Denice Denton, R.I.P.


In the July issue of Reason, I adapted this web column about Laura Berg, the New Mexico VA nurse who was accused of treason after bashing the president in a letter to the editor. Toward the end, I mentioned how blogger/columnist Michelle Malkin liked to throw around charges of treason and ask her readers to badger the "traitors."

An even better example of this started two weeks ago at U.C.-Santa Cruz, where a group called Students Against War protested and successfully expelled military recruiters from a job fair. The anti-war students had done this before and won themselves a place in a Pentagon surveillance file. That hardly slowed them down—they remained confident enough, after their latest stunt, to fire off a media advisory and make themselves available for interviews. Columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin read their press release and posted the students' phone numbers and e-mail addresses on her own site, directing hordes of death threat-tossing readers their way.

Malkin's UCSC post was titled "Seditious Santa Cruz vs. America." Even after the UCSC students cried uncle and pulled their phone numbers offline, Malkin continued to post their information alongside the office numbers for the "capitulationist chancellor" who had refused to purge them.

None of the people who issued threats to UC-Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton actually acted on them. But on June 24, Denton killed herself. A memorial service was held last week.

It's worth remembering that Denton didn't actually do anything to anger Malkin and her readers. She simply failed to expel students who had sent the Malkinites into a fury. While no one is suggesting that her readers pushed Denton over the edge, Malkin has said nothing about the chancellor since her suicide. It might become her to apologize for smearing an academic, and directing people to direct their outrage to her office, in what were the final troubled months of her life.

UPDATE: The saga continues here.