Res Ipsa Loquitur
Of all the varieties of dishonesty, disingenuousness -- feigned puzzlement or pretended confusion -- is the worst and usually the most transparent. This is because it necessarily involves an insult to the subject of the deception: He is expected to become an accomplice in deceiving himself.
Obviously, this species of dishonesty has no place in the behavior of those presuming to lead an organization that describes "Truth" as its only weapon. Yet it's clear that disingenuousness is the only weapon left in the arsenal of the current management of the JBS.
In a recent posting in this space I put JBS management in a box from which it cannot escape.
I noted that Robert Welch's reaction to the controversy over his pre-JBS manuscript now called The Politician was to make it available, in book form, to all interested parties.
I then proposed the following: Given the persistent controversy over Jack McManus's non-JBS speeches before Catholic audiences -- speeches plausibly characterized by those who have examined them as anti-Semitic -- the JBS should, and ethically must, make those speeches available for public inspection, as well. That would be the behavior of people committed to the propagation of pure, unalloyed Truth.
The behavior of JBS Upper Management, not surprisingly, is to attempt to change the subject. I was recently given a copy of a letter being quietly disseminated by Appleton in an attempt to reply to the challenge described above. It is a Whitman's Sampler of various kinds of dishonesty, ranging from disingenuousness to outright, brazen mendacity.
Referring to a letter I wrote on October 19, 2005, referring to the blackmail attempt against Jack McManus, the letter observes:
"In 2005, Mr. Grigg claimed that the McManus speech was `barren of any material that can fairly be described as anti-Jewish.' In 2009 ... he is now claiming the completely opposite assessment....
In a June 15, 2009 posting on his blog, Mr. Grigg refers to `Jack McManus, a person who spent years propagating anti-Semitic theological and political theories, which were captured on audio and videotape….' In this same posting, he referred to having been subjected to the aforementioned video clips but he now labeled them (a total of less than three minutes taken completely out of context) as something `I call ‘Jack McManus Sings the Nuremberg Variations’ – that is, conspicuously ugly excerpts from those same anti-Semitic speeches.'
In this same blog posting, Mr. Grigg further referred to the supposedly [sic] anti-Semitism of Mr. McManus as `repulsive' and to Mr. McManus having “a full-time sideline as an anti-Semitic demagogue.'"
All of this, the letter insists, constitutes a "glaring reversal [on my part] about the supposed anti-Semitism of JBS President John McManus...."
Note well that this is not a denial that the speech in question contained anti-Semitic material; instead, the effort here is to focus on the fact that I had changed my opinion about the material.
What the reader of that letter will not be told by the supposed paladins of Truth running the JBS is this: I changed my opinion, in large measure, because of the criticisms of Jack's anti-Semitic presentations offered by Art Thompson, Gary Benoit, and others who now defend him. Those criticisms were not made available to me by Art and the others; instead, they were published on the Web as samizdat by the faction loyal to Vance Smith.
I did have a chance to read the text of one of Jack's speeches in addition to seeing the video excerpts mentioned above; I read that text in Art Thompson's hotel room, in Jack's presence, on the Saturday following the 2005 "coup." Both Art and Jack earnestly insisted that the speech was meant as a "theological" statement.
Neither one of them saw fit to inform me that, years earlier, Art had become sufficiently alarmed over what he described as Jack's anti-Semitic lectures that he, Art, had outlined an entire campaign to get rid of Jack.
This wasn't just a "glaring reversal"; it was a deliberate cover-up laquered with pure hypocrisy.
I've mentioned previously about being shocked when Jack referred to commentator Ben Wattenberg (not my favorite public figure) as "a slimy New York Jew." This was said in the presence of Gary Benoit, who was likewise astonished.
When I saw the film clips mentioned above my reaction was one of weary disgust -- both over Jack's foolishness, and the potentially criminal actions of those who appeared ready to blackmail Jack. Since I consider blackmail more serious than bigotry, I focused most of my criticism on the Smith faction; since I was repeatedly assured by Art and Jack that Jack would never propagate anti-Jewish prejudice, I was willing to extend him the benefit of every doubt.
One ugly remark I could stomach; one ill-considered speech, I could abide; but my views did change when I learned, thanks to Art (by way of his critics) that Jack had been reveling in anti-Semitic nonsense for "years."
The doubt I extended to Jack disintegrated when I heard Art's criticism of Jack's anti-Semitic "religion," and read his detailed plan to oust Jack as a liability. And, to be perfectly blunt, my outrage did come into sharper focus when Jack joined in the decision to kick me and my family to the curb for supposed offenses against tolerance and decorum.
If I had been more faithful to the principles I profess I would have made an issue out of Jack's bigotry sooner. But to be fair, I did have other things to worry about.
So here's where we find ourselves:
*We have a non-denial from Appleton that Jack's material is anti-Semitic.
*We apparently have not one but two "glaring reversal[s]" of opinion regarding Jack's anti-Semitic lectures -- mine, and that of Art Thompson, Gary Benoit, et. al. Mine was a result of being exposed to facts that had been withheld from me by Art and Jack. What explains Art's reversal, assuming that he has reversed his opinion.
*Appleton still won't make Jack's speeches public.
The third point is easily the most important, because it is the one Appleton is trying to avoid. The letter they are circulating offers several greasy insinuations that I lied about the tenor and character of Jack's speeches; they even intimate that what I have written is libelous.
Well, if that's the case -- publish the speeches. Put everything before a candid public, or whatever portion thereof would be interested in the issue. Let there be no ambiguity about the matter.
Or, what would be more or less the same thing, let Jack sue me for libel. The discovery process would churn to the surface all of the material Appleton is desperately trying to hide.
My first defense witness would be Art Thompson, who -- under penalty of perjury -- would have to explain his own "glaring reversal" regarding Jack. My first question: "Why did you say, in 2000, on the basis of the speeches in question, that `This is [Jack's] religion, to be anti-Semitic and anti-Mason'? My second question: If what you describe as Jack's anti-Semitism was patently obvious to you, am I not entitled to draw the same conclusion from the same evidence?"
If they were promoting the truth rather than covering their posterior, Art and Jack would make that evidence available for public inspection. Rather than doing so, they continue to emit piffle and persiflage. Res ipsa loquitur.
Lying By Anachronism
The recent letter from JBS management is fetid with dishonesty; its authors (I discern, once again, the hand of Alan Scholl) lie about literally every matter discussed therein. One of their preferred tactics is to misrepresent the past by "telescoping" events together -- that is, taking one incident and dishonestly compounding it with an unrelated one that took place much earlier.
Here's a specific example of the kind of creative anachronism called "telescoping":
The transparent intent of that paragraph is to prompt the reader to think my criticism of JBS management took place immediately after my family relocated to Idaho in 2005.
In fact, the blog you are presently reading didn't come into existence until 2007, when I created it as a way to reply to lies being disseminated by Alan Scholl and others (such as the story being told to JBS members in some western states that I had been sued for libel, or Alan's charge that "everything" I had written had been "heavily edited," apparently owing to my supposed professional incompetence.
As to the "frequency" of my "attacks" on JBS management (I have never attacked the Society itself), here are two critical facts: First, I created this website to deal exclusively with JBS-related subjects, something that wouldn't be known by the otherwise uninformed person who read the paragraph above. Secondly, since being fired in 2006 I have written and published nearly 500 essays. I've mentioned the JBS fewer than twenty times, including the JBS-centered essays published on this blog.
A second example of "telescoping" offers an interesting twist: The authors of this letter retroactively amended a decision I made:
"Of additional interest in Mr. Grigg’s June 15th blog is his characterization of the Smith-Gow campaign waged against Mr. McManus as `blackmail.' He stated that when he arrived at that conclusion, `I resigned from JBS; I simply could not be associated with an organization in which personnel disputes were settled through blackmail.' Mr. Grigg did submit a letter of resignation, a step he temporarily withdrew. He retracted that decision, as he indicated in this blog entry, partly because of being `entreated back on the staff.' He noted that the person “who persuaded me was – Jack McManus.'" (Emphasis added.)
The words in boldface above are a bold-faced lie: There was nothing "temporary" about my return to the JBS staff after Jack begged me back. He didn't say that the arrangement was "temporary," nor did I. In fact, when the new management team assembled the JBS staff the Friday afternoon of the "coup," they made a point of having me stand beside them (in jeans and a casual shirt; I was packing for the move to Idaho) to help assuage concerns on the part of home office employees. Nobody said anything to the effect of, "Will is back as Senior Editor -- on a temporary basis."
The only way the statement from the letter cited above could make any sense is if it is a tardy admission that upper management was tacitly planning, as early as October-November 2005, to be rid of me. I have no evidence that such is the case. Which necessarily means that the statement above is a damned lie.
The same is true of this paragraph:
"In 2006, Mr. Grigg decided that he would not accede to repeated requests that he temper the characterizations of persons he was writing about in his various blog postings. He was advised that, because of his association with The New American magazine (he was listed as a Senior Editor) and his years of functioning as a spokesman for The John Birch Society, liability for his possibly libelous intemperateness was shared by his employer. His refusal to cease the type [sic] writing he employed led to a complete parting of the ways. He insists he was fired. Officials of the Society and the magazine contend that he fired himself."
It's of interest here to note that this is the first time Appleton has ever publicly stated a reason for my firing -- after years of insisting that it was legally prohibited from doing so. Also of interest is the fact that the official letter of termination I received from Art Thompson said nothing about "possibly libelous intemperateness"; no variant of the word "libel" appears anywhere in that letter.
I learned of my then-impending termination from Bill Jasper on October 2, 2005. He didn't mention concerns about "libel." At Bill's suggestion, I called Art Thompson that afternoon. Art was flustered and inarticulate to the point of aphasia, but the term "libel" wasn't found anywhere in the word salad he presented to me.
The termination letter, as I've mentioned before, offered one charge and one specification:
"You do not understand that once you are a public figure everything that you say or do publicly reflects on the organization you work for, particularly when these things are in opposition to the position and principles of The John Birch Society and Robert Welch. Also, you do not understand that once we have rejected an article or nuance, you cannot go around us to post it elsewhere, identifying it as rejected material and publicly criticizing your employer for the rejection."
Art didn't specify what I had written that was "in opposition to the position and principles" of the JBS and Robert Welch, for good reason: He couldn't find a suitable example. So we're left with the apparently grave offense of publishing, on my own blog, "rejected material" in which I differed with JBS management in a matter of "nuance."
Once again: There was nothing about libel in that termination letter, the only legally relevant document in defining the reasons for that action. I was never "advised" that my association with the JBS could possibly leave them open to a counter-party suit in the event I was sued for libel -- a scenario that is equal parts fanciful, paranoid, and (owing to its consequences to me and my family) malicious.
To the best of my knowledge, Alan Scholl invented the "libel" rationale after the fact on October 3 in a communication with a JBS member, of which I have a copy. (It was in that communication, incidentally, that Alan first tried out the line that "Will Grigg fired himself.") And it was rendered entirely moot a few days later when, at the suggestion of a JBS member in the Deep South, I took steps to modify one blog posting about which concerns were raised after I had been fired to nullify any imaginable legal exposure to the JBS.
Here's where we find irrefutable evidence of incorrigible bad faith on the part of Alan and his sorority sisters in JBS management.
My friend called me up in the hope of bringing about a reconciliation. For a couple of hours he conducted telephone "shuttle diplomacy" between myself and Alan, who was acting on behalf of JBS management. It was Alan who expressed concerns about the blog entry in question. So, with my friend watching that space in real time, I made the necessary modifications: Problem solved! -- that is, if the "problem" was something other than a pretext.
My friend then called Alan again to explain that the problem had been fixed. Knowing how that call would turn out, I leaned back at my desk and awaited the inevitable. Sure enough, a few minutes later, my friend called back.
"Well, he's not going for it," he said in a voice laden with puzzled disappointment. "He says that this wasn't the real problem, that there were just too many others to deal with."
So Alan, liar that he's proven himself to be, moved the goalposts, as I knew he would. This is because the real issue was nothing I had written, as such. It was the fact that I wasn't willing to submit to the ultimatum Art gave me on October 2: I was to take down the Pro Libertate blog, apologize in writing for everything published therein, and promise, in writing, never to write or utter a word that wasn't pre-approved by Appleton.
They knew I'd reject that ultimatum. They invented a "problem" that could only be "solved" by firing me.
Is this the best they can do? Are these the best people the JBS can find to run the organization? (Obviously not; I know several others, both on staff and in the executive ranks, who would do a much better job.)
In assessing the question of truthfulness here, Dear Reader, consider this:
*One party to this controversy has never changed his story regarding the events surrounding the firing of Will Grigg (please forgive the lapse into third person); the other has changed their story several times.
*One party to this controversy has been candid about changing his mind regarding McManus's speeches, and specified the reasons why; the other simply pretends as if they have been consistent when the record demonstrates that they have been, at best, hypocritical.
*One party in this matter is calling for full disclosure of the McManus materials; the other has been reduced to the most puerile evasions in an attempt to prolong the cover-up.