Michael Shermer Tries to Ban My Book; Demands I Recant!
I’ve known little Mikey Shermer since 1993. I tell many interesting stories about this “skeptic” fraud in my book, Republican Party Animal (available from Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble in the US, Waterstones and Foyles in the UK, Indigo/Chapters in Canada…but enough self-promotion).
Shermy got wind of the fact that I include quite a few pages of conversations that I recorded with him in 1994 – conversations in which he admits to defaming me and lying about my work regarding Holocaust revisionism. So, what did “Mr. Freethinker” do? How did “America’s leading skeptic and defender of free inquiry” respond?
He got his lawyers to serve my publisher with a demand to “refrain from publishing or distributing” my book! This is a man who slams religious institutions for stifling free inquiry and suppressing facts. And he wants to ban a book.
That’s some great skepticizin’ there, Mikey.
Oh, and one other thing…along with the “cease and desist” order the lawyers sent to my publisher, they sent me one as well, with a pre-written statement of recantation that I was supposed to read publicly on Youtube.
Yes, that’s right. Shermy the “skeptic,” Shermy the “scientist,” had his lawyers try to force me to recant publicly. Oh, and just for the record, Shermaboy’s actual field is “history of science.” So, a science “historian” saw no irony in trying to force a person to publicly recant their sincerely-held views. Shermer’s knowledge of science history must be as firm as his grasp of Holocaust history.
Anyway, Mikey’s law firm was no match for me. In a matter of hours, they retreated like that mangy dog that got its ass kicked by a cat a few weeks ago. I’m a drunk, but even ten vodkas to the wind, I’m a hell of a lot smarter than Shermer and his paid suits. I’ll just lay everything out below, exactly as it happened, and you can enjoy seeing “Mr. Skeptic” get pantsed.
And I do hope you enjoy!
From the venerable law firm of Neufeld Marks, to my publisher (this is just a screenshot of the top of page one, so that you may properly identify the fine legal minds who attempted the book banning):
Here’s the specific demand:
And here’s their demand to me, that I read this recantation on Youtube like a POW at the Hanoi Hilton forced to “confess” for the cameras:
And now the fun starts. Here’s my email to Jennifer MikoLevine, the attorney who wrote the letters:
Dear Ms. MikoLevine,
I cannot tell you how pleased I was to receive your email, and to read the one you sent to my publisher. The fact that Mikey Shermer would resort to using a law firm to demand that a book be censored (as per your email to my publisher, in which you demand that he “immediately refrain from publishing or distributing Republican Party Animal”) is golden. Seriously – it’s a birthday gift. I’m glad Shermer recognizes how badly his own words, in the recorded conversations that are transcribed in the book, make him look.
By trying to get the book pulled your client is essentially saying, “yep – I said some very damaging things, and I don’t want anyone to read them.” I’m sure everyone, from skeptics to Creationists, from atheists to believers, from 9/11 truthers to global warming doubters, will appreciate the fact that Mikey Shermer is demanding that a book be pulled from the marketplace merely because it contains transcripts of his own words.
That’s some great “freethought” there, Mikey.
Now, out of respect for you, coming – as I do – from a very long line of lawyers – I will address the points you made in your email to me. I will leave it to my publisher to address the points you made in your email to him. The words and ideas expressed in this email represent only my opinion and not that of Feral House Publishing.
To begin with, yes, in 1994, I did record several phone conversations with Michael Shermer without his consent. I announced that fact publicly at the September 1994 Institute for Historical Review conference in Orange County, California. Shermer admitted to being aware of the existence of the recordings in an “open letter to revisionists” he circulated in March 1995.
If Mikey had desired to take any legal action, by filing criminal charges or initiating a civil case, he’s had almost twenty years to do so. The statute of limitations for criminal or civil action regarding the illegal recording of a phone call in California has long run out. As a lawyer, I’m sure you’re aware that in such matters, in California, the statute of limitations time period begins when the aggrieved party learns of the existence of the recordings.
Time has long run out.
Beyond that, I’m certain that you, as a lawyer, know that there is an exception to the California law regarding the non-consensual recording of a phone conversation. One is allowed to record a “confidential communication” for the purpose of obtaining evidence “reasonably believed” to relate to the commission, by another party, of violence against the person doing the recording. The person accused or suspected of the violence need not be the person being recorded. The recording need only be made with the reasonable belief that it might be relevant in some way to felonious violence against the person doing the recording.
When I recorded Shermer in 1994, he had falsely and publicly accused me of being a “racist” (his term), and this false accusation had helped ramp up the Jewish Defense League’s “reward offer” for my death (several months after Shermer’s lies about me were published, I was badly beaten while walking back from a grocery store). I therefore “reasonably believed,” in good faith, that I had a legitimate interest in obtaining evidence in which Shermer admitted to me that he had lied about me being a racist, and that he had publicly misrepresented my work.
In the audio tapes I recorded, Shermer does indeed admit that his “racist” claim was false, and that he had publicly misrepresented my work.
Still, I think that’s all moot because of the statute of limitations running out so long ago. But all the same, out of respect to you, I felt it was only right for me to offer that additional explanation. You’re welcome.
Come after me if you desire. I fear Michael Shermer and his lawyers as much as I fear a hangnail. But we both know that rule number one of being a good lawyer is, “feel free to file suits you know you can’t win.” Because sometimes winning isn’t the objective; intimidation is. So come on, let’s go a few rounds. Let’s see how those intimidation tactics work on me.
Regarding your ridiculous claim that I “defamed” Shermer, how can I defame someone with their own words? If I’m playing recorded audio of Shermer speaking, and if I haven’t altered the audio in any deceptive manner, how can that be defamation? If Shermer believes that the audio defames him, he needs to hire your firm to bring a case against himself. I’d think that would be a beneficial thing for Neufeld Marks – one client, double billing. And you’re guaranteed a victory one way or the other.
Also, and here’s where you’re being a patronizing little pest, Jenn, you know perfectly well (or at least I hope to God you do) that Shermer is a public figure and therefore if I have a sincere belief that he is a fraud who betrays the supposedly “scientific” principles he claims to espouse, I can say so, and he has no course of action. I have been saying that Mikey Shermer is a fraud for twenty years. There is no question that this is a belief I hold sincerely and in good faith.
A judge wouldn’t let a defamation suit regarding my use of the word fraud in regard to Shermy get past your first billing session (which would probably still make the filing worth your firm’s time).
So, putting aside all of the areas in which you simply have no case, let me interject a small bit of what I like to call “lawyer Kryptonite:” ethics. I understand that I just made you shudder by the use of that word, and I apologize.
When it comes to “defamation,” it is I who would have had multiple reasons to bring an action against Shermy. I chose not to. I despise the notion of going to a court of law, because I hate wearing suits and getting up early. Oh, and I also prefer a society in which people can freely lie about me, to one in which speech, any speech, is penalized.
But hey, that’s just me.
Shermer knows full well that the term “racist” is the modern-day equivalent of calling someone a “witch” in the Middle Ages. He knows the consequences that can come from the false use of that term. Here’s a small, VERY small, sampling from those dreaded audio tapes that are transcribed in my book:
Me: “You say [in the Skeptic Magazine article], ‘revisionists like Weber, Zundel, Irving, Cole, and Smith have tried to convince me they are not racists and have no political agendas, but they have been contradicted from within their own ranks.’ But then you don’t go on to explain anything, any kind of ‘contradiction,’ about me, even though you just included me in that grouping.”
Shermer: “Yeah, I was sorta lumping everyone I had covered in the article . . .”
Me: “But that’s not fair to me.”
Shermer: “Yeah, that’s true. That’s right.”
Me: “I mean, you don’t think I’m racist . . .”
Shermer: “No, I don’t.”
Me: “But, you do understand that that might give the impression I am, for people who read it who don’t know me . . .”
Shermer: “Yeah, yeah . . . it would.”
Me: “I mean, honestly, that’s not really fair to me, is it?”
Shermer: “I would agree.”
Me: “That it wasn’t fair to me.”
And right there, ol’ Shermy cops to defamation, Jenn.
When I emailed Sherm last summer, as I was researching my book, we had this fascinating exchange, on 8/17/13, published in full in my book:
It’s the guy you never get tired of attacking, David Cole. I’ve been keeping up with this whole rape accusation thing, and, of course, I have no special knowledge beyond what I’ve read. But, and here’s the reason I’m writing to you, I’m just damn, terribly curious. And curiosity is good, right, Mike? So here’s my curiosity. Has this experience, you know, the whole rape accusation thing, made you any more sympathetic, or perhaps given you a bit more empathy, regarding the things you said about me? How you branded me a “racist” (the modern equivalent of calling someone a “witch”). How you admitted you lied. And how you refused to retract your accusation even after admitting you lied.
So I’m interested in asking you if your current dilemma has perhaps birthed in you some small regret for having lied about me.
I have no knowledge of the truth or lack thereof regarding the accusations made against you. If they’re true, there is no punishment that is too harsh for you. But if they’re false, well . . . it kinda stinks having folks print lies about you, huh? Is this a “chickens coming home to roost” moment for Dr. Michael Shermer?
Thank you for the frank and forthright letter. To cut to the chase and answer your question, yes the libelous and defamatory comments being made about me has (sic) made me more sympathetic and understanding to how I have interacted with creationists, Holocaust revisionists, New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra, and others, and in fact, all of the people I have debated with in all of these fields have been, for the most part, unfailingly polite to me and far more thoughtful and reasonable than any of the people in the FTB/athiest [sic] community and how they have treated me.
I don’t think you are a racist David, and I’m sorry for the things I said about you.
So, yeah David, the chickens have come home to roost, so please accept my apology for some of the things I said about you.
You’re bettin’ on the wrong horse, Jenn. Your client is an admitted defamer. Did they teach you about the “clean hands doctrine” in law school? Sherm probably would not fare well bringing a defamation suit against me.
I’ve saved the best for last. You actually, and I assume with a straight face, printed up a statement that you and Dr. Shermer “demand” I read verbatim on Youtube.
Are you and Shermer clinically insane? Writing up a “recantation” and demanding that I read it on camera as though these are my own thoughts and opinions? Is this the Hanoi Hilton? Okay, you’re a lawyer, Jenn. You might not know history. But Sherm claims to be both a scientist and a historian. Surely, he must be aware of how bad it will look for a so-called skeptic, scientist, and “freethinker” to demand that someone with whom he disagrees be forced, under threat of legal action, to publicly read a pre-written statement of recantation in which the threatened party is told what to say, is ordered to say it verbatim, and is threatened with repercussions if he doesn’t publicly recant his sincerely held views.
As I said, you’re an attorney. I don’t expect you to know how bad it looks for a “scientist” to order someone to publicly read a pre-written statement of recantation under threat of dire consequences. But Shermer should know. He should know the connotations and historical baggage associated with forced recantations. This is not going to make him look good.
But let’s examine the statement you and Shermer demand I read:
Dr. Shermer demands that you issue a retraction of the Entries on Youtube as follows:
“I hereby retract the entries posted on May 7, 2014, entitled David Cole Presents Dr. Michael Shermer: the Unauthorized Video (Part I) and David Cole Presents Dr. Michael Shermer: the Unauthorized Video (Part II). Specifically, I hereby retract all statements, quotations, and comments therein made with respect to Dr. Shermer, and the references to and transcripts and recordings of phone calls between myself, my friend, and Dr. Shermer. I extend my apologies to Dr. Shermer and to any other party affected by the statements, quotations, comments, and recordings contained in the entries.”
You want me to “retract” my “statements and comments” regarding Dr. Shermer. In other words, you want me to read a pre-written statement in which I retract my sincerely-held beliefs. You want to force me to read a statement in which I mindlessly repeat words you put in my mouth, words that betray my true feelings about Shermer.
And amazingly, it gets worse. Because you also call on me to “retract” the “transcripts and recordings of phone calls between myself and Dr. Shermer.”
What? How can I “retract” transcripts and recordings of Shermer’s own words? Do you actually know the definition of retract? “To say that something you said or wrote is not true or correct.” How can I “retract” Shermer’s words? How is that even possible? It makes no sense. “Retracting” another man’s words? It’s impossible.
Believing in Bigfoot riding the Loch Ness Monster while Martians controlled by the preserved head of Elvis in a Mayan space capsule drop unicorn kill-bots on planet earth makes more sense than believing that any man can “retract” another man’s words.
This is shameful. You should be ashamed. Shermer should be ashamed. And soon you will both be publicly shamed.
By your own words.
Which you will probably then demand I “retract.”
David Cole (Stein)
And here is her reply. I hope she’s not an advocate of gun control, because the bullets she’s sweating surely surpass California’s ammunition regulations:
Dear Mr. Cole,
Our letters to you and Feral House were premised on our understanding that Dr. Shermer’s phone conversations were recorded without his knowledge or consent, and that he only discovered their existence last week. Your e-mail below, however, references an “open letter to revisionists” Dr. Shermer allegedly circulated in March 1995. As our investigation into this matter is ongoing, we would appreciate your forwarding a copy of that letter if it is currently in your possession.
Very happy to oblige, Jennifer. Here is a link, preserved at the anti-revisionist site Nizkor Project, to Shermer’s March 1995 “Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists:” http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/s/shermer.michael/open-letter
The second paragraph is the relevant one.
Also, check out this archived entry, from July 1995: http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi?people/c/cole.david/cole-to-mccarthy-950620
Go to page 4. I quote a document from Shermer in which he admits knowing about my concerns regarding my safety BEFORE he publicly and falsely called me a racist. He knew the dangers BEFORE he defamed me. And he confirms that those dangers were foremost on my mind at the time.
Shermer knew of my concerns for my physical safety before he defamed me in 1994, and I had a reasonable belief that I was preventing additional violent acts from being committed against me by obtaining proof that Shermer lied about his claim that I am a “racist.”
And Sherm-Sherm throws in the towel:
Dear Mr. Cole and Mr. Parfrey,
In light of this information, Dr. Shermer does not plan to pursue legal action with respect to you or Feral House at this time.
At this point, I was ready to move on. I won, Shermy lost, end of story. But the day before the cease and desist letters were sent, Sherm filed a “privacy complaint” to get the video in which I speak about my history with him removed from Youtube. Unlike copyright infringement complaints, which can be easily fought, privacy complaints are damn near impossible to reverse on Youtube. This category of complaint was created to keep bullies from posting the private information of teenage girls. So Shermer, acting like a teen girl, used this category of complaint to get my video removed.
And the basis for his “privacy complaint?” I held up the covers of his books to the camera. As you can see in the screenshot of the actual complaint, for seventeen seconds, from the 5:21 mark in the video to the 5:38 mark, “Michael Shermer books shown in video:”
Yes, the books that have been available for years at hundreds of stores around the world constitute a “privacy violation” simply because I held them up to the camera. I did not open them, I did not read from them, I did not even REVIEW them. I just held up the covers (and, to be fair, I’m written about a LOT in each of those books…don’t I have a right to TOUCH the damn things?).
Michael Shermer, accused rapist, abused a Youtube policy meant to protect teen girls from bullies. What a guy!
As I said, Youtube doesn’t allow an appeals process for privacy complaints. So the video is gone, for good. But here’s the audio of a conversation I referenced in that video:
I will have more to say about cowardly accused rapist phony skeptic lying fraud Michael Shermer next week.
Honestly, I really was going to walk away after beating his lawyers like rented mules. I never like to pile on after a successful thrashing. But getting my Youtube videos pulled because Shermer abused a policy meant to protect thirteen-year-old girls? Now, I’m pissed. Now, I’m only getting started on that sweaty-browed phony.