Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“Pacifist’s” Brother Threatens Journalist

By Nicholas Stix

April 24, 2002
A Different Drummer/Toogood Reports

In my April 14 column, “A Jewish Nazi? The Adam Shapiro Story,” I noted that I had tried dozens of times to reach Shapiro, but that on the three times I got through, either he or a woman (presumably his fiance, Huwaida Araf), would always insist that the connection was no good, and hang up. (The connection was fine, when the New York Times called.) After the piece ran, in less than 24 hours, I received no less than three unsolicited e-mails from Adam Shapiro’s brother, Noah. Noah Shapiro hurled insults at me, impugned my manhood, and charged me with having misrepresented his brother, all the while insisting that I NOT quote him. He said that I could not be trusted to quote him correctly.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Noah Shapiro’s e-mails, was that he had no compunctions about quoting his brother’s statements IN SUPPORT of suicide bombers, while simultaneously insisting that his brother was OPPOSED to suicide bombers.

Note that with the help of “reporters” from CBS-TV and the New York Times, Noah Shapiro had just engaged in a spin campaign, in which he had misrepresented his brother as a pacifist, while the reporters refrained from challenging any of Noah’s statements.

Noah Shapiro gave me his telephone number, and challenged me to call him. When I called him, in between his shouting insults, he again insisted -- because he said he only wanted us to talk as two human beings -- that the entire conversation be off the record. He asked me if I was taping our conversation. I responded that I was a journalist, and that of course I was taping the conversation. What purpose would an off-the-record conversation have? And why did he not play such games with CBS and the New York Times? (He informed me that he was also taping the conversation, as if this information would somehow intimidate me.)

In contrast to Noah Shapiro’s courtly behavior with the reporters who let him use them, with me he adopted the bullying manner of the crudest shyster. Emphasizing that he was a lawyer, he tried to shout me down whenever I sought to speak, constantly threatened me and my publisher with a lawsuit, and proceeded to invent laws on the spot, that he claimed forbade me from using his e-mails and telephone conversation. As I told him, “Lawyers lie about the law all the time.”

No law forbids the publishing or attribution of “off-the-record” remarks, much less those contained in unsolicited, abusive, harassing letters. (Noah Shapiro may have violated his profession’s ethical code. Don’t laugh!) Journalists publish “off-the-record” remarks all the time, but they do so without attribution. Or else, they publish the bulk of an interview with an “informant” (i.e., any source of information), but shut off their tape recorders, or stop taking notes, at those moments when the informant says he is speaking off the record.

The reason journalists do not attribute informants’ “off-the-record” remarks is ultimately practical -- otherwise, most sources would dry up. However, the notion of “off-the-record” statements presupposes an informant who usually provides information. Noah Shapiro had no track record as an informant, and made no such demand of those media outlets which he saw as political allies.

I told Noah Shapiro that I had no reason to continue speaking with him, said, “Good night,” and hung up. Shapiro just went right on talking, like the telemarketer from Hell.

It’s bad enough that we live in an age of terrorists, but the terrorists are a bunch of Philadelphia lawyers!

But there is actually precedent for such lawyering. Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), who insisted that he was the father of fascism, taught that one should use the law, in order to destroy the rule of law, and Hitler (1889-1945) did just that.

That my publisher is not running Noah Shapiro’s letters to me, should not be construed to mean that Shapiro has the law on his side.

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