Brad R

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  1. For those who might be interested, Wendy has updated her page at http://www.wendymcelroy.com/reason/libel.htm to include her 1998 correspondence with George. I am taking the liberty of posting here, in full, his original email to her, in which his threat of legal action against Wendy and/or Prometheus is quite clear.
  2. Unlike many who have expressed an opinion on this matter, I have the advantage of having witnessed most of it first-hand. Allow me to recount the sequence of events. Not long after Wendy and I moved to Canada, Wendy approached George with the suggestion that they turn the "Fundamentals of Reasoning" course into a book. In 1989 they signed a contract to be co-authors. (I did not witness the signing of the contract, but George himself has confirmed its authenticity.) The unwritten agreement between them was simple: Wendy would write the book, and George would get it published. At the time, Wendy was relatively unknown, having had written only the Index to Liberty and Freedom, Feminism, and the State; George had a much more prominent name, and an "in" to a likely publisher, Prometheus. Wendy wrote a first rough draft of the manuscript, and a second finished draft, and sent them to George. George claims not to have received the latter; I know that it was written -- because I proofread it -- and that it was mailed. (George has acknowledged on this forum that Wendy wrote the first draft, which he calls the "transcript," and that he was too "busy" to work on the second draft. By his own accounts, his only writing contribution was to re-write either one, or three, of Wendy's chapters before sending it out to a publisher.) Some time later, George informed Wendy that Prometheus was not interested in the book. From comments he has made here, I conjecture that in fact George was not interested in submitting it to Prometheus, preferring a different publisher; when that publisher declined, he took it no further. At the end of 1991, for reasons unrelated to the FOR project but involving a breach of trust on George's part, Wendy broke off all contact with George. Wanting nothing more to do with him, Wendy packaged up the FOR materials -- manuscript, disks, and tapes -- and sent them to George. (I mailed the package.) A few years later -- after the completion of XXX -- Wendy expressed a renewed interest in writing a book on reasoning, by herself. Being familiar with "clean room design," I suggested that she erase all trace of the FOR manuscript from her computer, so that she would be forced to write it from scratch. She agreed, and as I am her computer "tech support," I took responsibility for the erasure. So I know those files were deleted. I believe it was Wendy's agent who suggested that a book on reasoning would flop, but a book on reasoning for women would be salable. I watched as she wrote this, and proofread each chapter as it was completed; I also proofread the two subsequent drafts. Finally, Prometheus accepted the book, and The Reasonable Woman was published. In May 1998 George sent an email to Wendy, threatening legal action, and demanding money as the price of his silence. Wendy refused, and facing a legal threat, asked a libertarian attorney of her acquaintance, Stephan Kinsella, for a referral. Upon learning the details, Mr. Kinsella took the case on personally, and sent a "cease and desist" letter to George and a few of his accomplices. Mr. Kinsella also provided Wendy with a legal analysis which she could post on her web site. Anyone who has observed the legal process knows that an attorney will try to present multiple, independent lines of argument. So it is with Wendy. Her primary defense is that TRW was written with no reference to the FOR manuscript; and I can attest first-hand that that was truly the case. But a second, independent defense is that Wendy was contractually a full co-author of the FOR manuscript, and morally and legally entitled to draw upon that material in future works. (It would appear that George used some of that material in his Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies, and Wendy has never objected to that use. Contrary to George's claim, Wendy has never suggested that because George missed some six-week deadline, the rights "revert" to her.) Speaking for myself, I conjecture that what has really annoyed George is that, when researching TRW, Wendy read behind George for the first time...and discovered that much of the FOR material had been taken, uncredited, from other authors such as Antony Flew, Mortimer Adler, and Brand Blanshard. When Wendy identified such, she credited the primary sources in TRW. Do read the extensive footnotes for yourself. That is the story, as I witnessed it. I shall not discuss this further here, but I will leave you with two closing thoughts. First, if you have not read TRW for yourself, then you are deciding this case on hearsay, not evidence. Second, do be skeptical of any "evidence" that suddenly appears on a computer hard drive, thirteen years after the start of the controversy.
  3. For those who might be interested, Wendy's 1998 reply to Smith's allegations is still on-line at her web site: http://www.wendymcelroy.com/reason/libel.htm