I suspect that you’ll be as blown away by what I have to say today as I was when I first heard about it.
The Butler Collegian reporter who has been covering this story interviewed me late yesterday afternoon. During the course of that interview, she asked me to comment on two things the president said to her during his interview. Both items literally left me speechless. First, she told me that he claimed that he had nothing to do with the school’s attorney writing to my attorney on September 27th and saying, “we will proceed to substitute Jess Zimmerman for John Doe in the pending lawsuit. I anticipate that these actions will occur by the end of the week. Please let me know whether you will accept service for Jess Zimmerman.” She indicated that the president said that the attorney was acting on his own and without the president’s knowledge or permission. If that’s the case, Butler should immediately fire the attorney and file charges against him with the state bar association for malpractice.
It is odd, though, that the attorney would act in such a fashion since, throughout the summer, his responses were consistently very much delayed because he kept writing that he had to check with the president before saying anything and the president was out of the country and unable to be contacted for various periods of time. Additionally, the threats to substitute my name for “John Doe” were regularly made from the middle of June through this last firm commitment to do so at the end of September – and the president knew nothing about it? If what he said is the truth, Butler might well have an even larger problem with their administration than I thought.
The second thing that the reporter asked me to comment about was the president’s claim that it was my father who first raised the idea of tying my situation in with his desire to gain a retraction from the provost for the terribly disparaging comments she made publicly about him when he was removed as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For the second time, I was speechless due to the absolutely bizarre nature of the charge. In fact, when my father’s attorney first contacted Butler looking for a retraction from the provost, we had no idea that a lawsuit had been filed. In fact, at that time, the last contact with anyone about The True BU blog was over five months earlier. Rather than releasing any confidential documents, I directed the reporter to my attorney to be certain that the information she received was accurate. Here’s what he had to say to her last night in an e-mail:
“On June 16, 2009, I received a letter from Butler’s attorney, Michael Blickman, informing me that a lawsuit actually had been filed against the TrueBU Blog and that Jess Zimmerman would be substituted as the defendant in that lawsuit. June 16th was the first time the Zimmermans and I learned that a lawsuit had been filed.
“The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to Michael Zimmerman on June 16, 2009:
‘One other thing. In early January there actually was a lawsuit filed regarding the TrueBU blog. It appears this may be something we now have to deal with. Keep in mind, the main goal of the lawsuit was to shut down the blog. I doubt there are any provable damages even if liability could be shown (which is doubtful). That being said, they will use this as leverage in negotiations on your matter.’”
So, the president distances himself from the actions of his attorney and claims that my father raised the issue of a lawsuit he knew nothing about. And, perhaps worst of all, the president thinks he can pass all of this off as leadership.
Throughout this entire affair, I’ve asked for people to form their own opinions but to be certain that those opinions are consistent with the facts. The president, however, seems to want to change the facts to suit his often-changing explanations. But, as Alain René Le Sage said in 1735 in book X of his novel Gil Blas (L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane), “Facts are stubborn things.”
A quick piece of information: Today, I was on Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn, a national radio show. I've linked to the show on the right, but you can also find it here: http://184.108.40.206/qtmedia/mp3/1522.mp3
Additionally, I will also be on an NPR station next weekend to discuss this situation. I will give more specific details about that show as it gets closer.