May 06, 2004

Threat assessment

Ted Rall says something maliciously stupid, Ted Rall milks the resulting publicity, etc., etc. Same old story. What's amusing to me about this latest one is that now he's claiming to have received hundreds of "death threats." I'm kind of skeptical about that, because Rall's definition of the term "death threat" is a bit looser than the one used by the rest of us. For example, he claimed the following post from Robert Lee to the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup in Nov. 2001 was a "death threat":

Dear Santa:

Please let somebody kill Ted Rall while he's in Afghanistan.

That's the only thing I've ever asked for in my life for Christmas, except the Six Million Dollar Man with all the extra arms, and I promise I'll never ask for anything else.


This was a Usenet post, mind you. The guy didn't e-mail it to Rall or inform him in any way. He made a joke on a newsgroup. Rall found it on his own (in one of his self-Googling sweeps, I'd imagine). He then informed Lee that he had "forwarded the threat to the proper authorities." As I wondered at the time, who are the proper authorities for putting out a hit on somebody via a letter to Santa? The CIA (Christmastime Interceptors of Assassination)?

Rall also claimed that when Danny Hellman made some message board comment about "chalk outlines at a book signing," that was a death threat against him too. I don't have a direct link for that; it was on the Comics Journal boards, and they delete their archives every few months. But as Hellman noted over at A Small Victory in Feb. 2003:

Actually, the "chalk outlines" remark was one I made in reference to a book release party for Sammy "Wanted By The Feds" Henderson's THE MAGIC WHISTLE BLOWS, (published by St. Martin's Press). As far as I know, no one has ever said anything about "the NYPD drawing chalk outlines at a Ted Rall book signing," (after all, chalk outlines require the presence of actual human bodies).

In an effort to beef up his weak claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, (one of five original claims in Rall v Hellman) Rall tried to misrepresent the chalk outlines remark as a death threat, but the emotional distress claim (along with two others) was thrown out by the New York State Supreme Court long ago.

I'm not going to rehash Rall/Hellman yet again. Google it if you're interested. Point is, if Rall was showing you the new suit he just bought for his latest Bill O'Reilly appearance, and you said it was "to die for," he'd add that to his list of death threats.

Update: Oh hell, I almost missed another excuse to trot out this old bit of "Rall death threat" detournment again. It's obviously still relevant.

Posted by Jim Treacher at May 6, 2004 08:29 AM