Wednesday, November 17, 2010

D-blog threatened by solicitors

With a defamation suit. No, really.

Backstory: Last April I posted on Sally Weintrobe, a psychoanalyst who was to read a paper to an organization improbably called "The Tavistock and Portman," and titled (allegedly), "Heads in the Sand: What's mad about Climate Change."

According to T&P's press release announcing Weintrobe's appearance,
The overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion is that the warming the Earth has observed over the last 50 years has been due to an increase in greenhouse gases directly caused by human activities. Predictions for the likely effects of this warming vary from the disastrous to the apocalyptic.

People 's reaction to potentially hazardous problems [NOT doughnuts] are often acute and even exaggerated. Predicted pandemics such as Swine Flu cause panic and induce rapid changes in people's behavior. Yet faced with overwhelming evidence of a likely global catastrophe the vast majority of populations have their heads in the sand. Why is this?

Is it ambivalence and apathy? Or, are people paralyzed by feelings of anxiety and helplessness? What are the barriers to individuals taking action? WE [sic] must look at the reasons people are not acting in order to understand how to get people to act.
Unfortunately for T&P, what our Sal originally submitted as a promo blurb or whatever read simply:
Some problems engaging with Climate Change: A psychoanalytic perspective

Using psychoanalytic ideas, Sally Weintrobe will explore some of the underlying reasons for the current level of denial of climate change and will suggest ways forward towards greater engagement.
Somewhat less strident (if perhaps equally dumb), wouldn't you say?

Turns out T&P added all the other garbage, and then failed to run it by Weintrobe before publishing.

Well. On being informed through Weintrobe's solicitors, Gillhams, that she was pissed, T&P fell down two flights of stairs in their rush to apologize, starting with this explanation:
After reviewing the material, the clinical director who commissioned the talk decided to amend the draft with an eye to what he thought would improve the marketing of the seminar and attract a larger audience. . . .
Can't find an account of the talk, don't know if it even came off. But that director should be on Mad Men, huh? Sell, sell, sell! Onward:
I am aware of your view that the changed title for your lecture, which includes the word “mad,” may be interpreted as provocative. I am also aware of your view that the description of your lecture is not reflective of how you, as a professional psychoanalyst, would approach your practice, this subject matter, or the public. Some of the blogs suggest you were motivated by financial gain [not me! I just suggested she was a dimwit] to give the lecture. On behalf of the trust I would like to make it clear that it was never intended that you would receive remuneration for giving the lecture, nor will you be offered any in the future.
Unless, of course, Weintrobe decides to sue. Anyway, after some really gross Weintrobe-licking:
The trust therefore unreservedly apologises for changing the proposed title for the lecture and the advertising material that was published without seeking consent, and for any distress suffered or any damage to your personal and professional reputation. We are now actively taking steps to notify those in control of websites making potentially defamatory comments in respect to you and/or your intended lecture that such comments should immediately be removed from their web presence.
My august web presence, if you please. Of course, I never heard anything from them.

After reviewing all this, Gillhams turns their attention to your darling defamatory D-blog, noting first that his post ("the Post") is one of a number of "agitated responses of the public" (yeah, sure) to T&P's press release, and listing the "possible defamatory meanings of the Post," among them,
a) Our client is crackpot psychoanalyst [sic], who should not be taken seriously . . .

c) The implication that our client is not a credible member of the profession of psychoanalysts [oh, no, she definitely is] . . .

e) The implication that our client is incompetent . . .
And so on. Finally,
Our client is of the view that the Post presents an unfair portrayal of her professional standing, reputation, and approach to treatment of individuals. Our client has never exploited those who may be in need of treatment, including those who would be the subject of the seminar to be presented on behalf of the Trust.
That's a relief. I was getting ready to seek help for my extreme AGW skepticism, but hesitated because I feared just such exploitation. Upshot of the whole lamebrain thing:
10. While our client is reluctant to do so, she reserves her rights against you for the defamatory content contained in your Post.
So I wrote them a nice note, mocking them for thinking (which I doubt they seriously do) that there are actually grounds for a suit against me, especially in the good 'ol USA. But being an honest bogger (what?) I said I'd post a correction. Here it is.

More personally, Sally, dear, I apologize for T&P not having the brains God gave a salted slug. Hey, maybe this episode will cause you to contemplate changing the focus of your psychoanalytics, perhaps toward people who are such AGW fanatics that they recklessly, not to say defamatorially, add their own paranoid fantasies to your words. I doubt it.

Update: T&P wiki; T&P website.

Update II: And Gillhams? The original post stays up. Yep, I'm an internet tough guy.

Update III: Though to be fair, I'll add a note to the original referring to this post.

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