Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A "Sore Loser" Rationale?

In her lawsuit against Sharad Karkhanis, Susan O’Malley claims that she “has lost the esteem and respect of her colleagues and members of the KCC and CUNY Community.” For this development, she blames Karkhanis, to the tune of $2 million.

Of course, O’Malley’s complaint also asserts that she “has acquired and retained a high standing and reputation among the CUNY academic community.” [emphasis added]

How O’Malley has simultaneously “lost the esteem and respect of her colleagues” and “retained a high standing and reputation among the CUNY academic community” neither O’Malley nor her attorney, entertainment law/personal injury specialist Joseph Martin Carasso, chose to reveal.

Leave aside, for a moment, this seemingly fatal intellectual contradiction in the O’Malley complaint. Few would challenge the assertion that the former UFS chairperson/PSC executive committee member is best known on her home campus, Kingsborough Community College. Indeed, the O’Malley complaint itself speaks of her “long service to KCC” and “her long career dedicated to governance” at KCC. The complaint adds that her “life has been dedicated to teaching, scholarly research and governance at KCC.”

Kingsborough professors, in short, know Professor O’Malley well. If the O’Malley complaint had any merit, presumably KCC professors—the people who know her best, because of her “long service” to the institution—would have seen through Karkhanis’ allegedly defamatory falsehoods. Indeed, if O’Malley had been subjected to a campaign of defamation worth $2,000,000, she might even have benefited from a surge of sympathy on her home campus.

This past fall, Kingsborough featured a campuswide election for two seats in the University Faculty Senate. Professor O’Malley chose to run for one of the seats. But while 105 ballots were cast, O'Malley tallied only 30 votes. (Voters could select two candidates on their ballot.) Donald Hume and Gary Sarinsky were elected instead.

It’s easy to understand how this embarrassing outcome—the former president of the UFS not only failing to win a seat in the body over which she once presided but losing by a greater than two-to-one margin to Hume and just under that margin to Sarinsky—would constitute a crushing blow to a figure who has stated that her “life has been dedicated to teaching, scholarly research and governance at KCC.” And it’s also easy to understand that a figure so decisively repudiated by the colleagues who know her best would seek to lash out at her critics.

It surely is easier for Professor O’Malley to believe that she was defeated because of a $2 million campaign of defamation, and not because the people who know her best made a reasoned judgment that her agenda isn’t good for Kingsborough or CUNY. Unfortunately for O’Malley, being a sore loser doesn’t usually qualify as grounds for a favorable judgment.


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