Skip navigation

After 8 months of silence, Professor Ray Carney has finally emerged with his version of his relationship with Mark Rappaport, it would appear owing to the pressure of public exposure.  I print in its entirety his comments.   At a later time I will add comments.  Meantime there is a discussion at MUBI.

Mr Carney is not a practitioner of brevity, unfortunately.

.

Professor Carney:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

L’Affaire Rappaport: A case study in faculty treatment at Boston University

.

My recent experience with Mark Rappaport can summarize the treatment of faculty members in the College of Communication at Boston University. There are also a few lessons that may be of interest to anyone subject to cyber-bullying. I wrote the following essay for my 2012 annual report submitted to the university, but share it with my readers for what it is worth. There are several different lessons here. — Ray Carney
 .
Resisting Blackmail and
Standing up for Principles at Boston University
Ray Carney
Boston University
 .
I am a film professor. Eight years ago, an obscure independent filmmaker named Mark Rappaport contacted me and offered me a pile of miscellaneous films and other stuff that he said he intended to throw away. He had sold his New York apartment, was moving to Paris, and had decided that it was economically and logistically out of the question to take the raw materials of his filmmaking career (dozens of 8mm and 16mm film reels, magnetic tapes, and box after box of scripts and other printed materials) with him abroad. He said he had donated the “first copies” (the best copies) of his work to the Museum of Modern Art and to a few other places, and didn’t know what to do with the boxes of extra material that were left over. Since he knew I had a scholarly interest in his work (I am arguably the world’s expert on his films), had written a lot about it (I was, at that point, writing a book about his work), and, in fact, already had a substantial collection of material by and about him (films, tapes, and documents) that I had collected at my own expense over a period of years, he asked if I would be interested in having whatever was left over after his museum donations were complete. I was actually reluctant to take some of the material he was offering me at first, since films (remember almost all of this material was not DVDs or videotapes, but actual reels of film and magnetic tape stored in big, heavy containers) are not only bulky, but fragile, and need to be stored carefully at a proper temperature and humidity. He persuaded me by telling me that it was me “or the trash man,” and reassured me that I had absolutely no obligations to him after he sent the stuff to me. It was a no-strings-attached, unconditional gift, and I could do anything I wanted with what he was sending. If I wanted to give it away, to sell or rent it to other people to be screened, or even to wear it out by using it, it was fine with him, since anything I did with it would be better than him simply throwing it in the dumpster. That was, as I say, 8 years ago, in early 2005.
 .
When the material arrived, it was dirty, disorganized, and beat-up, just the way you’d expect material destined for the trash to be; unlabeled, unsorted tapes, disks, and films had been thrown hither and yon with crumpled newspaper sheets as the only packing material, and sent to me (with me paying the shipping costs) in flimsy cardboard boxes. Since the commercial value was more or less zero, none of the shipments was insured, and the boxes generally arrived at my end half- (or more than half-) crushed. It was a complete mess, and I could have tossed it all out then and there; but I just couldn’t bear to throw it away.
 .
I made a fateful decision. I decided to do something that probably only a film professor would be idealistic—or dumb!—enough to do. Over the next few years, I spent tens of thousands of dollars of my own money cleaning and repairing the beat-up old films and constructing a proper space to store them in. In 2007 I posted a statement on my Boston University web site stating what I had done (and was continuing to do). I talked about how I had created my own personal film archive out of Rappaport’s cast-offs. Rappaport himself was fully aware of the web site posting, which was based on email exchanges with him, and he quoted from it on many different occasions. He made jokes about my archive looking like the one in Citizen Kane (which he and I knew of course it didn’t) and compared me to the gargoyle spinster who presided over Kane’s trash heap. At several other points, we had email exchanges where he repeated in writing what he had told me in our initial conversations: that I was free to do anything I chose with the material I had: to rent it out to others; to use it in my classes; to screen it any place I wanted to; etc.. That’s why the web site posting could say the things it did, and why he never once objected to it. [See Appendix A at the end of this posting.]
 .
Five more years go by. It’s now the summer of 2012. I’m out of state at a place I go every summer to write. I’m working on a big book and have deliberately cut myself off from the outside world: no internet connection, no email, no portable devices, no cell phone, no nothing. In early July I get a packet forwarded to me from a lawyer who says he represents Rappaport, saying there is a legal action against me, demanding the immediate return of everything he gave me, arguing that I had only been temporarily storing it for him for an unspecified period of time (eight years?) and had agreed to return it to him when he asked for it. Of course, no documentation of these alleged “agreements” is provided (or will ever be provided), since none exists. The letter not only demands that everything I have be sent back immediately, but—to add injury to insult—bills me something like nine thousand dollars in fees to pay the lawyer for filing the legal papers against me and for writing the letter I am reading! I go to the library in a neighboring town to access my unchecked email account and come across a series of emails from Rappaport from six weeks or so before where he tells a completely different story than the lawyer’s letter did. He says he met someone else he’d rather give the discarded material to. He says he has changed his mind about his gift and asks if he can have it back from me. (Not hard to understand since I’ve now sorted and cleaned and restored his material at my own expense.)
 .
Let me summarize: There was no question that I owned the material free and clear. There was no question that it had been a gift almost eight years before. There was no question that I had put tens of thousands of dollars of my own money into maintaining and preserving it. There was no question that Rappaport knew all of this. It was in the emails we exchanged. It was in the notes he included in the boxes he sent. It was posted on my web site. There had been no misunderstanding. There was no change in the basic understanding. All that had changed was that he had had “giver’s regret” seven and a half years after he had given me the gift and I had put all the money into it. He had decided he wanted to do something else with the material and was willing to go to any lengths to force me (unlawfully, unethically) to return it to him—to lie, to hire a lawyer to threaten me, to do all of the other things he subsequently did.
 .
Here’s a useful comparison: Imagine that someone you distantly knew told you he was moving to Europe and asked if you wanted an old, beat-up car he had that he obviously couldn’t take it with him. He told you he had given his fancy cars to auto museums, but no one wanted the junker. Did you want it? It was a beat-up mess and you were reluctant to take it, but once you got it, rather than having it towed to the junkyard, you were inspired to restore it. So you built a garage to store it in and work on it, and spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of your time cleaning it up, fixing it up, and restoring it. Almost eight years go by and you keep working on it. It’s not a jalopy anymore. It’s cleaned up. It’s shined up. It now purrs like a kitten. Thanks strictly to you, since it wouldn’t have been around at that point if you hadn’t taken it. You tell the person who gave it to you about your work, how you’ve put all this time and money into his present. He decides he regrets giving it to you. It’s years and years later but he decides he wants it back, even though he doesn’t own it anymore. So he goes to a lawyer and claims you stole it from him, files court papers to scare and intimidate you, and (on top of everything else) sends you a bill demanding you pay his lawyer’s costs to get the car back from you. Well, that’s a fair illustration of what happened in this situation.
 .
Note that this is not a “he said/she said” situation. It is not about a misunderstanding. The explicitly gifted nature of the material is documented clearly and definitely, in black and white. I have dozens of pages of emails documenting every step of the process, in which Rappaport makes jokes about his present and how I have saved it from the garbage. I make a web site posting describing my creation of the storage space and my preservation efforts for everyone to read. Rappaport knows all about it back then and knows about it now. But he changes his mind. And once he does that, since he knows he cannot succeed if he tells the truth, if he says that he has simply changed his mind now that the material has been restored, he lies and misrepresents what took place. And there is nothing, not one sentence or shred of documentation, to support his version of the story.
 .
The story does not even pass the common-sense test. Why in the world would I be storing and preserving films for him for return to him? Why me? I’m not a film archivist or preservationist—or at least I wasn’t at the point he contacted me! Why would I agree to such an expensive and time-consuming project? Where was I supposed to be storing the films, since I didn’t have a space and eventually had to build it? Where is any payment or compensation for doing this? Where is the reimbursement for my expenses and time and trouble I would obviously be putting into the project? What are the terms of our agreement that I would do this for him, and where is there any stipulation of the required preservation conditions? Was I, a non-preservationist, just being “trusted” to know how to take care of the stuff in the right way? How could Rappaport possibly send me films he expected back at a future date without keeping an inventory of what he had sent? The list of material he supplied to his lawyer was clearly written years later, based on his distant memory of what he had sent so many years before, and is full of errors. Why in the world would I agree to spend thousands of dollars of my own money to preserve and restore these films? What was in it for me? Why would none of this be mentioned in an email or letter from him to me, or from me to him up to the point he suddenly decided (and explicitly tells me in a series of emails) that he has changed his mind—after I have been taking care of the stuff and spending money on it for seven and a half years? And of course, why would there be all the statements to the exact contrary in the emails and notes in the boxes about what I should show to my students in class, what I should show myself, and how I was free to rent or otherwise dispose of the work.
 .
It’s not my idea of the most fun way to spend my summer, but now I of course have to get my own lawyer. I told him the facts: First, that the material had been a present of stuff destined for the trash; second, that Rappaport had told me I was free to do anything I wanted with it, even destroy it if I chose; and finally, that I had spent a heck of a lot of money, time, and effort restoring and storing it in the interim. He relayed the information to Rappaport’s lawyer. The only reply was, in effect, that Rappaport would see me in court—and had filed papers to have me arrested by the sheriff and put in jail if I didn’t immediately turn everything over to him and pay his lawyer’s bill to boot! After I showed my lawyer the documentation of the gift (dozens of emails to me along with handwritten notes from Rappaport that he included in the boxes he sent), he told me that Rappaport didn’t have a leg to stand on legally, since as he put it: “changing your mind is not valid grounds for seizing a gift.” In other words, it would be an easy case to win, no sweat. But even at that point, and against the explicit wishes of my lawyer, I wanted to try to be accommodating; I wanted to do a good deed, even if it wasn’t necessary; so I wrote Rappaport and told him that if he would simply pay part of what I had spent restoring and storing the material for the past seven and a half years, I’d send everything back to him at my own expense with no hard feelings. I was willing to lose something like twenty thousand dollars in the exchange; but I’m not a rich man and I have to admit that I just couldn’t afford to do it for nothing. I needed to recoup part of my costs—especially now, given the cost of the legal bills I was incurring. If I can say it of myself, I thought I was being extremely generous. I was willing to take a financial bath to be a good guy and help Rappaport out. He rejected the offer, and (though I have to admit that the logic eludes me) added my email offering to send him the stuff back to the court documents as (apparently) adding proof that I was guilty of stealing his films. [See Appendix B at the end of this posting.]
 .
As things developed, a few weeks later he suddenly dropped the suit, since he (or his lawyer) undoubtedly realized that he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. The material was clearly my property. It had been given it to me; I had extensive written confirmation of the gifted nature of the material; and I had provably cared for it for almost eight years and put a lot of money into preserving and restoring it. I had tons of paperwork to prove my ownership and the gift of it to me, while Rappaport had absolutely nothing to support his bizarre claim that I had, in effect, stolen his films from him. (For what it’s worth, Rappaport later posted on the internet that he dropped his suit only because he couldn’t afford to continue it; but that’s patently false since, as I have noted, up to that point, I was the one expected to pay his costs if he won. In other words, it would have cost him nothing to continue if he really thought he was in the right and could win. The real reason he dropped the suit was that he knew that his claim was false—and legally indefensible.)
* * *
At the time I thought that was that—that it was all over at that point. But it’s actually the date when the real horrors began. I used to think of cyber-bullying as something that takes place between middle-school fifteen-year-olds. Now I know we’re all vulnerable. Welcome to the internet, the place where anybody can say anything about anybody else, with no proof, no documentation, no evidence. Rappaport enlisted a filmmaker friend of his named Jon Jost to post pages of lies and misrepresentations about what had taken place between Rappaport and me, and he simultaneously wrote me a series of emails telling me that he was going to do everything in his power to embarrass and humiliate me for not having jumped through his hoops.
 .
If you ask who would make a web site available for such purposes, and would actually post such a pack of lies without checking the facts, the answer is that Jost has done this sort of thing many other times, in a whole series of other situations. He’s used the internet to endorse dozens of nutty conspiracy theories—ranging from “There were no terrorists; the George Bush White House rigged explosives and blew up the World Trade Center themselves” theory of what took place on 9/11, to paranoid fantasies about how the U.S. government is abducting its own citizens who speak out against it and throwing them in foreign jails. And I am far from being the first victim of his cyber-attacks. There are many others before me. A few years ago, in fact, Jost even conducted a massive internet smear campaign against his former wife when their divorce or custody settlement apparently didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to. So posting Rappaport’s science-fiction was nothing out of the ordinary for him.
 .
To tell the truth, I didn’t attach any importance to the postings when they first went up. I assumed that their absurdity would be obvious. I assumed that people would see that where there were pages of accusations and not a single sentence of real evidence, everyone would realize that the accusations were made-up. Then Jost circulated an internet petition against me. Again, I thought who would take something like that seriously? By definition, no one who signed the petition had any first-hand knowledge of what had really happened. I thought that any intelligent person understood the utter worthlessness of internet petitions, and the complete meaningless of the numbers of signatures on them, since there were no controls on how many times any one individual could “sign” and comment under a different alias. On any given day, there are ten thousand similar nutty petitions being circulated on the internet and getting not thousands, but tens and hundreds of thousands of signatures about everything from the Kennedy assassination, to Elvis sightings, to aliens in Area 51. Since I assumed anyone with a brain was familiar with Jost’s previous crank postings, and his admitted bias in this situation, about which he didn’t even make a show of being neutral or objective, I didn’t really take any of it seriously, didn’t think very much about it, and didn’t reply. I have much better things to do with my time than swat flies. Let them swarm, let them buzz, let anyone sign Jost’s petition and write something stupid about me as many times as they want. I really don’t care.
 .
But I should add for the record that it would have been impossible for me to reply, even if I had wanted to. I used to have an official faculty web site on the Boston University server—all BU faculty members are given space to create one—but university administrators shut it down four or five years ago when they disagreed with something I wrote about education. (BU administrators are not known for their toleration of independent thinking on the faculty; the Silber days are still very much alive, and I’m pretty close to being the current incarnation of Howard Zinn in that comparison.) So that meant that I couldn’t use my faculty site to post a reply. And I couldn’t use Jost’s site either, since when he launched his cyber-bullying campaign, he wrote me a series of emails telling me that the only allowable response he would accept from me and agree to post on his site would be: A) for me to apologize for my misconduct; and B) for me to announce that I was immediately turning over all of the material I owned to Rappaport. That of course meant that I was not allowed to reply on his site. Jost didn’t reveal that to his site readers, of course. That way he could then announce, as he subsequently did, that my non-response “proved” I was guilty. Pretty clever, I have to admit. He runs the site and controls everything that is posted on it, so he can impose conditions on what I have to say and do to be allowed on it, and when I don’t accede to the conditions, he can say that it shows I am afraid to respond.
 .
I wish that was the end of the story, but sometime in September, probably because Jost and Rappaport were not getting much of a result with the embarrassment tactic, they added a twist to the cyber-bullying that middle school punks aren’t usually able to employ: Blackmail. Extortion. I got a series of phone calls and emails from Rappaport and Jost making threats that they would get me fired from my job, have my tenure revoked, go to my Dean and Chairman and tell a pack of lies about me to get me in trouble at Boston University, blanket the internet with anti-Carney statements, and do other things to destroy my job and career, if I didn’t immediately turn over the films I owned to Rappaport’s lawyer. The threats were very explicit and they did not mince words in making them. They were crystal clear: Turn the stuff over, or we’ll destroy you. It was your basic blackmail plot, pure and simple. (Since Rappaport explicitly cites his lawyer as the designated recipient of the material, it would be natural to assume that he was part of the blackmail plot; but I prefer to believe that he was an innocent victim, just as I was, and that Rappaport included him as a participant and named his office as the place where I was to leave the material, without his knowl.edge or permission. For the lawyer’s sake, if he wants to continue practicing law, I sure hope that was the case.)
And, sure enough, when I didn’t respond to that, they did exactly what they had threatened to do. Jost and Rappaport emailed, phoned, and even sent someone to visit my Dean and Chairman in person—I’m told they wanted to have a meeting with the university President and Provost also but were unsuccessful—to try to get me fired, get my tenure revoked, or have me administratively and financially punished in other ways, if I didn’t immediately take the material to the lawyer’s office.
* * *
But, as the infomercials say, wait there’s more. When none of those tactics succeeded, Rappaport decided he would take things to a new level by contacting the press, saying bad things about me to journalists, and referring them to the internet postings. The extortion notes he wrote me morphed to include statements that he and Jost would enlist journalists in the smear campaign against me unless I immediately turned the material I owned over to his lawyer. He would use journalists and, based on the results, the journalists were glad to be used. Sometime around October or November, I began receiving emails from online and hard copy journalists informing me that Rappaport had written them and that they would be publishing articles about what I “had done.” Apparently all it takes to get an adverse story about someone into a newspaper, magazine, or online media outlet is for someone to make a series of groundless, unfounded, undocumented (and, let’s not forget, false) charges against the person. I would have thought that a journalist’s first response to anyone who wrote or called him and started saying terrible things about someone else, asking that the journalist do a story about the other person, would, first, be deep skepticism about the source’s motives (which are clearly not noble) and, second, a request for evidence that the charges had a clear factual basis: in this instance, that there was written documentation of the storage-return agreement. But I must be old-fashioned. That is clearly the old journalism. Things have changed. Standards have loosened. Where everyone is chasing readers in our era of declining media readership, skepticism has been replaced by delight at the chance to skewer someone, and documentation is no longer necessary. A story is a story, and driving eyes to the reporter’s by-line is the goal of the game.
 .
Journalistically, I found myself in a “guilty until proven innocent” world, where I was effectively being asked, over and over again by different people, to prove “when I had stopped beating my wife.” The journalists who contacted me, to a person, began by accepting Rappaport’s accusations at face value, and told me they were going to print his charges—unless I successfully rebutted them. Of course I am talking only about the journalists who contacted me. Some never asked for my input, or went with a story before I had a chance to reply. Rappaport’s word was good enough for them to go forward.
 .
The reason I can know with absolute certainty that none of the journalists, whether they contacted me or not, obtained probative documentation before deciding to write their stories is, of course, the fact that no such documentation exists. If they had begun, before deciding to write their stories, and before writing me, by asking Rappaport for substantive proof of his charges against me, the story would have died right there, since as I have noted, there is not a single sentence that he can produce that indicates that there was any agreement or understanding that the films were given to me for temporary storage, that I was supposed to return them to him at a future date, or that I had stolen them from him—and there is, of course, abundant documentation that establishes the exact opposite.
 .
The burden of proof, according to traditional journalistic standards and practices, should clearly have been on the person making the charges, which meant that there should have been no story until there was strong and compelling evidence to support the charges. The only story that had that would have been one about cyber-bullying, extortion, and using the media to conduct a smear campaign—but the journalists weren’t interested in writing that story. The problem was that the journalists who contacted me clearly did not hold themselves accountable to traditional journalistic standards and practices. When I told several of them that I was too busy to be responding in detail to a series of ever-changing, ever-shifting undocumented, unfounded accusations—responding over and over again on separate occasions to a dozen or more separate journalistic inquiries, month after month—they replied that I had better reply—“or else” they would simply go with Rappaport’s side of the story. In other words, I would be presented in print as being guilty, unless I successfully demonstrated my innocence—to each and every one of them individually, one after the other. The situation was mine to lose, but only to lose. If I simply remained silent; if I reminded them that if Rappaport really had a valid grievance he could easily win in court and get a massive financial settlement against me (at no cost to himself, as I have noted); if I told them that I was too busy to respond to an unending stream of inquiries from different reporters; in short, if I didn’t successfully rebut every crazy, unsubstantiated charge Rappaport had made, from accusations of perjury to prevarication to theft, to the satisfaction of writers who clearly already had a bias since they were ready to print his version of the story in the first place—I would be tried, and fried, in the press, even if the charges were fictional, and no evidence that they were true had been provided by my accuser. Welcome to the new journalism. Welcome to the wacky world of La-Z-Boy “investigative” journalism, where the reporter is spared the arduousness of conducting a real investigation of the facts, and the burden of proof is on the victim of character assassination to defend himself. The person being accused is forced to do the research for the reporter, to provide documentation to prove his innocence. If the victim of the smear campaign does not successfully refute or, in my case, does not have the time to respond, point by point, to each of the scurrilous and false accusations, the journalist feels free to print the lies. Move over Woodward and Bernstein.
* * *
That leads to the fourth strand of the story, which is, if possible, even more depressing than the preceding ones. I can understand a lone individual telling a pack of lies to try to scare or browbeat me into giving in to his whims. I can understand a nutcase turning over his web site to post the lies and create an internet petition. I can understand a few hundred people writing a series of nasty comments under a series of aliases about something they have absolutely no first-hand knowledge of. I can understand someone who can’t succeed through established legal means, and obviously knows it, having recourse in desperation to threats and blackmail to try to get his way. It’s a bit harder to swallow, but I can understand young, inexperienced, or circulation-motived journalists with no conception of journalistic standards and ethics printing the falsehoods or putting the evidentiary burden on the person being slandered to rebut the lies. But the thing I still can’t get my head around is a university that countenances and acquiesces in such tactics. I’m talking about my university, Boston University, of course. [See Appendix C at the end of this posting for my initial response to BU, which my Chairman refused to accept as an adequate response.]
 .
At a meeting with the Dean (Tom Fiedler), the Associate Dean (James Shanahan), my Chairman (Paul Schneider), and a Boston University lawyer (Erika Geetter), where I was asked to respond to Jost’s internet postings, I explained everything I’ve summarized above—Rappaport’s lies, Jost’s flexible sense of the truth, Jost and Rappaport’s cyber-bullying campaign against me, and Rappaport’s threats and extortion demands. I presented scores of pages of documentation of every detail. Page after page of emails documenting the explicitly gifted nature of the original material and the fact that it had been originally destined for the dumpster; page after page reprinting and explaining the lengthy posting on my web site where I explicitly described the material as a gift, and talked about my decision to preserve it rather than throw it away; page after page documenting the cyber-bullying campaign and the threats in the ransom notes about what would happen if I didn’t turn the material over to Rappaport’s lawyer; page after page documenting Jost’s refusal to allow me to post a reply on his web site; page after page documenting the threats and extortion notes—the “turn the material over or else we’ll destroy your reputation on the internet, in your university, and in the media” side of the situation.
 .
I presented all of this material and sat there and allowed myself to be cross-examined about it for three-hours. I answered every question I was asked. I pleaded that the university not allow itself to be used as part of a bullying or extortion scheme. I said that a university should not give in to this sort of pressure. I reminded Dean Fiedler, Associate Dean Shanahan, Chairman Schneider, and Ms. Geetter that a university exists precisely not to cave in to unsubstantiated accusations, not to allow slanders, falsehoods, threats, and acts of extortion to succeed. I told the people sitting across the table from me that a university should stand above the hysteria of a lynch-mob petition posted on the internet by people who knew none of the facts, that a university should not knuckle under to a campaign in the media just because journalists did not adhere to professional standards of reporting. I told them that that’s what made a university different from a for-profit corporation—that a university defended principles and values and truth-telling, and did not cave in to pressure-tactics, to thuggery, to lunatic internet petitions. I told them that Boston University should not (and should not ask its faculty members to) “make pacts with the devil”—that it should not negotiate with blackmailers and extortionists (or pressure faculty to negotiate with them).
 .
But, as I knew going into the meeting, I was talking about another university, one that had different values than the one I was part of, one that treated faculty members with respect and dignity and professionalism. I was talking about a university that defended intellectual values and truth. Boston University hasn’t done that for forty years, since before John Silber became President. The individuals sitting across the table from me were not interested in taking a stand against extortion threats or defending faculty rights. Heck, it was clear that they were hardly interested in listening to what I was telling them. I would describe our meeting as one of the most disrespectful meetings I have ever attended at BU, except for the fact that I have attended too many others that have been even more disrespectful. The Dean’s inquiry was conducted as a Star Chamber proceeding. The BU administrators had clearly come into the room with their minds already made up—unbelievably enough, on the basis of what they had read on the internet!—and loaded for bear. I was the bear.
 .
The university’s response to the internet postings was not very different from the reaction of the journalists. I was presumed guilty until I could prove myself innocent. At the meeting I attended, I was hardly able to get out two successive sentences without being interrupted and argued with, because what I said was different from what they had read on the internet, or what Rappaport had (deceptively) told them in a series of emails or telephone conversations. They weren’t really interested in hearing the truth, or listening to me. The insinuations came fast and furious. I was a thief; I had represented myself as accepting Rappaport’s material as a deposit with Boston University but absconded with it for my own personal benefit; I had lied to Rappaport about (or deliberately concealed from him) where his work was stored; I was guilty of perjury in official court documents (an extraordinarily serious crime); I had misused the mail system for thievery; etc., etc.. I was called names. My character was attacked. I was ridiculed. I was even accused of being mentally ill. At one point, my Chairman launched into an insulting litany of accusations impugning my personal integrity, ranging from “Why do you work here? Why do you stay? Why don’t you quit?”—to asking me whether I was at BU “only for the money.” (He forgot to mention that if that was the reason I had made a serious miscalculation, since I had taken so many hits to my pay in the past eight or nine years, many of them personally recommended by him and my Dean.) Dean Fiedler, who chaired the meeting, sat there smiling throughout the worst of the accusations, name-calling, and mockery, never once intervening to moderate, reign it in, or apologize for it. The reason was obvious. He didn’t stop it because he had scripted it (delegating the worst of it to be conducted by his subordinates the Associate Dean and my Chairman), as was clearly visible from the common outline they all had on the table in front of them. The table was narrow and I could read it sitting across from them. They had planned it all out. That’s the kind of meeting my Dean organizes and chairs. That’s the way senior faculty are treated in my College.
 .
Threats were made about altering my teaching schedule or outright cancelling my courses (“… if we allow you to teach…”), and changing my administrative duties (“because of the problems you have caused”)—and of course, a few days later, I received memos where the threats were followed through on. The documentation I presented provided iron-clad proof of the account I gave at the start of this piece—that the material was an explicit gift, that I owned it without any doubt or dispute, and that what had been posted on the internet was a pack of lies. I presented written evidence of the extortion attempt to force me unlawfully to turn the material over to Rappaport’s lawyer. But none of that mattered.
 .
The problem was that none of the people on the other side of the table—the Dean, the Associate Dean, my Chairman, and the university lawyer—cared about truth and fairness. None of them cared who actually owned the material. None of them cared where the truth lay. None of them cared about right or wrong. And none of them cared in the least about defending intellectual values or the rights of a faculty member to resist a cyber-bullying and blackmail scheme. The validity of my position, the ethical nature of my conduct from start to finish, was beyond dispute, but it didn’t matter. That was obvious from their response to what I said. Every time I raised these sorts of issues, they changed the subject. There was no discussion of how to take a principled stand, how to defend the integrity of a faculty member, how to avoid caving in to pressure and mob hysteria. Not a word, beyond my own.
 .
What mattered, the BU administrators were not at all shy about telling me, were the PR implications for BU. How would what Rappaport and Jost had posted on the internet affect Boston University’s reputation, its recruiting, its enrollments? They didn’t care in the least about protecting a faculty member from slander and falsehood; but cared, intensely, how the Boston Globe would report the story, and what other media outlets would say. They told me that if I defended my ownership of the material, it could make the university look bad. They told me that they wanted me to find a way to let Rappaport have the material. (There was no mention of reimbursing me for all the money I had spent preserving it, of course, no mention of releasing a statement condemning bullying and blackmail, no mention of having the university PR department defend the reputation of a senior faculty member.) Right up to the present there has been no press release from the university defending my integrity, and no statement from my Dean, my Chairman, or another administrator condemning blackmail and cyber-bullying. Defending a faculty member’s rights, resisting an orchestrated campaign of falsehood, slander, insinuation, and innuendo, taking a principled stand against cyber-bullying and acts of extortion—things I all but begged them to do—were never mentioned by anyone other than me. Every administrator or officer at that meeting greeted my request that he, she, or the university take a principled stand with silence.
 .
I can’t say I was surprised. The chairman of the meeting, Dean Fiedler, like many other Boston University administrators, does not have an academic background. He spent his entire previous career working his way up the corporate ladder, and to make things worse, he himself used to be one of those tabloid-style investigative journalists. One of his biggest, and to this day one of his proudest journalistic accomplishments involved staking-out and spying-on a big-name politician and stalking and tracking his girlfriend to a private residence over a weekend and forcing the politician to drop out of a presidential race by running a front-page story about the love nest in the paper the next morning. As far as I can tell, my Dean knows nothing (and cares less) about academic values and principles. He runs the College as if it were a corporation, and in terms of the Rappaport matter treated me no differently from the way the President of Coca Cola would treat an employee who generated “bad press.” In his mind, I am the problem. My actions resulted in negative publicity. What else is there to care about? What part of bad PR don’t you understand? He has no idea that protecting freedom of faculty expression and defending the importance of truth and honesty are ends in themselves, or that a university has any higher function than courting favorable media coverage. Academic life is about fund-raising, and my (or the university’s) taking a principled stand might jeopardize that.
 .
Other faculty in my College have been treated similarly, and many have left or been forced out in the past as a result. In the view of my Dean faculty members are, and should be treated as, corporate employees. He has no appreciation that academics are professionals, and that their words, actions, and expressions of ideas and opinions should be protected—or respected. The Dean has told the faculty that he feels free to read the emails they write. (I myself have been called on the carpet for emails I have sent to my students.) The Dean shocked the faculty two years ago by revealing that he had been covertly monitoring what faculty printed on their office computers. (The spy campaign surfaced when he reprimanded particular faculty members for printing things he disagreed with.) It accidentally came out later on that he has also instructed staff members secretly to call telephone numbers faculty have dialed on their office phones to find out who they have been talking to and verify that the calls are, to use the term of art he prefers, “appropriate.” He has criticized specific faculty members if, during the review process, they haven’t endorsed faculty promotions he is in favor of—to the point that I myself have stopped participating in faculty reviews since, if I dare to express reservations about a candidate the Dean prefers, it only gets my evaluations lowered—for being “uncollegial.” So much for treating faculty members with the respect due to professionals. So much for protecting the integrity of the faculty review process. Faculty are, in the Dean’s mind, corporate employees and should be treated like corporate employees. A faculty member is supposed to toe the line and do what he is told, not think or speak for himself.
 .
A new faculty member soon learns the lesson: Your goal is to go along and get along, to generate positive PR (as distinguished from doing important intellectual work—the PR universe is certainly not identical to the universe of serious scholarship, something someone lacking an academic background, someone like my Dean, may have a hard time understanding), to support the candidates the Dean is in favor of promoting, and to watch what you write in your emails, who you call on your office phone, what you Xerox on the College copy machine, and what you teach in class. Or, at least, to keep your mouth shut and not to object to these—and a zillion other—controls on faculty thought and speech and distortions of intellectual values.
 .
I should add that the Dean’s attitude to l’affaire Rappaport was affected in my case by another factor. Over the past ten years I’ve functioned as an internal whistleblower, filing a significant number of reports about professional misconduct and violations of academic freedom with administrators (including protesting the Dean’s surveillance and control of faculty printing and phone conversations). I have defended student rights, attempted the improve the pedagogical experience, and deplored the fact that film students were, in effect, being cheated by being denied a top-tier educational experience, even as they were paying a top-tier tuition and incurring debts that it would take half their lives to repay.
 .
But speaking out, in this way about these and other matters, is itself grounds for a faculty member to be punished at BU. My Dean, my program Director, my Chairman, and most of the faculty in my department are extremely intolerant of views they disagree with—and resort to any tactic available for retaliating against a faculty member who thinks (and speaks) differently. I’ve already mentioned how my faculty web site was censored and taken away from me by my Dean and Chairman. My program Director and a number of faculty members in my department told students to boycott my classes because of things I had published. As I noted, my Dean scorched me in a memo because he disagreed with some ideas in several emails I sent to my students. And a blog entry I wrote last spring talking about some of the problems in my College, as well my reports to the university Ombuds about ethical violations in my College have also become grounds for my Dean and Chairman to punish me. (What kind of topsy-turvy world is it where the request that an Ombudsman look into a situation becomes grounds for punishing the person who made the request?) So much for academic freedom of expression at BU.
 .
But punishing me, financially and bureaucratically is not good enough for the Dean, my Chairman, or my program Director. Their obvious goal is to get rid of me. But the problem is that I am tenured. When they learned about the Rappaport internet postings, they were beside themselves with joy. It was a dream come true—a too-good-to-resist pretext to get back at me for all of the reports about pedagogical and professional problems I’ve turned in over the years. The meeting about the Rappaport matter that I was grilled at was, as far as they were concerned, their long-delayed opportunity to come up with an excuse to override my tenure and dismiss me—their opportunity to play “gotcha.” That’s another side of Boston University. For decades, the administration, from the President on down, has specialized in finding ways to get around faculty tenure—ways to get rid of individuals the administration defines as faculty “troublemakers” (the term both my Dean and the Dean who preceded him have used to refer to me to my face). Rappaport’s postings were going to be the way. Since the end of that story has not yet been written, I’ll leave it there.
 .
But I don’t want to appear to limit my observations to my College or my Dean—or to the Rappaport affair. Taking principled stands, treating faculty members with respect, defending faculty rights, and defending the importance of the tenure system have never been strong suits at Boston University. (Google the words “Howard Zinn,” a former faculty member, and “John Silber,” a former University President, for a past illustration of how general and long-standing the lack of respect for faculty rights has been at BU.) As I already mentioned, a few years ago my faculty web site was censored and censured by BU administrators, and I was told to remove it from the university server, because it included views of education that the administration did not agree with. I have been told how I am supposed to teach my courses, and what I am and am not allowed to say in my classroom (an outrageous violation of academic freedom, but the person who told it to me was the same university lawyer who was present at the Rappaport meeting). BU has a long history of intolerance of (and disrespect for) faculty members who have even the smallest inclination to think with their own brains or act according to their own ethical principles.
 .
In my personal case, when I’ve expressed reservations about recent administrative intolerance as having a disastrously chilling effect on academic free expression, and spoken out about the de facto administrative negation of the protections of the tenure system, I’ve had my classes moved to impossible days, times, and rooms, my evaluations drastically lowered, my pay docked, my research and travel funding taken away, and my students told not to take classes with me by a Dean, a Chairman, and a program Director. (There’s too much to say about each of these punitive actions, and they have taken too many different forms, to describe them all in detail here and now, but I describe a few of the specific retaliatory actions taken against me by my program Director, Chairman, and Dean in two other sections of this site: “Parts 1 and 2” of the section titled “Ten Years of Administrative Retaliation….” I would refer the interested reader there.)
.
Remember that my only sin all along has been that I politely spoke up and objected to some of the program Director’s, Dean’s, and Chairman’s policies, and reported a range of unethical and unprofessional behavior—in meeting after meeting, memo after memo, and, of course, in that posting (which I sent the text of to my Dean in April 2012, and which then became grounds for more punishment and a further hit on my pay), and in other things I wrote prior to it (which had been grounds for previous punishments). If the past is prologue, you can be sure that this current posting, here and now, will be grounds for additional punishments against me. That’s the BU way.
 .
For doing those things, starting seven or eight years ago, I became, in my Dean’s, my Chairman’s, and my program Director’s minds, persona non grata. Since I was tenured, they couldn’t fire me outright, but the BU motto is where there is a will there is a way. If they couldn’t fire me, they could make the conditions of my job so untenable that I would quit. And, as I noted above, if I won’t resign voluntarily, plan B was to use the Rappaport matter as a pretext to take away my tenure and force me out. (That was the meaning of my Chairman’s attempt, for the tenth or twentieth time in the past few years, to persuade me to quit at the big Rappaport meeting, and the reason for his frustration that I wouldn’t listen to reason and continued to work at BU no matter how he punished me.)
 .
It’s a BU administrative policy that a faculty member who doesn’t toe the line can be forced out, one way or another, whether he his tenured or not. If tenure is in play, the conditions of his or her job can be made so miserable (pedagogically, bureaucratically, and financially) that the faculty member will quit even with tenure. Tell students not to take his classes; cut his pay; marginalize his research; yell at him in meetings; and he will resign. If the abuse and punishment stick doesn’t turn the trick, the carrot of an early retirement package can be offered to get him to agree to quit. My Dean has tried both tactics with me—notwithstanding the fact that I am demonstrably one of the most highly published and world-famous scholars in the entire university and, at least according to my student evaluations, one of the best teachers my students have ever had. I simply refuse to give these administrators the satisfaction of having succeeded in pushing me out in such an underhanded way.
 .
I honestly believe I am fighting the good fight—a deeply moral and ethical struggle for the future of Boston University as an institution and for the good of future faculty members who deserve to be able to speak their minds without fear or retaliation, and to be treated respectfully as professionals. I have given the best (or should I say the worst?) part of my career to serving Boston University and trying to raise its academic, intellectual, and ethical standards. The students and faculty deserve better than the current administration.
 .
We know what much of corporate America is like; we know about the corruption of the political system; but it is a sad situation when one can’t look to a university for more principled responses—or for more respect for its faculty. When I think of the way I’ve been treated over the Rappaport matter, I wonder how Boston University would respond to real pressure—the kind of pressure that Joseph McCarthy applied to American universities in the early 1950s. Based on my experience, BU administrators would have told a faculty member to think of the PR implications for the university if he or she didn’t cooperate and go-along with McCarthy’s reign of terror. I am not equating my situation with the McCarthy years, but it has to give one pause to realize that Boston University is so intimidated by two con-men and a bunch of twenty-year olds who glom onto an internet petition about something they have no first-hand knowledge about.
***
Let me end with a semi-comical postscript: I don’t remember the date, but a decade or more ago, Boston University was put in a similar situation to the one I was put in with Rappaport. The university had been given a group of Martin Luther King documents back in the 1960s, I think it was, and years later Coretta Scott King wanted to rescind the gift to be able to deposit the papers elsewhere. BU fought her tooth and nail to defend its ownership, and eventually beat her in court. Funny that the university never worried about the PR implications when it was defending its own interests—only when a faculty member attempts to defend his. Good old BU.

Ray Carney is Professor of Film at Boston University. He is the author of ten books, translated into seven languages, and more than one hundred essays. 

* * *
Appendix A
The complete text of my 2007 web site posting (which is still visible in its complete and unchanged form on my suppressed and frozen BU faculty web site), a posting that Rappaport admits to being familiar with and, in fact, has quoted from on numerous occasions. It directly contradicts his account of what happened. I describe the conditions of its posting in the following paragraphs, and quote it in its entirely below.–R.C.
 .
Beyond the telephone conversations, the meeting in New York City, the email threads, and the notes included in the shipment itself, there is one more confirmation of the free-for-me-to-own-and-use, “gifted” nature of the material Mark Rappaport sent. It is in a posting on my official BU faculty web site, back in 2007, long before there was any reason for me to shade my account of this material in any way, since there had been no dispute about the fact that I owned it. (And would continue to be no dispute about my ownership and control of the material until April 2012, seven and a half years after its transfer in early 2005.)
 .
The background to the posting is as follows. First point: Approximately a year after the receipt of the material, I made arrangements to build and outfit a special space to hold the material in better conditions than I was previously able to provide. I spent a significant amount of time, effort, and money on the project. I also spent a significant amount of time, effort, and money cleaning and, where necessary, repairing the films. My total expenditures, extending over many years, on what I half-jokingly often referred by saying “I am the Mark Rappaport archive,” were in the tens of thousands of dollars.
 .
Second point: in 2005, 2006, and 2007, I had mentioned Rappaport’s gift of his films and other materials to me to a large number of friends, acquaintances, and email correspondents. That meant that by early 2007 I had received several inquires about whether I might make the films available for theatrical or classroom screenings, or might screen the material myself at some point (in public or in my classroom). I either did not reply (or replied negatively) to these inquiries, first, since I judged them to be not important, and second (as noted in the preceding paragraph) since I was too busy attending to the care and restoration of the works to worry about the next step. However some time in 2007, I received what I regarded as a high-level serious rental inquiry and decided that I needed to formulate a general response to save me the time of responding to each request individually. I informed Rappaport of the most recent request in detail (quoting it in its entirety to him), and reminding him, strictly as a formality since there was no dispute about it and we were in complete agreement, about our understanding that I had his permission to do whatever I wanted with the material. After consultation with him, and with his full knowledge and awareness, I then made the following web posting to announce my decision not to rent the material out for individual screenings, but only for more important institutional retrospectives.
 .
The important point in all this is that Rappaport had (and to this day, continues to have) full knowledge of the posting on my web site (and in fact was consulted about it). As evidence of his knowledge, he referred to the posting in several subsequent conversations with me, and actually quoted excerpts from it several of his summer 2012 court filings and his fall 2012 internet postings. However, to my astonishment and dismay—both in his court filings and his internet postings—he completely reverses the meaning of the posting on my web site by means of highly selective quotation—where the most important parts of the text are omitted, and the meaning of other parts are grossly distorted by being cited only in isolated phrases and excerpts.
 .
I give the complete, unaltered, unedited text of the 2007 posting (which never was changed or removed from my faculty web site). The only change I have made, to simplify reading it in the current situation (and to indicate how the text clearly supports my position about the “gifted” nature of the material, and completely refutes Rappaport’s “temporary storage and return” 2012 change in his account of the gift he had made me), is that I have bolded a number of the relevant phrases.
 .

As I say above, the posting was written in response to a question I received from a man asking if I could tell him how to rent Rappaport’s films for screening. I reply by telling him that the films are not available for rental and go on to describe Rappaport’s gift of the material to me and my creation of a space to house it.*******************************************************************************

Mark Rappaport doesn’t distribute his work any more. He left the country about two years ago and had stopped renting prints even before that. It was a losing proposition, like so many indie situations. And now that he’s left the country, there is not even the chance for a special exception. No more rentals, alas. I’m not sure you know: At this point, he lives in Paris. As you undoubtedly realize, shipping prints in and out of the US from France would be virtually impossible, given all the customs and shipping paperwork involved. But that isn’t even a possibility since he doesn’t now have any prints in his possession. He gave them to me. I have them. He just couldn’t take all that stuff to Paris with him. It would have been too much to ship and store there.
 .
Let me explain what happened. Did you know the following? Mark is a great friend and gave me almost everything he owned when he left New York for France? Thousands of pages and box after box of material. So I am now the “Mark Rappaport Archive.” I have the largest collection of material by him in the world: file cabinets and storage bins full of amazing things: production notebooks, film prints, rough drafts, revisions, scripts, film stock, DVDs, tapes, notes, jottings, journals, etc. etc. etc. It’s a dream come true for me and one of the major film collections by one of the world’s greatest artists. All being preserved for posterity at any cost. (Just like my rare Cassavetes material–both unknown film material and scripts and notebooks.) But, alas, I am not a rental operation, and can’t possibly deal with sending things out and tending to the paperwork and cleaning prints and repairing splices, etc. (Let alone the risk of losing the only print of something, the only copy I have.) So my massive collection is of no use at all for your purposes. Mark is one of cinema’s greatest living artists and I would love to make all of this material available to a museum or film archive for a massive retrospective “show” of Mark’s work, notebooks, scripts, etc., but I just can’t send individual films out to movie theaters for one-time bookings.

*******************************************************************************Note that the text makes no reference whatsoever to the material being only loaned or sent to me for temporary storage and return. It explicitly states that it was given to me. I state this twice. In the first paragraph: “he doesn’t now have any prints in his possession. He gave them to me.” And in the second paragraph: “Mark …  gave me almost everything he owned when he left New York for France.” I also state the same concept a third and fourth time, in different terms in the second paragraph: “I am the ‘Mark Rappaport Archive…,’ and “I have the largest collection of material by him….”

 .
The first two are statements that the material was a gift, and the second two are clear assertions that I now own and control the use of the physical objects: In addition, near the end of the second paragraph, there is a fifth statement that reinforces my claim of ownership. I refer to the films and other material as “my massive collection…..” —not his collection, and not anyone else’s (like BU’s).
 .
My statement that the Rappaport material is “just like my rare Cassavetes material” is one more confirmation of my statement that the Rappaport material was gifted, once the facts are known about the reference. (Both Rappaport himself and most of the visitors to my site reading this posting would know the facts of the very famous Cassavetes material.) Here are the facts: The filmmaker John Cassavetes gave me film material shortly before his death. It was given to me, free and clear, with no strings attached, and with no qualifications in the gift, to use as I saw fit. It was not loaned to me or sent with the expectation of ever being returned to him or his estate. In our early conversations, Rappaport knew about the Cassavetes gift (as did thousands of other people), and, in fact, back in 2005, told me that one of the reasons he thought of me to receive his gift of film material—the reason he thought I would agree to accept it as a gift—was because he knew I had already accepted a similar body of material as a gift from the other filmmaker.
 .
Note that, at the end of the web site posting I make yet a sixth assertion of my personal ownership of, and my right to show, the Rappaport material as follows: “I would love to make all of this material available to a museum or film archive for a massive retrospective ‘show’ of Mark’s work, notebooks, scripts, etc.” I could not say this if the material and permission to screen it had not been given to me free and clear. I would have had to talk about not me, but about Mark Rappaport “making the material available.” I would have had to refer any screening offers to him, not solicited them myself, as I am clearly doing here. But I didn’t need to do that, since the 2005 thread of emails includes several where Rappaport explicitly conveys the rights not only to physically own, but to show and screen or otherwise use, the material to me—an assurance I asked for from him to be able to do what I state my intention to do at the end of this posting.
 .
In summary, the entire statement exactly as I quote it above (but without the bolding) was posted six years ago (in 2007) and was called to Rappaport’s attention shortly after it was posted—and Rappaport never once objected in any way to the phrasing or assertions in the posting. He never asked me to take it down from the web site, or change it in any way. He never told me I was misrepresenting the nature of the “gift” from him to me. He never told me that I was mistaken in referring to the material as being “mine.” He never objected to my comparison of the status of his film gift with the earlier film gift from Cassavetes. He never disputed my right to make arrangements to screen the films in a festival—nor objected to anything else in the posting.
 .
Rappaport’s use of extended excerpts from this posting in both his 2012 court filings and his more recent internet postings on the Jost web site shows that he, in fact, continues to be familiar with this posting—which he has, even up to now, never taken issue with. He is apparently convinced that no one who reads the distorted (and highly selective) quotations he borrows from it will take the time to actually consult the full text to see that, in fact, in its complete form, it does not confirm but invalidates his claim to own this material, and to have had an agreement with me for its return. The web site text shows that is the opposite of the truth, and that that he knew it all along.
* * *
Appendix B
The complete text of an email I wrote to Mark Rappaport in the summer of 2012, attempting to work out an arrangement to return all of the material to him, if he will simply agree to pay a small part of the costs I had incurred to store and preserve it—costs that would have been less than the legal costs he incurred to bully and threaten me. Note that I was willing to lose a significant amount of money in the exchange (thousands of dollars), was willing to take a financial bath, simply as an act of friendship and kindness. I was being extremely generous in an attempt to be kind to him. He rejected my offer. —R.C.
 .
Monday August 20, 2012
 .
Mark,
 .
I haven’t told my lawyer that I am writing this (I’m not sure if he would want me to), but wanted to make a personal offer, man-to-man, to you. I wanted to tell you I’d be glad to return everything for less than I would assume you are, or will be, spending on lawyer’s fees to attempt to get it. (And not to raise a sore point, or launch a debate over the facts, which I am willing to let speak for themselves, but I’m not at all convinced that the legal path will lead to success in any case. I have ample documentation of the “gifted/discarded” nature of the material I paid to Fedex to myself back in 2005.) But I’m not writing to debate that point. I simply wanted to say that, as an act of genuine friendship and honest support for you and your work (yes, I still think it is important work!), I am willing to tear up those documents, transfer ownership back to you, and ship everything back for a modest consideration, simply to cover my costs and the time and trouble of having stored the material for the past seven-and-a-half years. That way you’d have everything in your hands in one simple step, in the very near future. I’m sure I’m not the first person to conclude that this court method is not the best—or fastest and most efficient!—way of doing things. (And it sure isn’t the most fun way I can imagine spending my summer!) Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that. You can reach me at this email account (I almost never check any of the other old ones), or you can call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. I sincerely wish you well and am genuinely sorry that this issue has come between us.
 .
Ray
 .
Ray Carney
Prof. of Film and American Studies
Boston University
Appendix C
My reply to my Dept. of Film and Television Chairman Paul Schneider’s accusations, summarizing the Rappaport situation as it stood in September 2012, and reiterating for the record: 1) my highly ethical and principled conduct in every respect; and 2) my commitment to “take the high road” in the face of Rappaport and Jost’s numerous false accusations against me—my decision not call them names back, not to post incendiary counter-accusations on the internet, not to sling mud, and not to make nasty and slanderous personal statements about them in public. Note that I asked that even this email describing their conduct as “knowingly false and willfully malicious” be kept private and confidential and not be used against them, publicly released, or posted on the internet. I maintained my silence for nearly six months. —R.C.
 .
From: Ray Carney
Date: September 21, 2012 2:27:10 PM EDT
To: Chairman Paul Schneider, Dean Thomas Fiedler, Provost Jean Morrison
Subject: Rappaport
 .
Paul,
 .
I have been traveling and without access to an internet connection—as you may know, I own no portable devices, not even a cell phone—so I was unaware of your emails (and for some reason never received the phone messages you left). I am genuinely sorry you have had to devote any time to the silly, stupid, and completely groundless Rappaport accusations. To answer the questions implied in your note to me:
 .
1. With respect to statements to the effect that I have not returned personal property owned by Mr. Rappaport: I hold none of Mr. Rappaport’s property. Insofar as he has represented otherwise, his statements are knowingly false (and willfully malicious).
 .
2. With respect to the implication that I might be guilty of a violation of University ethical policies or principles: None of Mr. Rappaport’s (false and malicious) claims have any connection with my academic position or the performance of my duties at Boston University. If he has represented otherwise, those statements too are knowingly false (and willfully malicious).
 .
3. I certify more generally, for the record, that I have behaved in all of my dealings with Mr. Rappaport, in every respect and over the course of many years, with the highest degree of integrity, honesty, truthfulness, fairness, kindness, and generosity. I have adhered to (and continue to adhere to) the highest possible ethical standards in my dealings with him in every respect (including, I might add, not descending to his level, down into the mud to call him names, slander him, or make counter-accusations against him, publicly or privately, in response to his relentlessly and knowingly false, malicious, and slanderous statements against me).
 .
4. I might add, parenthetically, as a bit of a reality-check: If I were, in fact, guilty of the kind of flagrant misappropriation of property that Mr. Rappaport claims I am guilty of, the legal system is abundantly available to him to prosecute his claims, and would grant him more than ample redress if his complaints had any validity. The fact that there is no present or pending legal claim against me for the return of property should indicate the unsubstantiated nature of Mr. Rappaport’s representations (and the reason he has chosen to resort instead to name-calling, slander, and misrepresentation to achieve what he cannot achieve through the production of evidence and taking of testimony).
 .
Since legal action against Mr. Rappaport for his statements about me is contemplated, it is not appropriate for me to make further or more detailed statements about this issue. But I repeat, emphatically, that I have adhered to (and continue to adhere to) the highest possible ethical principles both in the performance of my duties at Boston University and in my personal dealings with Mr. Rappaport (and everyone else).
 .
To save you trouble, I am carboning Provost Morrison and Dean Fiedler with this response. In line with my continuing ethical commitment to “take the high road,” and not conduct a war of counter-accusations against Mr. Rappaport in public or private—and additionally not to open myself to the kind of selective misquotation and wholesale misrepresentation that Mr. Rappaport has previously employed against me to falsify the meaning of past communications with him or others—I would ask that you not otherwise circulate or publish this email, which is intended to be read only by the recipients and other, directly involved, senior Boston University officials.
 .
Best wishes,
Ray
Ray Carney
Prof. of Film and American Studies
Boston University
 .
Author or editor of: Henry Adams, Mount Saint Michel and Chartres (Viking Penguin), Henry James, What Maisie Knew and The Spoils of Poynton (New American Library/Signet), Rudyard Kipling, Kim (New American Library), The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism and the Movies (Cambridge University Press); The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World (Cambridge University Press); Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer (Cambridge University Press); American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra (Cambridge University Press); American Dreaming (University of California Press at Berkeley); Shadows (British Film Institute/Macmillan); Cassavetes on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber/Farrar, Straus); The Adventure of Insecurity; Necessary Experiences; Why Art Matters; and other books, essays, and editions, translated into many languages.
Official university web site: http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/ (the content
censored, and the site officially closed to future posting by Boston
University in 2008)
.

Ray Carney, Professor (tenured) of Film and American Studies, Boston University at 9:15 AM

Advertisements

12 Comments

  1. Is Carney a saint? Maybe…

    “A statesman is an easy man, / He tells his lies by rote; / A journalist makes up his lies / And takes you by the throat; / So stay at home and drink your beer / And let the neighbors vote.”

  2. You kinda have to feel sorry for Ray Carney. He’s sooo convinced that he has the moral high ground against the forces of a corrupt world that wants to take him down for “speaking the truth.” It has to be exhausting to constantly go out of your way to be persecuted.

  3. “Since I assumed anyone with a brain was familiar with Jost’s previous crank postings…” That’s funny, and particularly full of disingenuous bullshit, in light of the emails he sent a few months previous requesting that you post his insane BU rants here.

  4. I have to confess to being extremely disappointed in how the whole “Rappaport vs. Carney” affair has been handled, in particular on this site. Carney has been condemned without having the opportunity to give his side of the story. Until now, of course.

    Now I am not so naive as to think that Mr. Carney is a saint, but neither do I think – as some, or even most who have signed the petition seem to – that he is a devil. I would remind you that he has been an advocate for the work of many of us – Mr Rappaport being a notable example and for the non-Hollywoodized independent film community in general. Many of us have gone to his site seeking inspiration or solace and many of us have found it there. And many of us have benefited from his scholarly writings.

    So why is the community so quick to turn on him, without hearing his side of the story?

    I found several of his argument to be quite compelling. His point about the attorney’s fees, for example, or the many examples he has in which his interpretation of the arrangement is made clear to Mr. Rappaport who does not take exception.

    For me, though, the biggest question to be answered is what Ray could possibly hope to gain by this behavior? As he pointed out, he is not renting the materials out, nor is he making DVDs for sale. So the material is in no way a profit center for him. So unless his goal is to create a hoard of original independent film materials that he can drool over while rubbing his hands together and crowing, “Mine! All mine!” I’m inclined to think something else is going on here.

    The clue is in the letter he wrote to Rappaport after he had initiated legal proceedings in which he offered to return the materials if Rappaport could help defray the costs of keeping the materials for 8 years.

    Now I’m sure there is much eye-rolling going on about now. How much could that be? So I went to the trouble of looking up to see what it would cost to rent a 6×10 foot space per month. Around here (Marin County) it’s about 175 bucks a month. Just for the sake of argument, and assuming cost were less 8 years ago let’s say it’s $150 a month. That would be $14,400 for 8 years of storage. Note, too, that this is a raw, non climate-controlled space.

    Ray has said that he has archived the materials, restored them where possible and kept them in a specially-constructed space. In spite of the time, money and effort he has put into doing this, he is willing to return the materials for less than his out of pocket. I don’t think this is unreasonable. Ray clearly believed that the materials were his – and has evidence to support his claim. Mark has had a change of heart and wants them back. Ray is willing to honor that, but would like to see at least some of his costs defrayed.

    Are we at an impasse?

    We have a choice, as a community. We can pick sides and hurl insults at one another, or we can solve this problem and make everyone happy. As a community we don’t need this kind of anger and vitriol, so let’s go with solving the problem.

    Here is my proposal:

    1) Let’s determine what amount of money will make Ray feel comfortable about turning over the materials. Obviously we would need Ray’s input on this.

    2) We start a Kickstarter fund in Mark’s name for that amount. All of us contribute. I’ll be first with $50.

    3) Once that amount is reached Mark is free to do what he wants with it – give it to Ray to get his materials back, or go make another film. If we want to limit this to retrieving the materials we can put it in a 3rd party’s name who will orchestrate both the giving of the money to Ray and getting the materials to Mark.

    If we all come together as a community we can make this happen and no one will have to spend much money to accomplish this. I care about both these men and I think it’s vital that we make this happen.

    We should be making films, not fighting.

    • “Ray has said that he has archived the materials, restored them where possible and kept them in a specially-constructed space. In spite of the time, money and effort he has put into doing this, he is willing to return the materials for less than his out of pocket.”

      I put on Facebook a foto of the materials and will do so on another blog posting once I have time. It amounts to about perhaps 3 or 4 cubic feet – i.e. readily stored in a very small closet. The picture was taken in Carney’s lawyer’s office for legal reasons, and Rappaport says from the looks of it, none of it was ever even opened. It is composed of 4 cardboard boxes (papers inside?), 14 or so small containers for 16mm prints, and 3 plastic containers for 3/4 inch tapes. If you believe that Mr Carney “restored” or otherwise did “archival work” which he values at $27,000, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

      In his published item on this, he says a handful of false things about me, which I see as an indication that he is more than happy – as he was when I printed his diatribe against BU on my blog, colluding with him to make it appear I’d printed this on my own, when he asked me to do so, re-wrote his ever-so-long piece numerous times before giving the go-ahead to print it – to deal in falsehoods and lies when he thinks it, in his mind, serves his purposes.

      You are welcome to believe whatever he says, but he lost any credibility with me some time ago. (Of late, in case of interest, I was informed that Gena Rowland’s lawyer stated that she never sued Mr Carney… though Carney, ever the victim, asserts his problems re his Cassavetes things derives from her suing him.)

        • Arthur Vibert
        • Posted March 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm
        • Permalink

        You are obviously determined to vilify the man. I’m confident a solution can be sorted out if people are willing to discuss it rationally. Surely the time for pointing fingers is over, now. What does it gain anyone? Are you so determined to bring the man down that you are unwilling to consider solutions? It only makes you look petty and small. Let’s stop hurling accusations and fix this.

  5. Jon, since we now have Carney’s side of things, I’d like to know what course of action you will take if it turns out that he is totally innocent in all of this? If he, say, produces a few of the dozens of pieces of evidence that he has, and they and logic and the facts add up in his favor, what will you do? Will you apologize? Eat crow? Start a petition to have his name cleared and tenure strengthened? Pluck out your eyes?

    • Carney’s “side of things” was elicited only after 11 months of his declining to deal with the matter directly with Mark Rappaport. While I can’t (and neither can you) know if he would have come out of his sheath of silence without being so pressured by public exposure and then apparently other pressures from BU, I think I could take an educated guess. For those of you who complain about this exposure of Mr Carney, I can assure you that had it not been done (a) you would know nothing about it and (b) Rappaport would be minus his materials. If that is what you would like, then I simply disagree with you. He had used me and my blog immediately previously to publish his tirade against BU, doing so “anonymously” with my asked-for collusion, describing me flatteringly and as a “mench” (sic) for doing so. Carney had ample time and numerous personal emails from me before I printed anything, to respond. He chose not to. He is fully responsible for what followed. He had simply to return Mark’s materials (and a decent person would include an apology) and all this would not have occurred.

  6. In the interest of sourcing, the MUBI link is here (link is not working from this page):
    http://mubi.com/topics/mark-rappaport?page=15

    Ray appears to have started a blog recently where “L’Affaire Rappaport: A case study in faculty treatment at Boston University” first appears on March 14. The source wasn’t attributed here on Jon’s blog so I googled the title and found the blog here:

    “L’Affaire Rappaport: A case study in faculty treatment at Boston University”
    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/laffaire-rappaport-case-study-in.html

    Several other blog entries have been posted by Ray, including:
    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-monitoring-and-control-of-faculty.html
    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-two-culturesthe-conflict-between.html
    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-marketing-and-branding.html
    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-letter-to-boston-university.html

    And what appears to be a self-bio:

    http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2013/03/about-ray-carney.html

  7. Hello everyone:

    I posted this on the MUBI boards. Figured it would be wise to add here. For those who would like to download and read Mr. Rappaport’s response to Mr. Carney in PDF—with correct formatting and image scans of the legal documents he mentions—you can go to the page linked below, which I set up on my personal site. Should be working.

    Copy/Paste: http://completist.typepad.com/the_completist/mark-rappaports-pdf-response-to-ray-carney.html

    or

    Click here.

    • Hi
      I am just laying out, for publication here, a new Chained Relations posting, which will include this, but meantime, the more it is out the better as far as I am concerned. I just posted this comment on Filmmaker on-line’s posting regarding Carney’s 12,000 word defense, and Rappaport’s response:
      “While I sincerely doubt that anyone would actually wade through Mr Carney’s repetitious litany (I have not, though I did skim all of it), if one does, one can note that Carney’s sole argument for claiming that he “owns” Rappaport’s materials as, so he claims, they were “gifted” to him, is that he, Carney has said so – on his now closed BU blog. Or that he said so in court papers. Etc. His only proof is that he says so. That is what the endless 12,000 words boils down to. I also note here that while he complains about the lax nature of modern journalism not getting its facts right, that all of what he says about me in this unreadable tome, is plain and simple false, from claiming I was married and had a divorce with the mother of my daughter, Clara Villaverde Cabral Jost (www.paginasparaclarinha.wordpr…) – we were not married, and hence not divorced; Clara was kidnapped in violation of Italian law and the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, etc. And Carney’s relation with me is readily shown in the letters he wrote to me in setting up the publication of his anti-BU item on my own blog, (http://jonjost.wordpress.com/2… (http://cinemaelectronica.wordp…. His description of my views of 9/11 are similarly totally false – I have never asserted there were no terrorists, rather that elements within the US govt, including Cheney, Wolfowitz and others, knew the attack was coming and, per their printed statement in the PNAC document of 1999, chose to use that attack to prompt public concurrence with the war on Iraq.

      Mr Carney’s willingness to use falsehoods and lies as he did in setting up the publication cited above (see his letters to me on hiding the origins of his posting) of the anti-BU “letter” and his direct perjury to the courts in Massachusetts renders every word out of his mouth and pen suspect and invalid. The man is a pathological liar, plain and simple. He should return Mark’s materials, retire from teaching, and seeks medical care for himself.”

  8. Somebody who appreciates really really bad writing? One can tell an academic from an artist by such things. Carney has zero sense of proportion, whether about writing, or about the costs of maintaining his ego.


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] has been holding hostage the films and archival material of avant-garde filmmaker Mark Rappaport. And that response comes in the form of being well over 12,000 words. But, honestly, it’s quite a fascinating read. From the point of view of somebody who […]

  2. […] taken almost a year for Ray Carney to finally address the ongoing controversy of his holding Mark Rappaport’s films; turns out silence was his better […]

  3. […] has been holding hostage the films and archival material of avant-garde filmmaker Mark Rappaport. And that response comes in the form of being well over 12,000 words. But, honestly, it’s quite a fascinating read. From the point of view of somebody who […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: