Poking around, following David Horowitz links and ran across one of his sites, Discover the Network, which is a wildly conspiratorial look at top-secret connections in a supposedly clandestine left-wing, liberal network. Yeah, whatever. Pathetic dingbats.
But further down at that site is "Moonbat Central", with just loads of delightful and inane posts defending the indefensible Horowitz. Perhaps the funniest thread running through many of those articles is the accusation that Case Western prof Mano Singham (he of the early, skeptical op-ed piece here) accused Horowitz of spreading an "urban legend". And let's be clear -- that's a serious accusation since describing Horowitz's UNC story explicitly as an "urban legend" is effectively saying that it's false. It's not just saying it's unproven or unsubstantiated, oh no, it's flat out saying that it's bullshit.
And the ethically-handicapped loons at Moonbat Central waste no time in laying just that charge against Singham:
Is Mano Singham Spreading an Urban Legend?
... After completing what Singham considered an exhaustive research process, he concluded that Horowitz's story of the persecuted student was most likely an "urban legend."...
Singham turned out to be wrong. The story was no urban legend. Singham's inability to verify the facts did not mean that Horowitz had invented them. It simply meant that Singham's investigation was inadequate...
... I think we can all agree at this point that David Horowitz is not trafficking in urban legends. But what about Dr. Singham? ...
... For two weeks, bloggers and journalists, both left and right, strongly insinuated that David Horowitz was spreading an "urban legend" – specifically, a story that a University of Colorado student had suffered academic persecution from her professor...
... In bringing to an end this tiresome discussion, we present to our readers, in a spirit of dispassionate scientific inquiry, an epidemiological study following the journey of a peculiarly virulent lie through the blogosphere; that lie being, of course, the implication that the persecuted UNC student was a mere "urban legend" who never existed...
Mano Singham Insinuates that Horowitz's Charge is an "Urban Legend"
And on and on and, Jesus Christ, tediously on, the same asinine accusation, repeated over and over which, of course, leads one to the obvious question -- what exactly did Singham say? Well, unlike the pathologically dishonest lowlife over at Moonbat Central, I, your humble correspondent, will reproduce what Singham actually wrote. To make sure you get this in the correct context, read Singham's entire article, until you get to the following passage:
So does this mysterious professor actually exist? Did this incident actually happen? It is hard to say no for certain, since that involves proving a negative. But there are some characteristics of urban legends that this story shares, in particular the absence of details (names, places, dates) that enable one to pin it down to anything concrete. Given that Horowitz and his group have shown no scruples in the past about naming people in academia that they dislike, their sudden coyness in this particular case is a little surprising.
Until Horowitz gets his story straight and provides more details, we will have to assume that this professor is like the famous welfare queen that Ronald Reagan used to undermine support for public assistance to poor people. He liked to regale us with stories about this mysterious woman who wore mink coats and drove her Cadillac while picking up numerous welfare checks under assumed names.
Now do you see what's going on? In fact, Singham is not describing Horowitz's story as an "urgan legend". Singham, being abundantly literate (unlike the dolts at Moonbat Central) is being extremely careful in his choice of words. He makes it clear that, no, you can't say that Dave's story is an urban legend since, technically, that's logically impossible.
It is fair game, however, to suggest that the story has several properties similar to those of common urban legends, which is a perfectly reasonable and accurate thing to say. And, finally, given the total lack of supporting evidence at that time, Singham was also within his rights to assume the story was fiction unless and until better proof was supplied. All perfectly logical and reasonable, and all completely incomprehensible to the boneheads at Moonbat Central.
And to think I figured that the Powerline guys were the dumbest people on the net. Live and learn.
AND THE STUPIDITY SPREADS: Following yet more links, and I come across some dingbat right-wing site where, apparently, basic literacy is not a pre-requisite for posting:
No Urban Legend After All: This link from a VC reader shows why it is very hard to prove a negative. It turns out that there IS a student at Foothill College in California named Ahmad al-Qloushi who claims this happened to him, though Media Matters--"a Web-based, not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media"--reports that the professor denies it. So perhaps the incident did not occur as Horowitz contends. Nevertheless, a factual dispute between two parties to an event is not an "urban legend" as claimed by Mano Singham...
Don't write to point out alleged holes in al-Qloushi's story. That is not the issue. The issue is the claim made in the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Mano Singham that David Horowitz fabricated or perpetuated an urban myth.
A "claim" that, as I have already pointed out, Singham never made. I swear, there should be some kind of minimal intelligence test before people are allowed to have blogs.
There is, as others have noted, a "telephone game" effect in blogspace. Singham didn't make the accusation, and neither did I, but several of the more prominent bloggers (Glenn Reynolds and Randy Barnett) did say that we were charging Horowitz with ... is there a verb form of "urban legend"? UL-ing? Anyway, given that this is a fight about sources, it's kind of ironic, I agree.
Part of the problem (which I will blog about one of these days) is that most people are extremely sloppy in their use of language or, more commonly, they just don't understand it when others are being precise.
As an example, consider the following hypothetical exchange:
Dave: A college student was dragged from her dorm room by enraged liberal professors and flayed alive for writing an essay praising America.
Me: Uh ... I don't believe you.
Dave: Hey! Are you calling me a liar?
Me: No, I was saying that I don't believe you. There's a difference.
And the difference is ... what? Left as an exercise for the reader.
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