Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Speed-reading course needed

Took me a while to get through it (constant tenant interruptions, actually), but historian Thomas Brown's "extraordinarily well-reasoned and well-documented paper" (as Pirate Ballerina called it this morning), exposing beyond rational doubt Ward Churchill's serial fraud in his many accounts of the Mandan smallpox epidemic of 1837, is a bloody model of forensic historiography (or whatever the correct term is). If you haven't yet, read it.

Brown's public vivisection of Churchill's work reminds me of nothing so much as Richard Evans' similarly fatal examination of Holocaust denier David Irving's way with sources in the trial of Irving's libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt--by no means the only similarity between the two cases.

In fact, Brown's merciless, dispassionate (sometimes even funny!) examination leaves Chutch without a stitch of credibility, and leads naturally to a question: In the face of the truly irrefutable evidence against him, is Churchill really stupid enough to file suit?

This question may seem to gloss over the occasional vapors I've had over problems CU might face in a suit, but I've always known that if it comes to the merits of the case, as they say, Churchill will get his ass kicked.

Update: "Rainboe" in comments to the previous post: "If Walkin' Eagle and his brillant? lawyer decide to pursue this in court, can anyone imagine what discovery and sworn depositions will reveal? I can hardly wait."

Update II: It's a big, wonderful academic world that can sustain a journal called Plagiary. I've added it to the blogroll.

Update III: Via PB, the Boulder Daily Camera mentions Brown's piece and recalls some choice Churchill verbiage about his colleague:
Last month in Plagiary, a new scholarly journal, assistant sociology professor Thomas Brown, of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, traced different versions of a smallpox epidemic theory authored by Churchill between 1994 and 2003.

Churchill has written that the Army distributed disease-infested blankets to the Mandan Indians in 1837, but Brown contends the CU professor fabricated his facts.

In a May 2005 interview with the Daily Camera, Churchill called Brown a "snot-nosed punk."

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