Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘chilling effect’

Ronald Federici: Dox or GTFO (or alternatively, consider my offer)

The so-called History Making Lawsuit blog is now giving the number of the clerk’s office when they know darn good and well that it’s not open on weekends and thus no verification can be done through that number for two days. Given that so many repeated lies have been told about me with regard to court cases, it is not unreasonable for me to expect to see actual documents. Not snippets of documents. Entire documents including the names of all the parties being sued, the court seal, and the case number. If Ronald Federici really filed a lawsuit, this should be no problem to scan in and post to the blog. Since the blog contains numerous scanned-in documents, we know they have the equipment to do this.

So bottom line: There is no reason for me to believe these postings, given the long history of false statements made about me by anonymous individuals on the internet. By posting a phone number where someone cannot be reached for two days it appears to me as if they are trying to mess with me, once again and I will not allow that. Time and time again, these anonymous posters have dropped bombshells late on Friday when things cannot be checked out. They did this when they lied about the criminal charges that never materialized.

Of course it is possible that this case refers to an appeal he has been threatening to refile for months now against the parties that he lost against in small claims court in June 2010. Many things are possible, but unless I see evidence, the rational response, given the repeated lies, is to assume these are yet more lies, until and unless shown otherwise. I am open to evidence. I am not open to petulant little rants in all capital letters that insist it’s “REAL”. A broken caps lock is not evidence.

Hence, as the saying goes, Dox or GTFO (an internet acronym, not an all caps word, that stands for produce the documents or get the F___ out). If the document exists, it should be very easy to just post it. Not doing so shows that the most reasonable assumption I can make, which many close friends have opined, is that these folks are trying to mess with my mind and I do not allow anyone to do that. I refuse to spend my weekend worrying about something that might not be true, especially given the track record of lies that have been posted about me online. If that was their intention, they failed. There are only so many times crying wolf will work.

You want to talk to me about incessant whinging? If you’re going to sue me, then go ahead and sue me, but all this saber rattling is really getting old.

Just remember, Dr. Federici, that I have repeatedly made you the offer to specifically identify what specific statements that I made that you believe to be false and fall into the category of libel/defamation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now that my intention is to be truthful in my writings so if you have any evidence that contradicts any fact I have mentioned in any of my writings, please present it and if I deem it to be valid evidence, I will be more than happy to retract such a statement. You may respond right here on this blog, if you wish, or you may contact me privately either via e-mail or telephone. I am more than happy to hear you out and to and carefully consider what you have to say.

So far, in spite of my making this offer, in good faith, no response from Dr. Federici. What I am not willing to do is give up my legitimate rights to free speech. That is, my right to write about things that do not fall into the category of libel/defamation and to the very best of my knowledge, nothing I have written fits into that category.

However, I remain open, should Dr. Federici wish to reconsider my offer and save us both the time, energy and expense of a lawsuit. However, if Dr. Federici is demanding that I relinquish my right to criticize and express my opinion about his work in ways the United States Constitution guarantees me, that is a deal breaker for me and I am unwilling to give up such rights and will face you in a court of law, if it comes to that because I remain confident that I have done nothing wrong. Your call, Dr. Federici.

Clarification Regarding the So-Called History Making Lawsuit Blog

Update 12/8/2010: Although the lawsuit was not filed on the date the anonymous blog claimed (10/1) a phone call to the Fairfax County Circuit Court Clerk’s office has confirmed that on November 24, 2010 Ronald Federici filed a lawsuit against me, four other individuals and an organization. As of today’s date at the time of this posting, I have not been served with any papers, nor has anyone attempted to serve me with such papers. If anyone does, I will accept service. Suffice it to say for now, I welcome the opportunity for the facts to be presented regarding these issues and am hoping that this matter will be resolved in a manner that is fair and just.

**********************

Some misunderstandings have arisen regarding this other WordPress blog entitled A History Making Lawsuit which is claiming that a lawsuit has been brought against me. One person on a list serv (I am not on the list serv but was made aware of it) jumped to the completely false conclusion that I am being sued by Scientologists. This is wrong on two counts.

  • First, there is no evidence I am being sued at all. The claim was made on October 1 on that blog that I had been sued and to date, I have not been served with any papers. In today’s posting a “case number” was given which I found out was not even in a searchable format on the internet. The only thing that comes up on a Google search is that blog and the VA case numbers I did find did not begin that way.
  • Second, the person the blog is claiming is suing me (although I repeat, to date, I have no evidence he is) is not a Scientologist. The person is Ronald Federici, PsyD, a Virginia licensed psychologist who has been threatening to sue me since July 2009 because I have criticized some of his writings. The blog in question explicitly states it is Dr. Ronald Federici, so there is no need to guess here. I don’t know if Federici or one of his supporters or someone he hired is writing the blog, but the claim is that Federici is suing me. Federici already sued some other people (not me, but people I am associated with) in small claims court, lost, and has a few more months to appeal those cases. It is definitely not Scientology.
  • Scientology has absolutely no reason to go after me. I left Scientology 34 years ago and am no threat to them at all. They are currently using their resources to go after Marty Rathbun and other very recent, very high level defectors with much to tell and have been all over the news, whereas I have nothing new to tell and they couldn’t care less about me and that’s just fine by me.
  • I have every right to criticize Dr. Federici. Any factual statements I have made, I have backed up with evidence and I have expressed my opinions about that evidence. I have repeatedly invited Dr. Federici, if he thinks I have gotten any facts wrong, to provide me with specific evidence to the contrary, but to date, no such evidence has been forthcoming. So far, no response with any specifics which is what he would have to do in court. In court, he would have to provide actual factual statements, prove the defendants wrote them, prove they are false and prove that the defendants knew they were false and that this damaged him.
  • I will not back down. Just imagine a world where people are so afraid of lawsuits, that they are afraid to challenge something they see that they sincerely believe is wrong. If this happens, we might as well be living in a totalitarian dictatorship and I am not willing to live my life that way.
  • Here is a summary of some of the main criticisms I have of Dr. Federici, who is a licensed clinical PsyD psychologist, not a Scientologist.
  • I am not a “therapist” and I have no business interest whatsoever in this matter. I am not a “business” competitor of Dr. Federici’s in any way, shape or form. The postings about me offering adoption services are false and were made via anonymous remailers. I am offering no such services. My motivation is loyalty to values and doing the right thing.

Let’s have a look at the track record here. To sum up,

  • Postings were made saying that criminal charges were being filed against me and I received threatening e-mails about this, sent via anonymous remailers saying I was “finished”. That turned out to be a lie.
  • Subsequently, postings were made that I had been arrested, charged with harassment by computer, jailed in Florida, placed in solitary for fighting with inmates, reading vampire novels while in prison, Sarner posted bail, Sarner revoked bail, was fighting and awaiting extradition to Virginia– all deliberate lies. Pure fiction. None of it happened. I was never charged or arrested for anything and have done nothing that would lead to such charges. As an interesting PS to this, it turns out that it is Federici who may be the fan of vampire novels as his picture appears on a web page on a book signing for a Dracula novel. Nothing wrong with that. Just sayin.
  • The lie was posted that I was trying to sabotage an adoption cruise. Here’s my posting setting the record straight on what really happened.
  • The lie was posted that I am offering adoption services and am setting up a center in 2011 in California. I have no such plans and am offering no such services. This seems to be an attempt to misportray me as a business competitor.
  • The lie was posted on October 1, 2010 that Federici had brought a lawsuit against me and in subsequent weeks, postings I was running from service of papers appeared. No one has ever attempted to serve me with any such papers and I have received none in the mail.
  • Now the claim is being made that the case has a number and has been filed. Note that this is essentially an admission that the postings at the beginning of October were lies, since if they had been filed back then they would have had a case number then and service would have been made during that month. With a track record like that, who in their right mind would believe anything on those anonymous blogs. There have simply been too many lies to believe anything these folks are posting about me.
  • If they were really suing me would they be stupid enough to tip their hand in the way they have in the History Making Lawsuit, revealing many of the questions they plan to interrogate me with and material they are going to demand from me? Unlikely, although I must confess that in the past, I have been guilty of overestimating intelligence and underestimating stupidity.
  • A more reasonable explanation, in my opinion, would be that they’re trying to scare me into giving up my legitimate rights to express my concerns about the interventions being promoted by Ronald Federici in his books and media appearances.
  • Unless I actually have court documents in my hands or see them on a legitimate court website, I have no reason to believe what has been posted.
  • Of course, anyone can sue anyone else for any reason, but that does not mean that the case is legitimate and if that were to happen, I would receive support from individuals in the scientific mental health community who no doubt would consider this a threat to the freedom to criticize that is so vital for scientific mental health practices to move forward. Because of the high value I place in freedom to criticize and its necessity if there is any chance of scientific mental health practice existing at all, even if I were to be sued, I would not back down.
  • The recent blogs are ranting on and on about how yes, its “REAL”, really it really is this time!  Rants in all capital letters are being posted asserting that the Fairfax case is real, calling us “crazy”. Yeah, right, shouting in all capital letters and calling us “crazy” really makes your arguments more compelling — not. And these are people who work with children who they claim have problems with pathological lying? Some role models.
  • It is also worth noting that even if the worst case scenario were to materialize and he somehow succeeded in silencing ACT and certain individuals in the US, there would still be no way for him to stop people who live far outside the jurisdiction of the US from speaking out. For instance, Daniel Ibn Zayd, who I have no association with whatsoever, has begun to post some very strong criticisms of Ronald Federici and because he lives in a country where he cannot be stopped, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to silence him. He can criticize Federici all he wants and as far as I have been able to determine, there is nothing that Federici can do about it. This same thing happened when people began speaking out on the internet against Scientology. Ultimately on the internet, even though selected individuals can be stopped, free speech cannot be stopped because there will always be people who cannot be silenced, due to their geographical location. I have to note the irony, however, of the fact that Ibn Zayd, being in a country outside the US is freer to speak his mind on the internet than those of us in the US are. The average person would assume just the opposite — that we in the US would be freer and this may be the case on some issues, but not necessarily so. This really should give people pause to consider what is happening here in the US to chill free speech and how what kind of legislation might be proposed to remedy that.

The Benevolent Tutelage of Monica Pignotti: Free Critical Thinking and Geography Lesson

The anonymous bloggers on that other WordPress blog are at it again, putting words in my mouth. They claimed that I said one could prove a negative. No, I did not say or write that. However, since this is a commonly misunderstood point, I consider it worthy to elaborate on. While true that one cannot prove a universal negative, it is possible to falsify a positive. In essence this means that in some cases, a person can prove their innocence indirectly by showing proof positive of a contradictory fact. Perhaps they need to add Karl Popper and Aristotle to their reading list.

Here is an example. I can absolutely and very easily falsify the lie that was posted that my PhD was revoked. All I have to do is have FSU send a sealed copy of my official transcript to the appropriate parties. A classic example is that of the alibi for a crime. A person can prove they are innocent by providing proof they were somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. A person obviously cannot be in two places at once. Game over.

However, in the US justice system, as anyone who has ever been a juror as I have learns, the State in criminal cases and the Plaintiffs in civil cases have the burden of proof. In a criminal case, that means the person is innocent until proven guilty. The defendant does not have to prove he/she did not commit the crime. Of course, it helps if he has an alibi or can provide DNA evidence, but that is not what is required.

I will preface my remarks by saying that I have the utmost respect for actual clerks in the legal system who do their jobs and don’t misrepresent the legal systems in postings. The problem I have with this particular person who claims to be a hacker clerk is specifically with the way he misrepresents the legal system and seems to imply that the courts “like” Federici (is he claiming that they are biased in favor of him?). I can’t imagine his employer would approve of this. Recently a poster who appears to be a Federici supporter (although he denies knowing him) claiming to be a clerk at the courthouse posted to Fairfax Underground displayed egregious ignorance of US libel law, stating that the defendants he is suing have the burden of proof to show that the statements they made were wrong. That is the case in the UK, which is what made Simon Singh’s legal case so difficult, but it is not the case in the US. In the US, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the alleged libelous statements made were factually false. This makes libel cases very difficult to prove, because the plaintiff has to come up with a way to falsify the statements made. Virginia is in the United States, not the UK.

In my case, if I could identify who is lying about me, it would be easy as I can easily falsify the lies that I was fired from FSU or had my PhD revoked by providing the relevant documents. However, the ACT website used fair use quotes directly from Federici’s self-published book, Help for the Hopeless Child. If Federici could produce a copy of his book showing that the quotes were nowhere to be found, he could win, but of course he cannot do that because these quotes are, in fact in the book. and anyone can look at the page numbers cited and see that.

The little anonymous “clerk” (I don’t know if he actually is a clerk — in my opinion he is someone who is lamely trying to scare me — but for convenience’s sake I will refer to him as that) also displayed incredible ignorance of what is required as evidence. He seems to think that unless people observed first hand, they cannot make any claims. Somehow in his little mind, he seems to be confusing the concepts of courts requiring direct evidence vs. heresay with what is permissible to say that would not be considered libel. If someone really could be sued for writing about anything other than direct observation, the courtrooms would be filled with journalists and anyone who has ever written a negative book review. That is just more nonsense that shows the little clerk, or whoever he actually is, didn’t learn much from his job. If he is really a clerk, I wonder what his boss would think about his mouthing off his ignorance, misrepresenting and making a mockery of the legal system and the fact he called himself a hacker clerk. The little clerk also seems to think that what he considers ranting about a person is actionable. No, it is not, unless the rants contain lies about facts. Fortunately, the little clerk does not get to make up the rules. The law is the law and the justice system is obligated to follow the law.

So yes, it is perfectly legitimate to critique someone else’s writings and recommendations that are being made in those writings and if the writings are recommending prone restraint procedures, it is perfectly fine to offer up an opinion on the danger of prone restraints, especially since several states agree and have banned them entirely and there is a large body of literature showing their dangers.

Being licensed and proclaiming oneself an “expert” does not mean that people cannot write about that person. Any person in the US is free to criticize anyone at any time for anything as long as they do not make a statement that is factually incorrect that damages the person’s reputation.  If Federici follows through with his threats to appeal the case which he must do within 10 days of his previous legal loss in small claims, as plaintiff, he will have the burden of proof to show that a factually false statement was made maliciously that damaged his reputation.

Here’s a geography lesson. Virginia is in the United States, not the UK. In the UK, defendants have the burden of proof in libel cases. However, in the US, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, so unless Virginia has seceded from the US and become part of the UK, Federici will have the burden of proof, plain and simple.

Again, if Federici follows through with this lawsuit what is at stake here is academic freedom and freedom of speech on the internet. Rest assured that those who care about either of these issues will not be happy. If people can be hauled into court from out of state without sound basis, this would have a chilling effect on both because even if he loses, the defendants would be put through the time and expense of having to hire a lawyer, show up in court and present a defense.  As I understand it, an appeal case is considered essentially hitting the reset button, meaning that certain things from the small claims case cannot be carried over, including possibly the jurisdiction issue which can once again be argued. Cases involving the internet are such a new area, they are difficult to predict, so let’s wait and see and hope that precedents get established that do not have chilling effects on a person’s right to free speech and academic freedom.

Late Breaking Update: Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch has just been sued by Doctor’s Data Laboratories. For details and to contribute to his legal defense fund, click here and  here.

Tag Cloud