Imagine, if you will, that you’re a normal person and then one day a quasi-famous mentally ill blogger becomes fixated on you the way Gollum was fixated on the Ring. Even though she hasn’t been setting the world on fire lately, she has been on TV, on the Howard Stern show and she’s written for the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, & The Washington Times. Most people in the know realize she’s off her rocker, but how many people are in the know? How many fans does she have who don’t realize what she’s really like?
So this person, this quasi-famous mentally ill blogger, starts claiming you support death threats against her. She tells people you’re an anti-Semite. She calls your job and tries to get you fired. When she hears of people connected with you, she tries to contact them to lie about you. When people mention your name on the web, she shows up to tell untrue stories about you. Then, she starts going after your friends. She accuses them of supporting death threats against her and being anti-Semitic for being associated with you.
You tried ignoring her. It didn’t work. You tried sincerely apologizing for offending her. Not only did it fail, she misrepresented what you apologized for in an effort to use it against you. Since she was a lawyer, you even eventually tried filing a complaint with the Michigan Bar, trying to get them to keep her from obsessively harassing/cyber stalking you; it didn’t work. You hoped, over time, the obsession with you might fade. However, four years have gone by and it’s still going as strong as it was in the beginning.
This, my friends, is not a rhetorical discussion. The victim here is named Emily Zanotti. The quasi-famous mentally ill blogger I’m speaking of is Debbie Schlussel.
Two years ago, I addressed this situation in a post because my name was getting dragged into it and I felt some responsibility for giving Emily attention in an article that apparently helped drive Debbie even further around the bend. A lot has happened since then that I haven’t talked about, but I’ve decided it’s once again time to step up and say something (besides just being mean to Debbie on Twitter when she acts up).
First off, let me take you back to how this all got started. There’s more detail at the post I mentioned earlier, but here’s the heart of the issue. Four years ago, Emily wrote something very funny and yet also, very mean about Debbie and a lunatic who made threats against Debbie:
Random iPod Musings: “Its Like Two Special Needs Kids Hitting Each Other” Edition
Before I get any hate mail, let me say that that comment is in reference to this little scrap between Debbie Schlussel and a rather random University of Michigan Dearborn students/Muslim PAC worker who, though mostly insane, is making some very valid points. Perhaps, somewhere in all of the unsubstantiated claims being lobbed from both sides, there is a lesson to learn. Probably about helmets.
Again, that’s extremely snarky, but you’ll notice there’s no thumbs up to death or rape threats there. There’s no anti-Semitism there. In all honesty, it’s not even all that brutal. On any given week, I probably have worse things written about me. That’s true for a lot of conservatives.
The secondary complaint Debbie had about Emily was referenced in the other piece I wrote about this,
Yes, Emily was given incorrect info about Debbie (Note: it was about Debbie’s legal record) and posted it in the comments section of another blog, but she also retracted it, apologized, and had it deleted — and keep in mind that we’re almost 2 years out from when this happened.
There you go, folks. That’s what has prompted four years of nasty, obsessive lying and harassment.
Let me also note that this fixation hasn’t just been with Emily — it’s been with people who are connected with Emily as well. Let me tell you a personal story about how Debbie Schlussel works that I haven’t shared publicly.
A little less than two years ago, Debbie used to be a regular on the Jaz McKay show. I did occasional appearances on Jaz’s show and to be honest, I didn’t even realize Debbie was on there weekly.
In any case, once Debbie realized I was doing the show as well, she flipped out and demanded that Jaz stop having me on the air — and of course, she played the anti-Semitism card against me. Yes, the same guy who has written articles like The Moral Superiority Of Israel and Seven Reasons Why Israel Will Never Get a Fair Shake was no different than Hitler in Debbie’s eyes.
In fact, at one point (and, yes, Jaz gave me permission to mention all this), she actually referenced the famous Pastor Martin Niemoller statement in regard to me:
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
That’s right. I’m apparently a Nazi who’s coming for the Jews because I refused to cater to Debbie’s delirium. Welcome to Schlussel world where the definition of anti-Semitism is “people who refuse to go along with Debbie Schlussel’s psychosis.”
Anyway, after Jaz and I discussed the issue, he believed her reaction was way over-the-top and he really didn’t like feeling as if he’d been given an ultimatum about whom he could have on his own radio show. On my part, any residual sympathy I may have had toward Debbie ended the moment she tried to get me taken off the air. So, after talking about it, Jaz gave Debbie Schlussel the boot, he offered me her weekly slot on his radio show, and the rest is history. I’m still doing his show every week today and I believe Debbie has been allowed on once during that time period.
I’m noting that story because a lot of people have told me similar stories about Debbie’s vindictiveness that I can’t mention publicly. Some of them are from names you’d know, some of them are from smaller bloggers who she’s stomped all over, and they didn’t all work out as peachy keen as my conflict with her did. Now, let me explain why I’ve decided to speak out again.
Earlier, I referenced a complaint Emily Zanotti filed with the Michigan Bar in an attempt to try to get Schlussel to stop cyber stalking/harassing her. In that complaint, Emily referenced a number of blogs where Debbie showed up and made comments about her. It wasn’t like those people were filing complaints themselves or even testifying on Emily’s behalf. Most of them didn’t even know they were being referenced beforehand. It was just Emily giving examples of what Schlussel was doing for the Michigan Bar.
Well, Debbie apparently saw them as just more enemies who were against her because she actually started harassing those people, too. She said nasty things about some of them on her web page. She attacked some of them, rather randomly, on Twitter. In at least two cases I know of, she contacted where they work in an effort to make trouble for them. To this day, it’s still going on.
That brings us to yesterday, when Schlussel bizarrely accused Mark Levin (and Fred Thompson) of supporting Hezbollah and she started getting hammered for it on Twitter. Well, during her stream of insanity, where she accused various conservatives of hating Jews, she once again started smearing Emily and some of my other friends who defended her. Here are just some of Debbie’s tweets from that 24 hour period:
“Brigitte Gabriel” a/k/a Hanan Tudor raised $ for grp that praised Muslim death rape torture threats on me/my family
So what? Dennis Prager promoted a terror-supporting Muslim on Yom Kippur. Do U buy that, too?
Yes, Even Mark Levin is Now Pandering to #Hezbollah
These Anti-Semite conservatives @MelissaTweets @pinkelephantpun Excused Muslim Death, rape & torture threats
. @infidelsarecool Aren’t U supposed 2B working? Does Ur Company know Ur spending all day RTing excuses 4 Hezbollah & anti-Semitism?
. @pinkelephantpun is a Jew-hater who defends friends that praise Muslim death, rape & torture threats on Jews http://is.gd/cQwab #tcot
@KatMcKinley Emily Zanotti is psycho stalker who stalked me 4 yrs, lied about me online, praised death threats, filed cplts w/ bar, etc.
. @pinkelephantpun If I “made it up” Y did Ur Crush Emily Zanotti “apologize” in writing SEVERAL TIMES? @MaryHogan2
Wow, it’s amazing how many anti-Semitic conservatives today R obsessing w/me and defend Emily Zanotti & Muslim death threats on me #tcot
RT antisemitic @MaryHogan @DebbieSchlussel No offense Christians, but @pinkelephant pun is Catholic. She is not a Jew, there’s a dif
. to fat dude @johnhawkinsrwn Yes, that’s why Ur Crazy Stalking Friend Zanotti Admitted to it all IN WRITING. Hellooooo . . .
. @CatsPolitics Yes, If U continue to follow Emily Zanotti who praised Muslim death rape & torture threats on my life then UR a jew hater
A few things.
First off, let me just note that it’s objectively not true that Emily Zanotti has ever praised death or torture threats, hates Jews, stalked Debbie, got fired from a job over what Debbie said, or apologized for doing those things. As I mentioned earlier, Emily did apologize, but for the reasons mentioned above, not for the reasons Schlussel stated.
I’d also like to note that claiming Emily is obsessed with Debbie Schlussel is like claiming John Lennon was obsessed with Mark David Chapman. Aside from apologizing to Debbie for offending her, to the best of my knowledge, Emily has not contacted Debbie or mentioned Debbie on the web in four years other than in a non-archived post (I don’t think there’s a way to link it) from 2008, which was little more than a fairly tame re-statement of the facts in response to the article I wrote two years ago.
Of course, if you’ll notice in Debbie’s twitter feed there, she’s accusing a whole hell of a lot of conservatives of hating Jews including Emily, Tabitha Hale, Melissa Clouthier, Infidelesto, Brigitte Gabriel, Mark Levin, Dennis Prager, and Michael Medved.
Also, you may note that pursuing a four year vendetta over an unflattering blog post doesn’t constitute obsession in Debbie’s world, but denying that you or your friends are anti-Semities on Twitter does. Again, enjoy your stay in Debbie Schlussel’s world. The good news is that the nuts are free, but the bad news is that the paranoia level is cranked all the way up to X-Files level.
Although I do have some small measure of sympathy for Debbie because she’s done some good work in the past and obviously has severe mental issues, I’ve passed the point of thinking I can talk rationally to her about this or that she’ll hop off the crazy train and go back to normal. The way it seems to be going now, she’ll be gumming strained carrots at ninety and mumbling to the nurse about Za-Nazi, Hawkins, and all those other anti-Semites who’re “obsessed with her.”
So, with that in mind, I’m writing this post as a reference point. That’s so the next time Debbie writes some nutty story, lies about people, or generally acts like a lunatic, people will have something to point toward and say, “See, this person is not someone who’s right in the head.” Although I can’t claim to like Debbie at this point, I can say that I truly, honestly hope she goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist and gets some help because she needs it in the worst way. Obviously, she isn’t ever going to take that advice from someone like me, but if she has any friends or family out there who care about her, this is the time to intervene for her sake. Whatever she ends up doing, she’s had years to get help and it’s now time for everyone out there to know how she’s been behaving behind-the-scenes.
Update #1: Here’s Schlussel’s response.
This is a cease and desist letter and a demand for retraction of false, defamatory statements on your blog. You have 2 hours from the time this e-mail is sent to remove the false information you knowingly printed, or I and my lawyers will not only pursue this, but we will contact your host and demand not only that the page in question be removed, but also that your site be removed for violating your host’s terms of service, which undoubtedly forbid the publishing of false, defamatory information.
In your lie-filled piece of trash defending your anti-Semitic friend Emily Zanotti and displaying that your obsession with me mirrors hers, you wrote:
So, after talking about it, Jaz gave Debbie Schlussel the boot, he offered me her weekly slot on his radio show, and the rest is history.
In fact, I never gave Jaz any “ultimatum,” and I was never given “the boot” by Jaz or anyone else. I quit on the spot on his show, when I was scheduled to go on. And Jaz begged me to come back. All of this took place in writing, and I have all of the e-mails from him to me and his inquiring listeners proving this in writing. I demand a retraction of this lie, and per defamation laws, a retraction must be printed in a prominent place on your site, including at the top of the entry in a correction note. (You should also note that Jaz McKay also said–in writing–in an e-mail that you said Emily Zanotti is “crazy” and “a bitch.” I may publish that, since you’ve taken to lying.)
As you know, your anti-Semitic lunatic stalker friend, Ms. Zanotti linked to Muslim Holocaust-denying death, rape, and torture threats on my life in the part where she said that the person sending me death threats was “making very valid points.” If you think that is humorous or funny, then clearly you are the anti-Semite and nutcase you claim you are not. You must also include a link to that piece, or that is more defamation, and we will pursue this if you do not and do not make a correction, stating so. Here is the link:
Again, you have two hours to do so. Time is of the essence, and we WILL pursue this.
The web may give you the freedom to say what every you want. But it does not give you the freedom to print false, defamatory information without consequences. I promise you this will not go away.
Please notify me that you have complied with the demands herein.
cc: Michael Schwartz, Attorney at Law
Here’s my response to that, in public. Everything I wrote is, to the best of knowledge, absolutely true and my opinions about Debbie Schlussel’s sanity and her bizarre accusations are constitutionally protected free speech. If Debbie wants to claim that she quit Jaz’s show instead of not being welcomed back, that’s a he said/she said dispute involving private conversations between the two of them. Whatever the truth may be, since I’ve now published her threat, her side of the story is now out there. So, there are no apologies coming, no retractions coming, and all I have to add is that the truth is my defense.
Update #2: In order to be fair, since Debbie said the description of what happened between her and Jaz was inaccurate, I contacted Jaz to get more detail. Here’s what he wrote to me:
Just for clarification I didn’t boot Debbie from the show she decided to boot herself. I just refused to allow her to dictate who is on my show and who isn’t. I told her we could continue doing the regular segment but that I didn’t want to get in the middle of her spat with you. She refused and that was that.
Maybe you can change that part.
Update #3: (Edited: Debbie asked that this update either be taken down or that I post her entire email. Since her email contained yet more unproven accusations she made against a third party, I’m not posting the whole thing on my website. To be honest, I wasn’t inclined to take this update down either, but my lawyer, the incomparable Ron Coleman, told me that the law can be a bit murky in this area. People do have a copyright on emails that they send — although fair use still applies. So, I decided better safe than sorry and I’m removing her quote, which was a threat to go after my friends, and I’m going to also delete the tweets that reference it.)