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Response to Frank Rich - August 11, 2003

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

In his Aug. 3 column in the New York Times, art and entertainment columnist Frank Rich engaged in a vicious attempt at the vilest kind of innuendo. Since the New York Times has failed to print my letter to the editor submitted Aug. 4, I am posting the following to set the record straight.

While Rich is correct that I am the author of the best seller "Tales from the Left Coast" and "one of Gibson's most passionate defenders," his use of isolated, incomplete excerpts to impugn my character amounts to journalistic malpractice. Rich's piece also has additional inaccuracies and oversights that I must address.

The columnist suggests that in my book the disclosure of Bob Dylan's real name is somehow a shrouded communication of something more sinister. Odd how it doesn't take any decoding to understand Rich's reference to Matt Drudge as a "token Jew."

Rich claims that the timing of the portion of my book that exposes the attempts to vilify Mel Gibson came before the attacks on the film began. He writes that "no one was criticizing 'The Passion' when Hirsen wrote that sentence. "

Rich is just plain wrong. "Tales from the Left Coast" was released in July of this year. The attacks began in the form of members of the press digging up dirt on Mel Gibson as far back as January. Other public attacks occurred in March and May. Rich apparently views Christopher Noxon's New York Times Magazine article from last March as some sort of puff piece when it is really something Rich ought to know well ­ a hit piece.

Rich cites a chapter from my book where he correctly quotes my language that "faith is often the subject of ridicule and negative portrayal in Hollywood." He then refers to a film, which I use to illustrate the point, as "bizarre." Rich conveniently ignores the example that immediately precedes it, a film called "Wholly Moses," which offends Christians and Jews, both of whom hold the Old Testament in high esteem.

Rich also did not see, or ignored, my book's treatment of PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk's infamous statement, the one in which Newkirk compares the killing of chickens to what I describe as the "untold suffering, maximum depravity, and wholesale evil of the Holocaust."

Rich's complaints are not really based on differences in religion but instead are grounded in political ideology. Mere paranoia cannot explain his absurd extrapolations. Maybe his decoder ring is in need of repair.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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