Daniel Pipes: Juan Cole Comments on Pipes's Approach
Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Schanzer <http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/12/02/c1.cr.cardsuit.1202.html> settled a libel suit out of court with University of Oregon instructor Douglas Card. They had accused Card of being anti-semitic (i.e. a racist) and of being a leftwing extremist.
Pipes has a history of levelling wild charges against academics, and of being unreliable (he said in 2002 that Saddam was 2-5 years away from having an atomic bomb). He appears to have become concerned that Card had an excellent case and would win a big settlement, so he backed off and withdrew the charges, settling with Card.
Pipes had also put up a dossier on yours truly in 2002, accusing me of being unpatriotic, and asking that people who knew me (including presumably students and colleagues) to spy on me for him, and send him surveillance reports (he had helpfully included a web form for their submission). As a result of this targetting of me and 7 other academics, Israeli hackers nested illegally in US servers and set up spam robot programs that targetted our email addresses with 1400 offensive messages a day, in an attempt to cripple us on the internet. Like Card, I responded legally, by pointing out to Pipes that his actions could be construed as a form of cyberstalking, which is illegal in Michigan. He took down the dossier, saving me the trouble of initiating a court action. And the FBI got involved in tracking down the mass automated spammers, who felt the heat and disappeared. (There is not any resemblance between automated massive spam and a simple letter-writing campaign, where each me ssage is substantive and comes from a different person.)
Readers know that one of Pipes's fellow travellers recently brandished an outrageous threat to sue me for libel recently, for which he had no grounds. It should be emphasized that all three of these techniques-- untrue charges of antisemitism, intensive spying on private persons, and vague threats of libel suits on shaky grounds, are used by American and Israeli-American sympathizers with the far rightwing Likud Party in an attempt to cast a chill on Americans' freedom to critique Israeli misdeeds in the West Bank and Gaza. Card's lawsuit was obviously well founded, and was not intended to intimidate or to suppress speech, but simply to defend himself from false charges of bigotry.
Card's victory is a victory for freedom of speech and for healthy dialogue at a time when the US first amendment is under extreme attack.
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