Salon Publishes Libelous Hit Piece on Peter LaBarbera
Spring has sprung with a vengeance on Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera, although it’s not Spring’s fault, nor is it Mr. LaBarbera’s. The vengeance comes from anti-Christian activists and purveyors of “tolerance” and lies who have caused Mr. LaBarbera quite a bit of trouble since April. After being invited to Canada to speak to a pro-life group, and overcoming efforts to block his entry into the country, he was then arrested there for “trespassing” while he was standing for free speech on a public college campus, a charge which was later changed to “mischief” and is still pending. You see, our neighbor Canada has laws against “hate speech,” and they consider telling the truth about homosexual behavior to be “hate speech,” and that’s why they targeted Mr. LaBarbera.
On April 9th, just before he left for Canada, he was invited by the Traditional Values Club to give a speech at Sinclair Community College (SCC) in Dayton, Ohio on the topic of the radical homosexual movement. A couple of intolerant, pro-homosexual teachers, who are apparently obsessed with hatred for the Traditional Values Club, organized a large walk-out of his speech, which he handled with an abundance of grace. One of the teachers, Kate Geiselman, subsequently decided to write a column, published on April 16th by Salon.com, which calls him an “anti-gay bigot” in the headline. In it, she claims he was “angry” at the walk-out, and as the teachers and students filed out of the room, she declares that he said, “You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?”
One small, but important detail, however: Peter LaBarbera never said that, which makes her column pure, actionable libel. He did say “effing,” but it was in response to a heckler who flung the actual F-word at him during the walk-out, and Mr. LaBarbera was repeating to the audience what he heard the guy say (replacing the guy’s F-word with the euphemistic “effing”) in illustration of the “tolerance” of those walking out.
Another of the teacher collaborators, Rebecca Morean, posted a comment at the Salon column, stating in part:
LaBarbera certainly said “Effing.” I, and many others heard it, as we were the first to eject ourselves. I’d rather be accused of saying that btw than being a bigot. Odd sense of outrage. There are other tapes, and the fact that the one posted means he didn’t say it is silly. The mic wasn’t by his face.
Another small, but large, detail: a two-minute clip of the walk-out reveals that Mr. LaBarbera was holding the mic and speaking into it the entire time, so the mic was indeed “by his face.” It would appear that Ms. Morean is not concerned with telling the truth, because videos of it also reveal what Mr. LaBarbera said, which does not include, “You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?”
Here is what he said, as transcribed from video recordings:
“I suppose this is a walk-out. Well, this is, this is what I say, not, not even people willing to hear from the other side. I think this is, this is regretful. [heckler interjects F-word] ‘Your message is ‘effing’ garbage,’ that guy just said. Yeah, yeah this is a shame, but, well, those of you who remained are exhibiting true tolerance… I mean this is—this is the Left in action; I’m sorry. You know, tolerance for me but not for you. Don’t even want to hear a viewpoint. That’s their right, and I just think it’s immature…”
So, a heckler flings the real “F-word” at Mr. LaBarbera, and he responds to the heckler by saying, “‘Your message is ‘effing’ garbage,’ that guy just said.” This is quite a different story than what Ms. Geiselman claims, as does Salon in publishing her column.
I also obtained statements from witnesses who were in the audience and testified that Mr. LaBarbera did not say what the two teachers claim.
Al Giambrone, a co-founder of the Traditional Values Club, wrote:
I was present for the entire event… I was sitting in the third or fourth row on the end seat next to the center aisle directly behind one of the instructors who lead the walkout. I had a perfect view and was well within earshot of Mr. LaBarbera (even if he hadn’t had a mike) when the walkout occurred. I paid careful attention to his reaction and what he said when they walked out because I was curious to see how he would handle it. I knew it was coming. I was quite impressed by the way in which he responded, by his presence of mind and by his effective but respectful demeanor, not only during the walkout but through the entire event. At no time did I hear him use any inappropriate language nor did I see him display any contentious reaction even when hostile members in the audience gave him what many would consider good reason to do so.
Traditional Values Club President Bonnie Borel-Donohue also concurred with Mr. Giambrone.
The teacher-led walk-out is one thing, and it could’ve ended there, but Ms. Geiselman decided to pen a libelous column on top of it, claiming she heard him say something he didn’t say. There are two possibilities. Either she genuinely misheard what he said, or she took his quoting of the heckler and maliciously turned it into a fabricated statement to defame him.
The story gets stranger when we read what Geiselman said in another Salon column from two years ago (which is, incidentally, about a different time she was involved in protest, targeting a speech presented by the Traditional Values Club at Sinclair):
The acoustics were poor. Students nearby were whispering to each other. My hearing is bad and I was far away, so I admit that I had trouble getting every word he was saying.
Interesting! Ms. Geiselman admits she is hard of hearing, and yet she goes on record asserting she “heard” Mr. LaBarbera say something in a noisy room as she was walking out—certainly not the most optimal conditions for hearing, even with the keenest of ears.
By the way, I sent an e-mail to two of Ms. Geiselman’s accounts (one at Sinclair and one listed on her website) requesting a comment on this event, but she did not reply.
Regardless of how she came up with the story, Ms. Geiselman and Salon’s editor, Cindy Jeffers, are now the recipients of a demand letter presented to them on Friday by Attorney Charles LiMandri. It gives them ten days to issue an apology and a retraction of the defamatory statements made by Ms. Geiselman in her column and on Twitter. In part, the letter states:
The audio on the two minute video makes it perfectly clear that Mr. LaBarbera did not utter the unprofessional and defamatory words that you attribute to him. This has been confirmed by multiple witnesses who were in immediate proximity to Mr. LaBarbera during his entire presentation. You further falsely accused Mr. LaBarbera of being “a person who makes his living telling lies” in the internet posting attached above. You did so even though you did not even have the decency to listen to his remarks before publicly excoriating him.
… By your false and defamatory statements you have maliciously sought to injure Mr. LaBarbera in his reputation and to expose him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace. You have also sought to injure him in his trade or profession. We hereby demand that you issue a public retraction of, and a public apology for, your false and defamatory statements made against Mr. LaBarbera.
This entire story is yet another in the myriad examples of how those on the Left lie to further their agenda. The fact is that truth is not on their side, so in their self-deception, all they have are lies and defamation with which to wage their battles.
I requested a statement from Mr. LaBarbera, and he wrote:
What happened at Sinclair Community College is just another example of the Left’s penchant for using dirty tactics, half-truths and cheap stunts to discredit and demonize their opponents.
Kate Geiselman and Salon must be held accountable for creating and promoting a lie to advance their intolerant, conservative-bashing agenda. I absolutely did not say the “effing” line reported by SCC prof Kate Geiselman. It is simply absurd to say that I would say that in front of a bunch of students and pro-family advocates whom I had just met!
This is a bad and implausible lie that this ‘writing’ instructor came up with. Geiselman was writing fiction, and it’s bad fiction at that.
Another thing that strikes me about the Left’s “anti-hate” myth directed at mostly Christian conservatives—and stoked by the SPLC—is that it pretty much gives them carte blanche to engage in all kinds of vicious and deceitful attacks against their foes.
After all, if the Left is really battling HATERS on a moral par with the KKK (the SPLC claim), then do details and facts matter as much as ASSAILING THE HATERS? And is being fair to, and truthful about, the target that important—since in their minds they are dealing with despicable extremists?
This is a dangerous game by the Left: in their arrogance and pride, they have decided for everyone that there is no legitimate opposition to the LGBT agenda—and then they distort reality according to that model. If the liberal media doesn’t hold them accountable, conservatives must step up and expose the Left’s systematic campaign of misinformation.
Not only are these people vicious liars, but they’re also intellectually dishonest. They always claim to support “diversity,” yet they bust their rears to shut down those with views that are diverse from theirs. They demand “tolerance,” but they are the most intolerant people among us, plugging their ears as they shout, “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU, ‘HATER’!” If they had a shred of intellectual honesty, if they truly believed their ideas on homosexuality were solid, right and true, then why would they be threatened by someone presenting the other side of the debate?
The real losers here are those college kids who were led by the nose by the conniving, lying teachers—those kids who did not get to hear Mr. LaBarbera tell the truth about the dangers of homosexual behavior and the lies the activists tell to push their freedom-robbing agenda. The kids are the real losers, because they’re learning the same, age-old fascistic techniques of socialist-communist regimes throughout history that have worked to silence the voices of those who tell the truth about the tyranny of their evil schemes.
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