Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Counsel Carasso

In one respect, Susan O’Malley’s lawsuit against Sharad Karkhanis is a deadly serious assault on a basic tenet of academic freedom—the right of professors, at a publicly funded university, to publicly criticize their elected faculty leadership. In another respect, however, the lawsuit could best be compared to a bad Country Western song—“The Ballad of 'Thin-Skinned Sue',” the professor who seemed to stand for election to every faculty post under the sun, and who then struck back at one of her most caustic critics by filing a lawsuit that she herself described as “very, very silly.”

It seems as if “Thin-Skinned Sue” has managed to find herself an equally thin-skinned lawyer. In a posting on his website recently forwarded to us by a reader, attorney Joseph Carasso lashed out against the authors of this blog. In a line that doesn’t indicate judicial temperament, he fumed, “It is scary to think that young impressionable students are taught by people who not only are cowards and lack honor, but misinform and lie with ease.” He further labeled us a “coward” for refusing to “proclaim their identity to the world.”

In the blog’s founding statement, we addressed the question of our posting pseudonymously. As we noted, “Lest we, too, be subject to a lawsuit from the PSC leadership, this blog is published pseudonymously by CUNY faculty members.”

In that respect, we concede that the O’Malley/Carasso lawsuit already has had something of a chilling effect. As full-time faculty members at CUNY, we have suffered through the last seven years of ineffectual leadership by the faculty union, as O’Malley and her cronies in the leadership have focused on international causes and their base among the adjuncts, while avoiding the pressing problem of low salaries for full-time professors. As a result, we simply don’t have the money to hire competent counsel if O’Malley should decide to drop one of her “very, very silly” lawsuits on us.

In our post about Carasso, we cited a trade website to note that Carasso was a literary agent for ARP. In his posting, Carasso denies any association with ARP. Despite his ad hominem attacks against us, we accept him at his word, apologize for repeating the trade website’s error, and have corrected the original posting.

The rest of Carasso’s screed is all huff and no substance—a little like O’Malley’s lawsuit itself. In our original post, we observed that Carasso has “advertised himself as providing ‘low-cost legal advice for independents.’” We linked to a column in Filmmaker Magazine by Carasso himself. The article was subtitled, “Joseph Martin Carasso on low-cost legal advice for independents.”

Carasso now claims, “I certainly never advertised for low cost legal services.” Is he now asserting that he, in fact, never wrote the linked column? If so, his beef would seem to be with Filmmaker Magazine, which claimed that he did, not us. Or is he asserting that Filmmaker Magazine reached out to someone with no knowledge in the field to pen an article on “low-cost legal advice for independents”? Again, if so, his beef would seem to be with Filmmaker Magazine, not us. Or is he suggesting that he falsely advertised himself to Filmmaker Magazine as an expert on “low-cost legal advice for independents,” even though he knows little about the topic?

Whichever of the three arguments Carasso is presenting—his post is wholly unclear on the matter—there’s nothing he has offered that rebuts our original post.

Carasso’s rebuttal doesn’t even attempt to challenge our suggestions that he isn’t exactly a word-class attorney with expertise on academic freedom issues. As we noted in the original post, Caraaso is “a graduate of the William Mitchell College of Law (not an institution many would confuse with a Tier-I law school), [and] Carasso’s Lexis/Nexis entry lists his specialties as entertainment litigation and personal injury matters.” He doesn’t deny the description.

Indeed, had we been so inclined, we could have provided more detail in our original post about Carasso’s apparent mediocrity, such as the peculiar fact that this veteran (26-year) attorney lists on his website a grand total of one reported decision. His client in that case? None other than . . . Susan O’Malley, in an ugly lawsuit described in the following manner by the ruling: “This personal injury action arises out of an accident involving five teenagers, some illegal drugs, and a paintball gun.”

Despite the insinuations of his posting, Carasso has been rather cavalier with facts in his own work. In his filing against Karkhanis, Carasso—who describes “computer and software technology” as one of his firm’s “areas of practice”—stated that Karkhanis’ IP address is is a domain name, not an IP address—a basic fact with which, we would think, an attorney who specializes in “computer and software technology” would be aware.

Finally, our post also mentioned that Carasso served as a consultant to a film called, “How Do You Spell Murder?” Carasso responds not by challenging the point in any way, but by terming himself “proud” of his work. The filmmakers, he adds, have also produced such high-quality intellectual fare as “ELVIS ’56.”

In the name of free speech, we think it’s best to let Counsel Carasso’s pride speak for itself.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Standing Up to "Sue" and the Censors

At the Democracy Project, Phil Orenstein continues to take on the publicly supported censors of the academic left. Please read the entire post.

“More on Fantasizing "The New McCarthyism"

I continue to deal with the contentious themes of “guilt by association” and the imaginary new sacred cow, “the New McCarthyism” in response to a comment on FrontPage Magazine's reader forum.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article on my experience at a CUNY Forum titled, "Academic Freedom and the Attack on Diversity at CUNY” which was published on FrontPage Magazine, posted here on Democracy Project, Campus Watch, and also picked up on Daniel Pipes’ blog, demonstrating the urgency of these issues. The CUNY forum featured the panelists, Deborah Almontaser, founder and former principle of the Arabic language public school, Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), and CUNY faculty union official Susan O’Malley who filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit against Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis.

There were a few interesting comments on FrontPage Magazine's reader forum one of which I chose to respond to online. The writer challenged my “obsession” with “guilt by association” which is basically similar to the accusations at the CUNY forum leveled at such awesome figures as Daniel Pipes, Dr. Karkhanis and CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. They charged that a vast rightwing campaign of Islamophobia which they call “the New McCarthyism” is spreading throughout the nation “attacking” Arabs, Muslims, college professors and Senator Barack Obama as well, based upon the false premise of “guilt by association.”

In my article I argued that such allegations are pure fantasy that has risen to a new level of hysteria, with wild accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia,” which has precluded any rational discussion about national security threats and sober concerns about stealth Islamic infiltration into government, education and academia. The title of my article initially was to be “Guilt by Association and Recruitment” but was changed by the editors of FrontPage Magazine. My original intent was to report on one of the panelists, Susan O’Malley who has endorsed and made efforts to recruit convicted terrorists for teaching jobs at CUNY. My interest was primarily in the lawsuit against Dr. Karkhanis, the real victim in all this furor, for having the courage to blow the whistle on O’Malley’s dubious activities within the CUNY system. The intent of her lawsuit was to bully and silence her critic, and trample his constitutional free speech rights in order to protect herself from scrutiny.

Slandering a good man from the auspices of a CUNY forum, and arguing on the merits of her case against Dr. Karkhanis is a disgrace and embarrassment to the entire CUNY system. O’Malley, a long-standing academic public figure had the gall to sit piously on the panel and use the forum for her personal agenda to paint a far-fetched portrait of lies as the victim of 13 years of “attacks” by a “crazy man” who has plagued her with false accusations of guilt by association similar to those directed at Muslims, Arabs, Ms. Almontaser, and Senator Obama. Susan O’Malley and company, who hold respectable positions of authority in academia as tenured professors and public officials, unsurprisingly want to deny the significance of their associations and support for criminals and terrorists, in order to avoid scrutiny and accountability for their actions. Regrettably, due to their status and authority, such paranoid fantasies as “the New McCarthyism” and frantic denials of “guilt by association” have trickled down into the body politic to become some of our latest sacred cows.”

"....Ms. Vera is dreadfully confused about the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” let me attempt to enlighten her about the legal system of the United States and basic civic duties of citizens, of which she seems to be sorely misinformed. The "presumption of innocence" is a basic doctrine of criminal law in which the government is required to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. For public service responsibilities, however, the process is the other way around. The people, not a government court of law must make critical judgments and informed choices in selecting the people who will serve them, and there is no presumption of innocence in this public domain. The burden of proof is on the individuals or institutions that aspire to public service, whether they’re public school principles, CUNY union officials or president of the United States. It is the civic duty of the citizens in a democracy, to judge their fitness to serve, and to continue to hold them accountable while in office. The “guilt” we’re talking about here, is their fitness for the job, not whether they’re good or evil people. Ms. Almontaser was the principle of a public school and O’Malley is a CUNY public figure, in both cases municipal positions paid for by taxpayer monies. The best way to judge public figures is by the company they keep, not just sugar-coated promises. They are working for you and me and their resumes must include good personal references, in order to be hired with our tax dollars. If they have numerous shady associations and dealings in their past, I wouldn’t hire them. I certainly wouldn’t hire someone with radical Islamic connections, or who endorses convicted terrorists."