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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Spat-Upon Veteran Myth:  CityBeat’s Credibility on the Line

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Photo courtesy of here.

In this week’s Porkopolis column, CityBeat’s news editor, Greg Flannery, comes to the defense of Bill Sloat—giving credibility to Sloat’s dubious claims of being a spat-upon Vietnam veteran.  Sloat’s story emerged as the nation buzzed over a similar tale by professional victim Josh Sparling—who says he got spat upon at the recent anti-war protest in Washington D.C.  (Read our original coverage here.)  Our story was picked up nationally by popular and well respected blogs like Hullabaloo (which you can read about here).  Our story was based on facts and the research of experts, and Sloat never presented anything to defend himself.  Nevertheless, Greg Flannery has seen fit to come to his defense, which can only lead to two logical conclusions:  either Flannery has become the first journalist to verify one of these spat-upon veteran stories, or he owes The Cincinnati Beacon a formal and printed apology in next week’s CityBeat.

As Nate Livingston has correctly noted, Greg Flannery misses the entire point of the Sloat controversy—perhaps because he still feels a connection with Sloat over an old apology.  Here is the entire selection from Porkopolis.  Notice Flannery’s fixation on Sloat’s apology, totally unrelated to the current issue:

It’s no secret that Bill Sloat is one of the best journalists in Cincinnati, where he ran a one-man bureau for The Cleveland Plain Dealer until he accepted a buyout late last year. Sloat now finds himself on the receiving end of a vicious attack by the Cincinnati Beacon, a local blog that suggests he fabricated a story about being spat on while a soldier during the Vietnam War. The Beacon’s “evidence”: Sloat apparently remembered the wrong year that a porn movie was distributed. It’s more of the Beacon’s usual style of turning minor circumstances into major conspiracy theories. That contrasts nicely with Sloat’s new blog, The Daily Bellwether (, which treats news as serious business.

Sloat recently had a revealing article about Bush’s 2002 speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center in which he all but declared war on Iraq. During the speech, an estimated 5,000 people waged a spirited protest outside. Participants later complained that the national media ignored them. In a post two weeks ago, Sloat said they were correct and apologized for the news blackout.

“As a reporter, I was locked inside the hall and couldn’t witness events outside,” Sloat wrote. “I tried like heck to let people know by cell phone but it all fell through the cracks. At most there was a line or two about the protest and how the audience leaving the speech got snarled in traffic because the parking lot exits were blocked. Nothing much that disclosed the extent of a huge anti-war event, or that it had unfolded in SW Ohio, an area that was supposed to be a hotbed of pro-Bush, anti-Iraq sensibilities. ... It was a great failure—for me and the profession I worked within.”

It looks like Greg Flannery is giving Bill Sloat a pass because of a five year old apology.  (If Flannery values apologies so much, he will not hesitate to give one to The Cincinnati Beacon, as our analysis of the Sloat situation is not nearly so “conspiratorial” and unprofessional as Flannery claims.)

Firstly, the issue is not that Sloat “remembered the wrong year that a porn movie was distributed.”  Sloat claims to have a vivid memory of being spat upon while wearing his uniform in New Orleans, 1970.  He claims the incident happened after he and some friends walked out of a porno theatre—where they had just viewed The Devil in Miss Jones—when a lone woman spat upon them.  The most immediate problem with this story:  The Devil in Miss Jones did not exist in 1970, so he can’t have a “vivid” memory of walking out of a porn theatre after seeing that film in 1970.

But when did “porn theatres” even come into existence?  Check out this summary from Wikipedia (about the film Deep Throat):

On June 5, 1972, the movie received a glowing review by Al Goldstein in his Screw magazine. Only two full-length (and lesser known) heterosexual hardcore porn movies had been released previously in the U.S.: Mona in 1970 and School Girl in 1971. Together with the gay-themed Boys in the Sand, released in December, 1971, and Behind the Green Door which was also released in 1972 and widely shown in mainstream theatres, Deep Throat started a brief period of ‘porno chic’ when it was considered cool in some circles to go see porn movies, even in mixed company. Several mainstream celebrities were seen watching Deep Throat, including Truman Capote, Jack Nicholson and Johnny Carson. The phenomenon was described and the movie reviewed in an influential 5 page article in The New York Times.

Unlike Behind the Green Door, Deep Throat’s fame does not primarily root from its explicitness but from the fact that it set some of the main conventions of modern pornography: a synopsis made up of different segments of graphic sex, attached with a minimal plot.

The movie’s title became a pop culture reference, most notably when then-Washington Post managing editor Howard Simons chose “Deep Throat” as the pseudonym for a Watergate informant, many years later revealed to be W. Mark Felt.

So the “porno chic” period did not start until 1972—ushering in a period of pornos being shown in theatres.  Prior to that, sex films were usually silent films under twenty minutes, shown at peep shows and in private homes.  (Read more about the history of porn here.)

Contrary to Flannery’s characterizations, then, Sloat’s inability to report the facts goes beyond the date of the porn movie’s release.  (But don’t dismiss that issue so quickly.  If Sloat is “one of the best journalists in Cincinnati,” as Flannery claims, why can’t he get basic facts straight?)

But there’s more.

Don’t forget that Jerry Lembcke, the leading expert on the spat-upon Vietnam Veteran myth (and author of The Spitting Image:  Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam) has been unable to ever verify a single claim of these stories—not one verification in the three million Vietnam veterans to return to the United States.  In fact, Lembcke recently appeared on Air America talking about that very point:


powered by ODEO

The details here are amazing:  not once, in all these millions of homecomings, did anyone ever manage to document a single incident.  Not once.  Combine that with the fact that the stories didn’t even start circulating until the 1980s, and you have a very interesting set of circumstances indeed.

In the audio clip above, Lembcke notes that even if some spit actually found its way near a veteran, it would be most difficult to know the spitting had anything to do with the war.  Take Bill Sloat’s story, for example.  Sloat and some friends were in New Orleans watching pornos, when he got spit on “near the shoulder” by a lone woman. 

Did they say anything to the woman?  Did they make crude remarks?  Had they just walked out of a peepshow, pumping full of testosterone, spitting their own lascivious remarks in the direction of this lady? 

Who knows?  Besides, can we even trust Sloat’s memory, since he can’t remember years, or movie titles, or even the most simple of verifiable facts?

So ultimately, it comes down to this:  either Greg Flannery is the first person to verify the story of a Vietnam veteran being spat upon, or he is taking up for his friend (perhaps as “repayment” for a five year old apology).  If Flannery is doing something akin to the latter, then he owes us an apology—for his flippant dismissing of our analysis based on historical facts as well as expert research by a scholar like Jerry Lembke.

Therefore, we issue Flannery the following open letter, copied to Jerry Lembke:

Dear Mr. Flannery,

As news editor for CityBeat, you understand the nature of reporting accurate information for your readers.  However, in this week’s Porkopolis, you have dismissed our story about Bill Sloat as being “conspiratorial”—despite the body of evidence which substantiates our claims.

I am copying this letter to Jerry Lembcke—author of The Spitting Image, arguably the leading expert on the spat-upon veteran mythologies. 

Bill Sloat recently forwarded his own story about being a spat upon veteran, and you have given it credibility (calling our challenge to Sloat “conspiratorial”).  Does that mean you have somehow verified the accuracy of Bill Sloat’s story?  If so, I’m sure Jerry Lembcke would love to hear from you, as he has never been able to document a single story of this kind. 

It is quite noteworthy that the news editor of a major city’s alt-weekly would give credibility to Bill Sloat’s story while calling him “the best journalist in Cincinnati.”  Given your professional training, I’m sure you have something to substantiate your claims.

If not, then I think it would be clear that you have insulted our work on the basis of your personal friendship with Bill Sloat—hardly what we should expect from a news editor like yourself.  And, if that is the case, given the body of evidence we have presented, you owe us a formal apology in next week’s CityBeat.

Thank you, in advance, for your time and consideration.


The Dean of Cincinnati

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  1. anon says:

    It looks like Flannery did a knee-jerk defense of a fellow reporter without knowing the facts and really stepped in it.

  2. Jill says:

    I apologize upfront. I’ve never read the book you reference and I never knew that people thought that reports of people spitting on other people was a myth.

    I hate to do this, but can you please tell me why it’s so hard to believe that someone would spit at or on another person? Why is this called a myth? Is it actually impossible for it to happen?  What am I missing here? I left a comment on Bill’s blog that detailed the story of how I was spit at while in my car just a month ago - a man came screaming at me and called me whore and slut (although he was upset about my driving so I’m not sure why he didn’t just call me a lousy driver) and then he spit at me.

    Military personnel are different than moms in vans driving to some appointment who cuts off another driver.  I’ll give you that.  But why is it so hard to believe that people would spit at them? I certainly wouldn’t but I can imagine, sadly, that others would.

    Again - what am I missing?

  3. Bearman says:

    Couldn’t find anything online as to what happened in her trial but this could be the documented proof you have been missing.

    Also while Flannery hates you it seems Osborne loves you…

  4. Lazy Boy says:

    Did Flannery call Sloat or anyone else to fact-check before attacking the Beacon? Doesn’t look like it. That’s called lazy.

    Maybe that’s why he got arrested at the sit-in. He likes to sit.

  5. A Concerned Reader says:

    Part of the reason that society at large doesn’t take blogs seriously is they inevitably seem to degenirate into “he said, she said” arguments driven by personalities and perceived slights.

    Nate’s blog is the best example of this. Whenever he’s pissed at someone, out come the names like “punk,” “sissy” and “coward.”

    In this case, if you are correct (and the facts so far seem to back you up, although let me tell you—porno theaters DID exist pre-1972—I know, I went to one), who cares if Flannery apologizes. You should be satisfied that you started a debate and that you seem to be on the winning side. Move on.

  6. Kate Smith says:

    Jill “Writes Likes She Talks” Miller simultaneously tries to change the subject and pretend to not understand. If she doesn’t get the difference between being spit on because someone didn’t like her driving, and a uniformed vet allegedly being spit on by an anti-war person, then she’s being disingenous or willfully ignorant.

    If you’ve ever looked at Sloat’s blog, you know Jill Miller is his biggest cheerleader. Her comments are some of the few that get posted because Sloat routinely screens out comments that disagree with him. I’m not talking about rude and crude remarks. Sloat won’t approve politely written comments that question his facts or simply disagree with his point of view.

    When Sloat told his story about being spit on in 1970, it was in the middle of an item in which he retold the Joshua Sparling tale. Sloat even made a grandiose apology to Sparling just to show you what good Americans they both are. (Cue up “God Bless America.”) Here’s a photo taken of Sparling and his fiance just before the protest posing with a dummy that he later hung in effigy. The sign on it reads, “Jane Fonda - American Traitor Bitch.” 

    These bogus spitting stories should be debunked and exposed because they’re a powerful propaganda tool used to try to silence and discredit people who are against this illegal war.

  7. Jill says:

    Kate - My name isn’t Jill Miller and hasn’t been for over 15 years, but thank you for making me younger.

    What question was I asked that I missed? (As The Dean will tell you, I couldn’t even find evidence of my post until a couple of hours ago.)

    Now - if you know me and feel confident that I’m pretending, cool - who are you that I’m not recognizing?  On the other hand, if you don’t know me, and I don’t think you do, then you wouldn’t realize how wrong you are in assuming that I’m pretending to not understand. Honey - I don’t have the time to not understand thing, because there are so many things in life that I in fact don’t understand.  I only bother with the latter category.

    So - what’s the answer, Kate Smith who has no link? Why does anyone think that no one has ever spit on anyone else? I don’t get that. People do to others what was done in Abu Garib.  You really think people are above spitting?

    And why can’t spitting stories be true and people against the illegal war co-exist? I don’t get that premise either.

    I look forward to you response.  (Btw, do you notice how I’m the only person who has a hyperlink on her name so you can find me?)

  8. Anon says:

    As a veteran that spent time in Vietnam (late sixties) my experience was the country collectively spit on me. The military spent vast amounts training us to wage war, breaking our individuality and forcing us to blindly obey and not one dime to aid returning vets adjust to a changed world. Nobody to teach the basic fundamentals like balancing a checkbook or managing in a world where everything wasn’t provided (food, shelter, clothing, medical) Many vets went downhill in a hurry carrying the internal burden of what they participated in and supported. Telling ourselves that we had only followed orders does not erase the memory hidden in the vaults of our minds. Stashed like some shameful secret under piles of guilt we manage to keep the lid on through chemicals or some other escape.

    Upon returning the shame of what we had done was swept under the rug. The murder and destruction we brought to a tiny little country in South East Asia was beyound belief. The people called us yankee impirealists and I never gave it a second thought. When you are on the ground it is hard to see very far ahead. At the time we didn’t have the historical perspective we now enjoy. They were right and we were wrong but just like an alcoholic we would rather not discuss it. Instead we talk around the 800 lb gorilla. The American people deserve better than what we are getting.

    What have we become as a Nation?

  9. Kate Smith says:

    My error missing your last name, which is clearly stated on your blog: Jill Miller Zimon.

    When it comes to the quality of discussion on blog comments, whether a post is signed, anonymous, or pseudonomous is irrelevent. Case in point - compare your posts to mine. Although you use your real name and I don’t, your comments are incomprehensible.

    If you have a point of discussion to suggest, state it clearly, if you’re able. Otherwise, go back to Bill Sloat’s blog - where the only demands made of commenters are that they must agree with him.

  10. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jill, I can’t believe you don’t get the difference.

    Moms in vans are not a political icon.  Vietnam vets are.

    That you were spit on in a van is meaningless to this discussion.

    Now, if, for example, moms in vans had some national or even global political significance—and further, if stories of moms in vans getting spit on didn’t start to circulate until a decade after the events in question (and further still, if the mythology of the spat-upon mom-in-a-van reached some kind of unsubstantiated critical mass), then perhaps you would have some kind of point.

    But you do not.

  11. Jill says:

    Dean -

    The man had no idea I was a mom - I was just someone cutting him off (well, almost).

    In addition, this really is about human behavior and what we are moved to and how we express ourselves and the sense, by the person who is spitting, that they have no other way to express their anger, frustration or upsetment except to spit at the object or something that represents the object of their anger - or what they THINK is the object of their anger.

    This is a societal, cultural phenomenon of human interaction.  It’s not nearly as circumscribed as you suggest. You have read enough of my writing to know I’m not stupid and I don’t miss what you’re distinguishing, of course.  However, again - when you’re talking about people feeling that their emotions have gotten to push coming to shove?  Spitting is an expression of anger, protest - whatever you want to call it.  Doesn’t matter about the sybolism.

    And so that is the point, which I do have.  But I really do appreciate you leaving that comment. (that’s not snark, I mean it)

  12. Jill says:

    Kate - I’m so sorry you can’t comprehend my writing. You let me know which words give you trouble and I’ll find other ones for you. At least you seem to know what an ad hominem attack is (nastiness that does nothing but demonstrate the speakers desire to be…well…nasty). Talk about being off subject.

  13. Kate Smith says:

    Let’s get back on topic.

    Prof. Lembcke says he has been unable to verify a single spitting case. Therefore, if Lembcke’s research methods are sound and Sloat is telling the truth, Sloat is an historical first. That’s newsworthy, so Sloat should be shouting it to the rooftops - which he’s not.

    If Greg Flannery wants his reporting to be taken seriously, he needs to do move forward with this. If I were Flannery, I would attempt to arrange for Bill Sloat to be interviewed by Prof. Lembcke, who’s the expert. If Sloat refuses, that speaks for itself.

    Mr. Flannery and others, here’s Prof. Lembcke’s contact info.

  14. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jill, it doesn’t matter if you the alleged spitter knew you were a mom in a van or not.  The bottom line is that there is a significant difference between average people experiencing things daily, and those stories that achieve the status of myth.

    Why do you deny this simple discrepancy?

    I think Kate is on point about what Flannery should do next.

  15. Jill says:

    I promise - last comment on this so you can get on with what you think you’re getting on with.

    I’m no believer in mysticism or anything of that nature. However, even if no single incident of spitting on vets can be documented, why is it so hard to believe that it happened? Why doubt the people saying that it happened? Why must it be documented to be true?

    Ever taken your car to get it fixed and you can’t replicate the problem and so they won’t believe you? But you know there’s a problem. Well, you can’t or didn’t document it - does that mean it never happened? Of course not.

    Why is it so important to you to deny that people very well may have spit on vets?  There are people in this world who do all kinds of things similar to spitting on vets - I simply don’t see what the vested interest is in making sure you say, if there’s no documentation, it didn’t happen.  That’s just not how logic works - it’s much broader than that, and THAT has been my point from the beginning.  The minutae in which you’re bogged down misses the point entirely.

    Finally, in the main post, the idea that the spitting stories didn’t come out until the 1980s is used to further your argument that the incidents could not have happened since no stories of them came out before the 1980s.


    So the priest sex abuse cases? Didn’t happen because we heard about them only five years ago, as publicly as we did?

    I don’t know how old any of you are, but I was in junior high and high school throughout the 70s.  Grab a textbook from that era or talk to history teachers of that era.  Ask them if they taught Vietnam.  Nope.  I had a Vietnam Vet for   history in high school - we never learned and he never taught about Vietnam.  And that was 1976-1980.

    So your suggestion that because stories didn’t come out until the 1980s is evidence that no one ever spit on vets and therefore it’s a myth lacks the gravity you wish to give that fact.

    I seriously do not understand what it is you’re trying to prove. It reads like a witch hunt that furthers nothing.  People express themselves in hideous ways and, sadly, have for years.  And they may feel shamed about them later, and the person spat on likewise might not feel to good about talking about it.  Why it’s so hard for you to accept all that and instead resort to saying that it must be a myth - I cannot for the life of me understand.

    But I promise, it’s my last post on the topic here.  Good luck with your crusade - whatever it is.

  16. Bearman says:

    Prof. Lembcke says he has been unable to verify a single spitting case.

    Does anyone know the outcome of the trial of the story I cited above?

    Woman accused of spitting in soldier’s face
    A Syracuse woman was charged after a Fort Drum soldier accused her of spitting on him without provocation at Hancock International Airport, Syracuse police said.

    Lauren Maggi, 35, of 256 Thurber St., was charged with second-degree harassment after the Nov. 22 incident, according to a police report.

    Jason Jones, 21, told police a woman he did not know walked up to him near the United Airlines ticket counter, asked him if he was a Fort Drum solider and, when he responded that he was, spat in his face.

    A second soldier on the scene supported Jonesí accusation, police said. Maggi offered no explanation for her conduct, police said. She could not be reached for comment tonight.

    Did it really happen, was she found guilty or was it another spit myth?

  17. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jill, are you really that dense?  This isn’t about whether it is believable whether, sometime, somewhere, a person got spit on for being a solider.  It is the fact that the spat-upon Vietnam vet is a mythology.  And while there may very well be a real person who had this happen, do you deny the evidence suggesting that some people just make it up?

    And further, what do you think of Sloat’s stories, filled with its amazing inconsistencies?

  18. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Bearman, Lauren Maggi did not spit in a Vietnam Vets face, which is the subject of this particular strand.

  19. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Also, Bearman, the Maggi court date has passed.  Why is it so hard to find out what happened?

  20. Bearman says:

    Dean, you are correct.  But she did spit on a soldier.  Which says that even in this day and age people are capable of doing unkind things and its not out of the realm that if a soldier was spit on today that it didn’t happen after Vietnam.

    While I applaud you for finding the holes in Sloats story, he is using a made up incident for propoganda to further his cause/point.  I agree with Jill in that while there wasn’t any “documented” cases during the time, that doesn’t automatically mean that it is entirely untrue.

  21. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I don’t really care if someone, somewhere, got spit on.  The point (as you seem to agree) is that Sloat has fabricated a story to tap into a known, propagandistic mythology—and he’s been busted.

  22. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Also, it looks to my like she was “accused.”  Was she found guilty?

  23. Jill says:

    Dean - I would never deny that some people make up stories. I’m a lawyer and a social worker. I know that that happens.

    What I’m saying however is that the fact that some people make up stories doesn’t mean that all similar stories are bunk.  Remember the McMartin child molestation case in the 1980s? Nothing was ever proven and we learned about how careful people must be in questioning young children if you want to be able to substantiate (or disprove) such allegations.

    However, does what happened in the McMartin case mean that we can never again trust parents or kids to tell us that they were inappropriately touched? No.

    People make up stories.  But some stories are true.

    Why MUST it go beyond that - that is what I’ve been asking from the beginning.  What is YOUR point? What are you hoping to accomplish by pushing the fact that yeah, some people make up stories?

    As for Bill Sloat, honestly, I read what he wrote.  That’s it. I’ve never read these descriptions before and obviously never heard about this myth thing about the spitting.  Since I tend to believe people before I don’t believe them, I read the story and followed what others started to write in the comments and then, as you know, I started to ask - what’s going on here? Why don’t people believe what he’s writing.  And I’ve gone in search of the answer.  That’s called investigating.  Even if just for myself, that’s what I’ve been attempting to do - answer the question, for myself, as to why people call spitting stories a myth.

    It was really and always has been that simple.

  24. Bearman says:

    I don’t know…that is why I asked the question.

  25. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jill, if that is true, then why have you avoided all the key facts here.

    1.  Sloat’s story does not add up.  RE:  the date the porno was released.  He has stood by his 1970 date.  The movie simply did not exist.

    2.  It’s questionable whether there were even porn theatres in New Orleans in 1970.  Maybe strip clubs or peep shows.

    3.  Sloat has dodged all questions.  See his post about Ft. Polk.  What is the point of it?  He doesn’t even have a photo of his own self at Ft. Polk? 

    4.  Sloat’s story, which seems fabricated, is in line with other fabricated stories.  RE:  the mythology thing.

    5.  Sloat introduced his story in defense of Josh Sparling, a documented professional victim.

    You keep going on and on about how people might get spit on.  Who cares?  That is not the point, but I suspect you know that.

  26. Jill says:

    Actually - no - I really thought the issue was that people make up spitting stories and that the issue is the spitting, not the making up.  I suppose I overthought it - I really thought people were upset that people make up spitting stories just to say…I’m not even sure what.

    If the issue is just that people make up stuff and you want to take down Bill Sloat - that’s your business.  Again, if you read my blog, you know, I rarely if ever go in for that stuff.  Again - not my MO or style. I’ll rise or fall on my own instincts about what people are writing, ask questions, make decisions. That’s the blogosphere’s catch.  You need to exercise discretion.

    If this is all about making up stories, then, again, because I am who I am, I’d be asking the question: what makes people make up stories? Why would they do that?  And I would get at that.  Dean - my comments reflect where I’m at - no one else (obviously no one else!).  I really was only asking questions that came into my head. I have no other agenda - again, if you read anything I write, you know I don’t hide agendas.

  27. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Jill, after a huge anti-war protest at the nation’s capital, Bill Sloat (and Josh Sparling) mount questionable narratives that depict anti-war folks as disgusting and not credible.

    That is the issue here.  The timing.  The intent on behalf of hacks like Sloat and Sparling.

  28. Jill says:

    Then I owe an apology to Kate Smith that I in fact didn’t see this point that you’re now pointing out. The spitting thing is what struck me, not the he makes up news thing.  And that is, as I said, not typically a charge I get involved with.

    HOWEVER - don’t you feel good that at least I’m WAY more knowledgeable and enlightened about spitting at Vets than I was two days ago!? (I’m serious as well as a bit tongue in cheek there but it is true.)

  29. Kate Smith says:

    Bearman - Thanks for turning up the Syracuse spitting case, but a couple points.

    1) You wrote, But she did spit on a soldier. Has the case been resolved? If not, you should have written “she allegedly spit on a soldier.”

    2) Whether or not the Syracuse case is authentic, it has no bearing on any Vietnam-era alleged spitting incidents or Sloat’s story.

    That said, would you please contact Dr. Lembcke, share the Syracuse story with him, and keep us posted as you learn more about the case? Thnx.

  30. cincysue says:

    I think Jill is telling a big fat “sloat.” Or at least blowing it out of sloatportion. Starting a new spitting myth. Did she call the cops? Get a license number? And road ragers are now spitting?

  31. anon says:

    Cincysue, that’s just what I thought, too. I mean, granted, some people really act badly when they get behind the wheel, but it’s hard to imagine a man spitting at a woman because he didn’t like her driving. If this is true, Cleveland is achieving new levels in road rage. 

    If that happened to me, I’d get the license number and file a police report. I believe that spitting on someone would constitute assault.

    I’m with you Cincysue- this story is Sloatish.

  32. anon says:

    cincysue, Dean, or others - please contact Jill Miller Zimon and get the who/what/where/when/how on her spitting story and post here.

  33. cincysue says:

    I really don’t mean to hurt Jill’s feelings but this whole post has been about credibility. The claim that she’s an attorney sounds a little fishy. I’m sure she threw that in because it would make her story or position more credible. But because attorneys are expected to have well-honed analytical skills and she totally missed the very clear point of a very simple story, it brings into doubt not only her spitting story but the claim that she’s an attorney. She should quit while she’s ahead lest the social worker claim also be added to list. And she must have been living in a cave, or under the age of 10, not to have run across the “vietnam vet got spit at by a war protestor” myth, story, lie. Especially in these times when the pro- and anti- war debate is the lead story on every newscast, newspaper, blog… The Swift Boaters (now please don’t say you haven’t heard of them) vomited that story on every Fox news broadcast that would give their sorry asses play. 

    I’m an astronaut and was actually shit upon by an outraged moon landing denier. It was awful. Go ahead. Prove I wasn’t.

  34. Luke says:

    Seriously?  Cuz I’m an astronaut, and moon-landing deniers shat on me, and it was ASTOUNDINGLY pleasant.

    I read a quote from George Will (“Wrong about everything for 2 generations”), I think on Atrios, that “Kennedy conspiracy-theorists point to the lack of evidence as proof of conspiracy”.  Ironically, he was referring to the WMDs in Iraq, I believe (again, “Wrong about everything”) but it still pissed me off.  The Warren Commission is the one that posited no evidence.  Conspiracy theorists posit ALL KINDS of evidence.  George Will is such a fuckface, who has been wrong about everything for 2 goddamn generations.  Why do we still listen to this guy?

    I apologise for the tangential rant.  I need sleep.

  35. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    For some actual reporting, why don’t you read Slate’s article on the exact same topic. Based on reader submissions, they have found credible evidence that spittings did occur. Whose credibility is on the line now, Dean?

  36. anon says:

    The problem with all these unverified spitting tales is that they are, ya know, unverified.

    When I see a whole string of dubious claims that seem almost interchangeable in their details (why is it always a woman who spits, and why does the victim always just take it instead of slugging her or screaming at her?)

    These stories makes me think of all the people who say they were abducted by aliens. The details in those stories have an eerie similarity to each other, too. All that probing, etc. Just because there are a large number of such claims doesn’t make them true.

    Remember the mass hysteria about Y2K? Hundreds of thousands of people were convinced that the world was about to end and went out and stocked up on bottled water and barrels of wheat berries to prepare for armegeddon. Does the sheer number of people who were swept up in the hysteria make the case for a computer generated apocalypse more compelling? No.

    Urban myths that go viral do so because something about the story meets an emotional need on the part of the teller. That’s what is at work here.

  37. anon says:

    Re: Giveitup’s Slate link. If you actually read what Jack Shafer says, he remains unconvinced that these mass numbers of spitting incidents took place. Obviously, no one can prove a negative. You can’t prove that there were NO incidents. The point is that the dearly-held mythology of masses of defiled vets is just not believable. What is interesting is why this is such a dearly-held belief.

    The Dean doesn’t have to defend his credibility because he hasn’t stated categorically that no incidents happened.

    It’s also very interesting that these spitting stories took off like wildfire after the movie Rambo came out in 1981. In that movie, Stallone plays a Vietnam vet who says that protesters spit on him and called him a baby-killer, features of many spit tales. Rambo was one of the most popular movies of its time. It could be that an awful lot of people saw that movie and some of them had trouble separating the movie from the reality of their own lives.

  38. cincysue says:

    The discussion should actually be did American GIs napalm villages, did they kill civilian women and children, did they torture and rape civilians, did the U.S. abandon the South Vietnamese that cooperated leaving them at the mercy of North Vietnam, are children today still born with deformities as a result of the Agent Orange that we have yet to clean up, and were millions of Vietnamese massacred by American armed forces? The answer to all of these is a resounding yes. And the focus of the discussion of that heinous, unnecessary war always turns around to whether or not the returning soldiers were treated well, or whether their feelings were hurt by being spit at. And no they weren’t treated well but it was the government that abandoned them, not the peace movement, but that’s another discussion.

    Let’s see, millions of Vietnamese killed vs. soldiers spit at. If you watch the Winter Soldier testimony as well as other documentaries, hearings, trials, you’ll know that all the stories of mistreatment and massacre of Vietnamese civilians as well as prisoners are true. From the mouths of the guys that were there that witnessed it, many of whom said they had enough and joined the peace movement. Who cares who was spit on, true or not. People on this blog claim that getting spit on is common so it couldn’t be all that traumatic. Millions of Vietnamese and 58,000+ American military killed and it’s happening again in Iraq. Why doesn’t Sloat have that discussion?

  39. anon says:

    Millions of Vietnamese and 58,000+ American military killed and itís happening again in Iraq. Why doesnít Sloat have that discussion?

    Well said - thanks for bringing some needed perspective, CincySue.

  40. cincysue says:

    In the lastest and most illogical stretch yet, Sloat, a wannabe so desperate to play soldier, now insults our war veterans by claiming that being spit on can cause PTSD! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a living hell for so many veterans that constantly relive the horrors of war, seeing their friends killed, massacres, worrying every moment that they’re next, unable to establish relationships and permanently emotionally injured, don’t need this slap in the face from Sloat. Let him go to the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and try to file his disability claim for being spit on. He diminishes the combat veteran’s real war experience every time he opens his mouth, or sits at his wordprocessor, digging a deeper and deeper hole. I don’t get this guy. Is it jealousy of the real combat vets, self-loathing that he’s not able to take a stand, what? He can’t be serious. PTSD from being spit on?

  41. Patriot says:

    That is right anon and CincySue. That’s the whole purpose of these lies, to distract peoples attention away from the real issue of injustice. Mass murder for empire in the name of freedom and liberty.

    The war profiteers can’t win the debate on the issue, so they must attack the messenger even if they are soldiers, vets, military families, politicians or just concerned citizens. They must silence and distract the rabble so they don’t wake up to the big lies they’re being fed.

  42. anon says:

    Perhaps the movie he really saw in New Orleans was Billy Liar.

  43. cincysue says:

    Last winter Douglas Barber, an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was suffering from PTSD. Not because he was ill-treated by the anti-war movement upon his return. In fact, he joined them and what peaceful moments he could find, came from his involvement with Iraq Veterans Against the War. He remained month after month on the waiting list desperate to get the professional help he needed to stop the images of dying children that haunted him night and day. He wrote about it in articles and diaries and he lectured wherever he could find a forum about the horrors and injustice of this war that he had seen firsthand. Douglas wasn’t spit on. If only it had been that simple. Sloat, if only it were as simple wiping off a bit of spittle.

  44. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    The ex-wife of Spc. Douglas Barber wrote to clarify that cincysue is wrong above.  He did not put a gun in his mouth.  She sent an email:  “He was sitting on his porch with the butt of a shotgun between his legs.  On the next step down there were 4 police officers. They tried to stop him but he leaned his head down on the barrel and pulled the trigger. On Jan 16, 2006 at 1:30 in the afternoon. In case you are wondering how I know all this I am his ex-wife and I was one of the first to find out.”

    She says its been three years and it’s still rough.  She was upset that cincysue did not get the facts right.  Perhaps people like cincysue can make sure they have the details right before upsetting people like the victim’s ex-wife.

  45. NtotheC says:

    Dean, i know you don’t care for Cincysuz but do you really think that’s necessary? Cincysuz got the majority of the story right, it seems and the detail that she got wrong really doesn’t change the story much.  If she were a journalist i’d call for a correction, but she’s not.

    Any other updates? was that woman ever convicted in NY?

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