the couple to be (except as president) on the board.
How Mr. Adams came to be elected: At the AGM
When we began arriving for the Annual General Meeting, that recent regular told the president she had decided to let her name stand, hence the long-time regular did not run. As things turned out, then, it was only at the AGM itself that the couple first announced they were actually running for the offices of president and vice president. They were also running, without opposition, to jointly occupy another board position. Then, Ms. Malenfant arrived with eight allies. Nearly all had been at an ECMAS event, but half had never gone to the member meeting, and none regularly attended any ECMAS meetings. (Among them, three of the articles' unnamed sources; that presidential aspirant was the fourth. Though the two sisters would have attended regularly but for time conflicts, none of the eight knew much of what went on in ECMAS--thus all had been easy to mislead about it.) As revealed in an e-mail sent to the reporter by Ms. Malenfant, she had thought that this could be enough to win; but there were enough regulars present to easily out-vote those she had rounded up. Whether for that reason or another, she didn't make herself a candidate for office.
Now, few knew that the candidate for vice president had been asked to run by the current president. Mr. Adams was one who did not; and because of her close association with the one suspected of plotting with Ms. Malenfant, he was alarmed that she might be in on the plot. But with the meeting in full swing, it wasn't possible to confer with others. So, as he told me right after the meeting, he did the one thing he could then think of: run for the office himself. That action had puzzled me; he'd never told me or anyone else that he was interested in such a position, even though I had discussed with him the need to have a candidate for each office to block Ms. Malenfant. But it was just her in-person treatment of others that I then so feared; I was not worried about her possible allies. And again: because of his crime, I didn't feel it wise for Mr. Adams to be in any such position. Besides that, I have always preached--given the gender sensitivities of the issues we deal with--that either the president or the vice president of ECMAS (and of MERGE as well) should be a woman. For these reasons and a third noted below, I went ahead and voted for the other candidate.
At the request of Ms. Malenfant just beforehand, the election was conducted by secret ballot. That had never been done before in the group--a show of hands had always sufficed--and had not been planned for by the current board. Hence when the new candidate for president passed out ballots typed unauthorized in advance, his prior link to Ms. Malenfant finally seemed clear. (Together with his hope of making the link less blatant by having the secret ballot. But the number of votes he got just equaled the number in her group, plus two more corresponding to him and his girlfriend.) The election for vice president, unlike that for president, was close; Mr. Adams won it by a single vote. Then the rest of the candidates, all being unopposed, were elected by acclamation. Immediately after the election, Ms. Malenfant and those visibly with her, with one exception, got up and left while the meeting was still going on. When it was over, I mentioned in conversation with the other candidate for vice president that I had voted for her.
None of this was reported in the National Post
So our claim is not just that extenuating circumstances led to Mr. Adams' being elected, but that machinations by the very individual who complained to the reporter about that result were what had led to it. Had the reporter wanted to know why Adams was elected, she would've asked--notably, about the effect of a distrusted person sweeping in with outsiders, clearly meaning to impact the election. But to repeat, she refused to investigate the election--even though it was allegedly what had created a news story, and even though she evidently knew that her informants had all taken part in the coup plot. The reporter heard bits of the story via Ms. Malenfant, whom she must have asked about it. But she asked no one else. Surely that can only be because these two were conspiring. Indeed, the reporter had the basic facts in a forwarded e-mail. Yet she hid from readers--and, here too, from her editors--both the coup attempt and the claim by the president and me that it is the reason Mr. Adams was elected. But why? Why would she refuse to look into the matter when we each raised it, then refuse even to publish what we told her about it? A likely reason was fear of alerting readers that her informants had conspired, and had a revenge motive. But surely her main reason was to hide our alleged motive. That it was shameful for us to have elected him was a primary message of the articles, with their insinuations of uncaring or corruption; printing our claim about the election would have undermined the whole plan.
Instead it was printed that "Ms. Malenfant says she made repeated attempts in recent months" before the election to convey concern over Mr. Adams' involvement in ECMAS. In fact she made just one such approach to its leadership, a month before the AGM, when she sent only to the president an e-mail (one of a series later copied to the reporter) noted earlier here. There she mentions Mr. Adams just in passing, in the midst of a multi-message attack on me. And she had known about his past for six months without making an issue of it. This suggests that Ms. Malenfant did so only after seeing it as a way to attack me. (As do all of her other e-mails to the reporter, which reveal that I, not he, was her real target.) The president's reasons for ignoring this e-mail's attack on me were noted earlier. And since no one else had ever objected to Mr. Adams' involvement, he had no reason to act on its fleeting and clearly vindictive words about him, either. She didn't even raise his past at the AGM. (Did she really hate his involvement? Or was his election just the weapon she needed?) The president told the reporter this in an e-mail--but was too upset by her bias to answer her return e-mail: it ignored all he had told her, yet scolded him for having ignored her ally's verbal attack.
10) Have you ever urged anyone associated with ECMAS
This query, the sole one on my activities in ECMAS, turns from Mr. Adams' just being in the group to his financial links with it. Though absorbing the insincere feel of all the reporter's other questions, it is at least a request for facts; the answer is that I have never done what it asks about. But lying behind it were allegations she was hiding from me here--her motive in asking was not to investigate. (Despite reporting denials by Mr. Adams, she printed other things implying that the denials were false. Had I told her this answer of mine, at best her article would've said 'Christensen denies it--but just listen to these juicy quotes'.) Knowing the allegations now, however, I can say a very great deal.
Creation of the support group
As noted under question 2 above, it was I who initiated setting up the support group for ECMAS. I had observed for years, with ongoing distress, the plight of people coming to its meetings: non-custodial parents denied a meaningful place in their children's lives, by lopsided custody decisions or by years of an ex-spouse denying contact with their children with impunity. They would usually tell bits of their divorce and separation horror-stories, but the meetings were for discussing lobbying and publicity, not for helping individuals. Many of these people were unable to afford legal representation, either from having too little money to begin with (yet having low-paying jobs that disqualified them from getting legal aid), or from having piles of debt due to the divorce settlement and the endless legal battles. Over and again, I saw them struggle until their financial and emotional resources were gone and give up in despair.
Then a hopeful new possibility emerged: a few able individuals learned effective ways to represent themselves in court. In uncomplicated applications, they often reported being more successful on their own than they'd been with legal counsel. Many more, I reasoned, could do it too. In fact, recognizing the great need, even the court system here began making self-representation easier, notably by providing information packages that explained the various court procedures and application forms. All the same, being one's own legal counsel is very difficult for most people. So the idea was born: a special meeting for sharing hard-won facts about dealing with the legal system. This included, for all who could afford it, referrals to lawyers felt by attendees to be both able and attuned to our special issues.
However, I soon realized that the group was
unable to answer most of the questions attendees raised. Not only that; too
many of them, based on hearsay or conclusion-jumping, would offer information
that was false--or which, at the least, none of us non-professionals could be
sure was true. So we were in a bad position: able to help little, and also in
danger of giving out misinformation, which could be disastrous for those attending.
The latter hazard was brought home hard to me a year before the Post events,
when a distraught
A few months after the support meetings began, Mr. Adams agreed to start attending (summer 1999). I saw him as a godsend for solving these problems. Not only did he have the legal training and court experience to make one expect he could correctly answer most of the questions being raised; the solid comments he made regarding things I already knew about attested indirectly to his knowledgeability. All of this, together with my observations of his behavior as related under question 11 below, constitute the reasons why I have been such a strong supporter of Mr. Adams' work in ECMAS. So far from being--as the reporter insinuated in this e-mail and in print--unconcerned about harm to that group or to the individuals approaching us for help, I was motivated precisely by the desire to prevent harm to both. And as is discussed below, she was explicitly told how the BC tragedy and others had made knowledgeable ECMAS people (in contrast to her poorly informed sources) strongly want Mr. Adams' expertise present in the group.
Turning to specific things talked about in the support group, one constantly stressed is the importance of educating oneself as fully as possible, even when having legal counsel, to avoid the many dangers of the divorce minefield. To that end, Mr. Adams' free information often helped attendees to work with and communicate more clearly with their lawyers. In other cases, it was very useful to those with the time and ability to do their own legal work. Lastly, many who required much more help to represent themselves, and yet couldn't begin to afford a regular lawyer, could do it by hiring someone to prepare documents and provide basic information for court. That Mr. Adams was available for this wasn't mentioned by him (contrary to the impression given by the article) in the meetings. But regular attendees began to tell newcomers that he could also give ongoing paid assistance. At the minority of meetings where this fact was mentioned, I myself sometimes did it--maybe a dozen times in two years; far more often it was raised by others.
My actual behavior toward Mr. Adams
To expand on this, I have often urged individuals expressing relevant needs to phone Mr. Adams, or to come talk to him at support meetings, or (if we were already there) to speak with him further outside the meeting. By far my most frequent reason has been to get them specific information, free of charge, on court procedures or the law. A second reason has been for him to refer people to the lawyers best suited to them, since he knows the work of local family-law specialists fairly well, unlike anyone in the group. Finally, I've sent individuals to him to discuss whether their situation warranted representing themselves in court with some degree of paid help from him. I have referred no one who I felt could not, even with professional help, successfully self-represent. (Though often, consultation is required to find out whether the person can do it.) As regards that third option, ECMAS knew of no other paralegal with Mr. Adams' level of training, or his awareness of the problems we deal with. Owing to the great need for a professional service of this kind, we would have been recommending him even if he hadn't also been helping our people for free.
I can now say why I answered question 10 negatively. First, I've never urged anyone to hire Mr. Adams, just to talk to him about that possibility. And I've never even urged that unless they had no lawyer, or did but couldn't afford to keep him/her. Hence, I've never urged anyone to fire their current lawyer. I recall just one time when a story was so shocking (making a harmful and binding legal deal contrary to the client's express will), that I said I would fire such a lawyer--not saying whom I'd hire instead. But I do not have enough insight into anyone's legal situation, including whether their story is unvarnished truth, to seriously advise any actions of this kind. When asked about alternatives to someone's current lawyer, I have always given out names of barristers said to have good track records. But I have never urged that services of particular individuals be either obtained or terminated--much less urged both at once.
The firing-and-hiring false accusation
However, the reporter has drawn no distinction between my urging--or even merely suggesting--that a possibility be investigated, and urging that it be adopted. Getting an affirmative answer regarding me when she asked an informant whether someone "ever suggest[ed] that maybe you should hire" Mr. Adams, in the published article she turned this into "Prof. Christensen has urged him to hire Mr. Adams" (emphasis added). Given the care with which she claims to have used those words 'suggest' and 'maybe' as discussed in section 5A, the change cannot have been inadvertent.
The article also said: "When the Post replied with a list of 13 questions asking, among other things, whether he has ever urged anyone to hire Mr. Adams, and what he means by certain passages in his book, he declined to answer". Such a claim would have led many readers to conclude that I had something to hide. But as we have seen here, the Post reporter did not ask me what any passages mean. And it wasn't The Post itself I declined to answer, just her. Far from refusing to reply, I asked them to let me do so in print and at length. The e-mail I sent the editor both displayed a desire to talk and incorporated my responses to her. (Recall also that I was hoping The Post would simply stop her; I wanted desperately to give answers to someone there.) Had he or anyone else at that paper replied to my message, doing so with honesty and respect, I would have offered any of the information I'm relating here. And the reason that I gave the reporter for declining to answer her was the defamation warning my solicitor had just sent regarding her. So in saying only that I refused to answer [her], failing to reveal that legal reason, she withheld another key fact. Of some of this suppressed information, and of the resulting false insinuation, the newspaper editors surely were aware.
As for question 10, anyone in ECMAS could have been asked it. So I repeat: it appeared to me back then to do little but insinuate, like the question after it, that ECMAS should not be involved with Mr. Adams financially. And what if I had, in my desire to help people--even if I was mistaken--at some time or other encouraged someone to hire Mr. Adams, or to fire their current lawyer, or even both? How would that be of interest to a national newspaper? When the article appeared, the answer became horribly clear. It would perhaps be of interest to readers if I did such while taking inadequate care for the welfare of the individual. It might be important enough to report if I behaved that way not merely "ever" but often. And it would be a very serious thing if I did the urging, not based on inadequate service by existing counsel or on Mr. Adams' specialty being more appropriate, but out of some ulterior motive. The article insinuated that I was systematically (not just "ever") pressuring (not just urging) people to fire their lawyers with the sole purpose of getting business for Mr. Adams. (Question 10 didn't ask if I'd ever done that. The article quoted him about our referrals to lawyers, but its nasty insinuations, explored further below, made that quote ring of deceit.) As if this weren't enough, it hinted--see section 11--that my motive for the alleged arm-twisting was money for myself.
The published accusations involving the two anonymous women
The article anonymously quoted two women, making it appear that I'd urged each many times to fire current counsel and hire Mr. Adams. Though presented as separate cases of my behavior, the two stories are in fact one: the women are sisters who had had years of custody and child-welfare troubles involving the son of one of them. I spoke with them together at, or individually on the phone while arranging (for weekend days, so their schedules would let them attend), meetings of the MERGE Child Welfare Committee--set up, to repeat, to help people through discussion with others facing problems with that agency. I was highly concerned about them; thus, when in conversation they would tell me of their latest court woes, I responded with any ideas I had that might help. On various occasions, I suggested that they contact Mr. Adams (free) to get specific information they needed. And, as both told the reporter, a frequent complaint of theirs to me was the continuing burden of paying a lawyer. So I urged that they investigate representing themselves with his help. That is, I merely encouraged them to explore with Mr. Adams the possibility of hiring him in place of their current lawyer. (Besides it being contrary to my standard behavior to urge it outright, I did not know if the son/nephew could handle self-representation.) Far more often, I urged them to get free information from him.
In fact, on the reporter's tapes one says that my repeated urging was for them to talk to him--and reveals that often, it was to get a question answered, not to inquire about hiring him. The other phrase both used, 'go to [Tim] Adams', is consistent with my urging them only to explore the idea of hiring him, and with usually just urging them to seek free information. But in print this was presented as campaigns by me to high-pressure two fathers into hiring Mr. Adams. (Why the duplication-deceit matters: one instance may be false, or true but uncharacteristic; two instances display a pattern.) I urged them to look into hiring him, with one or two reminders when they long delayed calling him--none after they did--for at most four such urgings between them, not eight or so apiece. Despite my fears for them, I had no motive for such boorish persistence. And contrary to the article, I never mentioned Mr. Adams to the son/nephew himself. I barely met him, ever, and never communicated with him. (Surely I would have done so, since he would've been the client, had I in fact been bent on getting them to hire Mr. Adams. Given that fact, it's revealing: the reporter didn't interview this key witness, or even ask the sisters anything about him.) As to firing counsel, their claims that I flatly urged it--before exploration of their ability to self-represent--are flatly false. (Those claims do have the look of rhetorical overkill, of getting verbally carried away by emotion.) But most of the distortion arose from their words being misleading, then manipulated by the reporter. Whatever the sisters' full intent, I found the words very hurtful.
I don't believe that these two falsified consciously; our relationship was long and friendly before they fell under Ms. Malenfant's influence. Finally, one regretfully explained to my lawyer: "she had given us so much hope that we just followed whatever she wanted us to do". As noted earlier, she became deeply involved in their court case, promising them success. (And getting paid for it. Ultimately, she did them no good, only serious harm--and once insisted that they fire their lawyer.) More on their motives later. For now, recall that they rarely attended any ECMAS meetings; they knew almost nothing of my actions at support group, or of all the vital free help Mr. Adams gave. Then contrast them to the other two informants. Each told the reporter he'd attended a large majority of the support meetings in the past year; they would have heard me talking with scores of individuals about their cases. And (though each was keen to discredit me) they never heard anyone advised to fire his lawyer and hire Mr. Adams. But in print, their testimony was kept from readers while the single duplicated case was trumpeted. Why would a reporter engage in such blatant deceit? Her motives will be further discussed later on; for now, there is a great deal more deception to reveal.
The published second-support-group anecdote
Another story (one more she could have asked me about without revealing identities) insinuating misbehavior by me involved a proposal at the monthly planning meeting to start a second weekly support group. I opposed it for reasons cited above: our great need to have someone with real legal expertise at such meetings--and Mr. Adams could barely find time to attend the one. I had a further reason for opposing this particular proposal, though I couldn't politely tell it at that meeting: the singular unsuitability of the person who was there asking to lead the second group. (The recent regular who wanted to be a paralegal and ran for president--and who was the reporter's informant for this anecdote.) With stunning confidence in his ability to provide instant answers to legal questions, he was the worst offender--by far--among those giving misinformation at the existing meetings. ECMAS ended up granting him permission to start a second meeting, provided that the only kind of support it offered was emotional, not help in dealing with the legal system. But because acquiring legal information was the main goal of nearly all who attended the support meetings--and because I felt sure he would never refrain from discussing legal topics--I saw no value in that proposal either.
The article quoted this informant about my opposing the new meeting, describing me as “'sure that the only person that can really help in that group is [Tim] Adams'” and wondering “'what the hell that's all about'”. It thus promoted this insinuation of his that I couldn't have a legitimate reason for that claim. (A belief born out of his fantasy that he could do it all. He was also upset at Mr. Adams and me for regularly denying his claims about the legal system.) But the reporter hid what else he'd told her: that he had good legal knowledge and shared it in meetings, that he resented Mr. Adams and me for restricting him there, that he'd asked to lead the new group--facts exposing both his motives and the ego-source of his 'what the hell'. And outrageously, she hid what the ECMAS leaders said contradicting him: that the group desperately needed Mr. Adams' expertise. To her views against Mr. Adams, the former vice president replied "but where else are they gonna go?" She knew that like the leaders, I wanted him there for the free legal help ECMAS could not pay for--she knew the answer to that 'what the hell'. She even made it look as if what Mr. Adams provided, far from being the meeting's very purpose, was against its rules. (Misrepresenting what he had plainly told her: support-group attendees are warned that the discussion of legal matters at meetings is not official information or professional advice, not told that there is no such discussion!) And, by failing to report that answers to legal queries are given by everyone present with any opinions, she covered up the necessity we saw for Mr. Adams to be there to correct legal misinformation--even though that danger had been stressed to her by ECMAS-Edmonton's president.
Yes, it can be asked whether we were wrong to want Mr. Adams at the meetings for those reasons. But the reporter didn't ask that; instead she obscured the reasons and made them look phony. In hiding the fact that ECMAS's leaders wanted Mr. Adams there, she left an impression that only I did so. The result of all this was an insinuation that I had a hidden agenda; that's the message of putting the second-support-group story into an exposé to begin with. Then, by adding this tale to the sisters' words, she made it appear that my real reason was the desire for all meetings to funnel paying clients to Mr. Adams. Yet her own informant saw no such motive in me, and, to repeat, denied the firing-and -hiring claim. Despite all she'd been told of all this, once in an e-mail (turned over to my lawyer only after hints that I already knew about it) she made the claim explicitly. Clearly referring to me, she described ECMAS support-group visitors as being "preyed on by people urging them to fire their lawyers and hire a discredited, disbarred individual".
Once again, no chance to defend myself
The reporter interviewed all her informants before e-mailing me, yet published the above accusing accounts without telling me anything about them beforehand. (To repeat: making readers think she had told me.) Even after the article appeared, my side was not allowed to be heard. Usually when one party publicly accuses another, at least some news outlets will tell something about both sides--but not in this case. Whether out of unwillingness to question actions by other journalists (notably those in the same media chain), or of seeing ECMAS and me as unimportant people, other papers failed to respond when we each issued a press release--both full of easily investigated facts on the reporter's actions--trying to get our story to the public. This included the Edmonton Journal (yet it had followed The Post with its own article on ECMAS and Mr. Adams); it is the main local newspaper, and is also part of the same news-media company. "Surely, if they had any defence against these charges," many would think, "we would've heard of it". My only remaining hope of correcting what the world had been told about me was to try to get vindication in court. That I launched a lawsuit would have let the public know I did have a defence--but they didn't even publish that news.
In their lawsuit filing, CanWest suggested that by failing to answer the reporter's questions, I relinquished the moral right for my side to be investigated or published. But we have seen the answers to that claim. (1) No one has a moral obligation to reply to queries full of hostility and distortion--and from a person who had (before asking me anything) promoted a serious falsehood to drive me from my work. (2) She was already ignoring vital information I'd offered, revealing that the queries weren't asked from a wish to hear our side. (3) Her guilt-assuming questions and bad-faith objections likewise revealed that her e-mail hadn't been sent in order to learn any new evidence--that her beliefs and ill intentions were already firmly in place. (4) All of this behavior engendered strong fears in me that she would also distort anything further I might say, creating a need to protect myself by communicating with her only through legal counsel, if at all. (5) The uninformative character of all of her questions made useful answers impossible--they were either about manifestly minor facts, or hurled 'How-dare-you?'s, or ploys to evade issues (12 and 13 below), or 'yes-or-no' demands that I confess actions/attitudes of unclear significance. Not one was seeking meaningful information.
Yet (6) I did respond on the only topic for which a useful reply was possible, my book, answering the disbelief that is clear in her 'yes-or-no' questions 4, 5 and 5.5. (7) The published allegations about my book and behavior were not revealed to me in advance. Her sole query on my actions appeared to be just another one scolding me for defending Mr. Adams to her, not even hinting that there were allegations against me. Based on her e-mail, I could have offered none of the detailed facts I've presented here. (8) It was not I but The Post that shunned communication, evading my initial offer of key facts to the reporter and two letters to her editors. Their plain attitude: "We have the power here. We will ignore your messages and all the pain we are causing you, but you must reply--in just the way we want--or suffer the consequence". Finally, suppose I had failed to reply, and done so without any good reason. Only the same arrogance, I submit, would make anyone think that gives them a right to print whatever they please about someone.
11) In light of the fact that ECMAS
Again the reporter is saying 'Are you not dishonorable?', not asking for our reasons. This time she didn't even hint at what she felt is improper with the arrangement, so there was no way to answer. Her complaint couldn't be conflict of interest--Mr. Adams was not, say, allocating others' money while standing to benefit personally from the way it was spent. (At my suggestion, the ECMAS by-laws forbade that any board member be hired by ECMAS itself--an actual conflict of interest.) Yet the article used much space over his paid-work link to ECMAS. As we now try to figure out what the objection is, we will yet again find reasons to believe that the reporter didn't even have a sincere objection.
Financial self-interest and ECMAS contacts' need for paid help
True, one finding customers through us might put his financial gain ahead of their wellbeing. But anyone who does business faces that temptation. Shouldn't we even refer our contacts to specific lawyers, since they may succumb to it, to the discredit of our group? Indeed, many non-profit charities charge for providing personal help, and could not survive otherwise; shall we say that they don't care about their desperate clients, that they are only preying on them? Some prefer to avoid the danger of financial dealings, but this doesn't mean that they are improper. (After losing her position at The Post, the reporter made an attempt to get money from divorce-injustice victims and others for writing Web articles.) And most who come to us need paid help. So it is vital to direct them to any professionals we know to be able and trustworthy. And if any such professionals are willing to give regular free help as well, that is wonderful.
This raises the question--another the reporter did not ask ECMAS or me--of whether Mr. Adams did deal fairly with clients. When he agreed to join the support group, that was a natural concern, and I observed his behavior over time. What I saw was fully reassuring. To repeat, in meetings he merely answered questions, never mentioning paid help. Sometimes he mentioned it afterward to those who approached him further. But with his laid-back temperament, and with so many seeking out paid help, I never saw him pursue clients. Nor did he ever ask me to send business to him. (My support-group notes suggest that he sent as many of his clients to us as went the other way.) More importantly, the reports to ECMAS from those he assisted for pay were almost unanimously glowing. Most of all, this became crystal clear: he was dedicated to helping people in these straits, whether or not it resulted in remuneration for him.
True, it would have avoided all risks involving financial self-interest if someone having Mr. Adams' knowledge had volunteered hundreds of hours aiding our contacts without ever doing business with any of them. But that isn't in the cards. Some legal help has long been given us by sympathetic lawyers; at any given time we're working closely with one or two. But none of them has ever been willing to donate anything near that much time, despite getting referrals from us; Mr. Adams' dedication was rare. We made no quid-pro-quo trade, however; once more, the reason we refer clients to Mr. Adams is that paid help of the special type and quality he gives is greatly needed and is not available elsewhere. In fact, ECMAS at that time had plans to seek funding to pay Mr. Adams directly, so that even extensive help could be regularly given to our contacts free of charge. (A third reason I didn't vote for him, given that by-law noted above. The reason we'd been altering our by-laws was to get charitable status, so we could seek such funding.) The reporter's smearing of ECMAS' name made sure that the many who badly need that aid would never receive it.
Another of the reporter's questions appears to be in bad faith
So: besides being unobjectionable and much
needed, referral to paid professional help is a virtual pre-requirement of free
help. Indeed, a no-financial-relations rule would have forbidden any professional hired--via the group or not--by any
ECMAS contact from attending meetings to give free aid to all of its other
contacts. Surely the reporter
these things. Yet
she implied in this question, citing an alleged policy of ECMAS-Calgary,
that there is some serious objection to paid legal work. (The
As does another fact the reporter hid from readers. Ms. Malenfant had her own family-rights "organization", Parents Helping Parents. (Unregistered and without members, officers or meetings--it was actually just her.) Working under this title, she got income by requesting donations in return for the help she gave, something ECMAS and MERGE have never done. And she was getting "a significant percentage"--almost all--of her clients by soliciting them from our two groups. In discovery, the reporter admitted knowing of these dealings by Ms. Malenfant. And yet she never published alarms over them, or even asked her for details. (In her years of writing about this individual, we've seen, the reporter never investigated anything about her.) Nor did she ask ECMAS or her own sources (more on this later) about Malenfant money-dealings. Her never-described objection to such dealings was indeed a pretext to attack us.
Undisclosed in this question 11--but then published in the article--is an insinuation by the reporter of actual financial wrongdoing. It, too, involves an unnamed but recognized informant: the once-"urged" person described earlier. (The details are again such that she could've asked me regarding the content of his words without identifying him.) As I recalled quite clearly, he came to several MERGE meetings, one general ECMAS meeting, and four or five support meetings. (He told the reporter he'd gone to 50 support meetings in a year, which others can testify is absurd. In print he was quoted regarding 20 such meetings he'd been at; even that many is so wildly false that at first his identity was uncertain.) The article quoted him as saying, referring to support-group visitors: “'He [Mr. Adams] kind of feels them out as to who's got money and who doesn't....and both him and Ferrell kind of ask about the financial aspect.'”
This, yet again, is vicious. The claim that ECMAS support-group visitors' financial status is explored surreptitiously ("feels them out"), together with the claim that the two of us jointly ask about money, hint at collusive exploitation. If not to imply improper behavior, I submit, there would have been no reason for the reporter to print that quotation. (Recall that her phrase elsewhere was 'preyed on'.) And this was simply the apex of a pyramid of insinuations that I was covering up Mr. Adams' past, pressuring desperate people into hiring him, and pressuring ECMAS to be sure no one coming to the group for help escaped his clutches. In the context of the message that the two of us share corrupt sexual values, readers would be easily led by this latest claim into thinking us joined in financial corruption as well.
The tape of this informant's interview contains something extremely revealing, however. He continued: "...and from that [Mr. Adams] determines, okay you know, I'm willing to help you 'cause you make good money." The many Mr. Adams helped for free can testify that this allegation of aiding just the well-off is flatly false. And it would be banal even if true; it reflects the unremarkable fact that those hired by clients for a living must find ones who can pay. But omitting that line hugely altered his words' impact: creating ominous suspicion about motives, it turned a claim that Mr. Adams gave only paid help into an insinuation that he was exploiting desperate people. And because finding out a person's ability to pay requires no assistance from me, omitting these words also helped create the suggestion that Mr. Adams and I were conspiring. (My support-group notes, made for personal use only, nowhere suggest improper dealings with him.) So striking is the effect of this omission by the reporter, that effect can only have been intended.
The insinuation of general greed
Another crucial point is revealed by the omitted words. Their attribution of motive (also that 'feels them out' claim) wasn't reporting observed facts; it was brazen mind-reading. Mr. Adams asked financial questions only in response to attendees' queries: to reply regarding child support, property division or qualifying for legal aid, he had to know a bit about an individual's income or assets. Yet this informant talked as if such questions were improper--at a meeting where financial troubles are a major discussion topic. (For the record, he is a cynical person. But he voiced no views about my book.) For a reporter to print words by a person who makes mind-reading allegations is revealing too. She didn't ask him how Mr. Adams "feels them out"--or anything else to discover whether there was actual wrongdoing. Then, to all her above insinuations, she added one more. The support-group leader would jokingly refer to the after-meeting pub socializing as occurring in "[Tim]'s study", since he went regularly and continued giving help (still free). The informant put the phrase into [Tim] Adams' mouth, turning 'study' into 'office'. He did tell the reporter that it was not seriously meant, that the purpose was socializing. But she omitted the latter fact as described by him and others, making it appear as if Mr. Adams did business there--and as if he was lying in saying otherwise. She knew how this would mislead, for no informant told her he did paid work there; their words to her plainly indicated the opposite.
In an article full of insinuations of greed rather than caring about people in need, the motive for the above omissions seems clear. Even ignoring the innuendo of exploitation created by the first omission, the words published hint that I too had a financial motive--perhaps getting a cut for helping Mr. Adams get clients. Having no knowledge about the child-support calculations or property division matters or how Legal Aid makes decisions, I have never asked people at meetings about their finances. I have given thousands of dollars in unsecured, interest-free loans to contacts down on their luck; I've never sought or gotten money via the group in any way. The president told the reporter this. Two frequent support-group attenders wrote her defending the character and behavior of Mr. Adams and me: unknown to me until later, Brenda Colmer and Rick Fowler each sent an e-mail pleading with her after learning of her intentions. She hid their words, too. But they, and others, can now help to clear both our names against her unprincipled assault.
It is hard to find words expressing the pain of having one's character dragged through the mud--the feelings of fear and anguish and helplessness and violation. One's friends know that one is innocent. But the great majority of those with whom I have dealt--or planned to deal--in my activist and professional work have no such personal knowledge of me. They would believe, or else "err on the side of safety" about, what they saw in the article or heard circulated about it later. "How can he pretend to be promoting justice and integrity, when he is himself so corrupt in multiple ways?" Because my name was well known in local agencies dealing with the issues of my work, many would be so influenced. How can one even hold one's head up afterward, much less continue on in that work? And the reporter knew very well what great harm she was causing. In repeatedly implying that my views and behavior (as fabricated by her) would scandalize people, she admitted what her allegations would do to me, and to those associated with me.
Some corruption of the reporter's own
We have now seen something very important: All of these informants' allegations were minor--they were turned into serious ones by the reporter. To do this she mostly used insinuation, a tool often employed by malicious people with no facts that show any wrongdoing. And, as in the case just above, doing that usually involved (a dozen times so far) withholding vital facts she did have, giving readers impressions very different from what someone really said or did. (If done in court, this is called obstruction of justice rather than perjury.) In general, one making claims unsupported by the evidence may be doing so sincerely--though irrationally--not knowingly. But departing from normal paths in order to omit evidence betrays awareness of what it actually shows, and thereby leaves signs of intending to deceive.
Further examples of insinuating by telling partial truths are to be found in the suit documents. Suddenly asked by an informant she was taping if she was recording the conversation, the reporter said "I'm taking some notes". Since that too was true, she didn't tell a falsehood--but she withheld the most important truth. (Later on she said to him, "There are some journalists who lie and I'm not one of them.") In discovery, she said she'd unwisely given that response on the spur of the moment. But she admitted that taping interviews without advising the other person was her standard practice; that means she'd had ample time in advance to plan how to answer when someone asked if she were doing it. So this appears to have been fully calculated deceit, not just a slip--which fits the pattern we have been seeing.
12) Do you, as a general principle, believe it is appropriate to vilify whistleblowers instead of addressing the problems they bring to light?
A question so tendentious and hostile reveals plainly that the reporter's motive for writing was to accuse me, not to hear my side. Responding to my e-mailed claims about her chief informant's behavior, it does not ask for facts; it is saying, "She couldn't have done anything wrong, so how dare you?" The reporter's refusal to investigate impartially (despite her initial huffy claim of doing so) is thus made fully overt. Now we will see how absolute that refusal was.
Informants can misinform
For the record, of course I honor those who have the character to be whistleblowers on matters of genuine principle. But in any collection of people there will be personal conflicts and misunderstandings; hence, one can always find some with hurt feelings (with or without actual justification) or misperceptions toward some. And the Post reporter knows, as we all do, how emotion can affect what people think they recall, even when it does not lead to conscious deceit. Beyond these unwitting distortions there is deliberate dishonesty, inspired by motives from self-interest to ideology to outright malevolence. And it is a serious matter when a "whistleblower" hides ulterior motives behind a cloak of high principles. So it is certainly a reporter's duty to guard against this second danger: to seek out evidence regarding whether any malicious motives exist, or, at the very least, not to ignore obvious evidence that they exist. But the rhetoric in this question 12 rejects both misunderstanding and malice as possibly influencing her informants. Despite expressed high alarm over the harm done by false allegations, the reporter chose to ignore that danger here. As the documents reveal, this attitude pervaded all her words to those informants; she never challenged any of their claims. Yet she did level critical--and even hostile--challenges at "the other side" during her taped interviews, as we will continue to see. But first we will examine much further evidence that she was conspiring with Ms. Malenfant.
Dishonest investigating and reporting in regard to the prime informant
To begin, the reporter knew how spittingly angry Ms. Malenfant was at me--and knew that anger stemmed from our earlier personal conflict. She revealed both facts to the reporter, as in one e-mail where she raised (but rejected) the possibility that she had "allowed my intense hatred of the author to cloud my objectivity" toward the book. In those e-mails she twice copied to the reporter before the latter e-mailed me, she made threats to ECMAS and MERGE that she would "bring our dispute [hers with me] to full public light". So the reporter even knew of her wish for publicity as a weapon against me for personal reasons. Yet none of this made the reporter wary over Ms. Malenfant's motives. Indeed, she told readers only of the earlier split between us, not of this wish or that "intense hatred". (But others too aroused Ms. Malenfant's great anger. The president told the reporter that she had caused problems for various people in her short time here. She ignored him, again refusing to look into her ally's motives.) Instead, the article described Ms. Malenfant only as being motivated by concern for the people coming to ECMAS for aid. This in contrast to how it portrayed me: as one who is recklessly uncaring about those people--or is something much worse than that.
All of Ms. Malenfant's e-mails to the reporter are revealing, full of outrageous claims over what is in my book and other topics. Such allegations expose the malice question 12 implies does not exist: besides showing great hostility, all those checkable assertions provided obvious ways to test their maker's reliability regarding me. Several times, in fact, the e-mails make statements that the reporter knew from other sources to be false. And we've already seen that she knew of and carefully hid her ally's own (no-'maybe') condonement libel. Yet she admits not reading in the book to see whether Ms. Malenfant's claims about its various parts were correct. Nor, as is clearer below, did she look into any of her many other allegations that could have exposed blatant dishonesty. This includes one so grave it had to be investigated. An ECMAS mother was told: "There are many sexual deviants hanging around your organizations", a threat to "your children". Evidently, the reporter didn't warn readers of this because she knew it was vile fabrication.
But what the reporter ever said to her ally about this, or almost anything else, was kept from the lawsuit process. A dozen conversations with her (shown by phone logs)--over four hours--were allegedly not recorded, not even by taking any notes. Their one taped interview--50 minutes more--was mysteriously erased. Nor did the reporter admit saving any of her e-mails to this person, of which there were at least five. Yet she turned over scores of e-mails for the lawsuit, including ten from her office to other people, and 34 written or forwarded by Ms. Malenfant. (Recall: only after learning I might already have it did the reporter turn over that 'preyed on' e-mail.) The Post kept no electronic records from her office computer, but made a CD from it for her--and she erased it! Then, when asked to produce the CD, she said she didn't have it. Motives for all of this seeming suppression of evidence, which she knew is seriously contrary to legal standards, will later be even clearer.
All four others quoted about Mr. Adams and me were contacted by the reporter precisely because they were allies of Ms. Malenfant. In fact, they all had special prior relationships with her. As noted above, one plotted with her to get him and his girlfriend elected as leaders of ECMAS. The reporter knew they were upset over her losing that election, thus knew that that too could bias his testimony. Her ally nurtured their disaffection from the group over it, then put the reporter in contact with him. He even spied on the group for Ms. Malenfant; we all know what such partisanship can do to objectivity. Lastly, what the reporter knew about his purely personal conflicts with Mr. Adams and me was noted earlier. Yet her articles painted him just as one more person concerned about those coming to ECMAS for aid.
The prior links between the other three informants and Ms. Malenfant involved the special aid she was giving those sisters. She was giving similar help to the third, who was intimately tied to them because his case involved a serious conflict with the same person: the mother of his child and of their son/nephew's child. I had referred them all to Ms. Malenfant, among two dozen people whose stories of injustice I paid her to research and write up. Then when she and I parted, she told them untruths about how it happened. (Not until this affair did I learn how much that affected these three; hoping to take the high road by not speaking ill of her, I hadn't told them my side.) Given that history of relationships, these three could hardly be assumed to be impartial. How much the reporter knew of the history is not clear--but if she or Ms. Malenfant were even a bit honest, it was covered in that five hours of unsaved conversations.
And a fully honest reporter would've queried the informants themselves. But the tapes reveal that she asked nothing that might expose sources of bias. Notably, and despite her professed concerns regarding legal advice and paid help, she did not ask them whether Ms. Malenfant was involved in their court cases, or how much they had paid her. Once again the reporter refused to investigate obviously crucial matters, or even to report what she knew. Though bent on seeing vicious motives in me, she failed to warn readers of even the possibility of even ordinary human prejudices in any of her informants. And she failed to report that all four of her informants had been selected and groomed by Ms. Malenfant. Plainly, her basic intentions in publishing were created not by their testimony but in advance of it.
Hiding/distorting further facts regarding the credibility of the other informants
The other influence on the sisters unreported to readers, of which I learned only later, was Ms. Malenfant's claims to them over my book. Knowing they had no firsthand knowledge of it, the reporter reinforced that influence by telling one it says "disturbing" things about sex and children. Consider how they might have reacted to her own writings--which she didn't disclose to them--about adult-child sex or portrayed sexual violence: by later "remembering" some outrageous things she'd said to them, perhaps. So it is plausible that the sisters' claims about my words to them were distorted by emotion. Reflect also that, despite never having seen my book, they felt they had knowledge enough to condemn it. Can those who accuse based only on hearsay be trusted about other claims?--especially when they knew their source of information had a motive, personal hatred of me, for misrepresenting. In any case, the influences here listed can readily explain the minor distortions (twisted by the reporter into serious ones) that these four committed.
The motives of the four are also called into question by their desire to remain unnamed. The article said anonymity was given "due to worries that public identification might negatively affect their ongoing divorce cases". Since these events were unrelated to the facts in those cases, this was already a dubious excuse. But in truth, such a concern was stated only by the sisters. (And the aunt's differing last name would not have been recognized in court, nor would the first name or initials of any of them.) In fact, one frankly said that his reason for asking anonymity was fear of being caught by the group. At first, the grandmother too said that her reason was fear of trouble with them. But ECMAS is not the Mafia; evading exposure for their actions was the most likely motive for all four. And as the reporter herself passionately argued in her book, seeking anonymity in the hope of escaping accountability is not being a principled whistleblower. Yet she was so determined to discredit me that she granted anonymity to every one of the four.
A Southam newspaper code of ethics says: "If an unnamed source is used for a story, every effort should be made to corroborate the facts through other sources"; "always try to avoid allowing unnamed sources to attack an individual or an organization in the newspaper". The reasons are clear. Anonymity means informants' veracity cannot be tested by anyone; such testimony is inherently suspect. And the accused are denied an opportunity to answer their accusers. The reporter knows all this; when her second informant, like her first, asked to be unnamed--but before that court-excuse arose--she strongly resisted. Post readers too would realize the dangers in anonymity. This could explain why she covered up that illegitimate motive had by some (or all) of her informants--and her real motives for accepting it.
Seeking quotes supporting her accusations, not investigating, the purpose of all the rest of her interviews
The reporter contacted only people Ms. Malenfant
sent her to. Of the
remaining four, only the president of ECMAS-Edmonton had actual knowledge about the election or Mr. Adams'
work. The others were the leader of the ECMAS branch in distant
The president had little firsthand knowledge of the support group; childcare duties kept him at home on that night of the week. Consequently, he gave the reporter the name and phone number of the leader of its meetings, so she could interview him and others knowledgeable about them. Her phone records, and his, show that she made no attempt to reach him. She also didn't respond to Ms. Colmer or Mr. Fowler, mentioned earlier, whose e-mails to her indicated particular knowledge of the support group; they too could've answered specific queries about actions by Mr. Adams and me. Even telling Mr. Adams of allegations about him (about his motives, pressuring to hire him, informing of his disbarment), we've seen, was not done to give us a chance to defend ourselves. For she provided no details for him to counter--enabling her to publish those details later, thus making his denials look dishonest. And though her article would insinuate that I had unsavory ties to him, she asked him nothing about me. As regards me, then, the upshot of the present section (12) is this: she suppressed or evaded all testimony that did or might contradict what she went on to publish. For a reporter to completely refuse to tell one side--or even listen to it--violates the impartiality required by her professional ethics. And to do so to blacken someone's character is just evil. Like so much this reporter did.
Her refusal to honestly look into and report the facts on my book and Mr. Adams' election--the primary elements of her news stories--was discussed earlier; now we see that the "investigating" (her own word) was the same regarding everything else. If she had done her interviewing ethically--or asked me good-faith questions--she would've learned all the facts behind what her informants told her. But note that more than ethics in itself is at issue here; so is malice. For the reporter's behavior was not that of a person who is honestly mistaken, even egregiously so. Her actions were all those of someone who has a very different motive for conducting interviews than that of ascertaining the truth.
12A) Even beyond avoiding, suppressing, and distorting facts: abusing her power in order to coerce actions
One more aspect of the "whistleblower" question is highly significant. In using the term, the reporter implies that the informants have not created the problem, only revealed it. When the president spoke of Ms. Malenfant's motives, the reporter made the same point by accusing him of "shooting the messenger". But we have seen that she knew her ally was far more than merely a messenger. As we've also seen, the reporter herself was more than just a messenger. But she went even beyond grossly distorting the message: she was constantly trying to influence interviewees' behavior.
The Post's reporter as a player, not a spectator: relentlessly maneuvering others to get what she wanted
Recall that the reporter used suggestion, argument, deceit and stick/carrot tactics to get interviewees to oppose Mr. Adams and me. The full extent of this can be seen only in the documents reproduced here. But consider an example of both biased reporting and manipulation: She told one person, not that she was seeking the facts whatever they might be, but "what I'm looking for is some people I can quote in my article...who are basically saying that they're, they're a little upset, they're a little bit disgusted"--this after telling him I seem to condone adult-child sex. However much she may have influenced her informants, her impact on ECMAS was extreme. For it wasn't just fear of scandal that caused that panic in the group discussed earlier; as we will now see more fully, it was the specific things she did.
To the two former ECMAS leaders, the reporter defamed Mr. Adams with an anonymous charge--another banal one
(it too falsely pluralized?) that she turned into accusing him of preying
on people. (In other interviews she didn't say this; to
repeat, she later moved to that false-incest-accusation argument as the reason to expel Mr. Adams.) Even
the actual allegation was again mind-reading: Since he's giving both paid and
free help, Mr. Adams must be in the group just to get business, the reporter's
sole interviewee before these two had reasoned--but had alleged no wrongful acts. So: she was attacking, not
investigating from the very start,
with any manipulative tool that
came to hand. As for the
To [Tim] Adams, the reporter said that if he resigned as vice president, her editor might drop the article as no longer newsworthy; he offered his resignation at a board meeting, originally scheduled for a different purpose, that evening. No vote was taken, as the president hadn't yet had contact with the reporter. (After proselytizing the former leaders, she left a recording for him at a number that tells callers it's the ECMAS message line--but did not seek out his own phone number.) Desperate, we called her office that night. She phoned him back next day, saying "My conversation with [Tim] Adams suggested that he was resigned, that there was no question about it. And I expected to see, you know, a fax on my desk this morning with, you know, telling me that that had happened and an effective date. And there was no fax." She added that the article would go ahead--but plainly indicated, quoting her editor, that The Post would portray ECMAS less harshly if they would take remedial steps. She then made clear this meant expelling Mr. Adams and me. To allow time for that, she told the president, her editor would delay publication over the weekend.
The powerful effects on ECMAS of the reporter's manipulations
The reporter's inducements, from perhaps cutting the story to writing less negatively to publication delay, were clear attempts to control events. And they were not favors for ECMAS, but--as the president told her--blackmail. She had all the power of a newspaper to force her will on the group; and again, having warned of the great harm exposure of my alleged sins could do to that group, she knew the fear she was causing. But ECMAS-Edmonton's board members all knew me well enough to know something about my character. At that Sunday's meeting, I assured them my book doesn't condone adult-child sex, discussing its words and lending copies of it to those wishing to read more. Most of them refused to bend to her will even temporarily--see below--then braced themselves to be smeared along with me.
The leaders of the branch of ECMAS in
After Mr. Adams and I had left the
How the reporter's manipulation was used to promote the libels; how her knowing it was wrong reveals malice
The first article--the one that did not mention me--appeared as
quickly afterward as ordinary newspaper timetables permit, Friday morning. But
its central news item was not Mr. Adams' election, nor even his resignation. It
was the disbanding of the
Some way into that first article was the phrase 'after the National Post began investigating'; from this, alert readers might guess that the "investigating" triggered the actions over Mr. Adams. But none could've guessed the reporter's extreme level of interference. The second article, which made claims about my book and described ECMAS' actions toward both Mr. Adams and me, gave no hints of her influence--much less of the events being caused by threats and a frightening false accusation hurled by the reporter. Indeed, as noted earlier, it said flatly that the events were self-generated by the group. So recall her evident motive for coercing the expulsion-meeting and then misrepresenting it: to imply the untruth that many ECMAS leaders or members were outraged at my book--and that they had reasons to think it says what the article alleged. Indeed, she hid the fact that the reverse is true: that the leaders had rejected her allegations. (Even her board-member informant, recall, told her he saw no such content in the book.) To aid in this huge deceit, she even hid the fact that the board had voted down suspending me. Her article's core claim about me, of high opposition in ECMAS-Edmonton to me over my book, helped promote all of its other deceptions about me.
To promote the idea that others credited the
published defamations, I submit, is to further promote the defamations
themselves. And to create news oneself, I suggest, is to forfeit any legal
right that might otherwise attend
what it is "in the public interest" to report. (CanWest's suit says
it had a duty
to report that news to the public.) However these things may be, the actions just cited
clearly show malice: one who cynically flouts her profession's ethical
rules, and changes her story about whether she regards them as ethical rules, is not a person
telling what she honestly believes. But to repeat, the reporter went far beyond
transgressing such codes. As ECMAS people see it, her behavior violated basic
principles of human decency. The pain and anguish she has put us through are
immense. Moreover, she knew how much she would harm our little group. That she
expected the ruin of ECMAS-Edmonton is hinted in her printed claim that it was
being destroyed. As for the
Authorizing the reporter to carry out her malicious intentions: complicity by the National Post
In allowing such abuses by an employee, the National Post's editors displayed shocking callousness. To repeat, she clearly never received any meaningful editorial supervision, any checking up on her actions. Warned by me and by a lawyer of her initial slander, they had 3½ weeks up to publication to listen to her misconduct-filled tapes. As threats of publication kept reaching me, I faxed a press release to The Post and Alberta's CanWest papers and had that other lawyer's appeal sent to The Post--all providing more information about events and her behavior. Still they didn't look into her actions, or else did so but ignored what they saw. (Does that alleged duty to the public not include ethical reporting?) Only after publication--long after--did they respond, and only to employ the same untruths and bullying as she had, as if to say "We'll throw all of our print and legal resources at you for daring to defy our agent". Before I began a lawsuit, my lawyer tried to get them to avoid it just by reimbursing my expenses and printing a retraction--in vain. Perhaps they felt an ordinary person couldn't face the huge expense and trauma of fighting a rich company in court. When I did not flinch, they counter-sued, and went on to engage in years of damage-protracting delays.
Traditionally, newspaper owners have left content decisions up to their editors or publishers. But what can be done when the latter refuse to do their ethical duty? This is an issue of corruption, not of editorial prerogatives. The buck stops at the Asper family, which through CanWest Global controls the National Post. Since their company is legally liable--and their paper counter-sued me--they had a right and duty to stop this wrongdoing. A year later, the Aspers fired the publisher of the Ottawa Citizen saying he'd failed to follow their "principles of journalism", and promised to publish a statement (not, to my knowledge, ever done) of such principles for all employees. Based on their public commitment, I wrote the Aspers through counsel, sending them an earlier version of this essay and also letters, from seven ECMAS board members with firsthand knowledge, appealing for justice in our situation. They agreed to read the submissions, but did not respond afterward--or to a further appeal later, after David Asper took the helm of The Post. In light of all this, consider that wrongfully pursuing a defamation suit instead of retracting an unfounded libel is seen as using the legal system to prolong the harm to the person's name--hence seen as further reflecting malice.
13) If Ms. Malenfant is motivated by revenge, malice, anger, vindictiveness and a lust for power as some people have alleged, why do you suppose she brought her concerns to me - a journalist known for my sympathy to the family rights movement - rather than to any of a long list of hardline feminist, anti-father journalists out there?
This question was in reply to claims by the former and current presidents and me, noted earlier, that Ms. Malenfant's "whistleblowing" had an ulterior motive. With its mocking quadruple repetition of the motive we alleged (we didn't allege lust for power), it was an argumentative "gotcha", not a request for evidence or even for details of our claim. Like every non-trivial question before it, this final hurled challenge was not asked in order to find out the facts.
Yet another presented objection appears to be insincere, yet another question is just an evasion
The reporter presents this reasoning to argue that there couldn't have been any bad faith on Ms. Malenfant's part. But the latter had--via the reporter herself--publicly assailed the "hardline feminists"; e. g., alleging corruption involving women's shelters. To suggest she could easily have approached such persons ignores the hostility and suspicion that they would feel toward her. More importantly, going to opponents of the "family rights movement" could have been highly counterproductive for Ms. Malenfant. She did not want to discredit the whole movement, which would mean serious harm to her own work as well; she wanted a surgical strike against ECMAS and me, one she could control. Who better for that than a reporter already proven to give her just the type of coverage she wanted? Ms. Malenfant believed she had a special relationship with the Post reporter (more on this below), who had published major stories about her nationally. Finally, consider the reverse psychological point: there is no better cover for illicit motives than to get a known ally--as the Post reporter had indeed been to divorce-reform groups--to do the dishing of dirt. If she declined, Ms. Malenfant could still approach the "hardline feminists" later. Unless she went to such persons as well, and got rebuffed--even at this time, we've seen, the reporter knew she'd also taken her claims to local news media.
Since the reporter could see all these things, she had to know that this argument regarding motive is terribly weak. I saw it as just a way of evading our requests that she investigate her ally. Even so, it directs us to a central legal issue: whether or not a given person "had a motive" for acting in such-and-such a way. Of course, much more uncertain is whether the person acted out of a given motive she/he had, rather than from another one he/she also had or else may have had. So, being cautious about whether a given motive in fact motivated an action, let us pursue her question on this topic by asking about her own motives, and those of the editors and owners of The Post--and also about mine.
Possible motivations of the reporter's behavior in general
A key question in this regard involves conflict of interest: the
reporter's prior relationship with her chief informant. When Ms. Malenfant came
As for other plausible motives to misrepresent my words and actions, I earlier suggested two: the reporter's anger at facts she fiercely dislikes being presented in my book, making her wish to punish me (a genuine case of shooting the messenger), and desire for public damage-control over her own controversial sexual views. In any case, her alleged reasons for attacking ECMAS and me have all proven here to be valueless, and in bad faith. The primary motive she claimed was fear that my "views" would "taint" persons falsely accused of child sex abuse. But we have seen much proof that it too was just a cover. Recall in particular how late she came to it--and how she defended Gerald Hannon, despite the tainting of his tax-paid institution and the harm to children from his actual condoning of child sex abuse. Now consider this: If harm to the falsely accused had really been her concern, would she have been so uncaring that she might be falsely accusing me? Had her motive been fear of ECMAS being tainted by child sex abuse, would she herself have tainted the group in that very way? She justified attacking us by saying one must treat allies the same as foes when moral issues are at stake--a principle I firmly endorse--but she never applied it to her ally Ms. Malenfant. Since nothing the reporter said about her motives bears scrutiny, her real motives have to have been something else.
Another motive not manifest on this occasion, despite her contrary
words, was her genuine sympathy for the equal-parenting movement. Had it really
influenced her, she would have been delighted
to investigate our claims--e.g., that the
In discovery, the reporter labeled the ECMAS president--an intelligent and educated man--as an "unsophisticated" person who, far from really believing she was blackmailing us, welcomed her advice. That she is capable of such a fantasy of self-justification makes her willingness to do evil much less puzzling. (Anyone told by someone powerful "I'll hurt you terribly unless you 'fix' what I tell you to" will plead "Fix how?") Also there in discovery she expressed anger at my first e-mail's warning, "You have no idea of the harm you are about to do". (When reading that, she had just slandered me to drive me from my work--yet she was offended.) No one as far away as she was could've known the entire situation here--and we've seen how non-existent her "investigation" was up to that time (also after). So she did not know what harms to local people her intended actions might do. She was also upset at my statement that Ms. Malenfant had a side she didn't know about. But I had worked with her in person; the reporter had met her just once. What kind of individual takes offense at hearing she doesn't know things that those who have up-close information do know? The same kind, I submit, who rejects new evidence over and again in order to pursue her intended course. I submit also that such attitudes are displayed throughout the discovery transcripts, where she repeatedly engages in obstruction and new unfounded accusations. And she has never shown any remorse for anything she did. In the end, however, we needn't know her exact motivations. Whatever their nature, we've seen that legally they were malicious.
Apparent motivating attitudes of officials in charge of the National Post and CanWest Global
Then what about her patent lack of deterring motives? Wouldn't even a reporter with the above attitudes have taken care, given the lawsuit danger, to avoid all that unethical behavior? I submit that she would've done so, unless, prior to and after my lawyer's warning, she had received assurance that her superiors would not hold such acts to account. As for her editors' own possible motives, that of backing friends or colleagues is all too familiar. (But no one would excuse, say, a police service's refusing to investigate an officer "because he's one of our own".) We've already noted their admitted failure to have anyone examine the reporter's records; that means they just had a lawyer decide what they could get away with printing. And even later, when the lawsuit had perhaps led them to look into the evidence, they continued to refuse my requests to relent and print the facts. That suggests lack of these deterring motives: any sense of responsibility for their actions, or caring whether they harm innocent people--or even caring about the truth.
Further facts suggest the same underlying attitudes. Other major newspapers have codes of ethics, and most belong to provincial press councils whose role is to adjudicate complaints from the public. But ECMAS was told, when it appealed to the Ontario Press Council for help, that The Post had refused all requests to join that body. In discovery, it was admitted that that newspaper had never promoted ethics to its employees, or even just adopted an ethics code. This mindset could go far to explain the failure of the reporter's bosses to stop, or even query, her actions--and their own actions in first ignoring, then fighting, my efforts to rescue my good name. As for those who control CanWest Global, they likewise just left everything with their lawyers. But the goal of lawyers is to defeat the other side, or to grind them down until they give up. The attitude this reflects: "We have no moral or legal duty to find out whether our paper did wrong". Yet as events elsewhere reveal (e.g., a recent New York Times scandal), not all newspapers refuse to face up to unethical reporting. I could only trust that a court here would side with principled news media.
Equally revealing, moreover, is the fact that this lack of concern for ethics has been applied only to The Post's own behavior. All through its history, that paper has printed editorials and articles--including the one about me--decrying alleged ethical failures in others. If done with integrity, acting as societal watchdog can result in great good. But the result is great evil when journalists pretend their own are immune to the corruption tempting everyone else. A major Post theme at one time, ironically, was the national government's lack of accountability to some person or body with both adequate independence and the power to fully investigate ethical violations. As they claim to have such a keen consciousness of the demands of moral principles, it bears repeating: awareness of the wrongfulness of one's actions is what marks the difference between honest error and recklessness or malice. A further double standard is reflected in CanWest Global's lawsuit defence based upon freedom of the press (a tradition for enabling the press to criticize powerful governments, not for increasing its own already great power over ordinary people). For the purpose of such freedom is to promote full discussion of facts and ideas before the public; yet that company has kept the public, not just from hearing ECMAS' version of events, but from learning all the damning facts they had at their own disposal. It took the sway of the legal system to keep them from just expunging the records of all the behavior now seen here.
My own intentions as alleged by Canwest Global
Another issue relevant to motives is that of the
intentions Canwest's counter-suit attributed to words of mine. I see these claims as a continuation of the
same kind of reading-in of evil meanings that the reporter was engaging in from
the very start. I've already mentioned my effort to prevent or mitigate the
reporter's published attack: by sending an e-mail with an anticipatory rebuttal
to the editor, then copying it to individuals who might possibly help or who
had already been drawn into the conflict. Later on, when publication seemed
imminent and my name had been tainted in
To warn The Post about Ms. Malenfant's lack of principles, my e-mailed essay said: "Ms. Laframboise has a close collaborator who is tightly allied with a certain far-right-wing antihomosexual extremist". (The reporter knew they had ties. He has promoted the claim that the real reason homosexuals seek human rights is to gain sexual access to children. He first told Ms. Malenfant of my book--alleging that it condones child sex abuse.) "Will Ms. Laframboise use her column to expose the website her friend shares with him?", I asked. In the counter-claim, these lines of mine were converted into a charge that the reporter had herself collaborated with the extremist (¶33n), then were alleged to send an intended message that she herself "holds extreme right-wing and anti-homosexual views" (¶35d). Trying to show how readily sexual fears lead people to unfair judgments about others' beliefs, my essay pointed out that the reporter's own concerns about individuals convicted of child sex abuse (due to the false accusations) made her, not just me, vulnerable to such unfair judgments. It asked, "should others infer from this that she is soft on pedophilia?" This was read by the counter-claim as an allegation by me that the reporter in fact "approves of pedophilia" (¶35c).
To repeat, in support of my book's claim of tragic consequences resulting from erroneous beliefs about children and sex, my reply cited further examples of such consequences. From the reporter's words it seemed plain to me that she held those underlying erroneous beliefs. (Not that anyone else at The Post did. Over a dozen times, the counter-claim attributed to me allegations about all of "The Plaintiffs by Counterclaim" which I had clearly made only about her.) But the tragic occurrences that I alleged as consequences of those beliefs were chosen precisely because she herself would find them appalling. (Argumentation commonly works that way: "This conclusion follows from some of her own views and things she knows, so she should change those other views she holds.") Again, my examples included witchhunts in earlier years over child sex abuse, including false accusations in child-custody cases, which had been deplored in print by the reporter and The Post. I illustrated results of young people being taught self-hatred for their sexual feelings by appealing to the then-current social concern over suicide by homosexual teenagers (the occasion for mentioning Ms. Malenfant's antihomosexual ally). And my whole discussion of sad consequences from mistaken sexual beliefs was clearly about events in society at large. But here their reaction was to say (¶35a) that I'd accused "The Plaintiffs by Counterclaim" themselves of doing all the things described: being "engaged in a witch-hunt", etc.
In protesting "Ms. Laframboise's own role in influencing" the events she was reporting, I cited a textbook example of such misbehavior. For the sake of the many who don't know the story, I included the event he boasted of causing and his motive: "This is not exactly William Randolph Hearst inciting the Spanish-American War so he could have lurid stories for his newspapers, but the same principle of journalistic integrity is at stake". The Post could see (¶33s) that the principle I meant involves creating news, and yet it accused me (¶35g) of implying that their motive was to print lurid stories. (It would've been absurd for me to imply that; lurid stories on a relative unknown like me would sell no papers. By the same reasoning, I also accused them of inciting a war!) Lastly, I issued several hypothetical posits which the counter-claim treated as flat assertions. For example, it read "If you care anything about journalistic integrity, ...hear the other side of the story" as saying "The Plaintiffs by Counterclaim did not care about journalistic integrity" (¶33b). By their decision not to investigate the other side, I submit, they themselves spoke to that subject. I also submit that the only plausible reason to file such extreme and plainly false claims in court was to intimidate me.
My actual motives in fighting back
As I stated earlier, I was left with no way to clear my name but committing my life savings and facing all the pain of a lawsuit. I could say goodbye to all of my plans for the rest of my life, or I could fight back. The harm done to one's reputation by such things cannot be quantified, but in my case it has been devastating. When the Post's article came out, I had had an appointment with the Chief Justice of Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench; a few days later I received a letter from him stating bluntly that, in light of the article, our meeting was canceled. Of course, most people are not so open about why they suddenly can't be seen associating with you, even if you ask. A gracious social worker I had worked with (she's featured in the MERGE video on husband abuse, and once invited me to lunch with colleagues at the Petroleum Club) would not answer my messages after the article appeared. National politicians with whom I had long collaborated would not do so publicly any more. Referrals to MERGE and ECMAS by local agencies slowed to a trickle, and the numbers coming for help at support group dropped by two-thirds; there have thus been far fewer to stay on and build the two groups. Before the article appeared, with my plans for greatly expanding the work of both groups steaming ahead, their futures looked very bright; since then they have struggled and withered. Also since that time, knowing the likely reactions, I've felt unable to say anything publicly on any of the issues I care deeply about.
One of my motives in launching this lawsuit, then, was to restore the work I was doing. And I've described how the ECMAS-Edmonton officers stood up to The Post instead of trying to save their own skins by sacrificing me; as they were unable financially to defend their own honor, I have been fighting to exonerate them as well as myself. Thus, when the other side in this suit finally offered to end it with a large financial settlement, I refused. Only when they further agreed to release of the lawsuit documents from the "implied undertaking" of legal confidentiality, allowing me to reveal all the actual facts in this case to anyone who cares to know about them, did I decide not to continue to trial. As I said in my press release at the very start, except for reimbursing expenses, I will keep for personal use no part of the financial result; it will go instead to undo some of the harm caused to the work I was doing with ECMAS and MERGE. So great was that harm that it can now be repaired to only a small degree. But we can at last go on.
The second announced reason for my legal action was to deter the individuals and corporate entities in the case, and others having media control, from committing such acts in the future. Ordinary people can seldom fight back against the power of the press--they are voiceless. And I believe that the behavior by news media in this instance is far from unique; it differs from much similar behavior mostly in the huge amount of evidence a costly lawsuit could uncover. If journalists are allowed to get away with deceiving the public, and with destroying people who have no way to tell their side, such outrageous acts will continue. So I will also use my resources to fight abuses by the news media. The reporter once wrote a column, "Save us from social workers on crusade", deploring the fact that many in positions of power over others' lives are far too often anxious to believe the worst, without having or seeking adequate evidence. Journalists must collectively address this problem: the human temptation to abuse one's power affects them as well.