[OPE-L:5878] RE: URPE circular letter about Andrew Kliman

From: mongiovg (mongiovg@stjohns.edu)
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 12:31:53 EDT

I consider Alan Freeman to be a friend and I hold him in high regard.  But his 
recent post about URPE and Andrew Kliman is wrong-headed and irresponsible.  
Lawsuits, by their nature, have a Rashomon quality about them.  At the end of 
his post Alan quite sensibly urges us to hear both sides of this story; but 
his own version of events is informed entirely by Andrew Kliman’s account of 
the matter.
	From what I’ve seen, all of the URPE members who have direct knowledge of the 
case ¯ that is, the Editorial Board of the RRPE and to a lesser extent the 
Steering Committee ¯ have been extremely circumspect in their public and 
private statements about it, and have refrained from destructive public 
rhetoric. Alan suggests that the URPE fundraising letter sought to mislead 
URPE members about what was at stake in the lawsuit: it was not about a 
rejected paper but about pluralism and freedom of expression.   Ultimately 
Andrew is the only person who knows why he filed a lawsuit, but it is of 
course the case that the tensions between him and the Editorial Board began 
with the rejection of a paper he had submitted to the RRPE.  The fundraising 
letter made no reference to the defamation issue in part because it would not 
have been in Andrew’s interest to inform the entire URPE community that the 
lawsuit involved a question of professional integrity, and we wanted to avoid 
any statement that could be construed as an attempt to make him look bad.  Now 
we are accused by Alan of trying to dissemble.  This comes under the heading 
of “no good deed goes unpunished.”
	Alan also suggests in his penultimate paragraph that the Editorial Board 
sought to damage Andrew’s reputation in retaliation for the questions he’d 
raised about the Board’s commitment to pluralism: “The fact that URPE’s 
leadership has responded by trumping up a damaging charge and by banning 
[Andrew] from ever publishing in its journal, shows that pluralism and freedom 
of expression are indeed the fundamental issues at stake…. There are more 
comeradely and principled ways of conducting theoretical dispute than trying 
to stifle dissent and injure one’s critics.”  This is a reckless accusation 
for which Alan offers not a shred of support.
	Any discussion of the alleged ethical breach took place entirely among 
members of the Ed Board, as a legitimate matter of editorial policy.  The 
precise nature of the Board’s concerns was communicated outside these internal 
discussions mainly by Andrew himself in his very public efforts to discredit 
Hazel Dayton Gunn and the rest of the Board.  Indeed, the fact that there was 
a question of professional integrity at all was made public, that is, 
disseminated outside the Editorial Board, by Andrew.  And thanks to Alan 
Freeman many OPE-L members have just heard about the defamation charge for the 
first time.  The Editorial Board has been scrupulous not to discuss the matter 
outside its own circle, which of course is why the judge dismissed the case. 
(It is perhaps worth noting that in resorting to a lawsuit Andrew made the 
issue a matter of public record and compelled the Steering Committee to be 
made aware of the details of the case: from the start, the circle of 
individuals aware of the details has been widened solely by Andrew’s actions, 
not by the Ed Board or any agent of URPE.)
        Alan asserts that Andrew has repeatedly sought to settle the case.  
This too is inaccurate.  URPE and the Editorial Board offered to rescind the 
ban and make a public statement to the effect that there had been a 
misunderstanding between Hazel and Andrew.  The gist of it was that the 
circumstances of the situation were sufficiently subtle that both parties 
could have been acting in good faith.  (It was not an admission “that Andrew 
did not engage in the behaviour of which [Hazel] accused him,” as Alan 
misleadingly puts it.) Some of us on the Editorial Board didn’t see the sense 
in publicly retracting an accusation that had never been publicly made; but we 
agreed that if such a statement could put the case behind us, we should make 
it.  Andrew and his lawyer rejected the offer.  In effect, they insisted that 
we publish a statement that, reading between the lines, would have amounted to 
an admission of an intent to inflict harm on Andrew.  Since this was not true, 
we declined to make such a statement.
	I might add that as soon as Andrew denied the impropriety, Hazel agreed to 
look into the matter, and she informed him that if she turned out to have been 
mistaken, she would process his paper straightaway.  But before she had a 
chance to follow through, she’d been served papers by Andrew’s lawyer.  The 
rest is history.
	This has been a most unpleasant episode for the academic left.  Alan and 
Andrew will, as all of us do, interpret events according to their own biases, 
and I fully appreciate that this rejoinder reflects mine.  Rashomon again.  
But there is a difference.  The Ed Board have not been aggressively trying to 
undermine Andrew’s reputation in every public forum available to us; outside 
of the Ed Board we have mainly kept silent on the matter, except for an 
occasional, measured, defensive response.  When, out of a sense of 
professional decorum, we decline to respond to an accusation, we are accused 
of arrogance (see the various contributions on pluralism in the URPE 
Newsletter); when we do respond we are accused of using our overwhelming 
institutional power to crush dissent.  In fact, the attacks have come entirely 
from the other side.  Alan’s ill-informed post is the latest episode, and I 
understand that at last week’s Association for Heterodox Economics conference 
he and Andrew launched another attack.
       What I find particularly distressing is the willingness of people I 
know to be honorable and intelligent to accept a set of ungrounded hysterical 
charges as fact ¯ solely on the word of a friend who must be acknowledged to 
have an axe to grind.  Not one of the 19 signers of the URPE Newsletter 
pluralism pieces contacted me to get a take on the situation that was 
different from what they heard from Andrew Kliman, even though many of them 
know me well enough to ask “Hey, man, what the hell’s going on with Andrew and 
the Ed Board?”
       As a general rule, I think solidarity is a good thing; but when 
heterodox economists stop thinking critically about what we are told, even if 
we do it for the sake of friendship or solidarity, the only ones we end up 
damaging are ourselves.
Gary Mongiovi

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