Another response to the Stereotype of the Month entry on The "Official Website" of George A. Custer:
Lawsuit threatened against Blue Corn Comics
Xavier Cornut of Switzerland is threatening to sue Blue Corn Comics and PECHANGA.net for posting comments critical of a pro-Custer website run by his brother David.
I run a Stereotype of the Month contest as part of BlueCornComics.com. The contest serves to expose and criticize stereotypes of Native Americans in the public arena. The contest and BlueCornComics.com are hosted by PECHANGA.net, the website owned and operated by Victor Rocha Communications LLC.
In 2000 an e-mailer brought a French website called "The Official Website of George A. Custer" to my attention. On this website the owner, David Cornut, blamed Custer's attacks against Indians solely on the Indians' "massacres" and "mutilations." I criticized this site for ignoring the extensive history of government policies that led Indians to defend their land and oppose Custer. I posted this analysis, including the original message I received and my correspondence with Cornut, on Dec. 1, 2000. (The URL for this is http://www.bluecorncomics.com/stype0c1.htm.)
Since then I've debated Custer's actions off and on with several e-mailers, including Cornut's brother Xavier Cornut. I've posted these exchanges on several related pages:
Until recently, no one objected to the existence of these pages. But now Xavier Cornut is asserting that these pages may have harmed his brother. The sum total of his complaint seems to be:
"David is now an known author who has published an acclaimed history book in french about the Old West, including Washita, Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee.
"Your page is offensive, insulting and are pure calumny. As he is now a public figure, this content may have a result upon his reputation."
Xavier Cornut is demanding that we remove these pages, including the ones that don't mention him or his brother, from the server hosting PECHANGA.net. If we don't, he says he'll sue us under the laws of Switzerland, where he resides.
My assertion is that nothing I've written is false or malicious. It's either factually true or a personal opinion protected by the First Amendment. I have nothing against the Cornuts personally and have criticized only their website and their defense of it.
Therefore, we seek to have any lawsuits arising from these pages dismissed and, if possible, the Cornuts penalized for harassment or intimidation. Clearly they're trying to shut down a legitimate public debate because they don't like the results.
Blue Corn Comics (a subsidiary of PECHANGA.net)
On August 5, Victor Rocha, owner of PECHANGA.net and host of BlueCornComics.com, received the following message from Xavier Cornut. Victor forwarded it to me:
what is this all about?
----- Original Message -----
From: Xavier Cornut
Sent: Saturday, August 05, 2006 2:06 PM
Subject: Subject : "peace party website"
To : webmaster of pechanga.net
From : Xavier Cornut, Rue de Lausanne 41, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject : "peace party website"
I have tried several times to close the following pages hosted by your website:
The content of these pages are insulting and are pure calumny written by an extremist. Historian of the American West, author of a book dedicated to the battle of the Little Bighorn, having been part of a website built by several people (including several university professors), I ask you to delete the pages of this website. I don't want engage of legal proceedings against the webmaster of this website and you as the host website, but I would have to do if those pages do not disappear of the web in the next 5 days. A lawyer have already been asked to deal with the problem. I hope we won't go so far for you to lose money in this, but I'm ready if need be.
My best regards,
What it's all about
The next day I wrote an explanation and sent it to Victor. I then responded directly to Xavier Cornut:
The Cornut brothers run a pro-Custer website in France. On it, they basically glorify Custer and say he did nothing wrong. To them he's the gallant "Boy General," not an Indian killer.
I criticized them for it back in 2000 as part of my Stereotype of the Month contest. The specific thing that set me off was a page listing "Indian offences" with no explanation or context:
The Official Website of George A. Custer
The Cornuts claimed that Custer didn't initiate any actions against Indians. According to them, he was merely trying to halt the Indian massacres and "mutilations." The implication was that the Indian Wars happened because those murderous savages were killing peaceful white folks and the US Army had to stop them.
They've changed their site since I criticized them. They've admitted the US Army, if not Custer, massacred Indians. So my criticism was on the mark and they've tacitly conceded the point.
Since then, I've debated off and on with Xavier Cornut and a few other Custer fanatics. The latest argument is over the Washita massacre, which Cornut claims was a "battle," not a massacre. I've quoted several people from the 19th century and today who say it was a massacre. He's referred to one historian who's using a spurious definition of "massacre" to claim it wasn't a massacre.
According to this fellow, if some Indians fought back after Custer attacked them in their sleep, it doesn't matter how many innocent women and children his troops killed. It's a "battle," not a massacre...get it? Similarly, our troops aren't massacring Iraqi civilians because they occasionally kill an insurgent when they bomb some family's home or wedding.
I'd say my position is unassailable, since I've cited and quoted my sources and Cornut hasn't. He's miffed because I'm kicking his butt in the debate and he doesn't like losing. From what I can tell, he and his brother are little more than teenagers—i.e., immature cranks and crybabies.
Since they can't win the argument on its merits, they're trying to censor the truth. I'd say you can safely ignore them. Better yet, tell them to get lost until they can come up with some justification for treating Custer like a hero who never killed Indians indiscriminately.
Why are you protesting when your own site says Washita was a massacre? Read it again:
The Official Website of George A. Custer
on 1868: The 7th of cavalry of Custer massacres 103 people, women and children on the river Washita.
How is it an insult or calumny when I'm arguing the same point you've already conceded, although you apparently forgot it? Answer: It isn't.
Maybe you should sue yourself first and see what happens. If you're foolish enough to pursue this, I'll point to your page, which I've saved a copy of, as the perfect defense for my arguments. Good luck convincing anyone that I'm insulting you when I'm agreeing with your page.
The (first) deadline passes
Well, your five days are up. So where's the lawsuit? It's time to call your little bluff.
Feel free to send me all the lines you consider insulting or calumny. Be sure to quote them exactly. Your charges are worthless without specific details.
I'm glad you can afford a US attorney. Which state will you be filing in? I hope you know Swiss law doesn't apply to us as US citizens.
Send me a copy of the lawsuit so I can share it with Chad Gordon, an experienced Indian lawyer who also knows the facts about Custer. We'll need it to countersue you for harassment, infliction of emotional distress, and the filing of frivolous lawsuits (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frivolous_lawsuits, in case you didn't know).
Cornut imposes a new deadline
>> The page you pointed is old, and I'm trying to close it. <<
That's nice. My criticism will remain as a historical record of a stereotype that occurred at the time. If and when your page is removed, I'll note it.
>> By the way, David is now an known author who has published an acclaimed history book in french about the Old West, including Washita, Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee. <<
That's nice. I've published one book and almost 500 articles myself, so I'm not particularly impressed. Besides, none of that proves your website didn't misstate the facts about Custer.
>> Your page is offensive, insulting and are pure calumny. <<
The truth usually is offensive to people like you. More to the point, these are your opinions, not facts. I'm waiting for you to list the specific words and phrases you consider insulting.
Not that it matters, because free speech, even "offensive" free speech, is protected by the Constitution here in the USA. Good luck trying to get around that protection.
>> As he is now a public figure, this content may have a result upon his reputation. <<
You don't know much about US law, do you? Your brother became a public figure when he first posted a website for public viewing and attached his name to it. But public figures are precisely the people we can criticize freely for their mistakes and shortcomings. Only private figures have significant protection against public criticism.
>> You have until the end of the week to delete these pages. <<
Why the change of dates? Because I called your bluff once? Don't worry...at midnight Saturday (the end of the week), I'll do it again. You can keep changing the date of your imaginary lawsuit until the next millennium arrives for all I care.
I have absolutely no intention of removing the pages in question. Especially since two of the four aren't about you or David and the third one isn't about David either. Only the original page addresses David and his site.
I suggest you get lost before I countersue you for harassment. I've forwarded your messages to two lawyers who will review them for possible legal action. Since they're friends of mine, I trust they'll help me pro bono. I hope you're not paying your lawyer too much for the butt-kicking I'll give you if you continue to harass me.
>> And as I noticed above, the reasons to do are strong, and don't think I won't go further if need be. <<
As I already indicated, you're bluffing. The postponement of your action proves it. Not that I particularly care. Your so-called legal case is more of a joke than your defense of the Boy General. You don't know jack about free speech if you think you have a viable lawsuit.
>> Your website owner has already been warned. <<
Yes, and I informed him that you're trying to shut down legitimate criticism because you don't like losing the argument. He's a solid supporter of Blue Corn Comics and has been for years. The fact that he's ignored you tells you all you need to know.
Meanwhile, I've warned you. Stop wasting my time with your silly threats or I'll kick your butt for real.
Cornut extends the deadline
>> You have the week-end to close those pages. <<
When...by the end of Saturday, or the end of Sunday? Are you shifting the deadline again? Doesn't matter, because it ain't gonna happen Saturday, Sunday, or ever.
>> I don't think you have any knowledge of the swiss law. <<
I don't think you have any knowledge of US law.
>> After that, be warned, you'll pay for it. Wait if you think I'm bluffing. <<
I'm waiting. If you weren't bluffing, you would've initiated a lawsuit Wednesday or Thursday. On Monday I suspect you'll extend the deadline once again.
My lawyer(s) are reviewing your messages. As soon as they're done, you can have your lawyer contact them. They'll tell you what you can do with your lawsuit bluff.
The (second) deadline passes
The end of the week (Saturday) is up, so where's the lawsuit? Why hasn't your lawyer contacted me? I suspect you don't have one.
I'm still waiting for you to identify the particular lines you consider "insulting." I'm definitely not removing whole pages when only a tiny number of lines could be construed as insulting. The most I'd do is modify individual lines to make sure any "insults" (i.e., criticisms) are justified and not gratuitous.
In any case, one lawyer assures me I have nothing to worry about. Here's what he said:
If he wants to sue over what you said about him, again, he would have to prove actual defamation and falsity of defamation. Criticism and fair comment are not actionable.
I almost hope this Cornut guy DOES sue. It would be fun to see him get laughed out of Court.
I'm more confident than ever that you're bluffing. For one thing, you'd have to pay for a lawyer and I wouldn't. For another, if David is the one complaining, he'd have to file suit, not you. Even better, the statute of limitations has undoubtedly run out and rendered the issue moot. I posted my remarks more than five years ago (Dec. 2000) and the statute of limitations here is one year.
As for the merits of my Custer criticism, I can snap my fingers and come up with 10 or 20 Native Americans who are well-versed in Custer lore. These are all people who are as educated and knowledgeable as you and your brother. They'll tell you (and a judge) in no uncertain terms that my comments are in the mainstream of scholarly and popular thought.
Therefore, I wish you luck with your lawsuit. You'll need it. Again, be sure to send me a copy so my lawyers can countersue you for harassment, infliction of emotional distress, and the filing of frivolous lawsuits. These lawsuits will take place in my location and you'll pay the costs of defending them here.
An exchange with Victor
>> Maybe you should write a brief synopsis of your conflict with Cornut and I'll give it to my attorney . . . . just to be safe. <<
Okay, I will.
I've been sparring with Cornut...letting him know that I'm not intimidated and I think he's bluffing. On the one hand, he's still threatening to sue. On the other hand, there's no evidence it's anything but a bluff.
His latest threat sounds real enough:
Lawsuit is in progress. Lawyers don't work on Sunday. Stay in touch this week.
I've told him I'd countersue him for harassment, infliction of emotional distress, and filing a frivolous lawsuit if he dared to sue me (us). I'd recommend doing this unless it proves to be too expensive. We should make him pay for wasting our time.
I've also updated the pages in question with disclaimers. I've written that while I thought their website was racist for blaming Indians, I don't think the Cornuts are personally racist. And I noted that they've updated their site so it's no longer as bad as it once was. These steps should innoculate us from their accusations.
As always, thanks for your support,
Cornut hints at more action
I wrote and sent Victor the synopsis at the top of this page. Meanwhile, the debate with Cornut continued:
>> One thing for sure, you never graduated in studying the law. As a citizen of the country I'm legally protected by the swiss law. <<
If you haven't grasped the obvious yet, the same applies to me. As a citizen of the US, I'm legally protected by US law. That includes the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.
FYI, I've updated my pages to be even more certain they're in complete compliance with the law. Good luck finding a single statement that's false and malicious.
>> Lawsuit is in progress. Lawyers don't work on Sunday. Stay in touch this week. <<
Good. My countersuits will begin soon after you prove you're not bluffing.
Incidentally, I believe Victor Rocha is represented by Holland & Knight (http://www.hklaw.com). If my lawyers don't kick your butt, his will. They're top of the line and have experts in this field.
So we have more days to remove our pages? What a surprise.
Since I told you we weren't going to remove the pages, you should've prepared your lawsuit. We're already informing our lawyers to take care of you should you dare to sue us.
I trust your lawyer will educate you about such things as free speech and statutes of limitations. You seem blissfully unaware of how the law operates.
Incidentally, your brother is hurting his own "reputation" by spewing opinions such as these:
Free Republic: Why you should never vote liberal
My comments are nothing compared to these. But rest assured that I'll use these comments to prove David is as biased as I said he is.
Another message to Victor
Here's David Cornut's opinion from another website (not his own). This is the type of thinking they're trying to champion and I'm trying to oppose:
Free Republic: Why you should never vote liberal
One of the most disturbing and enduring myth about US history is the teaching of the American West: murderous Whites were beating to death wonderful Good Savages. By mixing real events with their own beliefs, liberal historians and writers are creating new lies which often stand for decades. Native American author James Welch, who was writing a book about General Custer and the Plains Indians in 1994 (1), knew that he could do whatever he wanted by pointing about "US bad treatments of Native Americans". He lied about Custer and spent most of his time talking about the famous "Native American genocide." It's a pure liberal lie (or Ward Churchill's lie), yet everyone has heard about it and almost everyone thinks it's true.
Here's what Historian Stafford Poole (1) said : "There is many words to describe what happened in the North Hemisphere, but «genocide» is not one of them. It's a good piece of propaganda in times when devises and tempers have taken the place of thoughts and knowledge […]" The "genocide" is a pure liberal lie. Native Americans died by sicknesses, which were mostly their own and some European like smallpox or flu. No genocide here. Historians are yelling that there was actually NO attempt by the US government to exterminate the Native Americans, but liberals are using Hollywood to run over their works. The "genocide" myth goes on with considerable success. Liberals are gambling with US guiltiness about the Conquest of the Native American lands. They're lying and attempting to make their lie come an "accepted and undisputable fact".
The upshot is that I haven't overstated how prejudiced the Cornuts are. If anything, I've significantly understated it.
Any lawsuit that seeks to defend opinions like this should be squashed like a bug, in my opinion. He's welcome to his opinion but not at the expense of our opinion.
This posting also reveals that Cornut is 22 now. Which would make him 16 or 17 when we began debating. So I was right: he's a young punk barely out of his teens. I bet he and his brother will fold like a house of cards if we sic a big dawg on them.
P.S. David Cornut's Free Republic commentary is a bit of sophistry. You can find the arguments that Americans committed genocide against the Indians in Genocide by Any Other Name.... Note that individuals and businesses as well as the state and federal governments contributed to this genocidal campaign. For a discussion of whether the US policy was official or unofficial and whether it mattered, see The "Official Website" of George A. Custer.
First/final (?) message from Cornut (9/3/06)
On Sept. 3 I answered a message from Cornut that I had skipped previously. It turns out he had threatened me first before threatening Victor. Oops, my bad.
>> You didn't have to answer to my mails the way you did. <<
What, by showing you how you were wrong? You didn't have to say things that were wrong in the first place. Starting with David's claim that Custer's actions were caused by Indian "mutilations," not by America's genocidal policies.
>> A book has been published and sources and material studied since. History, real history. <<
I've cited and quoted real history in my postings repeatedly. I've asked you to cite and quote your sources repeatedly and you haven't.
>> By the way, you have 10 days to delete the comments on your website or you will have to deal with a lawyer. <<
Ten days, the end of the week, the end of the weekend, etc. So where's the lawsuit? Evidently you were bluffing, because there's no lawsuit in sight.
>> Keep being on the side of the extremists, and let me be on the side of the historians. <<
You mean historians like Hoig? He's on my side, not yours.
Incidentally, when you type "David Cornut" in Google, the first hit you get is my page. Did you know that?
Don't you think that's funny? I think it's hysterical.
With the blessings of his lawyers, Victor told Cornut to get lost with a profanity I'm too polite to repeat. There has been no sign of a lawsuit, and Cornut hasn't contacted me since I sent him this message. I presume that's the end of the matter.
. . .
All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.
Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.