The Nature of Private Correspondence - The Sciabarra Smear


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The Nature of Private Written Correspondence – The Sciabarra Smear

It is almost silly to have to mention some obvious rules of conduct for human beings, but this episode at trying to smear an honored scholar, Chris Sciabarra, is so blatant and wrong that it is time to remind folks about what is right.

From a legal standpoint, any person who writes a letter or e-mail to another is the owner of the copyright and this cannot be published without his/her consent. E-mails are subject to the same law as physical letters. There are some exceptions for fair use, but I seriously doubt that fair use can be invoked to smear someone. As far as I can tell, Diana Hsieh broke the law through copyright infringement by publishing her article entitled “Dialectical Dishonesty” on the Solo Passion and Noodlefood websites.

(In order to exclude fair use entirely, a comment would have to be added at the bottom of the e-mail stating that the material is privileged for use by the receiver only. However, this notice is not needed for normal copyright protection.)

From a moral standpoint, a private written correspondence where mutual confidence has been established, and explicitly spelled out as such in e-mails, is to be honored, irrespective of the content of those e-mails. There are many reasons one requests confidentiality – and in Sciabarra’s case, I speculate that he too had many reasons. For example, he needed to vent just as much as anyone (he even stated that in one of the e-mails Hsieh published).

People who let off steam from resentment say things they would not like their adversaries or people who are betraying them (or their values) to hear. This is not necessarily because they are dishonest with the ones they are griping about. There are too many contexts to analyze. People change, something not understood correctly becomes corrected later, after you are finished being angry at someone you love, the love usually surges. There are so many, many contexts.

It is already bad enough to share such content privately with a friend (and we all have done that at one time or another in life), but to publish the contents of confidential written correspondence without requesting permission is despicable – morally despicable. It is a total breach of privacy, decency and integrity.

Let these people who practiced this duplicity reap the rewards from their moral lapse.

Let everyone who reads this post ponder the following: how would you like the contents of your e-mails or letters a year ago – or two years ago – or three years ago – to be published on the Internet in an article calling you “immoral” and “dishonest”? Can you even remember what you wrote and what the contexts were back then? Have you never said anything in bitterness or anger you would prefer to remain buried? Have you never tried to convince a beloved friend who is changing to stick around? Have you never said anything you regretted later? Have you never seen your words distorted? Think about it.

Now think about this. If you send an e-mail to Diana Hsieh, Joe Maurone or Lindsay Perigo, you run the risk of seeing your words published for the whole wide world to see and God knows what the running commentary will be. They do this. They just did it. They think this is a correct and good thing to do.

You send any and all written correspondence to these people at your own risk. They are not to be trusted when they promise you anything about it. They have shown the world how much they value their own word. If they don’t like you tomorrow, they have no word.

I would take this even further. Notice all the people who are applauding Hsieh’s disclosure. They are calling it “courage,” “integrity,” “honesty” and so forth. There aren’t that many, so I suggest taking a good look. They are basically on Solo Passion and Noodlefood.

Now you think about that applause the next time you write to any of them. Think real hard. People who applaud that kind of breach of morality (not to mention the law) as a means to try to damage someone’s reputation have nothing against it. They support that kind of breach of morality because they think it is good to do that.

If you fall out with them one day, do you have any doubt about what the next step might be with something you wrote to them?

Michael

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That does it, Michael. You've gone too far this time. Just for that, I'm going to tell everything -- EVERYTHING, DO YOU HEAR ME? -- everything you've said to me in our private emails. And I'm going to post it on RoR, Solo Passion, and Noodle Food, so everyone can see what a cad and bounder you are.

Just kidding. :-/

Jesus, Michael, you put it with absolute crystal clarity in this post. Thank you for identifying in words what should have been a built-in governor for anyone with even a modicum of internalized Objectivist ethics. You and I don't always agree about issues of ethics and politics, but in this, I agree with you in spades.

REB

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The Scarlet Letter which Diana will be burdened with from this point on is *B*, and no I don't mean anything to do with a female dog. Rather it will stand for *Betrayer* for her disclosure of personal E-Mails in a public forum. I look at this as a serious lack of value on her part heedless of what Chris may or may not have done.

She uses one of the older fallacies for justification in the "two wrongs make a right " argument and yet even after reading her whole post( and yes I did break down and read the whole thing[based on something Jason Q brought up] even when I said I wasn't on another forum) I was left with less than conviction of her contention that Chris did her wrong to start with.

I plan on rereading the entire post due to the fact that a few things jumped out at me as being somewhat inconsistent with the conclusions she was drawing based on her evidence.

L W

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Roger,

Thank you. Dayaamm! It had to be Hsieh to bring us together... (I'm gonna stop right now while I still can...)

LW,

There is so much wrong with Hsieh's article that it ain't funny. I kid you not. The first post in this thread is a part of a much longer work that I wrote analyzing it. But I am not sure how much attention I want to focus on this thing. Every discussion provides this trash with audience. Still, here is another small part of so you can see one more facet of this smear. All quotes are from the article

Witch hunt

Hsieh stated the following about Sciabarra’s contacts with scholars involved with ARI:

He exaggerated his limited contacts with them to create the illusion of private endorsement of him and his work on Objectivism.

Then later:

And obviously, despite his claim that multiple ARI scholars were talking to him about "potential contributions" to JARS, nothing whatsoever has materialized in the two years since, nor do I think anything ever will.

Then even later, when complaining that Sciabarra was not releasing the names of his contacts to her:

This example is quite unusual in one respect: Chris forwarded me the actual text of the relevant e-mail. Most of the time, if not all but this once, he merely summarized the supposed correspondence -- often inventing, distorting, and exaggerating in the process, I've discovered. In retrospect, the fact that Chris' only qualms about passing on this correspondence to me concerned "releasing names," the absence of similar quotes from the ARI scholars discussed in his other e-mails is quite telling. From what I've seen (and not seen), he has no such damning e-mails to quote.

You start to wonder where all this is going. There is no way on earth Hsieh had access to Sciabarra’s computer (she never even met him). She has no idea of what e-mails he has or doesn’t have on it, so she has no basis at all for her speculations except for talking to people on the ARI side. From all accounts (except theirs), not just Sciabarra’s account, those people lose ARI-related opportunities just for maintaining contact with non-approved scholars. So I imagine deniability would be an extremely high value if a loudmouth (like one with Hsieh’s reputation) comes sniffing around asking questions. This is really elementary stuff.

But two things are obvious as all get out to me. Hsieh wants to (1) sell the false idea to the public that Sciabarra had hardly any contact with ARI scholars at all and was lying to her about it, and she bases this conclusion on no evidence whatsoever, and (2) she is on the hunt for finding out who these people are.

Hsieh made calls more than once in her article for people to send her copies of e-mails from Sciabarra – apparently to uncover more examples of his “dishonesty.” I would bet good money that she is VASTLY MORE INTERESTED in finding out who is corresponding with Sciabarra so she can turn this information over to her higher-ups.

Michael

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The legal aspects concerning email - that it's illegal to reproduce what someone else sent you, even unsoliticited - I'd not been aware of before and highly disagree with if true. However, the personal aspects of it are clearly that posting private email without permission is terrible netiquette and downright low.

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Aaron,

People may like property laws or dislike them, but in our society they exist in the form they exist. If a person decides to violate the property of another, he/she breaks the law. A case for fair use could be made, but from what I see, it would be an extremely weak one. Basically, Hsieh is counting on the fact that Sciabarra will not sue her (both for copyright infringement and libel, and I even believe some privacy protection statute may apply). He certainly has ample grounds to do so.

Intellectual property is an interesting area.

Michael

Edit - I just saw something funny as all get out. I can't stop laughing. Someone is irritating Hsieh.

Here is what the message contains (as off this posting):

To the obsessed person who keeps posting the inane message from Jenna: You are deliberately tresspassing on my property. Stop it.

If the "obsessed person" reads this, I also suggest you stop it, but for other reasons (you give these petty little souls too much audience). But thanks for the laugh (I wish I could stop).

After what Hsieh just did with Chris Sciabarra's intellectual property, who in hell is she to talk about trespassing?

Second edit - Here is a quote from Jason Quintana on RoR:

Since I believe that instances of slander justify the publication of private emails...

Despite not understanding the difference between libel (written) and slander (spoken), Quintana has made it clear that you send him written correspondence at your own risk. He says he wouldn't publish it but he also says that it would be OK to publish it if he ever felt "slandered."

Michael

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Here's a little thing I picked up while reading her proclamation:

She puts forth that Chris lied when he stated Peikoff's reply to his inquiry was "The Estate(Peikoff) would notify him if anything relevant turned up", and her basis for calling him is a liar is Peikoff said he didn't say it and then she backs it up With Ridpath saying Peikoff didn't say it and further on stating that other ARI people said he was lying.

What I would like to know is where is the evidence other than he said, and he said he said, and so on? Is there correspondence available to back up these assertions by either parties? It would seem if you are going to say someone is lying one party or the other should have some documentation. If not all you wind up with is pointing fingers.

Perhaps it's there somewhere, but I was not able to discern it and what we wind up with is one side seemingly believing the reply given was hopeful while the other side states it was totally dismissive; this would not be the first time that context was lost in corespondance and so to call this an out an out lie looks to be the way you want to interpret it unless as I said earlier there is other correspondence to back up the claims.

One other thing within the same area of the writing was Ms Hsieh's belief she had up till that point made a air-tight case for Chris being a liar and one thing should then lead to another with this statement:

If Chris Sciabarra would lie about such matters in his published works, I do not think that any of his work can be trusted, including his purely historical research on Ayn Rand.

when as I earlier pointed out it doesn't look as if her case is that solid so far as evidence past the hearsay type is searched for.

Also to be noted is she uses her conclusion to then say " I do not think any of his work can be trusted, including his purely historical research on Ayn Rand", yet earlier she had made use of Jim Lennox's revue of The Russian Radical as supportive in her condemnation of Chris' work, and in that we read where Mr. Lennox makes the point in the very first of his article of praising Sciabarra's research when he says..

Let me say at the outset that this book has a number of virtues. Its author has an encyclopedic familiarity with the writings of Ayn Rand and with virtually everyone who has advocated, commented on, or written critically about Objectivism. He at times shows great skill in synthesizing her views on specific topics from passages scattered throughout her novels, essays, notebooks, lectures, and interviews. He is the first of her commentators to explore the intellectual milieu of Rand's early, formative years, providing a deeper appreciation for her occasional scathing remarks about Russian culture as she had experienced it. All of this material is discussed, and exhaustively referenced, in the interests of providing a comprehensive analysis of Objectivism, not merely as a philosophical system, but as a philosophical and cultural movement. Nevertheless, despite this book's virtues, it fails in both its principal historical and interpretive tasks. As its central interpretative claims depend on claims of historical influence, the historical problems are primar

It appears Mr Lennox had problems with Chris' interpertation and conclusions rather than his research yet we are led to believe by Ms Hsieh that he can be relied on as a slam against Chris in her use of his article, but should be perhaps ignored for his appraisal and praise of Chris for his other contributions which she dismisses out of hand as "only a few sentences". and if you follow her line of reasoning would be fairly

inconsequential mainly due to what I would suspect as not being in support of her contentions.

That's enough to this point. Mainly this is some things that came to my attention and like I mentioned earlier there may be more supporting evidence for her claim of his being a liar up to the part where I stopped commenting, but I just did not see it and it would seem to be very important as corroboration for her assertions.

L W

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Conspiracy theory

I have seen some comment insinuating that my "Witch Hunt" post on this thread is a "conspiracy theory." That got me laughing pretty hard.

Dayaamm!

Here is an answer I gave Phil Coates about this on another thread here on OL:

Conspiracy theory? Ha! Hsieh is a stoolie who sang like a canary in public, broke the law (as I understand it) to do so, and called for people to send her their private correspondence with Sciabarra. Lemme tell ya something, dude, that I learned in the streets. A stoolie who sings in public sings in private. There ain't no conspiracy there. It's the nature of the canary to sing.

Hsieh cannot be trusted to keep any confidence whatsoever. Another word for stoolie is "tattle-tale." I have no doubt that any correspondence involving Sciabarra sent to her will end up in other places, including ARI. Let those who decide to send her stuff ponder the consequences of that.

Now, try to convince me some key people at ARI wouldn't be interested in knowing who corresponds with Sciabarra, especially people among ARI's own ranks.

Ha!

A is A. Blacklists exist.

Michael

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Whispering Campaign

The charge that Sciabarra is involved in a whispering campaign to discredit ARI scholars is one of the silliest things I have heard in years.

The crux of the argument seems to imply that ARI scholars are being somehow seriously damaged by a malicious single-handed campaign by Sciabarra to undermine their credibility and he does this in a sneaky manner – through private e-mails – where they don’t have a possibility to defend themselves. All I can say is that Sciabarra must be one badass mother.

Actually he is. He was one of the first whistle-blowers on the despicable practice of rewriting history by omitting historical references in ARI sanctioned publications (especially omitting the Brandens). Here are a couple of good examples from several years ago:

“Bowdlerizing Ayn Rand” (1998)

“Orthodox Interpretations of Ayn Rand” (2000)

There are more. All this is public record. Frankly I have yet to see Sciabarra called to task for doing something like this in his own work. There are other issues where Sciabarra has shown ARI-related scholars to be wanting scholarship-wise, but this airbrushing alone is damning enough. Why would whispering mean anything when he has put all this information out for the whole world to see years ago?

Has Sciabarra been the subject of persecution by people related to ARI? That’s easy. Look at any ARI-sympathizer Internet forum site and the reviews from ARI scholars of his publications. Even Hsieh’s article gives a few mentions. It’s all public. And where one finds that kind of activity in public, you can bet your booty that there is one hell of a “whispering campaign” going on in the wings. It’s not Sciabarra doing it, either.

So I wonder who is doing their own “whispering campaign.” Hmmmmm?

I find the charge of offline manipulation equally silly. Dumb. The insinuation is that Sciabarra has single-handedly engaged in a widespread misinformation campaign by e-mail, and this is the sole reason ARI scholarship has gained such a poor reputation over the years. (Like I said, lil’ ole’ him must be one badass mother.)

Giving your opinion about a person who has wronged you to a friend is in no way “manipulation.” Sciabarra and Maurone had a friendship that he tried to preserve. Hsieh ditto. According to the information in her article, she was embracing sworn enemies of Sciabarra, and Maurone was embracing her. Sciabarra tried to fight for his friendships and warn these people he cared about to ensure that they did not suffer the same indignities he had to bear from “purists.” Nothing more is evident to me from the excerpts Hsieh posted – certainly not her own theory of a deadly single-person e-mail conspiracy against ARI.

Now if you want to understand what real offline manipulation is, you should get near Perigo during one of his campaigns. I was – for several campaigns. Here is how it works. Once someone has posted something online that Perigo believes in (usually meaning something bad about someone he wants to attack), he starts e-mailing and phoning like mad to make sure that people post agreement. (I never talked by phone with him, though. He requested my phone number and I sent it to him, but that happened right when our relationship was deteriorating because I would not cave in to his pressure against Barbara. I have about 500 e-mails to and from him on file.) He is extremely conscious of the impact of public agreement and he manipulates that in the wings quite well. He even says things like “it looks bad if no one comments,” or “now is your chance to say [whatever],” or “isn’t [so and so] a sanctimonious twat?” Yada yada yada.

If you ever wonder how his discussions seem to generate so much interest, one of the main reasons is his ongoing “whispering campaign.”

Also, if you don’t agree with his position (especially about Barbara or PARC, this last being merely a cover for attacking Barbara), you should see the amazing amount of invective that gets hurled at you after a while. I suspect many people post something agreeable to him just to get him to shut up offline.

So Sciabarra is accused of being two-faced? Ha! If you want to see a classic case of two-faced behavior, get near Perigo. He will tell you some of the most astonishing stuff about people who are his friends. Seeing him point the finger at Sciabarra and having on file the e-mails I have from him (with all kinds of goodies about people he is cordial to in public) simply turns my stomach. To use his phrase, I can cite chapter and verse.

The hypocrisy level of all this completely blew out my BS meter. Maybe I should write an “immorality” article about Perigo? I sure have a hell of a lot more stuff involving a lot more people than he, Maurone and Hsieh produced for Sciabarra. (And one of the good things about being the way I am is that I will publicly own up to anything I write off line. I just don’t give a damn.)

I have no doubt that Hsieh is similar to Perigo volume-wise in her own “whispering campaigns.” She even advertises for people to send her e-mails betraying their confidences with Sciabarra. I see her interest, however, in witch hunts, not in malicious gossip like Perigo has. But I see a “whispering campaign,” especially with ARI-related people, on a considerable scale.

On a different but related issue

In Russian Radical, Sciabarra publicly thanked Peikoff and the Estate of Ayn Rand for “for timely correspondence on several issues of historical and legal significance to the current project.” He cited and/or thanked some others who had responded to his inquiries and referenced the pertinent items given in their responses. Apparently the people at ARI saw this as an endorsement for the book and freaked. Off they went denying all over the place and accusing him of dishonesty. Hsieh spun out a long explanation trying to explain how a cited reference and/or thank-you for answers to inquiries actually was an underhanded attempt by Sciabarra to fake ARI endorsement, then denounced him for his “lies.”

I wonder if she (and the others) ever heard of the standard scholarly habit of publicly citing and/or thanking sources for answering inquiries. It’s rather widespread. There is absolutely nothing dishonest about it. It’s called good manners. It seems kind of stupid to have to point this out, but incredibly there is an ongoing debate about it.

Also, it is interesting to speculate on what would have happened if Sciabarra did not cite and/or thank Peikoff and the Estate or the others. Knowing the behavior of these people, he might have been denounced as being immoral and rude because of the omissions.

The case of Allan Gotthelf is almost a side issue because of the high level of backstage acrimony. In Hsieh’s article, she makes it sound like Gotthelf issued comments to Sciabarra from a pre-publication critical read of Russian Radical that Sciabarra acknowledged in the book. After that, Gotthelf apparently never said another word about him. Not even in a “whispering campaign.”

Ha!

How’s that for innuendo?

If you believe that, I have a great deal on the Eiffel Tower to offer you.

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Michael,

I have not posted here for awhile because of certain disagreements I have with you and Barbara Branden and also for lack of time, however you have hit this nail on the head. Chris Matthew Sciabarra has not engaged in the kind of personal attacks in print and on the internet that all too many others have.

While I do not agree with much of what Chris says in the Russian Radical, I have the upmost respect for Chris' tenaciousness as a scholar and his unwillingness to throw mud in public. Chris' exposure of ARI's lack of scholarly standards in many instances has been an invaluable service for the integrity of Rand scholarship.

Jim

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James,

Thanks for chiming in.

For the record, disagreeing with Barbara or me is not prohibited here. Mudslinging and offending people is. (And I think everybody knows what that line is.)

I found an interesting thought to add to the public/private thing, thinking specifically about Sciabarra's privately-expressed opinion of Gotthelf. It is in a post on Solo Passion:

Those familiar with Rand's marginalia know that she said in those very private comments things about Ludwig von Mises (e.g., "the bastard!") that she wouldn't say publicly.

Rand, the "morally perfect hero" to these people can do this. Chris can't. (This is probably due to the fact that Rand attacked Barbara at one time, so she's been "approved"...)

:D

Michael

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Michael wrote:

I wonder if [Diana] (and the others) ever heard of the standard scholarly habit of publicly citing and/or thanking sources for answering inquiries. It’s rather widespread. There is absolutely nothing dishonest about it. It’s called good manners. It seems kind of stupid to have to point this out, but incredibly there is an ongoing debate about it.

Indeed. This is "standard scholarly" procedure. It's expected in academic books, and the author would be criticized for not referencing everyone who's so much as answered an inquiry about this detail or that. Nor are such acknowledgments taken as signs of an endorsement being made by the person acknowledged. It's entirely silly for people to claim that there was a dishonest attempt to make it look as if ARI folks were approving of Chris's work because he referenced them.

As to documention of correspondence, of course Chris has that. (Equally of course, for him to publish such correspondence would be a no-no.)

As to the Gotthelf issue, I think Chris is to be congratulated for managing to be so polite.

Now if you want to understand what real offline manipulation is, you should get near Perigo during one of his campaigns.

I was interested to read your report of Perigo's backstage behaviors. (You have "about 500 e-mails to and from him on file"? Fascinating.)

A tip: I commented in my departing post on the Social Metaphysics thread about dragonslayers having to have dragons to slay, and said that I bet there'd been backstage conferring about who would do the honors, and how the logistics would be handled, of posting excerpts from Chris's private emails. Fact is, I was suspecting that something was up, even before it happened. If you have time and energy, Michael, you might want to do a research project in some of the PARC- and JARS-related threads from about a week before Diana's post appeared. I don't remember in which thread, whether the one about Bill Perry's leaving TOC, or maybe in one of those where Campbell was arguing about JARS, there's a post by Linz in which he intimates that he's received material pertaining to a prominent person and he's looking into it. (In other words, I think the "conspiracy" idea about the background behind Diana's post isn't farfetched. Plus Valliant was by then clearly angling to have a reason not to publish in JARS.)

Ellen

___

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Rhetoric – Inversion

Rhetoric is an important signpost to look out for in any writing. It is used in a heavy-handed manner by Hsieh. Inversion is a rhetorical device that stems from the “history rewriting” type of mentality. It is extremely simple. How it works is the following:

The side you are arguing from has a proven behavior or defect. You simply say the other side is that way. Simple. (Psychologically it reminds me of the child’s argument: Child A: “You’re a poo-poo head!” Child B: “No. You’re a poo-poo head!”)

For instance, the excommunications at ARI are extremely well known. To argue by inversion, you simply say that Sciabarra/TOC/Branden, etc., are the ones who really excommunicate people. You would rationalize the past by saying something to the effect that it is reasonable for ARI not to deal with someone who insults them, etc., (completely jumping over things like timelines and other facts and contexts). Then you would start rationalizing your inverted position by twisting facts and logic all over the place.

I have no doubt that the “excommunication” example I just gave exists somewhere, but I just made that up because it is easy to use for illustration. Now let’s look at a real inversion in Hsieh’s article: shoddy scholarship. Sciabarra’s efforts in pointing out shoddy scholarship in ARI publications have been a matter of public record for years. (For example: “Bowdlerizing Ayn Rand” - 1998, and “Orthodox Interpretations of Ayn Rand” - 2000. There are many others.)

Apparently newer ARI works are getting better in some aspects of scholarship, but this in no way excuses the past. In Hsieh’s article, she mentions the following:

However, good scholarship demands far more than wide acquaintance with and proper citation of relevant sources. The essence of good scholarship is deep understanding of the material, well-justified interpretations of texts, and conclusions solidly grounded in facts.

Wait a minute. Hsieh just practically stated that Sciabarra’s “wide acquaintance with and proper citation of relevant sources” is above reproach. There is no problem with that part of his scholarship at all. He gets all his facts right. Still his scholarship is shoddy. Hmmmmm…

Her problem is with his conclusions. (Incidentally, I read over the James Lennox review of Russian Radical, which Hsieh mentioned as an example of scholars “proving” Sciabarra’s shoddy scholarship, but the only historical “errors” that he mentioned were later resolved. His main problem is interpretive – which means that he did not agree with Sciabarra’s conclusions). Sciabarra’s big bad dastardly conclusion that gets these people all bent out of shape is that Rand’s thinking was influenced by her teachers.

Ha!

(Well… there is another little issue. If you accept that Rand used the Aristotelian dialectical method in her thinking, which basically means looking at the big picture in popular lingo, then the ARI side HAS TO use it. If Rand used it, they are under strict obligation to use it. And if they use it, they HAVE TO include the Brandens, David Kelley, etc., in Objectivism. That’s quite inconvenient, so it is easier for them to deny the method altogether and shoot for character assassination.)

Let’s add a phrase to the second half of Hiseh’s quote and see if it rings truer:

The essence of good [Rand] scholarship is deep understanding of the material [according to the ARI view], well-justified interpretations of texts [according to the ARI view], and conclusions solidly grounded in facts [according to the ARI view].

There. That’s better.

Some other similar inversions to look out in Hsieh’s article for are:

  • Whispering campaign (discussed in another post on this thread).
  • Pressuring people to conform to ideas (now it is Sciabarra who pressures people to endorse his ideas).
  • ARI people historically being homophobic (now this is an untrue smear by Sciabarra).
  • ARI making people accept their Rand source material on faith by refusing access to scholars (now Sciabarra is the one who asks to be taken on faith).

There are others, but this should get you thinking in the right direction. It is always a good idea to check everything, not just the view presented by Hsieh or the others in that camp. Just because she essentially says, “Chris Sciabarra is a poo-poo head,” and then tries to prove this by twisting quotes from him (including private e-mails) all over the planet, this does not mean that you must accept her on faith. Check this stuff out yourself. All the inverted issues above are matters of public record.

If you have the time and stomach, look at the arguments that were presented to debate Robert Campbell on his recent threads on Solo Passion: "Is This What They Teach at the Ayn Rand Institute?," "Fractious Factions, Unsteady Coalitions" and "Mr. Perigo Needs to Apologize" for starters.

Several inversions were used, such as the anti- JARS/TOC/Branden side claiming that people on the JARS/TOC/Branden side are intolerant or rude (instead of them), but most arguments boil down to “ARI is not a poo-poo head. JARS/TOC/Branden is a poo-poo head.” The arguments look like more at first, but when you examine them critically, you see that this is all they are.

Rhetoric – Argument by Repetition

Argument by Inversion would not be enough to carry an article of 12,500+- words. So Hsieh used another technique: Argument by Repetition. I gave a small discussion of how this technique was used in PARC here. From that discussion:

How it works is that the author will state something at the beginning that is opposite of the point he wants to sell. After that statement, he then starts repeating his real point every chance he gets, even in the most mundane places. He milks the more obvious examples with two or three paragraphs repeating his point. Things that clearly do not apply are used to illustrate his point. Nothing escapes. When someone calls him on the incessant harping, he points to the initial statement as his proof of "objectivity," meanwhile hoping some of the venom seeps through the cracks of repetition.

Look at the beginning of Hsieh’s article (first paragraph only) and see all the good Sciabarra did for her. She pulls no punches. Sciabarra was one hell of a good friend for years. And she says so in all 231 words. Now look at the rest of the article, the other 12,250+ words. As an amusing analysis, her use of this technique is seen clearly by the following word count figures collected by a poster, William Scherk, on RoR in discussing her article:

Affection is written once, Chris is mentioned 160 times, ARI 72 times, they only 22, them a big contender at 25, suspected twice, suspects, suspicion, suspicions tied at 1 all, suspicious up for 3, scholar, scholars, scholarship popular with 77 total servings . . . along with a combined 39 for deceived, deceive, deception, dishonest, dishonestly, dishonesty, lie, lies, lied and lying.

I am tempted to count some other words:

  • Friend, friends, friendship, friendships and friendly jointly 71 times.
  • Smear, smears and smearing jointly 9 times.
  • Accusing accusation accusations accuse and accused jointly 14 times.
  • Trusted and trustworthy jointly 7 times.
  • Immoral and immorality jointly 8 times (6 of them dealing with the issue of homosexuality).
  • E-mail. e-mails and e-mailed jointly 38 times.

I could go on and this is fun, but it gets boring to read.

I should mention that the purpose of the argument by repetition technique is to get the reader to read out of focus through sheer boredom, so the incessant phrases and words like “shoddy scholarship,” “dishonest,” and so forth (within the context of Sciabarra), and “friendship,” “trusted,” and so forth (within the context of “betrayal”) are the most remembered points because they are less boring.

Rhetoric – Distortions

I won’t go into a long detailed discussion of Hieh’s distortions and bizarre interpretations. The following is enough.

  • You read in Hsieh’s article that Sciabarra states to a friend he cares about (and has helped for years) that he doesn’t mind disagreement, but wishes to preserve the friendship.
  • You read that Sciabarra thinks such friend has changed over the years into a dogmatist, etc.
  • You read that Sciabarra doesn’t think highly of friends becoming attached to his sworn enemies.
  • You read that Sciabarra thinks little of a person who makes vicious comments about him and his work online and off, but he is unwilling to take personality issues into his scholarship and publications.
  • You see clearly that Sciabarra doesn’t like to bicker a whole lot.
  • You see that he keeps his negative remarks private and gradually distances himself from friends who have disappointed him and who LOVE to bicker.

You read and see things like this. If you are one who, like Hsieh, Perigo and their followers, concludes that Sciabarra is on a deadly one-man-army attack of undermining ARI through manipulations and conducting a sinister “whispering campaign,” and that he is a two-faced friend, then you are either beyond rational argument or are unable/unwilling to see the distortions.

Hsieh’s article is full of these kinds of distorted conclusions. They are not hard to miss.

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Dumb

(For the record, my conclusions in this analysis are solely my own. I have not discussed them with anyone except Kat before posting them here, especially Chris Sciabarra.)

Introduction

I can’t believe how incredibly dumb Hsieh, Perigo, Valliant & Co. and are about Chris Sciabarra. Their whole attack is malicious, that’s obvious. But it is founded on an incredibly dumb thesis: that since Chris Sciabarra was dishonest with them, he is immoral. (I want to emphasize that this "dishonest" judgment comes from them only - in statements they published online on Solo Passion and Noodlefood. I am writing this analysis as if this were true based solely on their published statements.)

They just didn’t get it.

Have I been in Brazil too long watching “novelas”? Don’t Objectivists watch soap operas anymore? Can’t people see the writing on the wall? Sciabarra stopped respecting them long ago.

Like Jack says, let’s rip this thing up into smaller parts and take a look-see.

Honesty

What is the nature of honesty to an Objectivist? Is it a sin to be dishonest like it is to a Christian? Or is honesty contextual?

Ayn Rand wrote that the important thing with honesty is to judge the person with whom you are interacting. If a person comes at you with a dishonest intention, you are under no moral obligation to be honest with him. For instance, there is the classic Objectivist case of lying to a robber and saying that there are no jewels. This is morally correct. Telling him where the jewels are in order to be 100% honest would be an instance of self-sacrifice to a contextless abstract principle.

Therefore, if Sciabarra brushed off Hsieh, Perigo, Valliant & Co. in his offline comments to them (both by e-mail and by phone as they are loudly proclaiming) by making false statements (i.e., by denying the criticism of them that he had made in private), that is not enough by itself to condemn him as immoral. There is context to think about. There is a little question of values and intentions to look at first.

Incidentally, I have read forum posts by every one of Sciabarra’s current principal accusers loudly proclaiming the virtue of dishonesty in certain contexts – even the virtue of being dishonest to good honest people in order to maintain privacy (like Rand hiding her love affair from the public all those years and even denying it). Dishonesty alone is not a proper moral benchmark for these folks to judge anybody according to their own words. Condemning Sciabarra solely based on his “brush-off” statements to them is a hypocritical use of a double-standard.

They claim they are violating a promise of confidentiality to Sciabarra because he breached their trust. Hmmmmm... They brag about their dishonesty and take Sciabarra to task for being dishonest.

Ayn Rand said, “Judge, and be prepared to be judged.” Let’s take her literally. They judged Sciabarra in public. Well, now it’s their turn to be judged in public. Let’s see if they deserve the honesty they so loudly demand, or if they are just plain dumb.

Friendship and value

What value does a friend have to an Objectivist? I may have a radical view Objectivism-wise, but I believe that a friend has the same value to an Objectivist that he has to a non-Objectivist.

In Objectivist terms, friendship is a relationship between human beings based on mutual value. The key word here is mutual. Friendship is a two-way street. A friendship where only one person constantly benefits and the other constantly loses is no longer friendship. It is exploitation by one and self-sacrifice by the other. That is a neurotic relationship – more akin to master-slave.

There is another aspect to friendship: love. A whole category of love exists for friendship. It is called fraternal love. When this is strong, it is just as much an emotional involvement as romantic love. Such feelings can run very, very deep.

What did Rand say about love? Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead said, “Love is exception-making.” When you love, you make room for errors and changes in values. You give the benefit of the doubt to the one you love.

In terms of Perigo’s friendship with Sciabarra, there was a further element in the mix. I have no idea what it must feel like to be a homosexual and be an Objectivist. The mere contemplation of the idea prompts in me an uneasy feeling of being slowly choked from the outside.

But Perigo knows what this feels like. Sciabarra knows. They waged a campaign together and Sciabarra wrote his famous book Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation (with preface by Perigo and advertised endorsement by Nathaniel Branden) in 2003. They did something about this together. They were victorious. They bonded on an extremely profound level.

Sciabarra’s friendship with his accuser, Hsieh, and Hsieh's rotten conduct

Let’s look at Sciabarra’s friendship with Hsieh. She presented a small litany of good things Sciabarra did for her over the years at the start of her long complaint (paraphrased from Hsieh’s article):

  • He was a rare source of support and encouragement.
  • He invited her to submit a proposal for Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, an essay that ultimately became her first professional publication.
  • He wrote a letter of recommendation for her application to CU Boulder's graduate program in philosophy.
  • He enthusiastically supported her work.
  • He generously offered her professional advice.
  • He spoke with her repeatedly on the phone about her overwhelming unhappiness with The Objectivist Center (TOC), often at great length.
  • In private, he supported her eventual disassociation from that organization, albeit with some reservations about her so thoroughly burning her bridges.

Was I the only one who noticed that nothing was done in return during that time? In Objectivist terms, Sciabarra gave value and Hsieh displayed remarkable dexterity at receiving it. I haven’t heard anything at all about value flowing in the opposite direction.

So what value did Sciabarra receive from his friendship with Hsieh? As I mentioned, there is fraternal love, but there is another kind of love. I call it “farmer’s love.” A farmer makes his living at providing conditions for nature to grow things. He plants and cultivates, but nature does the actual growing.

A good farmer takes great pleasure in contemplating growth. It seems like magic and sometimes he cultivates things for no other reason than the pleasure they bring when he watches them grow. When this moves into the realm of the mind, this pleasure has the potential to become vastly increased. I believe that Sciabarra’s pleasure in watching Hsieh develop was something along these lines. (Like I said, this is my own speculation – I have not discussed this with Chris.)

On one hand Sciabarra took delight in watching a promising intellect bloom, knowing that he helped cultivate it. On the other, he watched a person who derived great benefit over years from his personal nurturing and efforts embrace sworn enemies of his life’s-work. That must have been very painful. On a value-for-value basis, what did this friendship hold for him after Hsieh started doing that, and also started defending practices and ideas for which he held contempt? Precious little. The friendship became lopsided.

What do you do in that case? On the intellectual side Hsieh chose (ARI), the answer is easy: forget all about gratitude and repudiate, repudiate and repudiate! But Sciabarra did not forget vital parts of himself. He still had all those emotions left over and there was one other noble sentiment that has constantly blossomed in him in all his relationships. He gave her the benefit of the doubt.

In honor of the intellectual promise Hsieh had shown, he cut her slack. He still talked to her in a civil tone, but the friendship started going flat. I believe that up to “Dialectical Dishonesty,” he still had hopes that one day she would come around.

As the attacks against him on her site increased and her denunciations of former friends (TOC people and the Brandens) started getting strident and overly-rationalized, smacking strongly of a sell-out, I imagine that he could not help but feel contempt. Still, he valued the past enough to keep his comments private.

When he talked to her, did he tell her his evolving opinion of her? No. He brushed her off. It was no use arguing with her and he did not respect the intellectual path she had chosen. Hope is the last thing to die, though, so he simply distanced himself from her. He very privately vented his frustration and disappointment with cherished friends. Hsieh herself mentioned a lapse of a year without communication with him.

The most important aspect of this is that Sciabarra owed her nothing. Not even honesty. She was the ingrate. She owed him. Look how she paid him, too – by promising not to attack him on her site. Some payment. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Still, look at the loophole. She must have thought he was awfully dumb. She didn’t attack him, but she gave harbor and encouragement to those who did. Bah!

Sciabarra’s friendship with his accuser, Perigo, and Perigo's rotten conduct

Perigo was even worse. Sciabarra worked for Perigo for years without payment. He wrote articles and did proofreading. Certainly any person can see that Sciabarra did not need those opportunities for publication. His books sell throughout the academic world and he has been published in countless places. On the contrary, Perigo gained from Sciabarra’s reputation.

Perigo knows how to pull heartstrings and is a small-time manipulator. I believe that the homosexual connection was a powerful card he played at will with Sciabarra. He managed to pull everything he could out of Sciabarra, except for one thing – his intellectual integrity. Sciabarra disagreed with him on the Iraq war and several other issues. Sciabarra would not follow Perigo in denouncing Barbara Branden and embracing PARC.

The most damning thing for me about Perigo is that he constantly belittles Sciabarra’s learning and vocabulary, claiming that this erudition is due to Sciabarra’s need to impress (and “butt-lick”) people in the academic world.

Perigo’s word, “Polish,” for the big words was funny the first time, but it has become tiresome from being used over and over. It is no longer a joke. It is mocking. The intention is to denigrate Sciabarra. I can’t think of a clearer case of envy – pure envy and hatred of the good for being the good. Hasn’t it ever occurred to people that Sciabarra talks the way he does because he can? And maybe he might like to talk that way? Maybe he is proud of his mind?

Perigo even boasts that he hardly reads any books - ever. I remember him saying on a Solo Passion post that he was not a scholar, but an “intellectual ruffian and polemicist” instead. That post has since disappeared and I don’t think he has the courage to put it back up. So just in case deniability kicks in, let’s just say that this tidbit is my own gossip. But I saw it and Perigo knows he wrote it. That’s good enough for me.

According to Perigo’s main post on Solo Passion in the thread to Hsieh’s article, Perigo’s anti-intellectual campaign exists to drag Sciabarra down to his level so Sciabarra can forget about his mind. Then they can wallow in tears together listening to Mario Lanza.

Christ!

He wants Sciabarra to be as dumb as he is! (You certainly don’t have to renounce your mind to like Lanza.)

It’s funny, but I never really understood before why Sciabarra wrote a long review of PARC. Once I started reading the recent posts on Solo Passion threads talking about how he reacted to phone calls from Perigo and Valliant, I did a double take. Huh? Valliant calling Sciabarra? What the hell for? There is no way on earth those two could have become that intimate. Perigo had to have given him Sciabarra’s phone number.

Then the coin dropped in my head. Bliiiiiing… Back when Sciabarra did his review of PARC, he must have been bombarded by phone calls and e-mails from Perigo to do a review.

Perigo hates Barbara with a passion. My theory is that Perigo’s dream is to be an Objectivist leader. Being rejected by such a high-profile person in the Objectivist world stung like the dickens. He has a fixation on trying to take her down to vindicate himself. Psychologically, there is much that could be said, but now is not the time.

The point is that PARC was suffering from not being accepted back then. My speculation is that Perigo vastly overstepped his capacity and went on a giant ego trip. He wanted to force the world to adopt PARC, so he started with Sciabarra. Nobody was doing any review of PARC and even the negative review Sciabarra did provided that book with much more respectability than it had before.

Poor Chris is now learning a harsh lesson the hard way. In Brazil there is a saying (attributed to the Spanish): If you breed ravens, one day you get your eyes plucked out.

I think I know why he reviewed PARC, too. He tried to align the pressure from Perigo with his scholarly interests. After all, there were Rand excerpts in the book. What didn’t work for Perigo and gang is that Sciabarra has an unbreached intellectual integrity and gave the review his honest best. Well, his honest best was not good enough. Perigo and gang wanted capitulation. Since that was not forthcoming, Sciabarra’s number finally came up for defamation.

The whole theme running throughout this is that, as a friend, once again, Sciabarra was giving a great deal and getting nothing in return. All that pressure, especially while he was ill with his operation last year, must have been hell. Pure hell from a so-called friend.

Also, frankly, Sciabarra is one of the most intelligent people in the Objectivist movement. Despite the emotional pull, he had to have seen the ridiculousness of Perigo’s purification campaigns. What a disappointment it must have been to see Joe Maurone, his dear friend, renounce his article in JARS and mouth the PARC and Barbara Branden-hating party line.

Is it any wonder Sciabarra started becoming bitter and complained in private to his trusted friend who was drifting away? And with Perigo’s habitual noise level, is it any wonder that Sciabarra denied doing it? Since when does a manipulative exploiting “friend” who gives nothing in return warrant honesty? In Objectivism, dishonesty in a case like that is a virtue.

(Note/edit - Part of the timeline above is slightly off, so part of the supposition about Perigo's phone and e-mail pressuring is not accurate. It existed, but the slant was different in one part. This is corrected in a post below on this thread.)

Sciabarra’s friendship with his accuser, Maurone, and Maurone's rotten conduct

I cannot say much about Sciabarra’s friendship with Joe Maurone, as I did not observe much other than what was given in Hsieh’s article. I only saw that Maurone betrayed a confidence in the most shamefaced manner, so I suspect there must have been some kind of warning sign before that.

I have no doubt that Sciabarra gave much and received little in return. Maurone has made it clear that Sciabarra's friendship meant nothing very serious to him, ever.

Conclusion

Is Chris Sciabarra immoral for not being forthcoming to the nagging of these nasty folks? Nah. He brushed them off. Rightly so, too.

When I read Hsieh’s article and the silly sanctimonious posts that followed, I wanted to yell out, “Chris didn’t respect you anymore, you dumb-asses! Can’t you see that? You didn’t deserve his honesty because you stopped being an honest friend to him long ago!”

I suspect on some level, though, they knew this. And this is one of the things that got their dander up. In a very real sense, when an honest man no longer respects a friend enough to be 100% truthful, he is saying to that person, loud and clear:

“But I don’t think of you.”

That stings.

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MSK points out a, er, discrepancy in what should be inherent in any good trader mentality:

Was I the only one who noticed that nothing was done in return during that time? In Objectivist terms, Sciabarra gave value and Hsieh displayed remarkable dexterity at receiving it. I haven’t heard anything at all about value flowing in the opposite direction.

I think this is not an isolated incident. I think it is a behavior. Tempting to even suggest she packs an entitlement kinda mindset.

And even where some semblance of balanced trade took place- Diana maintaining Nathaniel's website (and having been around, maintenance is about as far as it went where much more could have been easily done; but perhaps that speaks to her competencies as a web designer), she certainly seems incapable of exiting a business relationship without cattiness and scorn. Post-partum, she said she considers Nathaniel a much, much more despicable person than even (ahem) David Kelley. She backpedals in the same interview by giving a mini-seminar about how webmasters really don't that often have an intimate relationship with their clients. Well, maybe so, but I've worked with a lot of webmasters in the legit business world and I don't know of too many, if any at all, that stick one in their client's back and twist it upon end-of-project- that's because it's a shitty way to do business, for one, and in raw business terms, it doesn't endear you to future prospects- people take note of that kind of thing, and they run.

But hey, it was good at the time, right? She needed work. I'm thinking she will find herself in that position more and more, given her style.

Pattern, pattern, pattern. She is an opportunist. She uses, cuts, runs, then attacks. Boy, I sure would jump into bed with her on an opportunity, knowing that regardless of outcome, the final stroke would involve attempting to cast my soul into the void!

I do not know, but it really does look like she's either just dippy, or as it has been postulated, she is making a burn and slash run to sit on Leonard's lap.

I hope he shows her the door- and he very well might.

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Robert Campbell just pointed out to me that Sciabarra's review of PARC came out July 20, 2005, a full two weeks before Drooling Beast by James Kilbourne (which brought all the anti-Barbara tensions to a head).

I decided to check the timeline (which I should have done initially - my apologies all round).

Drooling Beast came out July 31, 2005. Perigo read PARC in September and his own review of it came out on September 26, 2005. So, my speculation that Perigo nagged Sciabarra to do a review of PARC is no longer very plausible. (He was starting to go into Barbara-hating back then, though. And I have little doubt that after Perigo's review came out, Perigo constantly nagged and pressured Sciabarra to change his views.)

Still, the story it sounds awfully good. If it weren't true, it should have been.

//;-))

After all the crap these petty little people have made up about Chris, Barbara and others, I think I'll leave it up the way it is and keep the correction in this post.

Call me ornery.

Michael

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Rich:

I hope he shows her the door- and he very well might.

I have a suspicion that while the little ARIan robots may rejoice, the ARI leaders may not be so happy with Hsieh's behavior. With that kind of friends...

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I see that Robert Campbell alerted Michael to the chronological error while I was writing the following post, and that Michael has already entered a correction. I'll go ahead and post this nevertheless, since it contains an additional point.

MSK:

It’s funny, but I never really understood before why Sciabarra wrote a long review of PARC. Once I started reading the recent posts on Solo Passion threads talking about how he reacted to phone calls from Perigo and Valliant, I did a double take. Huh? Valliant calling Sciabarra? What the hell for? There is no way on earth those two could have become that intimate. Perigo had to have given him Sciabarra’s phone number.

Then the coin dropped in my head. Bliiiiiing… Back when Sciabarra did his review of PARC, he must have been bombarded by phone calls and e-mails from Perigo to do a review.

Perigo hates Barbara with a passion. My theory is that Perigo’s dream is to be an Objectivist leader. Being rejected by such a high-profile person in the Objectivist world stung like the dickens. He has a fixation on trying to take her down to vindicate himself. Psychologically, there is much that could be said, but now is not the time.

The point is that PARC was suffering from not being accepted back then. My speculation is that Perigo vastly overstepped his capacity and went on a giant ego trip. He wanted to force the world to adopt PARC, so he started with Sciabarra. Nobody was doing any review of PARC and even the negative review Sciabarra did provided that book with much more respectability than it had before.

You have the chronology wrong, Michael. Lindsay, for some time, wasn't keen on reading PARC and was rather pooh-poohing toward it. He even needled Chris about having expended so many words on the book. In one post he said he might read it and write a review, but certainly not X-number words.

At the time when PARC started to become a preoccupation on SOHOHQ, Linz was still extolling Barbara. He called her "Majesty," and she had a "Holding Court" column on the SOLOHQ website. It was only after "Drooling Beast" and then Barbara's seconding Kilbourne that Linz changed his tune about Barbara. Subsequently, she became evil incarnate.

An irony there: his maudlin post about Chris, hoping Chris will return to being "the pure soul" who shared with him (Linz) "the night of The Flood," is doing just what Barbara is accused of having been vile for doing -- i.e., seconding a public opinion expressed which was bad form to publish. But whereas I classify the Kilbourne article, and Barbara's follow-up, as lapses of judgment, I classify Diana's denunciation of Chris as disgusting and Linz's appeal to Chris as stomach-turningly cloying.

Ellen

PS: My excerpting and commenting on only that particular section of MSK's post isn't to be taken as therefore (through not mentioning them) signing on to the interpretations in the parts I didn't comment on. I haven't even read the full post yet, and besides am loath to give further display to the "he said/they said" debates by discussing details. It's just that Michael's remarks about PARC leapt out at me as being backward in the chronology.

[Edit: Spelling error corrected, I hope before Mike Hardy saw it. ;-)]

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I have a suspicion that while the little ARIan robots may rejoice, the ARI leaders may not be so happy with Hsieh's behavior. With that kind of friends...

I, too, suspect that the older guard (the first generation -- Peikoff, etc.) would be leery of her. She has past errors to counteract (having webmastered NB's site, having been involved with IOS/TOC to begin with), in addition to the unattractiveness of the way she's gone about the Sciabarra issue. But the second generation (Brooks, etc.) might not be as cautious. (I don't know, I hasten to add, what any of them thinks of Diana. I haven't myself seen any of the older ones since the second half of the '70s, and I've never seen any of the younger ones except Ridpath.)

Ellen

PS: Clarification as to what I mean by the "older" and "younger." I'm thinking in terms of who were among the initial New York group, thus including Binswanger and Gotthelf (who were part of what was called the Junior Inner Circle) and Schwartz (who became part of that circle after the Brandens/Rand split) as "older." Ridpath is, I believe, chronologically close to the same age as Harry B., but if I remember right, he came along later; I don't know if he ever knew Rand. (Complexifying alliances still further: Gotthelf took a long time after "Fact and Value" and then "Truth and Toleration" appeared "considering" the issues. I think it wasn't until David invited NB to talk at the IOS Summer Seminar in 1996 that Gotthelf definitely lined up with the ARI folks -- though I suppose he'd been in contact with them. He and Harry were friends back when -- although Gotthelf remained on friendly terms with Allan B. after the latter split with Rand. Gotthelf is harder to "peg" than some of the others.)

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Ellen,

Just to make sure, this time I checked my e-mails on file for dates.

At the time when PARC started to become a preoccupation on SOHOHQ, Linz was still extolling Barbara. He called her "Majesty," and she had a "Holding Court" column on the SOLOHQ website. It was only after "Drooling Beast" and then Barbara's seconding Kilbourne that Linz changed his tune about Barbara. Subsequently, she became evil incarnate.

This was the version for public consumption. It was even cultivated that way. I was on the inside back then, so I saw what really was happening.

Still I wasn't aware of Perigo's level of resentment against Barbara until I approached him on the subject of trying to get information on the Peron affair on July 13, 2005. The e-mail I got back was rather bitter against Barbara (at which point I decided to send her anything I got on Peron so she could make an informed opinion).

From that point on, I became highly aware of the fact that all had not been in the wings what it had been in public. Perigo was already hating her and it grew. Those two and a half weeks before "Drooling Beast" were one hell of a ride (and after that, it was a highly frustrating exercise in futility). I actually tried to make peace between them.

I was highly amused at myself on rereading one of my e-mails from that time to Perigo. Boy, did we gossip about everybody! Here is how I signed off:

Enough for now. The rat poison is making me burp.

Dayaamm!

Michael

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Perigo is so fickle, such a coquet when it comes to rules of engagement.

Let's see if I can get this straight without having to put on the hip waders and go back over there... for those with strong constitutions, there's a pretty long thread going on at Club Perigo, which mutated quite a bit from ever-sensible Phil Coates' attempt at putting up open questions to Hsieh. Still, it brings out the drool. And, of course, Mrs. Valliant still managed, Fahy-like, to stick in the ever-essential "Have you read PARC?"

We couldn't do without one of those!

But anyway, there's a bunch of locker-room crap in there about Barbara, weaker than ever. Then, a discussion of how the ad hominem thing is not nice, etc.

Linz chimes in as the voice of all things manners, and calls it a "low blow," similar to one I dealt him here (and yes, I am clearly pushing my own lines here because, well- he works the back room so hard, I feel strangely obligated and entitled to work the front one), and to leave the smear tactics to the OL people, that's what we specialize in, yada-yada, yabba dabba doo. I'm not sure which blow he's referring to, it doesn't make any matter to me in this particular instance, and honestly, my focus as of late is how to make more. It doesn't make any matter to me what he is or is not about in that jolly, corporeal form he rolls around the earth. I don't have to get word-cute; it's enough to say that anyone with a lick of street-sense can and will easily peg him as a vindictive, self-hating narcissist, a narcissist who tries to make up the slack via not-so-slick, but admittedly a consistent and robustly practiced manipulation. Manipulation that resembles a kid trying to control the universe from his bedroom. A manipulation that will, oh-please-oh-please, enhance his public feng shui. If only that would stay in place, maybe it would make the hurting go away, right? A True Social Metaphysician. They aren't as uncommon as you'd imagine they should be in these parts, you know.

Isn't that his freaking website? Mortgaged or not I'm pretty sure he's behind it, no? Apparently, his interest is such that he does not mind leaving the nasty but tragically weak frat-house style comments about Barbara up there for all to see. Last time I checked a couple hours back, anyhow.

So, there that is, but he's whining away like a little bee-atch about me, er, poking one at him? Hokay... Which way is it supposed to go?

But that is micro-stuff. The macro is that there is very little a single poster can do to even pretend to the (I'll use one of his favorite words) slimy magnitude of his backroom puppetstring pulling operation, what with the phone and the emails, and the cultivation and stroking of new minions.

Wah wah, Linz. Wah.

At least so far Diana seems to be taking her beating like a man. So far. Expect further denunciations?

I'm feeling a Hsieh/Perigo divorce coming in, from way back there on the lonesome highway...

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Wow, what a great thread! I mean, it's sad and depressing to see how seemingly great minds have gone so far off track in their desire to punish those they can't control.

In particular, Michael in his "Stupid" post, said something that helped me get clear on something that has been nagging at me for a while. He referred to how Diana was not attacking Chris on her blog, but she was providing a haven to those who were viciously doing so. Some of you may recall that I recently likened Linz to the Attilas and Diana to the Witch Doctors. Now, it all falls into place. Diana is the Taliban -- and her cronies on Poodle Poop are Al Qaeda. Perhaps before too much longer, she will depose herself, seeing that there is no Objectivist equivalent of the Marines to go in and throw her ass out of a website of which she is not worthy. (And I really feel sorry for her husband. He used to be a Compatibilist -- believing that free will and determinism are not contradictory to one another -- but she argued him out of it. And she had the gall to not only tell us about it, but to refer to determinism as "beyond stupid." What does that make her husband for having accepted it? Or any of us trying to engage in civil discourse about it on her blog?)

Linz, with his proud stance against reading books, and his frenzied off-stage politicking, is about as much of an Attila as I've ever seen, without actually carrying around a big club and drooling deer blood onto a beer gut. Nice send-up, Michael, of his sorry ass.

REB

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Dragonfly and Ellen,

You both speculated that "ARI leaders may not be so happy with Hsieh's behavior."

That's a hard call, but the more I stay around this environment, the more I see that Objectivists act exactly the same as other people. So based on this observation, I would say that it is a strong possibility that ARI leaders will react to Hsieh the way any leader anywhere would react to a stool pigeon or turncoat coming from the other side.

Good oppotunities and percs are given so long as results are coming in. The moment the results stop, the stoolie or turncoat gets shoved to the side (if the leader is generous) or gets sacrificed.

If the results are negative, the stoolie or turncoat is almost always sacrificed. The present attack on Sciabarra resulting in Perigo becoming the laughing stock of the Objectivist world is not a good result. Nope. Not at all.

Let's wait and see what happens.

Michael

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Dragonfly, my apologies. I see that on April 9 you did indeed liken Diana and Linz to the Witch Doctor and Attila, respectively. I'm sure that must have put the bug in my ear for my binge of similar comments 2-1/2 weeks later. Sorry for not recalling your earlier post.

REB

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