Someone tweeted today that I was fired from the Asheville Citizen-Times for plagiarism.
I think he knows that’s a lie, which makes the tweet slander, according to my attorney. I do hope he corrects his mistake soon.
But for those who might be interested, I’ll tell the story of my departure one more time.
My son died in 2008 because he couldn’t get access to health care. He went to the emergency room and was misdiagnosed several times before he finally was near death and they had to admit him. By then his colon was entirely blocked and the cancer had spread.
I was a reporter at the Citizen-Times then, and I had been a reporter for more than 25 years when my son died. Most of that time I covered social justice issues like health care, poverty, mental health issues, disability issues, etc.
After he died, I began to blog about his experience and about other stories from our broken health care system. I founded a nonprofit to try and educate people about health care and help individuals find care.
I spoke in public about Mike’s story, although when I spoke, I never mentioned the paper or what I thought the best solution would be. I ended every speech with “All is want is for people to have access to health care. I don’t care what it looks like; it just has to work. We need to figure this out.”
I asked permission from the publisher to speak in public and I got it.
When I spoke, I told promoters of events to list me as the founder of Life o’ Mike and not mention the paper because I wasn’t representing the paper.
One time, an organizer mentioned the paper and the Tea Party pounced, demanding I be fired because I was “biased.”
I’ll admit it; I am biased. I don’t want your kid to die the way mine did, no matter who you are or what you believe.
The publisher wouldn’t fire me and wouldn’t discuss it with Tea Party folks who showed up with a video camera.
I got e-mails, one of which said, “I don’t care about your son. You should be fired.”
Many more came, but I wouldn’t print them here.
I talked to the publisher about resigning. He told me he didn’t want me to leave, that they could change my beat from social justice issues to something else.
But I saw this as God’s way of booting me in the ass to get me doing the work I needed to be doing.
The publisher asked me to wait a couple of days before making a final decision, and then came to me and said if I would stay for a couple of weeks, I could be laid off and have a small income for awhile. I could also save another person’s job.
So, I volunteered to be laid off.
There were no charges of inappropriate behavior from anyone other than the Tea Party.
I have written op-eds for the paper about health care policy and about the Affordable Care Act, and every time there’s at least one comment saying I was fired for being biased. I sometimes reply to the comment to correct the record, but most of the time, I ignore it.
But this is too big to ignore. I have never been accused of plagiarism, and I will not let this go.
So, the person who tweeted and his ilk resort to lies because they don’t like the truth.
I still do some freelance writing, so the tweet yesterday is damaging to my reputation, even though I can prove it is false, and I think the person who tweeted it knows that.
It’s called slander and it is actionable. I won’t be intimidated by lies and I won’t let them stand.