(The following is an exchange of e-mails that occurred between Sunday night and Monday afternoon between myself and David Diano. Note: Remarks in my first e-mailed response back to Diano are recreated from memory due to an editing malfunction. Everything else is verbatim.)
I enjoy fun and games with blogging/writing you. However, I just saw your print edition announcement (sic) about the Spencer blog, and you crossed the line.
"I hate Spencer, but I love Spencerblog," coos Havertown’s David Diano. I like to post comments really late at night after doing shrooms with my friends."
I never made any such quote.
Despite the satirical nature (using murderess for another commenter), the use of quotes associated with my name crosses a line. Someone that read only up to that point might think I really said such a thing.
Whenever I put words in your mouth in my postings, I am always careful to indicate it's a fantasy or what I imagine you think, etc. Harsh as I am with you, I do try to play by some rules.
If you want to imply that my opinions sound drug induced or I'm a liberal nutcase, that is one thing, but to make it appear that I'm claiming to be a drug
user is something else entirely. It borders on, if not crosses into, being libelous. I think I might ask a lawyer friend for a opinion.
You and the editors might want to check with your legal staff and consider a retraction/clarification because the use of quotes and the use of my name in an endorsement. If you want to use quotes in the future, it damn well better be from something I actually said or wrote. Even if you don't understand this fundamental point, your editors should know better and clearly need to keep a closer watch on what you right.
This letter is NOT for publication.
In response to your e-mail, I have written the follow blog entry that I have yet to post, here is what it says...
Attention Spencerblog readers:
I have just received an e-mail from David Diano who wants it made clear that the obviously made-up, silly quote I attributed to him in Sunday's print column raving about this blog, was not actually said by him.
While recognizing the "satirical nature" of the column, he is worried that somebody might actually think he "said such a thing."
Well, he didn't. And let me say that anyone who thinks he did, is both wrong and, may I say, stupid.
Diano writes that whenever he has put words in my mouth in his own writings he makes it clear that it is a "fantasy" or "what I imagine you think."
I'll take his word for it in good faith.
Diano has asked for a clarification/correction. I am happy to provide it.
Once again, David Diano never said, "I hate Spencer, but I love Spencerblog. I like
to post comments really late at night after doing shrooms with my friends."
That was satire. Diano knows it was satire. Anyone in their right mind would know it is satire. Diano writes to say that he might talk to a "lawyer friend" to get their opinion.
By all means.
Suddenly, David Diano is Jerry Falwell and I am Larry Flynt.
"If you want to use quotes in the future," writes Diano, "it damn well better be
from something I actually said or wrote. Even if you don't understand this fundamental point, your editors should know better and clearly need to keep a closer watch on what you right (sic)."
That quote I did not make up. When it comes to his "righting," Maybe Diano could use a "closer watch" himself.
There. That said, David, I think you are being something of a baby. Man-up and admit there is nothing libelous about you in that column.
Until you do, your comments will not be welcome on my blog. Any you do post will be removed.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
(The following morning, Monday, Diano posted a comment on Spenceblog. It was removed and followed by this e-mail.)
I trust you are in receipt of my e-mail from last night responding to your threat of legal action.
I thought I made it clear that I don't want you posting comments on my blog until we clear this matter up. Any that you do post will be removed.
Your privileges will be restored if and when you e-mail Phil Heron admitting that you were wrong to threaten a libel suit for something that was clearly satirical.
You may recall that Larry Flynt prevailed over Jerry Falwell in the Supreme Court after writing that Falwell was a drunk and had sex with his mother in an outhouse. The vote was 9-0.
My right to write satirical material is protected by The First Amendement. Be grateful that it protects your's as well.
I look forward to your response and to your doing the right thing.
1) I made my posting BEFORE I read your email.
2) You should be MAN enough to realize that you were not clear enough
in drawing the line of satire vs use of quotes.
3) I was not so much making a threat of legal action as to warning you
that your posting seemed to cross the line and alert your editors to keep
a closer eye on you.
4) Try a similar print article quoting Andy Reilly as a child molester
and see how satirical he finds it.
5) For the record (and restoration of my blogging privileges) I'm not
going to pursue legal action for libel. First Amendment aside, I doubt I
could overcome a defense of "diminished mental capacity". :-)
1. In your original e-mail, you didn't write that I "seemed" to cross the line. You wrote that I crossed it. I didn't.
2. I admit no such thing.
3. My editors don't need your advice.
4. Just the other day in another satirical piece I put words in Andy Reilly's mouth and didn't hear boo about it. He's a guy's guy and can take a little ribbing.
5. Your veiled admission that you have no case for a libel suit is noted.
6. Your suggestion that I suffer from "diminished capacity" hurt my feelings. I called my attorney. He told me to call my mommy.
7. I am not a stickler for apologies. Your blogging privileges are herewith restored.