Suicide: Not Painless


Michelle Malkin has responded to my post on UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton's suicide. Quick recap: Malkin called Denton a "capitulationist chancellor" after Denton failed to expel or punish students who angrily protested and kicked military recruiters off campus. She posted Denton's office address, number and email (the latter were her assistant's, and all of this was available online) and encouraged readers to "take a stand" and contact her. Late last month, Denton killed herself. I summed up the situation and said this:

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.

Making Malkin angry is like shooting orca in a barrel, and lo and behold, this made her angry.

The blog of the libertarian magazine "Reason" is titled "Hit and Run."

They can run, but they cannot hide. And I'm not going to let them get away with their latest hit.

This sounds eerily similiar to what John Kerry said about the Swift Boat Vets. Malkin's rebuttal, if possible, is even lamer than Kerry's was.

Weigel accuses me of "smearing" Denton because I simply asked people to take a stand and quoted from a San Francisco Chronicle article reporting that the capitulationist administration knew about the anti-military activists' plans weeks in advance and had hoped that they would be rained out.

I'm convinced that Malkin misses the irony here. She didn't smear Denton—she merely called her a capitulationist. In her mind, implying that Denton wanted to bring down our military and welcome the terrorists to Santa Cruz with open arms and carrot juice is a perfectly neutral characterization. Why else would Malkin use it again in an an attempt to rebut the charged that she "smeared" Denton?

Weigel accuses me of throwing around charges of "treason" and "traitors," neither of which I used in any of my blog posts on the anti-recruiting brigade at Santa Cruz. "Seditious," yes. Treasonous, no.

That's a clever bit of parsing. Malkin didn't use the T-word in her Santa Cruz posts. (She reserves that eloquent phraseology for the New York Times). She accused UC Santa Cruz (the whole school) of "hating our troops," characterized the anti-war students being part of an "anti-troops movement," called the actions "sedition," and, yes, called Denton a "capitulationist." How in the world did I peg Malkin as a "reckless labeler"?

Weigel attacks me for not saying anything about Denton's suicide. Crikey. If I had said anything, his ilk would have jumped all over me for not having the compassion to keep quiet about her various scandals and corruptocrat ways and let her loved ones mourn in peace.

I was unaware I had an ilk. Perhaps that's the terminology you pick up writing for

I can't speak for my ilk, but I suggested Malkin should apologize because, for that brief, frantic moment when the terrorists almost took over Santa Cruz, Malkin thought Denton was worth going after. She blogged it for two days; it was a fairly important story, and you'd think crack correspondent Michelle Malkin was following it. It seemed strange that one of the villains of the story could kill herself and Malkin wouldn't care. But apparently she'd stopped seeing UC-Santa Cruz as a threat to America; she'd moved on to fresh outrages. Like any good hit and runner (the auto vehicular type, not the Reason type), she heard the bump under her tires and hit the gas pedal.

Finally, Weigel wants me to "apologize" for supplying readers with the public office phone number and contact info of a prominent and outspoken public official.

So much for free markets, free minds, and free speech. Are we to withhold criticism now of all public figures because they might be going through "troubled" times and any call for accountability might send them over the edge?

This would sound credible if it came from another pundit. When Malkin is attacked—and I'd argue a columnist and Fox News commentator is even a more prominent figure than the chancellor of UC-Santa Cruz—she screams so loud you can hear it from the porous Mexican border. Here was how she reacted to mail she got after the Santa Cruz stories.

The unhinged lefty bloggers who did and said nothing to condemn the violent tactics of the UC Santa Cruz thugs are treating me like I'm the terrorist. I'm not going to bother linking. You can find their trash easily enough on any search engine. While they whine about the death threats that SAW organizers allegedly received, you should see the filth and threats against my family that their minions are sending.

Malkin didn't like getting threats and hate mail; some people who don't like her even dug up her personal information and contacted her family!

Now, think: Is it possible that some Malkin readers saw the Denice Denton post and decided to look up more of her info, beyond her office address? How many of them would have ever heard of Denice Denton if Malkin hadn't decided to target her? Again, Denton didn't even insert herself in the story like some of the academics Malkin has gone after. She tried to stay out of the story; but that meant she failed to prosecute the anti-war protesters, and that brought on the wrath.

Malkin's response to all of this is a diversion, accusing me of harboring some knee-quaking fear of free speech. She refuses to consider that because she doesn't enjoy getting hate mail, maybe the people she embroils in hate mail campaigns don't like it either. Most of the time they shrug it off and move on. This time Malkin attacked a woman who was already seriously troubled, and who later killed herself. Some people would put two and two together and feel a twinge of guilt for piling on this woman. Malkin didn't.

And the dig at "free markets, free minds, and free speech" is especially rich, coming from a pundit who wants to lock down the borders and purge academics who say mean things to conservatives. None of these ideals are workable unless they include openness and responsibility. Malkin has no interest in or familiarity with either concept.