The Nature of Private Correspondence - The Sciabarra Smear


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Jesus H....I made the mistake of following your link to SLOP PUSHIN', Michael. What obscure, who-gives-a-crap trash that thread is! It was excruciatingly difficult to read, so I gave up. Reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is fun compared to wading through that.

Ah, well...back to holiday preparations and writing heretical, revisionist Objectivism essays. :-)

REB

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Roger; Thanks for the essays and for being one of many bright spots on OL.

You're always welcome, Chris. And please check out my announcement over in Roger Bissell Corner of more essays to come.

REB

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  • 7 months later...

I have moved this entire thread to Chris's corner for easy future reference, should anyone be interested.

Robert Campbell has made a scathingly spot-on analysis of this mess on Solo Passion now that some time has passed. (Heh. I was going to revise that last statement for style, but it is accurate, not ambiguous. Robert posted on Solo Passion and the mess happened mostly on Solo Passion. :) )

I am reprinting Robert's analysis below.

Mr. Perigo's Attachment to "Dialectical Dishonesty" Part I

Submitted by Robert Campbell on Mon, 2008-07-28 02:47. Lindsay Perigo wants to keep imagining, and wants to keep his readers imagining, that there is some credible content to the charges made by Diana Hsieh in her public denunciation of Chris Sciabarra, which was unleashed on this site under his sponsorship.

Anyone who has the stomach for this kind of production can read it here:

http://www.solopassion.com/node/893

Of course, those who at any time lent their endorsement to Ms. Hsieh's denunciation should be required to reread it, over and over.

Expending 50% more words than I was allotted for the book chapter I just finished—and fully 3 1/2 times as many words as I've used here—Ms. Hsieh made 4 claims.

(1) Chris Sciabarra didn't know as many people with Ayn Rand Institute affiliations as he said he did, and misrepresented the motivations of those he did know. He improperly claimed that some ARI scholars were willing to correspond with him, but were afraid lest their correspondence with him become known to colleagues or superiors.

(2) Chris Sciabarra pressured Diana Hsieh and Joe Maurone to defend his work on the basis of nothing besides residual personal loyalty.

I'll quote the next one verbatim, because every word of it deserves close attention:

(3) I've discovered that Chris now smears me as a turncoat and dogmatist in private correspondence with others, despite recent assurances to me of his persistent "fond feelings for our past friendship." He grossly misrepresents my views on homosexuality and scholarship. He wrongly implies that I've violated my promise to refrain from public criticism of him and his work. He's even called me "the veritable Comrade Sonia of Objectivism." Even worse, he does all that while holding me to silence about him through my promise, even though I offered that consideration based upon the illusion of friendship.

Finally:

(4) Chris Sciabarra "willingly smear[ed] his old friend Linz Perigo by accusing him of grave moral wrongs — behind Linz's back," and willfully lied in defense of bad acts by Barbara Branden.

Let's start with (1).

Unless she was wiretapping him, or performing remote data collection via spyware, Ms. Hsieh had no way to know how many persons with ARI affiliations corresponded with Dr. Sciabarra, or what the tone of said correspondence was like.

Nonetheless, she asserted she knew that (a) no ARI-affiliated scholar was really interested in publishing in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and ( B) no ARI-affiliated scholar could ever be afraid that his or her contacts with Dr. Sciabarra, or possible interest in publishing in JARS, being publicly revealed.

So how many ARI scholars had Ms. Hsieh spoken to about these matters, in April 2006? How inclined were any of them to be frank with her about such a topic? Ms. Hsieh proclaimed that "his only story about a particular scholar, told repeatedly to me, consisted almost entirely of baseless distortions and outright fabrications."

If the person in question did not in fact correspond with Dr. Sciabarra—or did correspond with Dr. Sciabarra but never expressed fear of retribution from superiors and colleagues at ARI for such corresponding—why did Ms. Hsieh not name the scholar?

If correspondence with Dr. Sciabarra was not the sort of activity that could get an ARIan in trouble—why the secrecy?

Surely naming the scholar would have allowed readers of Ms. Hsieh's piece to judge the truth of her assertions for themselves.

And if ARI operates as Ms. Hsieh has kept shouting that it does, there would have been no repercussions for the scholar. Only Dr. Sciabarra's reputation would have been harmed—hardly an outcome that would perturb Ms. Hsieh.

Ms. Hsieh went on to emphasize how various intellectuals with past or present ARI affiliations gave bad reviews to Chris Sciabarra's books: Robert Mayhew, Robert Tracinski, John Ridpath, James Lennox. Observing her regular custom of not naming her ARIan contacts, Ms. Hsieh continued...

More generally, I've certainly heard ARI scholars express grave reservations about the poor scholarly standards of JARS and Chris' other works on Ayn Rand. Of course, not every article in JARS is an embarrassment, but many are — and others merely aspire to mediocrity.

Ms. Hsieh did not give any of her own reasons for these negative evaluations. Nor did she tell us any of her unnamed sources' reasons.

All she did was insist that Chris Sciabarra's books are bad, and that JARS is full of embarrassing articles. Such as? She even maintained that The Russian Radical (a book that she had read only half of, and never "reread" as she told Chris Sciabarra she would need to do) is full of "arbitrary assertions." Such as?

In contrast, the explicit commitment of ARI scholars to high quality scholarship on Objectivism yields anthologies like Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living and Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem with consistently good to great essays. As far as I can see, such ARI scholars have nothing to gain by publishing in a journal with poor editorial standards - and so they don't.

In other words, books and chapters written by ARI scholars are really good because ARI scholars publish really good books and chapters.

QED—right?

Again, 12,600 words gave Ms. Hsieh no room for a single example or a solitary reason.

But her drift was clear. ARIan scholars definitely ought to think highly of their colleagues' work, and ought to think ill of Chris Sciabarra's work. They ought to think ill of JARS, too.

Now, if the view propounded by Ms. Hsieh is as widespread within ARI as she wanted her readers to believe, wouldn't an ARI scholar who corresponded with Chris Sciabarra—about whose work all ought to think ill—prefer not to advertise this activity to other ARIans?

Except, she had previously insisted, no ARI scholar would feel any need to keep contacts with Dr. Sciabarra private.

Did anyone notice the inconsistency?

Now for (2):

The notion that Chris Sciabarra wanted Ms. Hsieh to defend his work "on faith" stems from a couple of episodes during Ms. Hsieh's noisy public conversion to ARIanism. The process stretched from October 2003 through August 2004, but April 2004 was particularly tumultuous. Ms. Hsieh had left The Objectivist Center, which many who knew her figured she would do, and were supportive about. But, contrary to the advice of many of her friends, she had insisted on publicly denouncing David Kelley in the bargain.

She had also taken her first public step toward denouncing Nathaniel Branden, by announcing that she was no longer his webmaster. At the time, Ms. Hsieh lied to her friends with TOC connections, telling them that resigning as Dr. Branden's webmaster did not imply or foreshadow further action against him.

Those who want to understand what Ms. Hsieh was up to, in April 2004, should keep in mind that Ms. Hsieh is an enthusiastic presser of the red button. The roster of persons banned from commenting on NoodleFood must by now have passed 100. It includes many who are prominent in Rand-land. Since Leonard Peikoff's fatwa to vote Democratic was handed down in October 2006, it has even come to include ARIans who publicly opposed the fatwa. But during 2004 and 2005, I know of no commenter in good odor with ARI who was ever banned from NoodleFood, no matter how puerile or obnoxious the comments were.

It should also be kept in mind that on realigning herself with ARI, Ms. Hsieh started allowing a few of her ARIan sponsors and contacts to post multiple anonymous comments (a privilege that, to my knowledge, was never extended to anyone else). In general, Ms. Hsieh's transition to ARI involved planning ahead that she did not disclose to persons not already affiliated with that organization, and, at times, outright lies to non-ARIans about her intentions.

So here is what the "Mysterious Stranger" about whom Chris Sciabarra was complaining wrote about his work:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/vie...26941794906#...

These sorts of leaps are so pervasive and extreme, that the work [Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical] does not qualify as a piece of scholarship at all. It is pure arbitrary conjecture, decorated with footnotes and references that establish nothing. Is it any wonder that ARI scholars don't take this work seriously enough to address in print. The book is so sub-par that it is an embarrassment to those of us who want to do serious scholarship on Rand in an academic context. To engage in debate with Sciabarra would be to legitimize his work — to say, in effect, "This is real scholarship and is now a part of the literature on this subject." But his work is not scholarship, it's arbitrary musing, and it should be treated as such. I can only see one reason for a legitimate scholar to mention it at all, which is to make it clear that he doesn't regard Sciabarra's prattling as part of the intellectual project with which he is engaged.

Now simply saying that one does not take Sciabarra seriously as a scholar, or dismissing him out of hand, does not constitute an argument from intimidation. It's on par with ignoring the readings of Madame Cleo and saying that it is irrational to regard her as a legitimate source of information about the future. If a policy of ignoring and demeaning this sort of material was intellectually illegitimate, then every expert in every field would be required to address every bit of garbage published by every two bit crackpot, and this would go on without end. (Especially since the crackpots would post responses to every criticism on their blogs, and the intellectuals then would be required to address these responses as well.)

Ms. Hsieh got urgent communications from several people, including me. We all asked who the hell "Mysterious Stranger" was, and how she could countenance the utter derogatory crap that MS was dishing out.

She refused to identify Mysterious Stranger. She refused to identify "Noumenal Self" (another one of her favored commenters, who distinguished himself around this same time by throwing Chris Sciabarra off his blog and erasing Dr. Sciabarra's comment—after Dr. Sciabarra asked him one polite question). She claimed to have nothing but respect for either of these individuals, about whom she would not allow anything else to be known except their ARI affiliations.

My friendship with Ms. Hsieh nearly ended right then, as did Dr. Sciabarra's. In retrospect, all of her former companions in iniquity should have parted ways with her right then, without allowing time for future developments. For it was Ms. Hsieh who wanted the people she was letting her new-found allies spit on to remain her friends, on faith.

For instance, I had to apologize to Ms. Hsieh for publicly suggesting that her denunciation of David Kelley provided evidence of his shortcomings as a manager and as a mentor—but hardly constituted proof that Dr. Kelley was therefore in the grip of a corrupt philosophy, or that he had (in my words) "chucked objectivity." (Ms. Hsieh was already signaling her support for Leonard Peikoff's entire excommunication of Dr. Kelley, by recapitulating all of the charges from "Fact and Value.") She angrily threatened to end our friendship if I didn't instantly retract that remark.

By far the best course of action would have been to let it all go right there.

Besides, it could not have been her long-term plan to keep Dr. Sciabarra as a friend. If she respected Mysterious Stranger and Noumenal Self, and they transparently thought of Chris Sciabarra as a "two bit crackpot," she was going to have to choose.

Most of her public proclamations during this period were strikingly devoid of actual intellectual content. (The same was true of her private pleas, to the friends she was planning to abandon.) The contentlessness was still painfully apparent when she tried to justify her conduct, two years later:

Also, although I didn't re-read The Russian Radical, I read some of Chris' internet writings and reflected upon our personal communications. That made clear enough his explicit embrace of subjectivism, indulgence in arbitrary speculation, and toleration of moral evils. After much thought, I also realized the great danger of his lax standards of scholarship, particularly in his editing of JARS.

Again, no examples. Again, no reasons. Were there ever any?

I parted ways with Ms. Hsieh in August 2004, after her private denunciation of Barbara and Nathaniel Branden was followed, as she had announced it would be, by a public denunciation. She had demanded (in May) that I never comment on NoodleFood again, on pain of being instantly banned. She had indignantly denied, on more than one occasion, that she would end up denouncing old friends, or that she would change course from expressing skepticism about some of Leonard Peikoff's published work to expressing unreserved praise for virtually everything he wrote or uttered. In other words, she had told more lies.

Some way to treat an old friend, huh?

I truly wish Chris Sciabarra had told her to take a hike by that time. Ms. Hsieh was gunning for him. Her nasty blog entry on "Poisoning the Well" (from August 2005) was aimed at him by implication, as members of her ARIan claque were meant to understand, and obviously did. Her weird promise, made when Dr. Sciabarra complained about that piece, to refrain from further public blasts at him, was foolish. She has admitted its foolishness; what she has failed to admit was its falseness. Ms. Hsieh never had the slightest intention of keeping it.

One of her preconditions, the reader will note, was ... that Dr. Sciabarra never comment on NoodleFood, on pain of being instantly banned and publicly denounced:

I do request that you continue your current policy of not posting replies to criticisms in my comments.

Some way to treat an old friend, huh?

Now for (3).

Ms. Hsieh based nearly all of this complaint on a private email from Chris Sciabarra to Joe Maurone on April 6, 2006. This email was promptly passed by Mr. Maurone to her, to Lindsay Perigo, and to James Valliant. (So much for the claim that these individuals were not working together.)

She did not bother to explain how long she and Mr. Maurone had been collaborating (I would guess they had been doing so for a month, if not longer). She did not mention Mr. Maurone's participation in the takedown of Regi Firehammer, which took place on the very same day as the email from which she quoted. She did not bother to explain what information she had passed to Joe Maurone by this time—for instance, whether she had provided him with private emails from Chris Sciabarra. She did not say whether she had encouraged Mr. Maurone to solicit an email response from Dr. Sciabarra that she and others could then employ against him. Nor did she say anything about the past relationship between Mr. Maurone and Dr. Sciabarra.

So what, when all is said and done, were the truly awful things that Chris Sciabarra had to say about her?

• She had turned against him and against nearly everything that he stood for.

Well, come to think of it, she had.

• She had become a dogmatist.

Well, anyone who practices serial public denunciations of alleged heretics (David Kelley, Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, coming next, Chris Sciabarra), refers to all of her former friends who persist in criticizing the Ayn Rand Institute as "transparently dishonest," and proudly quotes Ayn Rand's 1980 remark as to how one must be 100% Objectivist, or founder in a swamp of irrationality, certainly qualifies as a dogmatist.

• She rejected "virtually all non-ARI scholarship."

Well, with the exception of David Kelley's book The Evidence of the Senses, she had rejected all Rand scholarship that from which ARI currently withheld its imprimatur. She had rejected her own book chapter in Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, not because of any concrete fault she could identify in it, but because it had been published in a book edited by Chris Sciabarra, which had been given a negative review by an individual affiliated with ARI. She also lied about her essay in Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand hurting her prospects for acceptance in a graduate philosophy program.

See http://www.solopassion.com/node/844#comment-6457

In most philosophy departments, I would strongly doubt that publishing in JARS would be helpful for tenure and/or promotion. In fact, I think it would often still be positively harmful. (I suspect that my own essay in the Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand probably hurt my application to graduate school, preventing me from entering the Ph.D program immediately — although that didn't matter in the long run.)

Ms. Hsieh did believe, probably correctly, that her chapter in Feminist Interpretations had drawn negative attention from a faculty member at the University of Colorado. What she neglected to mention was that the professor, about whom she complained bitterly to me, was a socialist feminist philosopher. She sought to create a misleading impression that the chapter made her look bad to the analytic philosophers who, in fact, dominate that department.

By April 2006, Diana Hsieh had repeatedly voiced her rejection of nonARIan scholarship in public. She never missed an opportunity to trumpet the superiority of ARI scholarship, even when she had not yet read the books that she was praising. She claimed to be critical of some ARI material but refused to identify any of it in public, lest "enemies of Objectivism" get wind of it.

• She was a born-again homophobe.

Well, before Ms. Hsieh apparently decided that she needed to get right with Leonard Peikoff (on an ostensibly "non-philosophical" subject, meaning that her obedience wasn't a necessary condition for orthodoxy), she had never said this:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/vie...33420841320#...

I never heard her say anything remotely like "unfortunate and suboptimal" during the years that I knew her. I never heard her make one negative comment about homosexuality.

Yet, most amazingly, neither Mr. Maurone nor Mr. Perigo ever pressed her on this issue. Apparently taking down an old friend was too urgent a priority for them.

• She was Rand-land's answer to Comrade Sonia.

Well, considering that she trampled right over a bunch of friends and mentors in order to gain entry to the Ayn Rand Institute, planned her trampling well in advance, and lied to many of friends for strategic purposes, it's not too hard to see where Chris Sciabarra was coming from. What is surprising is that Dr. Sciabarra didn't call her "Comrade Sonia" until April 2006, instead of identifying her as such in April 2004.

Frankly, I think Chris Sciabarra accepted way too much crap from Diana Hsieh for way too long.

Everything he said, when he finally got sick of all the crap, was appropriate and on target.

Incidentally, here is one of Ms. Hsieh's contenders for the chutzpah prize:

Now that I am no longer bound by my prior offer of consideration to Chris, I am free to criticize his work as I see fit. I have no particular commentaries planned at present, although I've found a few items of potential interest in the course of writing this post. I still plan to do a careful reading of The Russian Radical at some point, so that I might finally come to a proper assessment of it.

Yeah, sure.

Has Ms. Hsieh ever finished her first reading of The Russian Radical? I suspect that Leonard Peikoff's next book will have been published, sold, and remaindered before any such critique sees the light of day.

After all, having shaken herself free of a tainted association with an "enemy of Objectivism," Ms. Hsieh will experience no obstructions to her advancement within ARI on account of never having read an entire book by Dr. Sciabarra, and never offering a genuine critique of a single article in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Another contender:

Since my departure from TOC, I've explained and defended the changes in my views on NoodleFood — with facts and arguments, not appeals to authority. And more recently, I've done the same in the rough and tumble of SoloPassion, even while my critics hide in less demanding forums like "Objectivist Living" and "Rebirth of Reason."

So how long has Ms. Hsieh been absent from this forum? Would she ever have spent two minutes on it, without assurances of support of Mr. Perigo and Mr. Valliant, and the regular assistance of the noisy claque that she imported?

And who wields the red button at NoodleFood?

Ms. Hsieh's frequent protestations of great courage and independence of thought are plainly phony. Indeed, they are offensive to reason. She has made those protestations most loudly and frequently since she began crafting her plan to join the Ayn Rand Institute, while compiling a track record that displays a good deal of cunning and ruthlessness, but little that could be recognized as courage or independence.

Still another contender:

Before I present the evidence, I would like to offer to clear the air of Chris Sciabarra's numerous lies, many of which are probably still unknown to me. I will answer any polite e-mail inquiries about the veracity of Chris' claims about me. I will set the record straight, documenting the facts whenever possible. As for Chris' claims about various ARI scholars, I'd be happy to say what I do know -- and in some cases, to inquire further. To respond fairly, I must see exact quotes from Chris' e-mails, in context and dated. To prevent the further spread of unjust lies, please e-mail those quotes to me privately rather than posting them as comments. ("The person who repeats an insult is the person who insults me.") Also, since I would very much like to know the reach and substance of Chris' whispers, I'd appreciate forwards even from those who now entirely disbelieve Chris' claims. (Absent contrary instructions, I will presume that I may post quotes from Chris without naming the source, so that I can set the record straight in public if necessary.)

This public solicitation of private dirt on Chris Sciabarra netted … nothing. For the second denunciation that Ms. Hsieh implied was going to be built on these new revelations has never materialized.

Yet somehow Mr. Perigo, a year and a half after his own rift with Ms. Hsieh, still wants everyone to believe that her charges against Chris Sciabarra are true and pertinent?

The charges were fraudulent from the git-go.

Their clear function was to free Ms. Hsieh of a politically inexpedient association from her past, opening a path up into the hierarchy at the Ayn Rand Institute. Now entrenching Diana Hsieh in a position of authority at ARI is project that Diana Hsieh obviously deems of great positive value. But it is highly doubtful that Mr. Perigo ever put much stock in it—and he has absolutely nothing to gain from it in July 2008.

Oh yeah, finally, charge (4).

Oops, 12,600 words weren't enough…

Ms. Hsieh handed most of this one off to Lindsay Perigo, who also still wants everyone to believe that "Dialectical Dishonesty" was not a collaborative effort.

Without signaling her intent to do so, she handed the rest of it off to Jim Valliant, who also still wants everyone to believe that "Dialectical Dishonesty" was not a collaborative effort.

Mr. Perigo and Mr. Valliant's contributions to the collaborative effort will be the topic of Part II.

In intend to put up Part II when it is finished if Robert does not. It's one of the most accurate analyses I have read of this mess so far.

Michael

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Mr. Perigo’s Attachment to “Dialectical Dishonesty” Part II

by Robert Campbell

Lindsay Perigo wants to keep imagining, and wants to keep his readers imagining, that there is some credible content to the charges made by Diana Hsieh in her public denunciation of Chris Sciabarra, which was unleashed on this site under his sponsorship.

In Part I, I reviewed the content of Ms. Hsieh’s epic denunciation.

There turned out not to be a whole lot.

Indeed, the criticisms of Ms. Hsieh’s conduct that she so roundly condemned appear, without exception, to have been eminently merited. She chose to become Rand-land’s answer to Comrade Sonia.

It ought to be counted a mystery how anyone ever bought the charges in that piece—except out of partisanship, or wishful thinking, or a deeply mistaken regard for Ms. Hsieh’s truthfulness and her ability to deliver in the future all of the evidence that she pretended to be holding back in the present.

But we are in Rand-land, where some people are always letting themselves get caught up in some kind of craziness.

And there is more to review. The single charge that obviously meant the most to Lindsay Perigo—the accusation that Chris Sciabarra had lied about Mr. Perigo at the behest of Barbara Branden—was just announced by Ms. Hsieh, who then, somehow, suddenly found herself at a loss for words.

So we’ll have to turn to Mr. Perigo’s contribution to the collaborative effort.

On receipt of the baton from Ms. Hsieh, Mr. Perigo crocodilically lamented (http://www.solopassion.com/node/893?page=4 and scroll down):

There were blow-ups, to be sure, but never something that a phone-call couldn't, and didn't, fix. Though our friendship finally cooled, it remained a friendship—and I can't describe the shock, therefore, of seeing what he was saying about me behind my back, on matters about which he knew better. What followed my confronting him served only to pretty well obliterate any chance of salvaging the situation. Trust between us was to all intents and purposes irreparably damaged.

Contrary to the impression that Mr. Perigo sought to create, Dr. Sciabarra would have been better off parting ways with him several years earlier. It is fair to say that their friendship had long been under considerable strain.

By early 2006, how many times had Mr. Perigo demanded a public show of loyalty from Dr. Sciabarra, and been rebuffed? How often had Dr. Sciabarra complained to his friends about Mr. Perigo? How often, and to whom, was Mr. Perigo complaining about Dr. Sciabarra? What grounds, if any, still remained for Chris Sciabarra to trust Lindsay Perigo? (Oh, I forgot. Mr. Perigo wants us to believe that everyone ought to trust him, because he would never ever do anything underhanded.)

It was in a post on Phil Coates’ “Questions for Diana” thread (May 18, 2006) that Mr. Perigo gave his most detailed case against Dr. Sciabarra (and did his most extensive quoting from private emails).

See http://www.solopassion.com/node/901?page=1#comment-8626.

After repeating a chunk from Chris Sciabarra’s private email to Joe Maurone (April 6, 2006),

Perigo sanctioned it [the publication of “Drooling Beast” on SOLOHQ]—for the express purpose of rallying his troops, and attacking JK and BB, and marginalizing them at SOLO. He told me so. Because he got sick and tired of their lectures on his style of argumentation. It was a set up, plain and simple.

Mr. Perigo indignantly insisted:

I told him no such thing.

Except for the “plain and simple” part (which could be taken to mean that Mr. Perigo had no other motive for letting the article through), is there any reason to doubt that Mr. Perigo told him such a thing?

Mr. Perigo continued, in a strikingly disingenuous vein:

My decision to publish was not and could not have been a "set up" since I had absolutely no way of knowing how folk would react.

For all I knew there might have been a chorus of “That explains everything. Do as he says and get treatment, you drooling beast!” Nor could I have known that Barbara, who supposedly had left SOLO at this point, would jump on the thread and endorse the article.

Why has Mr. Perigo vehemently and incessantly denied setting a trap for Barbara Branden by publishing the “Drooling Beast” article, when you need only read his very public essay, “This Boy’s Not for Turning” (August 7, 2005) to see what he was really thinking?

http://solohq.solopassion.com/Articles/Per...r_Turning.shtml

Two weeks ago, after one of these explosions, Barbara Branden said she was leaving SOLO on account of it, notwithstanding that it was one that I apologised for. It seemed to me at this point that in light of such a high-profile departure, I ought to take stock and ask what these periodic eruptions were achieving other than the loss of revered contributors. I had already promised Barbara that ... well, she seems to think I promised there would be no more eruptions at all; I believe I promised to take care that there would be no unjustified attacks on individuals of the kind I had unleashed on Michael Newberry when he advanced an idea that I found unspeakably odious. In any event, Barbara felt I had broken my promise and damaged SOLO in the process. So she was leaving (how this would help SOLO was not made clear), and I decided to take time out. I told everyone here that I would be absenting myself for a fortnight while I did some soul-searching and, possibly, fence-mending.

No sooner had I announced this than Barbara’s close friend James Kilbourne, another revered contributor, submitted for publication his now-infamous article, Drooling Beast, in which he posited that my explosions were caused by alcohol and claimed point-blank that I was an alcoholic. He said that he too, would be leaving (how his leaving would help SOLO, or me with my "alcoholism," was, again, not made clear). […]

I truly figured that the abomination would be read by fewer people if it were published than if it weren’t, given what I had come to view as the Branden/Kilbourne fixation on making me over on my own turf. They would simply distribute the calumny informally, along with the juicy preface, "Here’s what Linz wouldn’t allow you to see on SOLOHQ"—a preface that would lend credence to the slander. So I authorised Andrew to publish.

Note the italicized phrases in the last paragraph…

It was James Kilbourne’s article. But Mr. Perigo was convinced that Barbara Branden was behind it—and that she was prepared to circulate it privately to Mr. Perigo’s detriment, should he decide not to publish it.

Yet in his post of May 18, 2006, Mr. Perigo wouldn’t quit insisting:

Privately I had said to Chris:
If I’d refused to publish, James & BB would have continued their whispering campaign off line, sending the article privately to all & sundry & saying, ‘Here is the truth Perigo wouldn't publish’. And in the eyes of its recipients, my non publishing would have lent their claims credence. As well, it showed the true nature of James’ & BB’s ‘love & concern.’ She, of course, had already alluded to my ‘problem’ with her comment about badgering me to join the civilised & the sober.

Now, it would seem Chris, who accepted this explanation at the time, was seizing upon the sentiment in just the last sentence above, along with post publication comments I made to him on the phone about being glad Brandbourne’s noses had been rubbed in it, in asserting to Joe behind my back, many months later, that publication had been a “set up, plain and simple,” even though he knew it was not—and could not have been. Certainly, that's how he justified himself to me when I confronted him with his back stabbing. Of course I was mad at Brandbourne, and of course I was delighted their filth had backfired on them, but how the hell could I have known in advance that it would?!

Mr. Perigo damn well would have known it in advance, because he didn’t just fall off a turnip truck.

What Mr. Perigo is so vehemently objecting to is an obviously true statement about what he was up to.

In the same May 18 post, Mr. Perigo, quoting another chunk of private email, leveled a second charge:

Whatever room for doubt there may be re the set up allegation, however, there is none with respect to the following. In the Comrade Sonia e mail to Joe, Chris had also defended Barbara's apologetics for Jim Peron:
Barbara is fully aware of Peron’s problems... what she objected to was the fact that Perigo got into bed with a Christian fundamentalist organization to get Peron tossed out of New Zealand with no due process. That man lost his home and his lover, and never had a chance to defend himself. And whatever problems he has—he never molested a kid. At most, he was guilty of writing about his experiences with an older man, and covering it up in later years. He may have allowed NAMBLA literature in his store at one time but that's hardly a reason to dispossess somebody of their home and life, without giving that person a chance to defend themselves in a court of law.

I’ve put my italics around “the fact that,” for reasons that shall become apparent.

For Mr. Perigo refused to accept the foregoing paragraph from a private email as an account of Barbara Branden’s view of l’affaire Peron.

He insisted that it was an account of Chris Sciabarra’s own view of l’affaire (and, therefore, an exercise in duplicity).

Why?

He [i.e., Chris Sciabarra, in a private email to Lindsay Perigo] responded (and this, to my mind, is the "smoking gun" that proves lying):
Please read my email. I was explaining to Joe what BARBARA objected to, not what I objected to. READ THE EMAIL. That whole paragraph begins with "what she objected to..."

Yes it does. And Chris stops at “What she objected to.” He neglects to add “was the fact that.” The FACT that. Not “her perception that.” The FACT that Perigo got into bed with, etc.. When I pressed Chris on this, he said the expression “the fact that” is a “Brooklyn colloquialism” that somehow means that what follows is not necessarily intended as a statement of fact. Yeah, right.

There’s clearly no question in this instance that Chris was knowingly stating as fact, behind my back, something he knew to be false. When confronted, he compounded his wrongdoing with this “Brooklyn colloquialism” fudge.

This matter of American English usage would be laughably trivial, had Mr. Perigo not sought to use it to destroy a former friend’s reputation.

Now I know that the Perigonian claque is going to greet my linguistic terminology with epithets specially warmed up for the occasion, but under these circumstances it can’t be helped.

In many dialects of American English, including Brooklynese, “the fact that” is used … non-factively. A construction is being used “non-factively” when there is no presupposition that the clause following the construction states a truth. In other words, it’s OK in these dialects to use “the fact that” interchangeably with “the perception that”—or with “that,” plain and simple.

Got it?

Some of my students at Clemson—and not many natives of Brooklyn find their way to the Upstate of South Carolina—also use “the fact that” non-factively. My own dialect allows only factive uses. More to the point, I don’t think that the non-factive use makes for the best writing. But it’s part of their dialect, just as “I might should oughta get it at the bookstore” or “Could you mash 5 for me?” [i.e., could you press the button for the 5th floor] are part of other American dialects.

Only a man bent on revenge at all costs would try to pillory a former friend over a tiny detail of American dialect variation.

Now, finally, let’s take a look at Mr. Valliant’s contribution to the joint effort.

This would be an extremely short section, were Mr. Perigo telling the truth. For Mr. Perigo has wanted us to believe that Jim Valliant was not a collaborator in “Dialectical Dishonesty.”

What really happened is that Mr. Valliant chimed right in on the original comment thread, later becoming a key participant in “Questions for Diana.”

First, what Mr. Valliant had to say after he took the baton. This can be seen at

http://www.solopassion.com/node/893?page=4#comment-7288.)

Chris Sciabarra has accused Linz of a “set up” — yes, he said that Linz “set up” Ms. Branden pure and simple — in the ‘Drooling Beast’ matter in his email to Joe. Now, how Linz would know that BB would even post on the thread still has me scratching my head, but to spread false accusations against a former friend to a mutual friend is wrong — pure and simple. It does not matter to me if this was an isolated case: Chris is spreading BB's warped version of things. One he knows cannot be true.

This, we are now in a position to conclude, is horsepucky and bullhockey.

We’ve seen how Mr. Perigo was able to predict, with high reliability, that Barbara Branden was going to post on SOLOHQ in support of her friend James Kilbourne’s piece. It would have come as a giant shock in Mr. Perigo’s life if she hadn’t.

So Mr. Valliant, in claiming the contrary, is either surpassing his many other formidable acts of boneheadedness—or he is brazenly lying.

Mr. Perigo obviously intended to nail Barbara Branden to the wall. He let his friends and associates know it, in no uncertain terms. Dr. Sciabarra was telling the truth about Mr. Perigo’s intentions. Anywhere but in Mr. Perigo’s vicinity, that would be credited as a sufficient defense.

And in asserting that Barbara Branden put Chris Sciabarra up to anything that he said on this topic, Mr. Valliant is telling a flagrant untruth.

Barbara Branden did not realize, at first, how Mr. Perigo had set her up. She had to be told by others. One of those others was me. And, obviously, I wasn’t the first in line.

Anyone who is tempted to take Mr. Valliant seriously on this issue merely needs to reread “This Boy’s Not for Turning.”

Second, Mr. Valliant charged Dr. Sciabarra with duplicity on a subject dear to Mr. Valliant’s heart.

Only this wasn't an isolated case. I was distressed to learn that last year, in September, I believe, Chris was emailing Linz to urge him to shut down the debate on PARC — out of regard for BB's age, no less — at a time when he was telling me he wanted the PARC debate to go on...

Mr. Valliant has now left a richly documented documented trail of Vallliantciting® and Valliantquoating®, exacerbated by frequent outbreaks of reading disorder.

Here, however, Mr. Valliant was not misciting, misquoting, or misreading.

He was engaging in the practice that Ayn Rand once called “a particularly vicious form of lying.” (Unless, of course, Mr. Valliant had been fed his half-truths by Mr. Perigo, and was foolish enough to swallow them.)

Back in September 2005, Chris Sciabarra told me that he'd complained to Lindsay Perigo, then still supposedly a friend of his, about the turn that SOLOHQ had taken. There had been two solid months of one thread after another, some with hundreds of posts, blaming everything that had ever gone wrong in Rand-land on Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. At one point, he said he “ranted” to Mr. Perigo, foolishly asking that the threads in question be shut down—but promptly thought better of it and backed off the request, which in any case Mr. Perigo was in no position to grant.

That’s it. There was no Sciabarran campaign to close down discussions of Mr. Valliant’s opus.

(Not so incidentally, Joe Rowlands, who to my knowledge has never been a fan of either Nathaniel or Barbara Branden, apparently got sick of the same trend at SOLOHQ. Two months later, he would dissolve his partnership with Mr. Perigo.)

Either Mr. Perigo chose to keep Mr. Valliant in the dark about his exchanges with Dr. Sciabarra back in September 2005—or he clued Mr. Valliant in, and Mr. Valliant served his own purposes by choosing not to mention most of what he knew about them.

Whether one of them is lying, or both, Mr. Perigo and Mr. Valliant will surely be glad to enlighten us.

Mr. Valliant was certainly willing to engage in duplicitous behavior on other occasions.

Anyone who has read PARC carefully will have learned that he has few rivals when it comes to gross public hypocrisy.

So no one should be surprised by declarations like the following:

This political “behind-the-back” stuff I find revolting. This “confidentiality” is supposed to “protect” the innocent — not provide cover to spread lies.

Oh, really?

Mr. Valliant’s post of May 5, 2006, in which he assembled his case for the purported benefit of Phil Coates, declared that

As of April 7, I was still engaged in correspondence with Chris — at that time, it concerned my complaints about Campbell's baseless public insults of ARI scholars — and me — and their implications for the sincerity of JARS' "invitation" to those same scholars — including me.

Mr. Valliant’s May 5 post is at

http://www.solopassion.com/node/901?page=4#comment-7777

(Note, by the way, how Mr. Valliant once again counted himself an “ARI scholar,” when he usually vehemently denies representing the Ayn Rand Institute—and is unlikely to be considered a scholar by any of those with whom he so desperately seeks to affiliate himself.)

Mr. Valliant claimed on May 5 that he was not supplied with Chris Sciabarra’s private email to Joe Maurone for another two or three days. But Mr. Valliant was already well plugged in by April 7, so the statement is quite likely another lie. Even if Mr. Valliant’s timeline is accurate, he knew all about that private email by April 11.

In a phone conversation with Dr. Sciabarra on that date, Mr. Valliant claimed that

I further stated my increasing distress at the accusations of the “fear” and “intimidation” experienced by ARI scholars as the sole reason for their not publishing in JARS. This seemed to me a giant calumny, in light of the information that I was getting from Diana on the matter.

Note the passage I’ve put in italics.

With characteristic precision, Mr. Valliant turned alleged fear on the part of ARI scholars into the only reason that Dr. Sciabarra thought they wouldn’t publish in JARS. Even Ms. Hsieh never went that far.

Much more significantly, he was admittedly being fed private emails by Diana Hsieh, and was seeking to extract further information that could be used against Chris Sciabarra. (Was Mr. Valliant also feeding Ms. Hsieh private emails? Given his level of involvement in the joint venture, was there any reason for him not to?)

As his surviving comments on Notablog attest, Mr. Valliant was trying to lure Chris Sciabarra back onto SOLOPassion, on April 9 and 10, 2006.

Was he merely doing this to foster constructive dialogue between Dr. Sciabarra and that great guiding light of the Ayn Rand Institute, Mike Mazza?

He actually resorted to that feeble pretext, before he gave up.

Meanwhile, neither of his own “behind-the-back” courses of action seems to have revolted Mr. Valliant in the slightest.

Back for a moment now to Mr. Valliant’s earlier post. He said of Chris Sciabarra’s alleged skullduggery:

This was all part of my own decision not to publish in JARS.

If this statement is as credible as the foregoing, it might buy you a cup of coffee when supplemented with $1.95.

Only Mr. Valliant can tell us, if he ever cares to speak the truth, how publishing in JARS would have displeased Mr. Perigo—and how he had been freshly reminded that it would be a career-limiting move, over at the Ayn Rand Institute.

Mr. Vallliant, too, could turn crocodilic:

As it is for Linz and Diana, this is very sad and painful matter for me.

Au contraire, back then it was a matter for gloating.

If not the occasion for ushering in a New Objectivist World Order…

Mr. Perigo signed off on several of his posts during this period with “Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on!”

Mr. Valliant no doubt envisioned that he, too, was going on to greater things.

Two years later, the gloating has fallen silent.

How would Mr. Perigo like it, were everyone who used to correspond with him to publicly release an assortment of the nasty, backstabbing comments he has made about others? Or of the gossip he has been pleased to pass around behind the scenes? Or just of everything he has ever emailed while venting? Every one of those folks is far more fastidious than Mr. Perigo will ever be, and far less prone to stoop to such tactics.

Yet through his participation in “Dialectical Dishonesty,” Mr. Perigo has forfeited any moral defense he would otherwise have been entitled to, against such public displays of dirty laundry.

Which is why Mr. Perigo ought to be thankful that I am posting on SOLOP, and not any of the individuals that he has repeatedly demanded report here for sliming. I do not possess any personal emails from him.

The same goes for Mr. Valliant. I have no personal emails from him, either.

PS. While Messrs. Perigo and Valliant keep right on pretending that “Dialectical Dishonesty” was in no way a payback for failure to praise Mr. Valliant’s book, an erstwhile member of Ms. Hsieh’s claque saw matters more clearly. Here’s Boaz Simovici, laying it on the line:

http://www.solopassion.com/node/893#comment-7567

If Chris Sciabarra has cultivated the above-reproach persona of a public intellectual while privately lying about and smearing those who clearly deserved better, he himself deserves to be "outed" in exactly this public a manner. One simply can't have it both ways. As far as I'm concerned, however, his lack of intellectual honesty was already on full display in his question-begging, rambling review of PARC.
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Robert,

Thank you. I was working on copying this here when a network glitch blew me off the air. I just now got back on and saw that our posts would have probably crossed. I prefer this up under your post anyway.

You did one hell of a job in these two posts on Siberia Passion wading through the intellectual muck to show just what was making the Sciabarra Smear swamp stink so badly.

(Look at me. Using highbrow Perigonian erudition...)

Michael

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Robert,

You got an answer and the following quote really should go in the Humor thread.

Maybe one day it'll sink in that just because you, Prof, operate in a seething cauldron of scheming, plotting and conniving, it doesn't follow that everyone else does. I certainly don't.

Dayaamm!

That one's a doozy!

I once knew a Witch Doctor for real (a Brazilian Pai de Santo). This guy had more reality in his little toe than Perigo does (and I do not believe in Witch Doctors). He used to say that the most despicable person on earth was the one who does not see himself for what he is—that there can be no spiritual growth in such a person.

There is truth to that statement, despite the source.

Perigo should remember that emails and posts do not go away. So if he is lying in the quote above (and I am almost certain he is), he is a despicable creep and imposter. And if he is not lying, based on what he has written and done he is still despicable.

Michael

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  • 6 months later...

I occasionally read the NoodleFood blog... someone named "Wanda" was brave enough to ask when Diana Hsieh was going to apologize publicly for her treatment of Chris Sciabarra...

Diana answered "When hell freezes over." She also apparently thinks Chris actually deserved what she did to him.

Wow. Un-f******g-believable. Just damn.

Edited by Pam Maltzman
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Pam,

I rarely visit NoodleFood, but a quick search (for "when hell freezes over") turned this up right away:

When hell freezes over. He got exactly what he deserved from me, namely the exposure of his years of malicious lies.

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2009/02/wed...read-37.shtml#4

I used to know Diana Hsieh, so I'm not surprised.

Those who mistake her for an exponent of a rational philosophy have some learning to do.

Robert Campbell

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