Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Definition Difficulties

In Sungenis' latest article on "Jewish issues" he claims that his opponents won't define their terms:

"Although I am reluctant to borrow an axiom from one of the Enlightenment's icons, his words are quite apropos in this case. Voltaire once said: 'If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms.'" BTF Article, p.1

Sungenis so regularly engages in double standards that the irony of his complaint may be lost on him. It was Sungenis, after all, who had difficulty sticking to the dictionary definitions of salient words like "plagiarism", "vigilante", "calumny", and "anti-Semitism" and well established Catholic definitions for words like "Judaize". (See article)

The pattern continues now, with two new words: “libel” and “disavow.”


(and secondarily, “smear”)

Over the past several months, Bob Sungenis has threatened libel suits filed by his “pro-bono attorney” with relative abandon. He has done this most recently against the owners of a blog (Paul Tarsax and Mendel Levine) who posted a video of several of Sungenis' anti-Semitic quotes. (To be clear, RSATJ does not intend to endorse this blog in any way). When questioned about the video and the legitimacy of the libel charge by a CAI patron, Sungenis responded as follows:

“I think it's about time I addressed this infamous video made of me. Apparently, it was created by two Jewish people, Paul Tarsax and Mendel Levine. They first had the video on YouTube. Contrary to Tarsax's claims, the video was not removed from Youtube because the material was 'too graphic and upsetting,' but because my lawyer wrote to Youtube and advised them to remove it because it was libelous and went against Youtube's stated policies.” (Article)

“Although I am not sure of my lawyer's precise reasoning, I believe 'libelous' was used because we disavowed ourselves of the statements in writing to Paul Tarsax; the statements were no longer published by CAI; and the statements were taken out of context by Paul Tarsax. ~R-Sungenis" (Article)

Note that Sungenis once again leaps to the (incorrect) conclusion that anybody who opposes him on Jewish issues is probably a Jew. There are also some other questionable legal dynamics involved in the situation as well (Article). Perhaps most strange was Bob’s suggestion that the owners of the blog are ADL Jews posing as Catholics because it-

“wouldn’t be the first time the ADL has done so.”
BTF Forum

Returning to the primary issue, as even a CAI questioner pointed out, it is a logical impossibility to libel or slander (or “smear”, for that matter) an individual by quoting his actual words (Forum). The legal website given by this same CAI patron seems to comport well with other legal definitions readily available:

“Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm…Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper.” (Article)

This is an ongoing problem--Sungenis has complained that this blog has libeled him as well. But as always, truth is the first and best defense against such a charge:

“The most important defense to an action for defamation is ’truth’, which is an absolute defense to an action for defamation.” (Article)

The information provided at this blog has been amply documented from Sungenis’ own words. And according the the legal definition, you can't libel somebody by citing what they have actually written and said (neither can you “smear” someone in such a way, as Sungenis has charged). Whether or not Bob has removed his anti-Semitic statements and has now promised to refrain from making such statements in the future or not, the fact is, he said or wrote them all. The authors of this blog have offered several times to remove any information that is demonstrably false--to date Sungenis has declined to even make the attempt.

Finally, the issue Sungenis has attempted to raise of being "taken out of context" is specious as well. It would be most interesting to see Bob attempt to salvage such ugly quotes by providing further context from the articles and statements in which they originally appeared: Article 1 Article 2


(and secondarily, “retract” and “apologize”)

Recently, Bob made the following statement:

“Finally, whatever quotes are on that video, and whatever other quotes have been stored by various people from previous things I’ve said about the Jews that may be in other places on the web, I disavow myself of all of them. Further, I retract and apologize for anthing I have said about the Jews presented in that video.” (Forum)

While this is certainly a positive development, a few things deserve note.

First, after years of putting so much bigoted material front and center on his website, he opted to make this statement in the middle of a Q and A that isn’t even located at the main CAI/BTF website.

Second, his use of the word “disavow” is clintonian, at best (see: The Clinton Connection). After saying that he disavows, retracts and apologizes for the “quotes that are on that video” and whatever other problematic “previous things I’ve said about Jews” he also makes the following eye-opening admissions and statements:

“Although some of the material in those quotes I will reserve the right to hold and believe in my personal thoughts because I believe the material to be factual, nevertheless, I will not be expressing those opinions in my speeches, articles, website or any other public venue.”

“Whether right or wrong, I took them down so there could be peace between me and my Jewish opponents.”

According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of “disavow” is:

To disclaim knowledge of, connection with or responsibility for; repudiate; disown.

As such, it is oxymoronic (or duplicitous) to say that one “disavows” something while simultaneously professing to “hold and believe” that same thing in one’s “personal thoughts.” To disavow is to repudiate or disown. This is yet another example of Bob giving mixed and/or outright false impressions about what he has actually done in his multiple “apologies.” And sadly, since 2002, some people have believed that false impression...although, it seems, fewer and fewer each time.

Admittedly, he has broken new ground with this latest apology. He has said that he “retracts” and “apologizes” for his remarks. Would that he stopped there. Unfortunately, he also says : 1) he doesn’t take a position as to whether his remarks were “right or wrong”, 2) his remarks were removed only “so there could be peace between me and my Jewish opponents”, and finally, 3) He’s stopped making such remarks “because such political, cultural and social criticism of the Jews can so easily be misunderstood.”

Like all of Bob’s “apologies”, this latest still essentially seems to boil down to: “I’m tired of taking so much heat, so I’ll take down the material that’s attracting the most negative attention and ‘apologize’ for underestimating how sensitive people are to the truth about Jews…even though I was pretty much spot-on about everything.”

Voltaire was right. But it seems Sungenis has taken him to mean that he should feel free to create his own definitions.