A Brief Question for Naomi Ragen

In today’s Jerusalem Post, Naomi Ragen “accused the plaintiff, author Sarah Shapiro of ‘working out of a desire to silence my criticism of the Haredi community’s treatment of women, which I have done for years.'” True to form, the JPost made no effort to present Mrs. Shapiro’s reaction to this claim — in fact, it obtained no comment at all from Mrs. Shapiro or her legal team not quoted from the court documents. But it does raise a question that we must pose to Ms. Ragen:

From: Naomi Ragen [address redacted]
To: talkback [domain redacted for less spam]
Date: May 24 2008 – 7:45pm

Please be advised and warned that the material containing Ms. Shapiro’s assertions are libelous and publication of this material on Crosscurrents leaves the site and all those associated with it open to legal action for libel.

[Naomi Ragen promotional footer redacted.]

Who, again, is trying to silence people?

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8 Responses

  1. Yissacher says:

    What is the relevance of all these Naomi Ragen posts to Cross-Currents? You don’t usually run article about convictions of Jews cheating Jews. Is it relevant because Naomi Ragen has written some nasty stuff about Orthodox Judaism, so it’s important to show her being punished (albeit for something very different)?

  2. Ellen says:

    I for one am embarrassed that the Jerusalem Post is going so much out on a limb for this. If they had an editorial conflict about reporting the court case vs. offending one of their contributors they could have left the story out completely.

    Perhaps it is time to boycott the Post again.

    And for the record my own community is making far more headway against the charedi extremism that Ms. Regan claims that only an outsider as herself can fight against.

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    Yissacher, please read the comments to the previous post. Mrs. Shapiro found Ragen’s misuse of her work all the more painful because Ragen twisted and distorted something beautiful into something repressive. Mrs. Shapiro’s feelings on this should be echoed by anyone Haredi who has read Ragen’s work.

  4. Tal Benschar says:

    The “free speech” dodge by Naomi Ragen is really lame, and just makes her credibility worse. The Copyright Act and the First Amendment have co-existed in U.S. law for over 200 years. There is no contradiction between having robust free speech and robust protection of creativity through IP laws.

    Yissacher, when one attacks a whole community, one had better be sure one’s hand are clean. If it turns out that in the process one is a thief and a liar, then one’s criticisms lose alot of their weight.

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    I know some of the folks at Arutz-7, and to say the least, I’m surprised that they’d put such libelous drivel on their website. For anyone still wondering why Cross-Currents is spending so much time on this, let’s ask the question: in how many media outlets have you seen any reaction from Mrs. Shapiro, from the witnesses and experts on her side (such as Prof. Kolbrener), or her legal team? I’ve only found one glaring exception to the one-sided rule: Yediot’s YNetNews article is biased the other way, with no word from Ragen and a scathing comment from Mrs. Shapiro’s attorney.

    Until you find their voice in the regular media, you have no tayna on Cross-Currents for hearing out her side, which, in any similar legal case, you would.

  6. S. says:

    Rabbi Menken, it’s not a bad thing to give people a chance to air their view. Most people would not read that and think the author of it looks good. If I may summarize, Convicted Plagiarist Vigorously Asserts That She Really, Really Did Not Plagiarize, and, Oh, Her Accuser is an Abusive Mother and a Hack Writer. That’s a rant. Who cares? Who finds that persuasive?

    As for why people are suggesting that you are not really balanced, it is because you have made it clear that you have something against Ragen. I, on the other hand, have nothing against her, her books, or her opinions. My pleasure that Sarah Shapiro was vindicated and that a wrong is being righted is not schadenfreude.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    S., I hope you’re right about the first paragraph, but I remain disappointed that A-7 would run it. Regardless of whether you are right about how people will perceive Ragen’s “rant,” a publisher can be held responsible for slander/libel/hotza’as shem ra in their publication, regardless of author, when, basically, they did or should have known better. This is something Ragen knows quite well, as she demonstrated in May of 2008. We ignored her threat because Mrs. Shapiro had given us good grounds to believe the account, which made Ragen’s threat frivolous even had a judge disagreed.

    As far as our coverage, no one has questioned our lack of balance. We’re a journal of opinion, which means — wonder of wonders — we have one. An opinion, that is. But people have asked why it’s relevant to us. I plan to write about that in greater detail, shortly.

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