White Coat, Black Hat

My Open Letter to the Chronicle

To the Editors of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

In his March 1 blog post on your web site, Carl Elliott makes a number of defamatory comments about “Internet trolls” who harass him online and are “occasionally funny.”   Although he does not mention my name, it is clear to everyone that he is referring to me.   This characterization is malicious and false.

According to Google’s accepted definition, trolls are “mythical, cave-dwelling beings depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.”  Fact: I am not a troll.  I am a real person, a conventionally handsome, middle-aged man of medium height and build – a far sight from being a troll.  I live in a house, not in a cave, or under a bridge.  That is a matter of public record, and Carl Elliott knows this.  Any attempt characterize me as a troll is demonstrably false, malicious, and by definition, defamatory.

Equally false and malicious is the characterization of me as “occasionally funny.”  Fact:  Among bioethicists today, I am widely recognized as one of the five funniest commentators on the Internet.  As such, I am more than occasionally funny. This is easily measured, and again a matter of public record -- but again, Carl has simply chosen to ignore the facts.

Finally, Carl Elliott has failed to disclose a Conflict of Interest (COI).   Fact:  For the past year and a half, I have been operating the White Coat, Black Hat website, where I routinely ridicule him for stealing my ideas, failing to pay for his website, and being a bad older brother.  I have photoshopped his picture several times, once to look like a werewolf and another time to look like Nixon.  The characterizations obviously left him embittered, vindictive, and humorless -- Certainly in no position to render judgement on my physical appearance or my sense of humor.

I expect the post to be removed by COB Sunday, March 4, or I will take the appropriate action.

Yours sincerely,

The Ethicator

PS  Carl:  You've been served, fucker.


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  1. Dammit, despite my familiarity with all internet traditions, my years-long beat blogging about ethics and science, and my day job teaching and researching same (not to mention the fact that I, too, am middle-aged and live in a house), the Ethicator’s trenchant (alleged) wit make me wonder if I should hang it all up.

  2. I would swear that’s exactly what I once heard a waitress say to Carl: “You’ve been served, fucker.” This guy has a history.

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