February 16, 2018

Update: Librarians Embroiled in Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Harassment

Editor’s Note: On March 25, 2015, as mentioned in the comments below by Joseph Murphy, nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey both published retractions and apologies to the Team Harpy website, which had previously hosted their joint legal defense fund, as well as to their personal blogs and Twitter accounts.

In those statements, de jesus wrote in part, “I realize that a lot of people have rallied to my aid, but I have to be honest to them in saying ‘I was wrong’ about Mr. Murphy and I urge anyone who might take the position that they ‘support’ me by helping me to undo the damage I unwittingly caused to Mr. Murphy and to the cause of credible conversations about accountability and harassment.” Rabey added, “I strongly encourage those who aligned with #teamharpy and decided to attack Mr. Murphy to cease to continue to defame or disparage him. Mistakes have been made and we have the opportunity to show good character by apologizing and moving on.”

Sarah Houghton, who previously administered the crowdsourced legal defense fund, referred LJ‘s inquiry as to whether any funds remained and if so, how they would be handled, directly to Rabey and de jesus. On March 28, Rabey made blog post which reads in part “The ‪#‎teamharpy‬ lawsuit has settled out of court. There was no trial. The apologies/tweets were part of that settlement. No damages were paid out to the plaintiff. We should have the dismissal from the courts any day now, then it is officially over. Any funds left over from our fundraising will be donated to charity.”

LJ‘s original article, which was published in October 2014, appears below.

In a Statement of Claim dated July 15, 2014, Joe Murphy—a 2009 LJ Mover & Shaker—named librarians nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey as defendants in a civil lawsuit filed in Toronto, Ontario (de jesus is a Canadian citizen). Murphy is suing the two for $1.25 million in damages–$1 million for general defamation, and $250,000 for aggravated exemplary and punitive damages—as well as filing a legal injunction to prevent the defendants from “broadcasting or transmitting or publishing or posting on the internet or world-wide-web [sic] defamatory, false and harmful statements or imputations concerning the plaintiff which are intended to lower his esteem, harm his reputation and cause him damage.” The suit also requires them to take down any statements about Murphy that they made online, including comments on blog posts and retweets or replies on Twitter.

Murphy, in a statement to LJ, declared that these statements “started to affect my ability to make a living in a career that I love and it affected my well being.”

The statements in question were posted by de jesus and Rabey in May, naming Murphy and accusing him of predatory and inappropriate behavior. On May 3 Rabey, using the twitter handle @pnkrcklibrarian, posted a response to an undesignated tweet: “Of COURSE Joe Murphy was involved. Nothing says library futures like a known sexual predator.” (This references the position Murphy then held as director of library futures for library software provider Innovative Interfaces, Inc., which ended in July. Gene Shimshock, the company’s vice president, told LJ that Murphy had agreed to pilot the position for a year, and that he left on good terms.) On May 5, Rabey posted, “With added bonus: Rumour mill has reached me I’m apparently ruining Joe Murphy’s career. AHAHAHAHAHA…”

On May 4, nina de jesus published a post on her blog, satifice.com, titled “Time to Talk About Community Accountability.” In it, she referenced Rabey’s May 3 twitter post to initiate a discussion of inappropriate behavior that, she said, has become common on the library conference circuit. This post also mentioned Murphy by name, stating, “Can I point out the fact that Joe Murphy’s behaviour is so well known that women attending lib conferences literally have instituted a buddy-type safety system to protect themselves? That—quite literally—they are afraid to be alone with him? Add this to the fact that librarians are mostly women and one begins to truly understand that this is what institutional sexism looks like.”

The post then went on to address a larger issue: that this behavior persists throughout the library community and that she feels a pervasive lack of support from the community at large: “One of the reasons why situations like this continue, despite the offender being known, is that, within our communities (both libraries and beyond), there is little-to-no support for victims and/or survivors.”


The conversation about harassment at conferences, of which these posts were part, does not come in a vacuum. In the science fiction, comics, gaming, and tech worlds, which were for many years predominantly male, women have experienced a pervasive atmosphere of verbal and physical harassment. Over the past few years organizations such as Geek Feminism and the Ada Initiative have helped these communities develop tools for identifying and confronting such situations.

Many organizations and communities are approaching the issue by drawing up codes of conduct, which address harassment not only of women but along racial, gender identity, and disability lines. Some conference speakers and sponsors will no longer do business with an organization that doesn’t have such policies in place. (A copy of LJ’s Diversity Statement can be found here.)

The American Library Association (ALA), in light of numerous reports of harassment during ALA conferences, drew up and posted its own Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences in November 2013. The document was drafted and discussed at length by a group of ALA members, staffers, and counsel. Librarian and software developer Andromeda Yelton, one of its authors, wrote earlier this year, “This statement is a mechanism for addressing disputes, but it is also a declaration of values: it signals to everyone who we are. Furthermore, it’s part of an ongoing dialog about inclusion in library-related conference communities.”


Murphy’s lawsuit is what is known as a SLAPP—a strategic lawsuit against public participation. He has chosen to file it in Toronto, and as such, based on Canadian law, it is now de jesus’s and Rabey’s burden to prove that their statements are not, in fact, libelous.

To this end, they have put out a call for witnesses on their legal defense website, Team Harpy, which was established to help publicize and raise funds for their case. (As of October 1, $13,498.89 had been raised, according to librarian Sarah Houghton who administers the fund, and approximately $1,301.13 had been disbursed to de jesus and Rabey for legal expenses already incurred.) In addition, John Jackson, an academic librarian based in Los Angeles, organized a petition on Change.org asking Murphy to drop the lawsuit. As of this writing the petition has collected more than a thousand signatures, and has generated some heated discussion on Facebook.

Murphy’s U.S. attorney, Marc Randazza, told LJ that, as de jesus and Rabey have not produced witnesses to date, the case would move to a summary judgment, without going to trial, “relatively soon.”


One positive repercussion of Murphy’s lawsuit, and de jesus and Rabey’s responses, has been to mobilize further discussion about harassment and marginalization in the library world. Librarians have been speaking up to share their stories; after the 2014 ALA conference, children’s and teen librarian Ingrid Abrams created a survey asking about harassment  incidents, and documented the results. “I don’t think people know how wide-spread harassment is at conferences,” she wrote on her blog, The Magpie Librarian. “When I relayed [my] story…most male librarians were shocked. Female librarians expressed sympathy and then usually shared similar (or worse!) stories with me. However, I am not naive enough to believe that those who identify as female are the only ones who are harassed, intimidated, threatened, or even physically attacked at conferences. Homophobia, racism, transphobia, and able-ism can also occur.”

A number of the events being discussed took place place outside of the ALA conference itself, often after hours, Yelton noted in a conversation with LJ, and cautioned that addressing such events would “need a different set of tools for a community code of conduct.” Still, she said, having a document like this in place lets people know that there are concrete actions they can take in a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Conflict resolution outlines, such as the one in Code4Lib’s code of conduct, are also helpful. As Yelton explained to LJ, a publicly documented procedure has more legitimacy, and enables participants to understand how it was carried out; it also separates the event from its emotional component.

In a statement on the Team Harpy website, de jesus and Rabey “maintain that our comments are fair and are truthful, which we intend to establish in our defense. Neither of us made the claims maliciously nor with any intent to damage Mr. Murphy’s reputation…. We believe that by speaking up and speaking out we are contributing to a change in culture whereby victims and survivors no longer have to be silent about our experiences.” Neither de jesus nor Rabey wished to comment further.

Lisa Peet About Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News for Library Journal.



  1. Becky Yoose says:

    It’s interesting to see the article include the *US* lawyer comment on the case since, as the article states above, the case is being tried in Canada.

    • There is at least one allegation of harassment or assault against him https://twitter.com/TheLiB/status/527638630777782272

    • “There is at least one allegation of harassment or assault against him”

      Um, no. She doesn’t say what she intended to say, doesn’t say that she would give evidence of harassment or assault. She lets that impression exist, but doesn’t justify it.

      Most likely she was actually going to testify about harassment occurring in the field, to make the specific accusations against Murphy seem vaguely plausible. If that’s really the best evidence they could come up with, I’m not surprised they settled.

  2. This is not a SLAPP suit. This is pure defamation and the lawsuit is in response to obvious and destructive libel. Characterizing this as a SLAPP suit demonstrates a bias and likely a lack of familiarity with the term. I by no means am interested in suppressing any legitimate discussions about sexual harassment, nor do I mind truthful conversations about me.

    What is missed, and what the whole “teamharpy” concept misses is that this attack on my character was pure defamation – and the perpetrators’ comments make that clear. It is as if someone struck another, and then said “but they deserved it.”

    The lawsuit was brought in Ontario, CA because that is where a perpetrator of the defamation resides.

    There are no allegations of harassment or assault against me. The defamation was vicious character assassination based on nothing. Name calling to cause damage. It seems remarkable that this detail is consistently overlooked (and that librarians aren’t asking for the facts, sources). The fact that there has been a failure to interview a single person who claimed that I have sexually harassed them, much less acted as a “sexual predator,” would be surprising if it wasn’t for the fact that there is no such victim.

    Do you think that perhaps De Jesus and Rabey are lying and not acting in good faith? Maybe that is a question worth asking.

    The damage persists as my name continues to be associated without cause to conversations about harassment in our industry.

    Thank you, Lisa. I appreciate you reaching out to me for this.
    Joe Murphy

    • I had never heard of you before this lawsuit. I had not heard of the defendants. I did not read the defendants’ initial comments; very few people did, and even fewer were influenced by them in any way.
      I first heard of you when people in my network were talking about how some major big deal asshole was suing over a tweet. The Streisand Effect was frequently referenced. YOU brought this to the public’s attention.
      I don’t know if you’re a sexual predator. I’m a fairly new MLIS, and I haven’t been to many conferences yet. I have very little influence in our profession yet–only ca. 100 Twitter followers (one of them is you, btw). But I will never again attend a conference if I see your name on a speaker list, and I will loudly make sure that conference organizers, colleagues, coworkers and mentees know why. And I won’t tell them it’s because you’re a sexual predator. I’ll tell them it’s because when 2 women stood up for community accountability, you stood up for censorship, silencing, and bullying.
      And I’m far from the only one.

    • anonymous lady says:

      “The fact that there has been a failure to interview a single person who claimed that I have sexually harassed them, much less acted as a “sexual predator,” would be surprising if it wasn’t for the fact that there is no such victim.”

      Actually, it would not be surprising. Witnesses generally don’t give interviews before court proceedings.

    • librarian1 says:

      Joe, do you mean you were not contacted for this article?

    • Joe, do you deny being a perpetrator of sexual harassment at conferences and other professional events? Did you consider approaching Lisa and nina to learn more about the accusations they made regarding your behaviour? Did you think that perhaps they were speaking to behaviour and events you weren’t even aware you might be perpetrating? Were you worried about the fact that female colleagues fear running into at conferences because they find you so creepy? Or did you see a threat to your professional reputation and/or ego, and decide to go directly the route of silencing and intimidation? Did you consider how much more greatly your own actions would work to destroy your professional reputation, then the original tweets themselves? And did you not stop to think about how inconceivable it would be that two librarians a million miles away would lie about some librarian consultant guy… but how *very believable* it might be that you acted inappropriately, got called out on it, and are now trying to silence those speaking out against you?

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      “I’ll tell them it’s because when 2 women stood up for community accountability, you stood up for censorship, silencing, and bullying.”

      They did not stand up for community accountability. They stood up for spreading gossip they heard and read about on a bad exes website, then publicly gloated that they are ruining someone’s career. It’s not censorship, silencing or bullying to respond with, “that’s not true.”

      I find it concerning that you want to take away someone’s right to defend himself. Which is not the same as saying Murphy is innocent. We all have the right to defend ourselves. If the accusations are found to be true, I will respect that decision. I just don’t believe he should give up that right.

    • Um…not(?) a Murphy minion, I think you’re a little short on the facts here: Joe Murphy did not respond with “that’s not true.” His LAWYER responded with a cease and desist and then a lawsuit.

      As has been reintegrated numerous times (but sadly bears repeating): Murphy is NOT the defendant here. He (a powerful man with access to many resources) had sued them (who are having to raise money to defend themselves) for $1 million. Don’t you get it? The best thing that can happen here is that Rabey and de Jesus won’t have to pay him. He is not being found guilty of anything.

      I am so tired of people like Joe Murphy, but I am just as tired of people like you who think “lalala if someone gets harassed they’ll just report it and then that person will be punished and everyone will be happy because this system works perfectly lalala”. Clearly, no one should be at all afraid of coming forward in a climate where a powerful man will simply SLAPP you with a lawsuit and everyone will say “innocent until proven guilty” but only about the dude and you’ll go bankrupt defending yourself and get shunned by a good amount of people and maybe have to pay $1 million for a tweet. Yay system!

      Let’s say for a moment it was just gossip. (If you’re at all following the Jian Ghomeshi case, you’re probably aware that there was a lot of gossip and whispers about him before women finally came forward.) Sometimes gossip is untrue; sometimes it’s stuff that you can’t say out loud. Have you ever gossiped, “not(?) a Murphy minion”? How much would you owe if you were sued every time? How much of what you’ve said in gossip has been true? How much do you have proof of?

      If Mr. Murphy had wanted to say “that’s not true,” he could have. His network was far larger than the defendants’, and he clearly holds much more sway over peoples’ opinions in our profession. That would be the closest this could have been to an even playing field. He absolutely could have defended himself. He chose not to.

      I don’t really care at this point if Joe Murphy is a sexual predator. He is a censor and a bully, and he should never work in this profession again.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      Amy, I respectfully disagree with your opinions.

    • Miss Jackson if you're nasty says:

      Amy, why don’t you tell us your real name so I can post something on the Internet about you? I’m sure there are some rumors about you I can state as fact on a blog and publicize on my social media accounts. I can get started this afternoon if you post your name. Anyway, let me know. Thx.

    • @Amy, why would Mr. Murphy have to contact people alleging false things about him to disabuse them of their prejudices, especially when said people publicly gloated about ruining his career? The reality is that if I would have been in his position, I would have taken exactly the same action.

      Insofar as what those two said is true, there’s no problem producing evidence in a court of law and win this lawsuit. When someone makes a statement about someone else, they better be able to produce some evidence to back it up, especially when they gloat about ruining that person’s career.

      So no, the correct course of action when malicious liars defame you is to sue, not to engage them in conversation. If those two women wanted to know the facts, they could have asked Mr Murphy about it before running their traps. And for your information, most jurisdictions have the burden of proof on the defendant in defamation/libel lawsuits.

      “I’ll tell them it’s because when 2 women stood up for community accountability, you stood up for censorship, silencing, and bullying.”
      Lying isn’t community accountability and suing people who commit libel isn’t censorship. It’s contemptible if deranged people like you have any sort of influence and get to implement their Stalinist nonsense.

    • Amy, I hope you re-read your comment soon, and reflect on it.

      But you won’t, will you?

    • Amy,

      The appropriate (legal) action was taken. While speech is indeed free, if you abuse it it can have consequences. Mr. Murphy just decided to take the high road and not get into a mud slinging contest. If the Harpy’s had merit they would have brought it to court and won the day. For goodness sake he was playing in their back yard. He didn’t sue them in the U.S. which he arguably could have. That takes some class on Mr. Murphy’s part.

      Invoking the judicial system doesn’t happen in the dark. In fact it very much happens in the light and you can get all the legal proceedings online.

      If he is some form of creep then he is certainly on notice. But the Harpys are certainly slanderers.

  3. the.effing.librarian says:

    this whole issue is sad. but it was much more sad for me that when one librarian was called a sexual predator, almost no librarians stood up to say that was wrong.

    • Your comment is so brief I can’t quite tell the intent of it, so sorry if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick. But have you considered the possibility that no one stood up because very many people (i.e. women who go to conferences) know it to be, in essence, right? You’d think someone who’d been in a librarianship for a few years and done well and made a lot of contributions would have a bunch of friends who’d say “I know this person and it can’t be true” or “I respect his work and as his friend, I’m going to talk to him about the issue he has.” Maybe there’s a reason no one’s standing up for this guy and it’s not that librarians are spineless. In fact, a few of them are showing a LOT of spine and even if I’m not gung-ho about the casualness of the comments and how this all came out, I think they’re going to be vindicated in court.

    • ” in essence”?

      Seriously? If someone were to write a blog post saying “It’s well known in the field that Emily embezzles library funds for her own use” is it good enough for it to be “in essence, right?”

  4. Karen Coyle says:

    Lisa, you may wish to add a link to the Wikipedia article for Marc Randazza. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Randazza

    • Jennifer Baker says:

      Karen, if you are implying that team harpy should hire him, it’s a good idea but the article says they have $13K. they can’t afford somebody with a wikipedia page

    • Randazza is Murphy’s lawyer Jennifer. It says it right in the article.

    • Karen Coyle says:

      Jennifer, first, Wikipedia pages are created based on a defined status of “notability” (put wp:notability in WP search box). So one doesn’t have to be rich to have a WP page. Second, I added this because it makes sense to me that an article would link to available information, and I tend to search on names that appear in articles or blog posts to get more info, which is what I did in this case.

  5. I’ve been following this story since Rabey’s first tweet. I’m rather shocked at how many automatically assume Murphy is a predator and that this lawsuit is silencing victims. I am seeing a lot of gut reactions on social media, which frankly surprises me, as our profession spends so much time debating the need to question authority and make informed decisions. Yet, I see little evidence of anyone questioning Rabey or De Jesus.

    Does harassment exist? Yes. Should victims be silenced? Of course not. But we need to separate the forest from the trees. In this particular case, is Murphy a harasser? I don’t know. I have seen no evidence that he is. He has not been convicted of that crime nor disciplined for it (as far as I know). Nor have Rabey or De Jesus presented any evidence that he is. Neither has identified as a victim of his, but both claim that “of course, everyone knows this.” It smacks of gossip.

    I encourage all librarians, and apparently the staff at Library Journal as well, to really read Rabey’s and De Jesus’ blogs. Go back a few years. What are they really saying? Be critical. Make an informed decision, don’t just assume they are right because their cause is noble.

    This case isn’t about sexual harassment. Harassment is wrong and we need to address it. No one is arguing that. This case is about two people labeling someone and costing that person future income.

    • You say it cost this person income, but where are you basing that claim on? Having mean things said about you, even if not true (though I tend to believe them in this case) is not the same thing as having future income cost.

    • Exactement says:

      Just saying something, without basing it on anything, damages Chris’ credibility. Its almost as if he just pulled this information from a ‘whisper network’ and then just said it without any facts to back it up. Like he just repeated something that someone else said, and expected everyone to believe it is a fact.

    • Actually, I did read a few years back on their blogs and a lot of their tweets on this and other issues. My initial reaction to this story was to be vocal supporting them, but I quickly decided to stay out of it after doing that reading.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      Peter, see Amy’s response within these very comments: “I will never again attend a conference if I see your name on a speaker list, and I will loudly make sure that conference organizers, colleagues, coworkers and mentees know why.” Sounds like she doesn’t want him to receive any speaker fees, hence jeopardizing his future income.

    • Again “not(?) a Murphy minion” I’d like to reiterate that my desire that Joe Murphy’s career be ruined has absolutely nothing to do with what Rabey and de Jesus posted. If you’d read my comment, you’d know that Joe Murphy himself was the person who brought attention to this, and my dislike of him is entirely based on this behaviour. I had no idea who the defendants were, and I did not read their posts (until after Mr. Murphy had alerted the public about them)
      Joe Murphy has greatly jeopardized his own future income by his behaviour.

    • Amy,

      Are you generally this ignorant or is this instance of it on some form of principal?

  6. The prudent course of action when you feel you have been harmed by harassing behavior is to confront the perpetrator and express your concerns about his/her behavior; if this is unsuccessful, or it you do not feel safe doing so, you then need to take recourse to an authority than can deal with it confidentially and professionally–perhaps, in this case, ALA as part of their Code of Conduct administration. To publicly shame the accused, without evidence or due process, skirts the law and makes a mockery of all our profession stands for. Frankly, if my behavior makes a woman uncomfortable, I want her to tell me. My private shame will be enough.

    • This is one of the most stunning examples of “mansplaining” I have ever had the misfortune to read. How dare you tell women what the most prudent course of action is to take when they have been sexually harassed? I suggest you educate yourself on rape culture, victim shaming and the statistics on the treatment of sexual assault/harassment in the judicial system.

    • If a man harasses me, you can bet that what I really want to do is have a heart-to-heart conversation with him about how his behavior makes me uncomfortable. He’s definitely going to listen, acknowledge my feelings, and adjust his behavior in the future. And if you believe me, I have a bridge to sell you.

    • The idea that your ‘private shame is enough’ both assumes that harassers are all simply innocent and unaware. It also assumes that punishment for offenses only exists to cause negative feelings for the perpetrator. Neither of these things are true. Plenty of harassers are happy to continue harassment after being told their behavior is wrong, and people must pay for their wrongs even if they feel bad about them later.

    • Lets pull out our Irony Detectotron!

      Bloop! It just went off! What did it find?

      So the Team Harpy says: “If there is harassment, confronting the harasser is not the thing you do. That does not get you anywhere. You shiould resort to ‘whisper networks'”

      but, if some harpy makes up a story about you being a “sexual predator” then you should talk it out, not do anything about it.

      BLOOP! Oh, it went off again:

      Sarah Hogton says “I am a witness” but does not say what she is a witness to, but she does seem to get sexually harassed a lot. Like wow. Like every day from the look of her blog postings. Seems like she’s crying wolff (he he) not telling the truth.

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      Well, Irony, my detector of sexist bs just went off so hard I think it’s broken. “Whisper networks” exist due to the widespread prevalence of harassment & the difficulty for victims of harassment to effectively achieve justice. My understanding (& please, if I am mistaken, someone correct me on this) of the calls for Murphy to start a dialogue rather than engaging in an obvious SLAPP suit is that it is in fact possible for one to be unknowingly committing acts of sexual harassment, and as such dialogue can constitute an effective tool to resolve the issue. As regards Sarah Houghton (you should probably at least condescend to spell her name properly if you’re going to accuse her of lying about sexual harassment), I imagine that that is due to the fact that, as a myriad of folk have pointed out, sexual harassment happens a *LOT*. As concerns Houghton not revealing in detail what she has witnessed, I kindly suggest you educate yourself on how testimony in trials works before you unlock your word horde on the matter.

  7. I don’t know any of the involved parties. Maybe he is a sexual predator, or maybe the women involved are being defamatory. Personally, I don’t think the world will find out what’s actually going on here unless it goes through judicial process. It is clear to me that both sides of this case are going to have plenty of witnesses and plenty of discussion for the jury* to discuss.

    *I will have to admit that I don’t know much, if anything about Canadian judicial process other than that I haven’t heard any complaints about it.

  8. I don’t have the information I need to decide whether Mr. Murphy is a harasser. I also believe that “sexual predator” was an unfortunate choice of words on Rabey and de jesus’ part.

    But I don’t think a lawsuit was the right answer. Regardless of whether Rabey and de jesus’ allegations are false, a successful lawsuit will discourage harassed women from speaking out if they believe they do not have an iron-clad court case. Our profession is poorer for this.

    I’d like to remind Library Journal readers of three things:

    1) Prior to the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference, ALA did not have a conference code of conduct or any sort of formal way to report conference harassment. Anyone who was harassed by anyone at an ALA conference did not have a mechanism to report it.

    2) SLAPP lawsuits are usually ones claiming defamation. See http://slappedintexas.com/examples-of-slapp-suits-in-texas/ for examples. Plantiffs uncomfortable with what’s being said will claim what’s being said is all lies and sue to make it stop.

    This doesn’t mean that all defamation suits are necessarily SLAPP suits. But it seems to me that Mr. Murphy was definitely interested in stopping a conversation. From what I can tell, he went straight to the court system rather than rally his supporters or asking Team Harpy in an open forum to prove their claims. So I believe this lawsuit can fit within the definition of a SLAPP. I’d have more sympathy if it was clear Mr. Murphy had tried other avenues besides the Canadian courts to deal with the accusations.

    3) While Mr. Murphy has talked about direct economic harm, which could be a possible justification for a lawsuit, I haven’t seen specific examples of that harm. Interestingly, under Canadian law, he doesn’t have to prove damages or even assert specifics. See

    A Primer on the law of defamation in Ontario (Province where suit was filed.) – Charity Law Bulletin Non. 125, 9/26/2007, Carters Professional Corporation

    for more.

    I’m very sorry if Mr. Murphy has been falsely accused and I encourage to keep making his case in public as he has done here. But I still hold that the profession as a whole suffers when we librarians insist on taking each other to court, even under significant provocation. I also believe that this case (regardless of the merits) will inhibit a discussion on harassment within librarianship that needs to happen.

    • Murphy did ask Rabey and De Jesus to remove the comments before filing the suit: http://teamharpy.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/lawsuit_statement-of-claim_2014-07-29.pdf

    • Exactement says:

      Yes, perhaps JM should have just approached these people rationally and discussed this with them. Because look at how rational and reasonable they really are. “We don’t need evidence that he did this, we have WHISPER NETWORKS!” I have a little experience with the Canadian legal system, albeit mostly in Quebec. That experience has never exposed me to the “gossip defense” to slander. I look forward to seeing that in action.

    • Yes, whisper networks, because of this: http://www.sff.net/people/jchines/Pics/Harassment.jpg.

      Because of you.

    • When someone will gloat about ruining your career by spouting things they have no evidence of, you will be free to rationally engage them in dialogue. For the rest of us who don’t want to engage malicious cretins who say things without the ability to back those things up and have no problem with lying, the courts are a way to find justice.

      For a discussion to be fruitful, the participants have to be honest and engaging people who are willing to lie about you in a discussion is not only futile, but it’s a great example of idiocy.

    • ” From what I can tell, he went straight to the court system rather than rally his supporters or asking Team Harpy in an open forum to prove their claims. ”

      Because victimized women, if any existed, would be even *more* likely to come forward on public forums, rather than in court where they might have a hope of maintaining some anonymity?

      This is nonsensical.

  9. ONE of the defendants lives in Canada. You could have chosen to base your lawsuit in the country that both you and the other defendant reside in. Yet you based the lawsuit in Canada. Where the law just HAPPENS to lean dramatically in your favor, and in favor of anyone attempting a SLAPP lawsuit.

    You’re damaging your own reputation with this behavior, sir.

    • Hear, hear.

    • The individual that actually posted the statement (whose name is on the bottom of the page it was posted) resides in Canada. Additionally, people routinely post lawsuits in the jurisdictions they believe are favorable, in fact any good lawyer would direct a client to do so.

      On a similar note, its funny that you see this as bad character, and yet the fact that that the defendant didn’t even attempt due diligence before calling out an individual they had no interaction or personal/verified information of in a post is ignored. Some how that part conveniently flies under your radar.

  10. For anyone interested in why Mr. Murphy brought his case in Canada, this article (from an attorney trade magazine, but not at all legal-ese heavy) does a really good job of summarizing how in the US, the First Amendment free speech protections came to be stronger than protections from defamation. https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications/washington-lawyer/articles/october-2014-nyt-sullivan.cfm A great quote comes from the end, about “libel tourism” (which sounds to me exactly like what Mr. Murphy has done):

    But perhaps the biggest and most dramatic evidence of Sullivan’s enduring impact has been in the United Kingdom, which last year loosened its ancient strict liability system for libel to give more free speech a chance, and to shed its image as a preferred venue for claims against American authors and publishers by Saudi bankers and Russian oligarchs, among others, looking to do an end run around the First Amendment.

    The changes afford some important new protections for authors of material considered of public interest. The new law also tightened up standards for permitting noncitizens access to U.K. courts in an effort to roll back their reputation as a haven for “libel tourism.” The overhaul came after Congress cracked down on the ability of federal courts to enforce foreign libel judgments that were obtained in forums inconsistent with U.S. legal standards.

    “The British said, ‘We have been shamed by this. We have become the laughingstock,’’’ says Laura Handman, a partner with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. The moves, she notes, are not nearly as radical as Sullivan, but then again, Sullivan was truly singular.

  11. A reminder that informal whisper networks were warning women about Murphy’s behavior at conferences as early as 2010, if not before.
    Statistically, it is much more likely that women not report feeling unsafe than it is that women make false claims.
    Please read this on the Jian Ghomeshi situation and reflect on how it applies to librarianship, and the atmosphere that we librarians contribute to: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.demariaffi/posts/10152579030685819?fref=nf.

    • “A reminder that informal whisper networks were warning women about Murphy’s behavior at conferences as early as 2010, if not before.”

      Evidence? Contemporaneous emails or tweets or text messages from 2010 substantiating this?

      At least the Jian Ghomeshi case had his pervy teddy bear cam videos.

  12. Alexandria says:

    I am confused about this. I thought that the two defendants in the lawsuit were actually victims of sexual misconduct or that they at least personally witnessed it. That is why I donated money to the legal defense fund. Is that not the case, or is that just some agenda-based misinformation by Mr. Murphy’s minions? If this is Murphy lying, Team Harpy should countersue. But, if they neither felt nor saw this, then I think I want my money back.

  13. i’ve personally witnessed and been subjected to harassment at library conferences (though not by JM, to be clear) and i’ve never spoken up about it out of fear of professional repercussions. i know lisa rabey personally and i know she was speaking up out of genuine concern about actual things that were told to her specifically about JM. IANAL, so i can’t speak about the legal concerns, but i can speak for her character, 100%. she felt that people were being bullied into silence, which is a real concern in our profession (well, all professions, probably, but i know from personal experience that this is happening among our own.) she chose to speak up in defense of the people who were afraid to do so for themselves. whether she chose her words wisely, or the way you would have chosen your words, or whether this is actually libel, all can be debated, but it seems to me that all those people who were afraid to speak up about their experiences have now been validated in that decision, and will likely not speak up in the future, and that worries me a great deal.

    • Alexandria says:

      That seems like a very thin amount of empirical proof to base the accusations on, and especially to publish “With added bonus: Rumour mill has reached me I’m apparently ruining Joe Murphy’s career. AHAHAHAHAHA…” (if the article is accurate about that; im now suspicious of everything, and maybe that was just Murphy trolling and trying to discredit Rabey)

    • can I get any examples- real or hypothetical- that would constitute such harassment at a conference?

      I’m certain I’ve not been involved in such behavior- but i read examples from nonlibrary events- or from non library conference members- and I’m curious as to what is happening at these conferences that constitutes harassment.

      Is it possible that hyperbole is being used in some cases (such as the term sexual predatory being hyperbole for someone who’s potentially creepy)?

      I’ve read the conference guidelines and, while it’s not a problem for me, some of the terms of very subjective and nebulous.

    • Earlier this year Ingrid Abrams conducted a survey regarding code of conduct violations at ALA conferences. Here’s a link to a summary of some of the stories she received; that post also contains a link to the numeric results.

      Going beyond librarianship, the Geek Feminism wiki contains a timeline of incidents in various communities, some of which have occurred at professional and fannish conferences.

    • “i’ve personally witnessed and been subjected to harassment at library conferences (though not by JM, to be clear) and i’ve never spoken up about it out of fear of professional repercussions. ”

      Would you come forward if someone’s court case involving the person’s behavior were in progress?

  14. Alexandria says:

    Ingrid, I am sorry. I did not think that I needed to do research. It said it was to defend their right to free speech and everyone commenting about it made it seem like the real story was that Murphy sexually assaulted someone and then sued the whistleblowers. Who would NOT donate to something like that? I understand that a refund is not my right, caveat emptor and all that, but I am within my rights to feel cheated if that is not what happened. Nobody has any first degree knowledge of him doing anything with the exception of a video of him bragging like an ass that he “hooked up”? Please give me a catholic indulgence, or just forgive me, if I’m starting to feel like I may have been misled or too quick to follow the dominant narrative. Or please give me something I can hold on to so that I dont feel misled anymore. I want to believe the victims but if there are none, then what are we doing except forming a mob with pitchforks?

    • He’s suing, and *we’re* forming a mob with pitchforks? OK.

      Straight up, we’re librarians. Before I send *anyone* money for *anything*, I simply research their website. They made all their information free and available to the masses.

      No one can tell you how to feel, but the intentions of #teamharpy have been visible to anyone with *half* the research skills that librarians have.

    • “Nobody has any first degree knowledge of him doing anything…” What exactly are you basing this statement on? Just because you don’t know of anyone, or that someone who does have knowledge hasn’t stated publicly doesn’t mean that the knowledge doesn’t exist. I know for a fact that people have submitted their stories to the defendants. Just because those stories aren’t (yet?) public knowledge doesn’t make them not exist.

    • i can see why these people might not want to tell their stories publicly. anyone who stepped up to share their story with the defendants is beyond brave, and i salute them for it.

    • Alexandria says:

      Well yes. It does look like a mob just started chasing him with pitchforks and torches. Maybe he reacted in a way that you would not have. But, is it at all POSSIBLE that he never sexually assaulted anyone? If he then turned on the mob with a gatlin’ gun, maybe that was not the right thing either, but if we start at the root of the conflict, where did it start and why? If it started because we all need to talk about sexual violence, okay, lets talk about it. But why is JM the center of this story? I’m afraid that this will end up in a “girls who cried wolf” story, which will sadly discredit someone who comes forward with a true story about how they were a victim.

    • “It does look like a mob just started chasing him with pitchforks and torches.” Just like it, huh?

      I figured there would be a troll on here.

    • Alexandria says:

      Anyone who disagrees with you must be a troll. There is no room for disagreement. I don’t even fully disagree, I just demand more accountability and information. But if you do that, you’re against the team, and being against the team is not allowed. Nice supportive environment here.

    • I don’t mind that you disagree. I welcome intelligent conversation. I think it’s just too bad that you’re woefully misinformed.
      And no, I’m not going to blindly support someone who didn’t even bother to notice where she was sending her money.
      You’ve done zero research into the topic at hand, yet you’re talking quite a bit and throwing things around like “pitchforks” and “mobs” without anything to back it up.
      I’ll let you talk uninterrupted now. The floor is all yours.

    • Amelia Earhart's pinkie says:

      Ah, Ingrid, of course. Do you ever not feel rage?

    • I’m sure my outrage at sexual harassment is very inconvenient for you. I don’t care.

    • If you’re so outraged by seemingly just about everything, does it really mean anything?

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      I’ve always assumed it just meant that she was paying attention.

    • Paying attention, or needing attention?

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      Paying attention. 1/10 on the troll attempt, though.

    • We’ve pretty much devolved into YouTube comments.

    • Ingrid wrote: “They made all their information free and available to the masses.”

      Well, apart from the information that it was baseless.

  15. It’s perfectly reasonable that a witness would be told by legal council that it is smarter to not declare anything publicly until trial, especially people fearing retaliation by the public or fearing somebody who is litigious. Considering the culture of fear built around reporting harassment publicly, how can you blame them? You can’t say: “Don’t you dare reveal who did this to you in public, show me the PROOF first!” and then say “Well nobody has publicly admitted to this, I guess these women are LIARS.”

    • Alexandria says:

      This seems like a very good time for them to come forward. They are afraid they will get sued too? If someone comes forward and says “yes, he sexually assaulted me” and he sues her too, don’t you think that the support network is there for us to help her? What is there to fear? Is JM going to come kill us all? He does not sound that terrifying.

    • Alexandria, please keep in mind the possibility that people have come forward and that the legal team have instructed them not to make their story public in the interest of the defendants. In that case fear wouldn’t be an issue, contributing to a successful defense would be the issue. (I don’t KNOW that this is the situation, but it’s completely within the realm of possibility.)

    • anonymous lady says:

      Alexandria, it often IS terrifying for victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment to face the possibility of being publicly questioned, denied, belittled, ridiculed, etc. I’ve heard some victims of harassment say that the backlash (e.g., people not believing them) was just as traumatic as the harassment.

    • Exactement says:

      “Alexandria, please keep in mind the possibility that people have come forward and that the legal team have instructed them not to make their story public in the interest of the defendants.”

      I can make an agreement with you. I agree that it is the possibility that there are victims that came forward, but they are hiding for now for a strategy reason. We also then agree that it is possible that there are none, and that these “heroines” really are the bad guys who did this to the man with no rightful reason to.

    • Well, one cam forward publicly last night. What say you now?

    • I say let’s wait to see what her testimony bares.

      Much like let’s wait to see what merit the court finds in the case.

      I know asking for people to reserve judgement until the facts are presented is somewhat insane- but I think it’s a goal we should strive for.

    • “Well, one cam forward publicly last night. What say you now?”

      Well, no. One woman came forward to state that she would testify, about something. Apparently not anything relevant to JM’s behavior.

  16. Anonymous lady says:
    • Have you read Rabey’s blog? She’s not on sabbatical – read it and you’ll know why she doesn’t have a job. And it’s not because she a “whistleblower”.

    • Exactement says:

      Her credibility is a bit…. errr…. would “strained” be the right word?

    • Wow, your response to that video is to talk unrelated trash about Lisa? Thanks for your opinions, trolls.

    • The use of this video speaks to nothing in the case- other than to show he’s been drunk and said inappropriate things. Is THIS what constitutes being a sexual predator?

  17. There has been mention of library values and disappointment.

    Here is the key value that I see at play here: the appropriate response to speach we disagree with is more speech. There are many, legion, and more methods of addressing the comments made other than engaging in what appears to be libel-tourism. it’s not too late to choose a better way to address the issue.

    We are being asked to accept that the only reasonable response to another person voicing a negative interpretation of our actions is a lawsuit, a lawsuit–mind you–that was shopped to the most libel-tourism friendly jurisdiction possible. I’ve read the public documents and Mr. Murphy has never been accused of a crime or criminal activity. Just listen to the lyrics of Pharrell’s song “hunter’ for a socially acceptable image of a “sexual predator.” We all know that there are many instances of harassing behavior that fall well within the law.

    It appears that we are being asked (demanded) to interpret the statements from the harshest possible context and the case is being heard the most libel-tourism friendly jurisdiction available. That combination of extremes requires us to set aside our values that prioritize “fair comment and criticism” above an individual’s demand to frame their reputation positively. That’s not something I’m willing to do.

    Moving forward, a postive step would be to drop the suit. It is possible to disagree, dispute, contradict, deny, or re-frame the comments without resorting to legal threats. So I’m joing many others in asking Mr. Murphy to drop his lawsuit and pursue his grievance through more professionally acceptable methods.

    • Exactement says:

      “The case is being heard the most libel-tourism friendly jurisdiction available.” – I know, that strange far-off and bazaar jungle place with wierd laws, CANADA!

      It looks to me like there is an agenda here and that is that someone wanted a scapegoat to talk about their issues with sexual harassment, so they picked this guy. If you want a song to compare this to, maybe it should not be Pharrell’s “hunter,” but The Spin Doctors’ “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

    • At this point, especially for those of us on the outside of the issue, this seems to be less a case of deciding who is right and who is wrong than it is a case of asking ourselves: who is allowed to be heard?

      As librarians, what do our values tell us about who has a right to be heard?

    • iron-eee? says:

      I do not understand what your comment means. “The right to be heard” seems intact. NDJ and LR (not naming them because I do not want to make it part of searches for them) have “been heard” They have been heard quite loudly.

      Now we have to ask whether they spoke responsibly. I am ready to believe that they did. But, as librarians, one of our values is that we abhor censorship. On that point, this lawsuit was not in line with our values. But, is rumor-mongering and slander in accord with our values? I do not say that this is what happened, but can we imagine a hypothetical scene, please:

      Let us imagine this: We get in to work and find that someone has accused us of attending a Ku Klux Klan meeting and having racist views. Let us assume for this hypothetical that we are not racists and that we did not attend this meeting. But I for one would not want a Klan person working with me.

      Someone else repeats it. Then, another person. Then another. Following: next thing you know, we can’t get a speaking engagement or a job for anyting. Why is this happening? Because if we were KKK members, then it might be justified. But nobody asked us. When we asked the perpetrator of the lie to tell everyone that it was not true, he refuses. What could we do? Just talk about it more?

      I am not happy to see this law suit. I am also not happy that so many people rushed to condemn JM without asking any questions that you would ask of anyone claiming to bear witness to ANY statement. No questions. And it also was clear in the twitter conversation that if you dared to question NDJ and LR’s version of the facts, you were not “supportive” or worse. If we question, and they show us that they were right, then we strengthened their statements through exactly what academics do.

      I call for evidence of JMs wrong doing, not out of doubt, but because the glove has been thrown to the floor. Let us pick it up and slap him across the face with it. He wants the truth? Let us see if he can handle the truth. Let us see.

      But if we can not produce the truth and the only “proof” that he did these terrible things is a “whisper network,” then we might have to look in the mirror and find a reflection that we are not proud of.

  18. Speaking of “whisper networks” and their value, there is an excellent blog post going around right now titled “Do you know about Jian” http://www.nothinginwinnipeg.com/2014/10/do-you-know-about-jian/ It concerns the Jian Gomeshi situation but has bearing on any situation where nobody feels they have quite enough harm to be believed/to not have negative consequences/to even know what the proper responses is. And thus, people respond by taking care of each other on the underground whisper networks. In this case “Do you know about Jian?”

    A relevant passage:

    “Still, the follow-up question, then, the one I keep seeing asked: if so many people knew, why didn’t anyone stick their neck out to stop it?

    My question is: would you?”

    In my opinion, Rabey and de jesus heard enough on the whisper networks, asked themselves that question, and said yes.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      “In my opinion, Rabey and de jesus heard enough on the whisper networks, asked themselves that question, and said yes.”

      I would have more respect for them if they raised the issue, screamed and hollered and protested and participated in civil disobedience, then name someone based on a bad exes website, followed by gloating over ruining his career.

      If they do have proof now, great, I’ll listen. I’ve been accused of being a troll (which I’m not) and it appears that people are not actually reading my words or trying to understand what I’m saying, which is: You cannot slander someone’s name no matter how noble your cause. Nor do I believe Murphy must give up his rights to protect his reputation simply because this issue is not being dealt with at a societal level.

      There are other ways Rabey and de jesus could have brought attention to this issue, ways which would have not resulted in a defamation lawsuit. Harassment is serious and we should be addressing it. I simply disagree with how they chose to address it in this isolated case. That does not make me a troll.

    • Thank you, Ruth, for posting this — it’s a powerful piece that I think does an excellent job of describing how vulnerable individuals (whether because of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) work to keep one another safe when structures and people in power fail to do so.

      @Not a Murphy minion, you write “I simply disagree with how they chose to address it in this isolated case…”.

      The thrust of your argument seems to be one of tone — that is, you’re unhappy not with the basic anti-harassment message, but with the messengers’ approach. I can’t stop you from being unhappy, but think it’s important when we feel uncomfortable with the messenger(s) to think about why we are judging them, and whether that is important enough (heeding our discomfort) that we should disregard their message. de jesus and Rabey are, by their own accounts and the accounts of others, speaking aloud what many people already knew (as in “Do you know about Jian?”). I myself know none of the key players personally, apart from reading their past writings online, and cannot attest first-hand to the veracity of the knowledge that was being passed from woman to woman in this case … but I do know that it fits a pattern that has been repeated in many professional settings, around many individuals who were either unaware or uncaring that their behavior was making people feel unsafe.

      To pillory the two women who brought into the open what others were speaking behind closed doors — saying they were the “wrong” people to do so — is a time-honored way of trying to deflect attention from the pattern. People who challenge the status quo around silences in a given time and place are often unlovely people, flawed people (who among us can cast the first stone in that regard?). Often, the people who speak out are those who are NOT in positions of social or institutional power (who benefit from the status quo) but rather those who have less to lose. We don’t get “perfect” agents of change. We get the people who are willing to stick their necks out and speak about things that make us uncomfortable about our complicity, at personal and professional risk to themselves.

      Regardless of Mr. Murphy’s actions prior to the lawsuit, I echo many others here by pointing out that his legal action signals that he is an unsafe person to engage with, that he is not someone whose actions speak to a deep understanding of the dynamics of power, privilege, sexism, and other inequalities that shape our personal and professional interactions.

      When news of the lawsuit first became public (I had never heard of Mr. Murphy prior to his legal action) I asked myself what my own actions would have been if I were ever falsely accused of sexual harassment and/or predatory behavior. I believe it would be my responsibility to seek out clear information regarding what I had said or done to make people feel unsafe in my presence, apologize, educate myself as necessary, and then take the necessary steps moving forward to be inclusive, welcoming, and non-creepy toward others.

      That Mr. Murphy chose, instead, to level a $1.25 million dollar lawsuit against two marginally-employed librarians whose voiced on social media networks what many others were saying to one another in less networked public spaces speaks more loudly, and widely, about the nature of his participation in his professional community, than the whisper network of the vulnerable was able to do.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      “that is, you’re unhappy not with the basic anti-harassment message, but with the messengers’ approach. I can’t stop you from being unhappy, but think it’s important when we feel uncomfortable with the messenger(s) to think about why we are judging them, and whether that is important enough (heeding our discomfort) that we should disregard their message.”

      I have stated numerous times that I am not judging the message. Sexual harassment is wrong and we should be addressing it.

      “To pillory the two women who brought into the open what others were speaking behind closed doors”

      In Rabey’s original tweet, she says she based her statement about Murphy on a bad exes website. Whisper networks only came up later.

      “his legal action signals that he is an unsafe person to engage with”

      But that is his right. And just as I believe that all people have a right not to be sexually harassed, I also believe all people have a right to defend themselves (in this case, against defamation) in a court of law. Maybe he’ll lose. Then we should label him and call him a sexual predator. But not before then.

      “I believe it would be my responsibility to seek out clear information regarding what I had said or done to make people feel unsafe in my presence, apologize, educate myself as necessary, and then take the necessary steps moving forward to be inclusive, welcoming, and non-creepy toward others.”

      How do we know Murphy didn’t try to do those things?

    • @Not

      You write, “I have stated numerous times that I am not judging the message,” except you are judging the messenger which, as I pointed out above, becomes a proxy for judging/dismissing the message. This may not be your intention (I have no way of knowing) but your words feed into a larger culture — evidenced by many other comments on this thread — that seeks to discredit the speech by discrediting the speaker. You cannot disentangle the two as neatly as you seem to wish.

      As to the question of Mr. Murphy’s right to use a court of law to address what he sees as defamation of his character … well, yes. I haven’t said he doesn’t have a right to sue. But rights and ethics are often very different things. Legal action was, in my estimation, a disproportionate move that has done nothing to either redeem Mr. Murphy’s reputation or address the concerns of those who bear witness to unsafe situations he is alleged to have created or participated in.

      This is what you do not seem to understand about my perspective. Regardless of my perceptions of the veracity of the claims about Mr. Murphy’s actions at conferences, it is the lawsuit itself I find objectionable, unethical, an abuse of power. Often, abuse of power is legal, sanctioned by the state, encouraged and enabled by institutions and social systems. That doesn’t make it an ethical activity, and simply because someone has the right to engage in a behavior doesn’t mean that I must morally condone it. I don’t condone this legal action and have signed the open letter requesting that Mr. Murphy withdraw the lawsuit and take steps to address the concerns raised about his behavior in a less punitive arena.

      “How do we know Murphy didn’t try to do those things?” Obviously, we can never know what happens behind closed doors. However, I have seen none of those actions offered as evidence in favor of Murphy’s case. If he has done so, please do share the publicly-accessible evidence here. Instead, what I see is the lawsuit and a lot of character assassination aimed at the vulnerable based on their identities not their actions. I see the law being used to “punch down” against the already-marginalized. This does not demonstrate, publicly, that Murphy is taking the apology/education/action route. I look forward, if the public evidence is not representative, to being pleasantly surprised if he does, in fact, ultimately choose this path.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      I believe we all have the right not to be labeled a criminal if it has not been proven in a court of law.

      I believe sexual harassment is wrong.

    • @Not

      To my knowledge, no one has thus far charged Mr. Murphy with criminal behavior. Many acts of harassment are not, in fact, against the law. They’re just not cool and make people not want to be around you. One can be a predator, even, and not violate criminal law.

      I would also point out that the lawsuit is alleging that de jesus and Rabey have damaged Murphy’s reputation; as the plaintiff, he is not on trial for any specific acts, nor will the result of a trial (if there ends up being one) be to find him guilty or innocent of criminal behavior. It will simply be to find out whether de jesus and Rabey’s characterization of his behavior at conferences as harassment is a credible one. This does not equate with a criminal conviction.

      I think it’s important to remember that, on a daily basis, people get called out by their friends and peers for being jerks (whether accidentally or on purpose; sometimes accurately, sometimes not) and manage not to resort to a defamation lawsuit to clear up the situation.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      “To my knowledge, no one has thus far charged Mr. Murphy with criminal behavior.”

      Rabey did when she called him a sexual predator:
      (see page 9)

      There are “sexual predator laws” in Canada. I object to Rabey’s use of that term to criminalize Murphy’s behavior when it has not been proven in a court of law. Calling someone a jerk is not the same as calling someone a sexual predator.

      I also object to characterizations of Rabey or de jesus (or anyone) not based on the person’s actions and ideas.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      To further expand upon my viewpoint:

      Down thread, someone used inappropriate language to describe Rabey and de jesus. I object to that strongly, just as object to the use of a pejorative to describe Murphy. All are labels that serve no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade. I believe there are other ways than name calling and gloating over career ruin to create dialogue on sexual harassment.

    • @Anna, no, what is abuse of power is tolerating activists to ruin the lives of others in their political quests. If the two women lied, the suit is the correct course of action. Comparing their actions to friends calling each other jerks is dishonest. These two women allegedly lied about someone to further one of their political causes and that person was a man they aren’t friends with. They were also happy to ruin his career. If my friends would be happy to do that and spread malicious rumors about me, I would sue my friends too. Luckily, I have better friends than this.

  19. Somebody came out publicly last night as a witness for Rabey and de jesus. She is extremely brave for doing so considering how many heartless trolls there are out there. But regardless of how many women may come out publicly as a witness, you trolls will just say they’re all liars anyway just like you always do.

    • I hope they do not now demand she give her whole account publicly before they will believe her.

    • anonymous lady says:

      Can somebody please provide a link to the witness’s public coming out?

    • It was Sarah Houghton who identified herself as a witness last night on Twitter.

    • iron-eee? says:

      I very much want to read what it is she saw. If she is an eyewitness and was the source for LR and NDJs reports, this is the nail in JMs story, isn’t it? But, it is time for her to tell her story.

    • She will tell her story in court, isn’t that enough? She doesn’t owe you or the public a story of what happened to her. She decides when it’s time to tell her story and where, NOT YOU. And not anybody else!

    • End Sexism Now says:

      IT DOES NOT MATTER! She has made it clear that she is on their side. END. OF. STORY. She says that she is a witness. That must mean that she witnessed his sexual misconduct. You even suggesting that she should have to explain herself or even say more than she has is just re-victimizing her. I support her right to say only as much as she wishes to and NOTHING more. What would you have her do? Should she relate every gruesome detail of her assault? Perhaps so that you can enjoy it in a voyeuristic sick fantasy?

    • What I find amusing is the hypocrisy of librarians allegedly being against censorship and Sarah Houghton gloating over getting 30 Twitter accounts suspended in a single week. lol.

    • “That must mean that she witnessed his sexual misconduct”

      No, it just means she has testimony in some way relevant to the defense. Seeing as how things turned out, chances are it was just general testimony about harassment in the library field.

    • And now they admit that they are liars, what will you say?

  20. The amount he’s suing for, and the fact that he filed in Canada, make it pretty obvious that it’s a SLAPP suit. It should be treated that way, and librarians should oppose the suit on those grounds alone.

    But going further than that: when even the most basic attempts to combat harassment at conferences — the ALA and SLA Codes of Conduct, for example, not to mention the actual enforcement of same — receive the pushback they have, no one should have the gall to criticize #teamharpy because they didn’t go about this “the right way.” What the right way would’ve been always seems poorly defined in those criticisms, or utterly divorced from reality, because better means to address this kind of situation basically don’t exist. As others have noted, that’s why whisper networks develop in the first place, and lawsuits like this are designed to force any discussion back into those networks.

    I also salute Sarah coming forward and identifying herself as a witness. She is profoundly brave, and I hope that her action will put paid to the notion that no witnesses exist. The fact that she had to do this, the fact that people so blithely dismiss the valid reasons why other witnesses have not identified themselves — the lawsuit itself not least among them — is infuriating.

    • Ashamed Librarian says:

      That’s a broad brush you’re using to tell a whole profession how to react to this situation. So anyone can say anything negative about YOU on the internet and you would be completely okay with it?

      If you really don’t think there was a better way to address this issue then you must be heavily invested in the pitchfork and torch market. There is a right way to handle EVERY situation. They should have had their primary sources all in line before they called this guy out and “sexual predator” is a very heavy name to throw at someone.

      They have brought about the wrong attention to this matter. I didn’t know any of these people involved before this came out but now I know I dislike them all.

    • “So anyone can say anything negative about YOU on the internet and you would be completely okay with it?”

      Yes. Because it’s the internet, and the internet is chock full of people saying outrageous things.

      Murphy’s decision to launch a SLAPP suit legitimizes the complaint against him more than any tweets or blog posts ever could.

    • “Yes. Because it’s the internet, and the internet is chock full of people saying outrageous things.”

      Well, that’s probably because you most likely post under a pseudonym.

  21. Anon Lady says:

    [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

    • [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

    • @Irony

      You comment is both ableist (many of us live with mental illness; the fact of being neuro-atypical or having a mental health struggle does not discredit our professional or personal veracity or actions) and anti-trans (what does someone’s gender identity have to do with, again, their professional or personal veracity and actions). While some within the trans community have moved to reclaim “tranny” as a self-descriptor in recent years, in the context of your comment you clearly mean it as a slur. I would argue your comment violates the comment policy and hope that LJ moderators ask you to rephrase your point without resorting to identity-bashing.

    • iron-eee? says:

      Anna: I will second your call-out. But, only on the condition that you second mine calling on LJ to require rephrasing of this one (http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/10/litigation/librarians-embroiled-in-lawsuit-alleging-sexual-harassment/#comment-359685)

      “Mansplaining” is a sexist term, and is just as unwelcome in a serious discussion as other gendered insults.


    • Librarian I says:

      How is that proof he is a sexual predator?

    • Ruth Kitchin Tillman says:

      How does the library journal not have a comment filter for the word “tr*nny”? I assume they’ve got other slurs filtered. People in the community may decide to rehumanize amongst themselves but it’s not appropriate as a slur in professional discourse and such comments should at least be checked to see how it’s used.

      Also, persons of the “ironic” persuasion who find themselves unable to use real names, if you can’t see the difference between the rate of violence and murder against trans women (look it up, you’re a librarian) & that at men who engage in the practice of acting like they know more about a subject than do the women who experience it on a regular basis (I can’t find any stats for that)….well, I don’t know if any of the rest of us can help you get back in touch with reality.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      Not to pile on, but I agree that the comment had nothing to do with the two blogger’s ideas and serves no purpose.

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      As a man, I have never once perceived “mansplaining” as a sexist term, given its specific contextual meaning as a critique of direct instances of masculine sexism & dismissiveness towards women’s knowledge and experiences (see: the rather pointedly stupid comment which merited its use in this thread) rather than a slur against men in general. It is a gendered term that critiques specific behaviour within patriarchy rather than men in general. This differs wholly from the term “tranny”, which is applied to another being rather than their actions. So, no, no solidarity on this one. It’s disingenuous and false to equate the two terms.

    • “As a man, I have never once perceived “mansplaining” as a sexist term, given its specific contextual meaning as a critique of direct instances of masculine sexism & dismissiveness towards women’s knowledge and experiences (see: the rather pointedly stupid comment which merited its use in this thread) rather than a slur against men in general”

      “mansplaining” is equal to “butthurt”. It is a juvenile way to dismiss criticism (valid or, in this case, invalid) without having to confront the criticism itself.

      I’m sorry, did I just mansplain that? How idiotic.

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      “mansplaining” is equal to “butthurt”

      No, it isn’t. “Butthurt” is a homophobic & sexist term in its essence; its connotation is directed to de-emphasize the masculinity (&, by consequence, status, authority, & social capital) of its intended target by implying that the target is either a) homosexual, or b) feminine, that is to say, Other (than the center: straight white men). It is a specifically de-centering act in this context. In contrast, “mansplaining”, directly contradicts this tendency; it is applied as a critique of actions, & while it only refers to men (since it is strictly used within the context of gendered relations within society), it does not slander men themselves, merely the sexist attitudes displayed by the act of mansplaining.

      “Butthurt” isn’t a “juvenile way to dismiss criticism”; it’s a juvenile way to dismiss the person, not just their actions/words/reaction, because, as it implies, there is something other/wrong about them, and as a consequence, they do not count. It is a tool to re-assert one’s status above another by relegating them to a margin. “Mansplaining” doesn’t work the same way; it’s a pointed critique of gender relations & power structures, and is directed against the marginalizing behavior that arrives when men attempt to dismiss women’s experiences and explain them away as irrelevant. Fair cop if you find the term juvenile, but I would steer clear of accusations of that nature given your parting shot. You’ll appear mighty hypocritical.

    • I don’t think you understand the term butthurt or how it’s used. (which is great- I wish less people didn’t.) “An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.”

      They are both used in the same way. I have yet to see mansplaining used for anything other than dismissing the argument and criticism.

      My point at the end was that it would be easy for someone to claim I was manslpaling the use of mansplain- and that would be idiotic. Also, calling something idiotic is not juvenile if it is a representation of fact.

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      Actually, I understand it quite well (go to: previous post) how it’s used – to insult & belittle another, & to dismiss their concerns as irrelevant. The terms in question are most decidedly not used in the same fashion. The reason for this is context & subtext. Contrary to your arguments, context actually matters in the creation of meaning, as does subtext. What is merely denoted by a word (i.e., it’s definition) is not the whole of its meaning; connotations are present as well, and they impart additional (or even contradictory) meanings on the basis of the context in which the utterance is delivered. Simply put, you are wrong. And for the record, Urban Dictionary? Not the most authoritative source for this sort of debate.

      Your claim to have never experienced “mansplaining” used as anything other than dismissive towards both argument & criticism isn’t as valid a point in your favor as you seem to imagine. I too, have seen it misused in the manner which you have described, but I’ve overwhelmingly encountered it as a descriptive tool to critique sexist actions & arguments in which the aim of the discourse was the engage the interlocutor, rather than dismiss them. Again, “mansplaining” isn’t about dismissing the man making the argument; it’s dismissing their argument as inherently sexist & myopic. “Butthurt” is dismissing the person on account of their implied gender or sexuality. You do realise the etymology of the term, I presume?

      Needless to say, even when “mansplaining” is used dismissively, it’s usually correct; we *should* be dismissive to sexism when we see it. Sexist arguments aren’t valid, and don’t hold capital or value.

      You didn’t have a point at the end, to be frank. It was no more than a bit of condescending snark with no substance.

    • I happen to think that urbandictionary is a great resource when discussing how terms are used in online forums- and it’s much more accurate and up to date for these things than most resources.

      And I did have a point-albeit driven with snark- that my argument would be dismissed (or could be) as mansplaining by anyone who disagrees.

      “Needless to say, even when “mansplaining” is used dismissively, it’s usually correct;” What a broad brush. I could say the opposite and the argument would be equally valid.

      I must disagree with you on the definition of words. Words have meanings. Because a word has an inferred context does not alter the meaning of the word- for instance butthurt is not pejorative to homosexuals or a homophobic word by definition- so you are, “simply put”, wrong.

      Butthurt is a silly word meant to discredit the argument as one not worthy of addressing because it’s an overreaction- nothing to do with the person making the argument. It is a dismissive that absolves the claimant of addressing the points of criticism.

      Mainsplaining is used in the same fashion. The fact that someone has explained something with confidence and without factual accuracy is easily refuted. Perhaps I am wrong- and perhaps people overwhelmingly use this to describe a condescending tone used strictly by men to women when inaccurately explaining things with an heir of confidence. However, personal experience contradicts the overwhelming use in my case.

      So, you could say, dismissively, that this response evidences my butthurt without being homophobic (since it’s not a homophobic slur)- or that I’m mansplaining (except, can a man mansplain to another man?). Either way, without further refutation of the argument, it would be pointless.

      Also, on a sidenote, is it NOT sexist to use a gender term in this description? Doesn’t this imply that “mansplaining” is a trait of men- all men? Otherwise, why use the gender specific term instead of mysogisplaining? Is that not akin to using “caucasiosplaining” to describe a phenomena of the same actions taken by a caucasion during interaction with another ethnic group?

    • Bryce Kieren Healy says:

      “And I did have a point-albeit driven with snark- that my argument would be dismissed (or could be) as mansplaining by anyone who disagrees.”

      Well, no. Technically speaking, your argument can’t be constituted as mansplaining because 1) I myself am a man, & 2) Your argument didn’t rest upon your own gender as the basis for your authority. So while one theoretically could misuse “mansplaining” to dismiss any argument made by any man, it would fall outside of the boundaries of its acceptable use (which, as I’ve argued, is to critique male-to-female debates whereby the authority of the masculine interlocutor rests entirely on their experience as a male, & in which the knowledge of the female in question is dismissed solely because she is female.) Ultimately, it is prescriptive & condescending in nature, and in order for its conditions to be satisfied, it is inherently a “male to female” phenomena. TL;DR – you couldn’t mansplain to me, man to man, because you can’t make the argument “I’m right because I am a man, & you are not” when I am also a man.

      ““Needless to say, even when “mansplaining” is used dismissively, it’s usually correct;” What a broad brush. I could say the opposite and the argument would be equally valid.”

      Only if you disregard the context in which I wrote that. It’s evident that I was referring to accusations of “mansplaining” being appropriate to dismiss obviously sexist arguments as inherently sexist, & therefore, intellectually void.

      “I must disagree with you on the definition of words. Words have meanings. Because a word has an inferred context does not alter the meaning of the word”

      They do have meanings. & those meanings are socially constructed through use & consensus, & these meanings do change over time. No word has, or has ever had, or will ever have, meaning inherent on its own that is divorced from the sociological context(s) in which it is created/used. So yes, when a context shifts, the meaning of the word will shift, too.

      “Butthurt is a silly word meant to discredit the argument as one not worthy of addressing because it’s an overreaction- nothing to do with the person making the argument. It is a dismissive that absolves the claimant of addressing the points of criticism.”

      I disagree with your analysis on this point. The homophobic & misogynistic connotations of the term make it anything but “silly”; it’s effectively a harmful term which perpetuates a language of domination through sexual violence. The term isn’t dismissive because of the argument one is making; it is dismissive of the one making the argument. & it’s especially sexist/homophobic because it is predicated on mocking the reaction of the other as overly emotional; i.e., un-masculine, & therefore, bad.

      “So, you could say, dismissively, that this response evidences my butthurt without being homophobic (since it’s not a homophobic slur)- or that I’m mansplaining (except, can a man mansplain to another man?). Either way, without further refutation of the argument, it would be pointless.”

      Well, I couldn’t, since again, it actually is an inherently homophobic term.

      “Also, on a sidenote, is it NOT sexist to use a gender term in this description? Doesn’t this imply that “mansplaining” is a trait of men- all men? Otherwise, why use the gender specific term instead of mysogisplaining? Is that not akin to using “caucasiosplaining” to describe a phenomena of the same actions taken by a caucasion during interaction with another ethnic group?”

      I think I see what you’re going after, & it’s not a wholly invalid point on a theoretical level, but it ignores the power dynamics inherent in male/female relations. It does not imply that “mansplaining” is a trait of all men; but rather that it is an action which can only be effected by men (to women).

      “Perhaps I am wrong- and perhaps people overwhelmingly use this to describe a condescending tone used strictly by men to women when inaccurately explaining things with an heir of confidence.”

      That’s actually a fairly accurate working definition of mansplaining, although I would substitute “with an air of authority” (based on their manhood) rather than an “air of confidence”.

  22. At this point, the truth is irrelevant, since only Joe Murphy and his alleged victims (if there are any) know for certain.

    I don’t think Lisa Rabey and Nina de Jesus were being malicious in the way they went about publishing their comments about Murphy, but they were being incredibly stupid. Blogging is journalism and they were playing at being amateur journalists. They could have done a few simple things to eliminate or minimize their exposure and still have made their point forcefully. Instead they embraced their youthful hubris and it’s come back to bite them. They invoked Rumsfeld (!!) by saying, “You don’t go to war with the army you want, you go to war with the army you have.” OK. But why would you go to war at all if you’re just a couple of weekend warriors. They are just kids who fell in the deep end and I wish them luck because they are pretty screwed.

    As a woman who has been harassed and assaulted, this angers me. I want change desperately but I don’t want to “go to war” with people whose competence I question, whose word I cannot take at face value and whose behavior on social media is erratic, hostile and unpredictable. I stand behind the Anita Hills of this world. I was a 25 year old MLIS grad during those hearings and I have never forgotten how proud I was of her. Hill stood up with poise and dignity under withering fire. Women like her fight for what they know in their hearts is right and they remember that it’s not just what they are fighting for that counts, its how they fight.

    I’m sorry I cannot say that I am proud of Rabey and de Jesus. I wish I could be, but they are not heroes. They are like the magician’s apprentice who now needs someone else to put the water back in the bucket.

    • So well said. However, I’m curious as to your thoughts on workplace harassment and general harassment in public- also the subjective nature of the terms.

    • Not a Murphy minion says:

      I agree with you Rebecca: we need to address sexual harassment, but not in the way Rabey and de jesus did.

    • End Sexism Now says:

      Rebecca, with respect, you are being part of the problem and not part of the solution. See my comments below, to show that it does not matter! You MUST be a troll, because there is no way that you could be a survivor of sexual harassment and gendered bias and say what you are saying here. It is simply impossible.IT DOES NOT MATTER IF MURPHY DID IT OR NOT ====> WHAT MATTERS IS THE FIGHT! And you can not declare neutrality. If you are not on the side of the oppressed, you are on the side of the oppressor. I would ask you to think about who you really want to see win here. If the women in this fight lose, then we may as well all throw in the towel for all the years of struggle that we, and our sisters before us, fought so hard to prevail in. Murphy should see his part in this historical struggle and understand that his place could be one of a hero. If he is innocent, then he can sacrifice his few minutes of shame for the greater good. His refusal to do that is what makes him a certain enemy of the cause. Either he is a sexual predator or he is a tacit ally of oppression. There is no innocence for him.

    • I have made peace with my past and you don’t get to decide how I think or feel.

      What I think is that you sound either crazy or like a toddler, what I feel is that you have been deeply hurt. I hope you can also find peace. I will tell you that your approach will always be dismissed. Always. So you can be angry at me because I have principles that guide what I believe is right vs. wrong, or pull yourself together and work within the system to change it.

    • How is gloating over ruining someone’s career not malicious? I’d really like to know. If I was happy I ruined your life, especially if I did so by spreading false rumors about you, would you consider that I’m not being malicious?

  23. Numbers are our friend. Intuition in our guide. Courage is our strength. We have to speak up every time. That may be something as simple as telling the perpetrator directly, “I’m sorry but you are making me very uncomfortable right now”, or it may mean going to HR, supervisors, conference planners, etc. The younger women in our profession may not realize what a coup it is to even have something like a code of conduct. If enough of us say something when something happens, we begin to make it very uncomfortable for harassers and abusers. We cannot trample individual rights, however. As I said, nobody knows the facts in this case, but if what Murphy claims is true, nothing can justify what has happened to him.

    I don’t agree with those who say he should have engaged in public dialogue. If he was a victim of libel, he should have recourse that doesn’t involve his participation in a, at-large social media discussion that would probably be very painful and unpleasant for him. Likewise, someone who is a victim of sexual harassment or assault should not have to talk it out with her perpetrator.

    Of course, all of this is easier said than done. I sat in committee meetings for two years with the man who assaulted me. I did nothing and I regret it profoundly. I will never do nothing again.

    • This was supposed to be a reply to AnonB above.

    • Thank you. Again, well said.

    • End Sexism Now says:

      Rebecca, you are making what you might think is a point for justice, but you are precisely absolutely and profoundly wrong. You wrote this “As I said, nobody knows the facts in this case, but if what Murphy claims is true, nothing can justify what has happened to him.”


      We must stomp out sexism, racism and ableism in every corner. I imagine we should have some sympathy for Murphy if his side of the story is true. BUT, it is JUSTIFIED. If he did sexually assault someone, then he deserves much worse than the public shaming. If he did nothing, then he should STILL be happy about this, because it has raised awareness of the problem of rampant sexual violence at these conferences. If he suffered, would that suffering stand up as a significant data point when we put it alongside what women have to tolerate every single day? NO!

      THAT is why all the mainsplaining here is so infuriating. Sometimes if you want to make an omlet, you have to break some eggs, as they say. Either Murphy deserves what he has gotten, or he is an unwitting player in a much bigger and more important struggle. If he really wants to be part of the solution, he should confess to committing sexual assault (whether he did it or he did not) so that he can help create a culture where women are not afraid to report rape, sexual violence and gendered insults (even ones that assulters keep in their minds, but they transmit to us through what they think are subtle means).

      The truth is a political construct and not a factual one. Until we all recognize that we are all missing the point of this struggle.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t believe in collateral damage. Justification leads to a dark place.

  24. Not a sock puppet says:

    “To my knowledge, no one has thus far charged Mr. Murphy with criminal behavior.”
    Rabey did when she called him a sexual predator:
    (see page 9)


    Canada’s laws about “sexual predators” aren’t super relevant to an American citizen’s comments about another. Calling someone something is not the same as charging them with something.

    Libel is illegal – will there be a counter suit by teamharpy because they’ve been maligned as being guilty of libel? Because I sure haven’t seen any proof of > $1 million worth of reputation damage.

    Will LJ be sued over its coverage of this issue? I have to believe that more librarians are reading this article than read all the Twitter/blog coverage of it.

    Strange days, indeed.

    • A good article is about this at Elizabeth Farkas: http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2014/09/26/whistleblowers-what-still-isnt-transparent-and-getting-to-the-truth/

      Although I find it disappointing that she had to ruin it with suggesting that JM could be “innocent.” ” And sad for Joe Murphy if he is truly innocent of what he’s been accused (and imagine for a moment the consequences of tarring and feathering an innocent man).” This makes light of the practice of tarring and feathering, which was primarily punishment administered to women in the suffragette movement, and It is certain that she meant no disrespect, it was a bit unfortunate. I also think it is damaging to even suggest that JM could be “innocent” of “what he’s been accused.” JM IS NOT THE DEFENDANT. He is accused of nothing. It is he who is the accuser. I ask my sisters to be careful that they do not give JM the gift of the control of the story by shifting the blame and the protagonists with the antagonists. This was all started by JM and to even suggest that he could be “innocent” is only helping him and not helping the cause we must all stand together to win.

    • First- can you site sources that tarring and feathering was a primary punishment administered to women in the suffragette movement? I know this practice has existed since before the American revolution- but not finding sources showcasing it’s use as a punishment for suffragettes.

      Second- HE IS THE ACCUSED. The lawsuit was brought because he claims he was falsely accused. There was no suit without the claim and accusation that he was a sexual predator that caused women to work in buddy groups to avoid being alone with him. One must not be accused in court to still be innocent of what he is accused.

      He now demands his accusers provide proof to support their accusation. “not helping the cause we must all stand together to win.” His innocence (or lack of proof of guilt) is exactly what is at the heart of this matter.

      What is this cause we must all stand together to win? I don’t think I would resort to legal recourse, but luckily I’m not faced with that demand. However, to automatically assume he is the bad guy in this situation, instead of remaining impartial until the outcome- as seems to be common among these comments- is embarrassing to the profession and makes me sad that I’m among its members.

  25. I have been stating that public libraries being statutorily created for the use and benefit of the citizens act outside the law by allowing porn that does the opposite and instead harms citizens, that US v. ALA holds that blocking porn in libraries does not violate the First Amendment even if porn is otherwise “constitutionally protected speech,” that no library has been sued for blocking porn, that under Bradburn v. NCRL librarians need not unblock porn, that ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom advises librarians they are not judges and may not make a determination as to what is child pornography, and that OIF now actively trains librarians/trustees to destroy (or not record in the first place) public evidence documenting sex crimes in libraries. Likely for those reasons and more, I am now a defendant in what I perceive to be a SLAPP suit, at a minimum egged on by ALA’s OIF. The alleged defamatory material can be seen at the link under my name (assuming Library Journal allows speech OIF seeks to silence).

    I am the library profession’s only consistent voice speaking out on sexual harassment of librarians. Indeed, #TeamHarpy may never have happened if people had only addressed the harassment concerns I raised earlier. I hope OIF does not succeed in silencing me.

    • You’re not a member of the library profession. You’re not a member of ALA. You’re not a librarian. Moreso, you’ve engaged in harassment of a library employee which has generated a lawsuit against you.

    • @Kevin. I am changing the library profession, according to ALA speaker Dee Venuto, and I am a volunteer librarian. I am a former member of ALA who stopped being a member solely because I could not afford it further. I do not now nor ever in the past harass anyone. When someone repeatedly makes homophobic statements and I report on that, that’s not harassment. As TeamHarpy shows, when people are harassing others, everyone has a duty to speak up and the few who actually do should not be criticized nor sued for doing so. So, just like TeamHarpy has been sued, I have as well. The way you spin it you make it sound like I’m instantly guilty, hence like TeamHarpy is instantly guilty. They are not and neither am I. I am happy to have spoken up to oppose homophobia displayed by anyone, let alone a library employee who displayed her homophobia while training for the ALA OIF which then had her teach in a future training even knowing of her homophobic statements. And “Kevin” is just a pseudonym.

    • @Kevin, comment rule 1 says, “Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.” You did the exact opposite. In a post about harassment, you contributed to further harassment.

    • What is a “volunteer librarian”?

  26. Wow — I may be late to the party, but the level of flabberghast at this whole ridiculous fiasco compels me to write something here…

    Red flag #1: The women being accused call themselves “harpies” and one of them makes her living publishing articles about “institutional oppression.”

    Red flag #2: The women being accused did not witness nor do they offer any proof of the allegations they have made.

    Red flag #3: The other “harpy” has published on her blog that purported victims need not offer proof of anything, must always be believed, and that rumor is enough to condemn alleged offenders.

    Didn’t we all read The Crucible in school? Do we not have a history of witch hunts to guide us? Do we not remember the Red Scare of the 1950s and the damage it wrought?

    The accusers have comported themselves int he worst possible manner and undermined any accusations they might make. Whether or not there’s any “there” there, it’s been rendered meaningless by their arrogance and self-righteousness.

    • Steve Casburn says:

      Lisa Rabey and nina de jesus put their names on what they wrote and stand behind their words in the face of a lawsuit that could ruin them financially. That kind of comportment I respect.

      Why do so many of their critics hide behind anonymity?

    • @Steve, congrats on your non-sequitur. :)

  27. As someone who has been involved in the educational field, I’d like to point out that more than a few teachers have had their careers destroyed by similar whispering campaigns. It’s insidious. The teacher is never accused or granted any right of defense, but suddenly job opportunities dry up. “Taking the high road” doesn’t work, because the very act of not attacking the accusers is often seen as an admission of guilt.

    That’s why defamation isn’t covered by the First Amendment in the US– it’s an innately damaging form of speech.

    In this case we’re seeing hearsay– the two defendants are repeating comments they’ve been told by other people. They are repeating them as *fact*. (Important note: if you want to make certain you’ll never be in their position, remember: opinion is almost always protected speech, statements of fact are not). Not only that, but in many parts of the United States, “sexual predator” is a legal term with connotations far beyond anything Mr. Murphy is alleged to have done. (For non Americans. Sexual predator is often applied to individuals who have been convicted of a crime of sexual violence. Many states have various types of laws that define sexual predators, and restrict their places of residence in addition to other requirements. Thus, claiming someone is a sexual predator may have the connotation that they have been convicted or have committed a violent sexual offense, which is not the case with Mr. Murphy.) .

    Mr. Murphy states that he is factually innocent of these claims and that the two librarians are therefore defaming him. Needless to say, the other side is saying that they are stating the truth. There is no “common ground” that can be arrived at. One side is wrong. In this case a court is the proper venue to resolve that question as it puts it in front of a neutral judge.

    Also, another point– some posters on this board seem to argue that a finding of defamation is *certain* under Canadian law. That is, in fact, far from the case. It is entirely possible that the court will find for the defendants which will then vindicate *them* and condemn Mr. Murphy.

    But one last takeaway: Especially in situations like this, avoid stating “facts”. Stick to “I believe,” or “I have been told” statements. Doing so drastically reduces your potential for ending up in front of a court.

  28. Mike Chigurgh says:

    I don’t understand what Team Harpy is after and why they chose a guy like this to go after. I read their complaint looked at the video and saw a guy obviously inebriated and joking around. Now if he was serious…who really cares he is a male and if the female(s) is a willing participant then nothing wrong was done, I wouldn’t have much respect for the woman but it is HER CHOICE. If this man (or woman) were out doing inappropriate things like being lewd in any way then fine you have a case. These librarians do not know or understand the basics of what harassment is this context. This is defamation of character, pure and simple. We always worry about what government will do when given too much power, we should worry what happens with a person or conglomerate of people that give themselves the power of the internet, no restraints and a beef with anyone they do not like or want around…that is the true danger in my opinion and Team Harpy are part of that danger.

  29. Here is an update – A full apology to me and a complete retraction by Rabey and De Jesus https://teamharpy.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/apologies-and-retractions/

    • Meredith Schwartz Meredith Schwartz says:

      We have updated the article with an editor’s note accordingly. Thank you for the link!

    • Thank you, Meredith.
      I have asked that any remaining donated funds go to a charity dealing with cyber-bullying.

    • Steve Casburn says:


      Your supporters on Twitter are now entering their third day of often grotesque and obscene cyber-bullying on the #teamharpy hashtag. When do you plan to let them know you oppose cyber-bullying?

      Also, many of your Twitter supporters are drawing parallels between your legal case and GamerGate. Will you publicly dissociate yourself from GamerGate?

    • Steve Casburn says:

      Apologies to Joe about the first question: I just saw his post from last evening that states “Let’s be civil & respectful. Further internet attacks/mob mentality are not a path to healing. I accepted #teamharpy’s apology retraction”

  30. Hang your Heads in shame. says:


    To all of you listen & believe, guilty even if proven innocent, harpies their apologists, supporters, gossip mongering, agenda driving, end justify the means, indecent, savages.

    For shame, take a pause in your lives each and everyone you and consider what you have done, what you have been complicit in and really take pause to consider the consequences of your actions in this and the future. Shame on you all.

    Comment policy noted, if you as a site do not see this as fair comment then shame on you to.

  31. BigBamboo says:

    To all of you espousing the ‘truth does not matter, only the advancement of the cause matters” line. Histories greatest monsters agree with you. Once truth does not matter to you, you are a monster.

  32. Tom Leykis says:

    [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

    • Guy L. Gonzalez Guy L. Gonzalez says:

      Tom, all of your comments have been deleted outright for violating our comment policy, while this one was edited to let you know it was purposeful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

      Director, Content Strategy & Audience Development
      Library Journals, LLC | Media Source, Inc.
      (E) glgonzalez@mediasourceinc.com

  33. Kevin Duke says:

    An open letter to the library world

    My name is Kevin Duke. I am Joe Murphy’s stepfather. I do not speak for Joe Murphy, or for the rest of the family. I speak only for myself.

    I have followed the TeamHarpy vs. Joe Murphy mess since the very beginning. I have read and re-read every post and every comment on every blog. I have googled “team harpy” more times than I can count, often setting the search to “last 24 hours” just to see if there was a new post. As you can imagine, this has been very painful, so you may ask why I did it. All I can say is have a child, or as in my case, help raise a child, and you will know. My wife, Joe’s mother, had a different reaction. She was unable to read the things that were being said about her son.

    Until now, I have not commented on this matter. I have been a silent spectator to this strange circus – an old man standing on the edge of the crowd. You never noticed me, but I was always there. There are many reasons I have been silent. I am not a librarian, so I have no standing in your world. I also had no relevant information to contribute, even though I was one of the only people in the crowd who actually knows Joe Murphy, or, for that matter, has even met him. Joe has never, of course, harassed me, and one can not, as they say, prove a negative. I could have said that Joe was incapable of any type of harassment or predation, but I am admittedly biased, and many of you wouldn’t have listened anyways. So I stood silently and listened as those who have never met Joe or met him only in passing made definitive and self-assured judgements on his character. I am reminded of my own father’s advice that “it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and leave no doubt.” I think that old adage applies particularly well to some of the participants in this discussion over the past year.

    Most importantly, I did not say anything because this was not my fight. It was Joe’s fight. He fought mostly alone, and he fought well. He won the fight, although there are many who will never be able to acknowledge that fact. So now that the crowd is dispersing, I would like to step to the center and speak to the few who linger, and are willing to listen to an old man.

    To Lisa and Nina, I no longer bear any animosity. For a while, I did hate them. I wanted to see them suffer. I wanted to see them bankrupted by the lawsuit. I wanted them to pay. But Joe never wanted that. He only wanted an apology, even though that apology would never replace what he lost. He didn’t want money. He is donating the token sum he’s receiving to charity, even though he spent a small fortune defending himself. This confused and frustrated me at first, but once I saw Lisa and Nina on the ground, defeated, I understood why Joe did not want to see them hurt further. I believe that their apologies are sincere and that they feel pain not just for themselves but for the pain they caused.

    Forgiveness is a very difficult concept, I think one of the hardest concepts to accept or to get your head around. Few people learn it. Pride stands in the way of both the bestowing and the receiving of forgiveness. Many of you will say that Lisa and Nina do not need forgiving, that it is Joe, not they, who are guilty. You will always think this, and nothing I or anyone else will ever say will change your mind. So to you I say this: I forgive Lisa and Nina, deal with it. And if you still believe Joe was at fault, I ask that you forgive him, not for Joe’s sake, but for your own.

    I am not a particularly religious man, but there is a sermon somewhere in here. Scripture and the law say not to bear false witness. Both are quite clear about that. Bearing false witness causes all sorts of trouble and pain. It causes riots in our souls, violence, wars, and hate. But forgiveness is even more powerful. Whatever you are convinced about in this lawsuit, and whatever you will always and forever be convinced about, lay aside the certitude of your immutable convictions, which is only pride after all, and try a little forgiveness. You will sleep better, believe me.

    Since Lisa and Nina have issued their apologies, I have seen others post comments that attack them and insult them. Please do not do that. Please do not bully them. It is not what Joe wants. It is the opposite of what he has fought for.

    For the others in the crowd, the ones with no names and no faces, the absolute strangers who threw stones at my son, and who, now that the protagonists have left the field, are in some cases still throwing stones, I have a way to go in my forgiveness. I still feel contempt for them. I still lose sleep when I think about them. I don’t think of them as individuals. I think of them as types. I need to speak to them, so please let me address them by type.

    The first type is those who, having no information that was relevant to the issue, still felt it helpful and insightful to insult and hurt Joe. A typical comment from these people was “he never harassed me, or anyone I know, but he was rude/creepy/fill in your own epithet.” It is as though, in the total absence of anyone saying that Joe actually harassed them or someone they knew (i.e., actual evidence), they felt it necessary or helpful to build a case against him on other grounds. What bothers me about this type of character assassination is that it is totally gratuitous. It serves no purpose. It proves nothing. Corroborates nothing. Just a little extra pain. It strikes me that over the course of almost twelve months, a volume of blog posts and urgent pleas for witnesses, not one – not one – person came forward to say that they were harassed by Joe Murphy or knew anyone else who was, not even anonymously. Yet this never stopped this type of person from building a case against Joe based on first impressions and innuendo.

    The second type is those who are resentful or perhaps even jealous of Joe’s standing in the library world. A typical comment from these people is something like “Who is this guy? Who made him an expert? Why is he allowed to speak? He’s too young. Why is he a ‘Rock Star’.” To these people I say, look at his CV, its on his website, look it up. Look at the amount he has published, corroborated with others on, publications he has edited. Judge his qualifications by the body of his work, not his age. Nothing was given to Joe. He earned his credentials through a lot of very hard work. Joe was a physics major as an undergraduate, not a gut major. After graduate school he got hired by Yale University as a science librarian, not a light gig. He busted his butt and he excelled. He wrote, read, published. When he announced that he was leaving a comfortable and prestigious position at Yale to pursue “the future of libraries” his mother and I thought he was flat out crazy. Yes his rise was meteoric. He became a Rock Star. Not because he was lucky, or even gifted, but because he worked his butt off. He overcame his basically introverted nature to be a public speaker. His self confidence was not natural, he had to earn that too. He reinvented himself again and again and again. He took risks. He taught himself. He rejected complacency. So, I could never figured it out. Is it good or bad to be a rock star? When I was a young person, a long, long, time ago, we all wanted to be rock stars. But few of us were willing to work for it, and fewer still had the talent to actually become one. Maybe that is why there are so few rock stars.

    Joe “rocked” the library world with his message. Perhaps that proved his undoing. He told me his ideas, which I didn’t, and still don’t, understand. But, as far as I can understand, in the future, what I think of as a library will be a museum for books. Technology is changing libraries, or, put differently, libraries must change or die. Libraries of the future will be different, and librarians will be different. Instead of people stamping index cards, checking your back-pack, and telling you to “shush,” librarians will be information technologists, highly specialized IT people. Librarians need to get on a steep learning curve or be swept away. Books will be stored in a place called the “cloud,” instead of on shelves. Information will be accessed at light speed. Libraries will be physically different places – open, airy, fun, actually ahead on the information curve. They will have baristas. They will change the world. So, I’m just wondering how well this all went over in the library world. Scary stuff for some, perhaps. This has nothing to do with sex harassment, but maybe there were a few who saw this as an opportunity to shoot down a star that was rising a little too fast.

    The third type of people I still feel contempt for are the ones who said nothing. These are actually the worst and I have saved them for last. I’m talking about all the people who worked with Joe. The people who knew and understood his work. Where were they? Of course they had no evidence, they couldn’t confirm or deny the truth of the allegations, but why didn’t they call for calm, patience, fairness? Why didn’t they say, let’s wait for the facts. There is a name for this type: cowards. Their cowardice was not unjustified, because the few who did ask for balance were quickly denounced as “minions” or “trolls.” These are the most pitiable group, because they live in constant fear of losing their social standing. They abandon people and do not defend friends in trouble. They are not worth any more words.

    So the upshot of all this is that Joe lost his job, and many “friends.” He doesn’t get speaking engagements any more. People in the library world don’t look him in the eye, they shun him. They talk behind his back. This hurts Joe very deeply. The word “passion” is very overused, but Joe’s love for libraries really is a passion, something he is willing to give up everything for, and it has been taken from him. But I am not really worried about Joe because he has a very, very strong character. He will land on his feet. He will reinvent himself again, if need be. He will not stay down.

    I don’t know if Joe will stay in the library world, but personally, I hope he doesn’t. I think the library world stinks.

    Sexual harassment is a horrible thing. So are all types of harassment. So is bullying. These things should never be tolerated. Let’s end them.

    I have heard people describe Lisa and Nina as “brave.” I would not describe bullying people with the crowd cheering you on as bravery. But I don’t know them that well, or what challenges they have had to overcome, so perhaps they are brave. Being brave requires being tested. No one knows how brave they are until they are tested. Being brave requires facing the truth. I have read their apologies. I believe that they are telling the truth now. This must be very hard, and they must be brave. Very brave. If they are just lying now to avoid the consequences of losing a lawsuit, then they are not brave in my book.

    Over the past year I have watched Joe be tested. Tested very hard. Tested hard enough to break people. I must tell you, he is very, very brave, and I am very proud of him. He is my hero.

    At the beginning of this I gave my name. I gave my name because I’m old and I don’t really need it anymore. I don’t need a job. My life’s work is basically over. That’s a great thing about getting old. You get to a place where you basically don’t give a damn. You really learn that anything other than the truth is just a waste of time.

    One last thing: please set the books free. The books deserve to be free. Let them go live in the clouds.

    Enough said. Peace.

    • This response by Kevin Duke has to be the very best writing ever to appear in Library Journal’s web site. Wow. Everyone should read this. Library Journal should publish it in a separate printed article.

      And everyone should start hiring Joe Murphy again. They stole his name. Now everyone knows that Lisa, Nina, and Sarah robbed him of his name. The library community should stand up to the slander by once again welcoming — and hiring — Joe Murphy.

      And the library community should address true sexual harassment issues. Not faked ones. Too many librarians are afraid to speak out about the harassment that occurs as a result of ALA policy to allow unfiltered porn in libraries despite the law. ALA recently denied librarians have even been sexually harassed or that they ever will be. I get called all sorts of names for pointing this out, for reporting on this. But the harassment will never stop until people are finally allowed to speak about the problem without being, well, Murphied.

      I’m hoping people will start listening to the now silent, fearful voices of sexually harassed librarians and stop shouting down those who speak up. It’s time –>librarians<– become the focus of the ALA, not the policy that causes the sexual harassment. It's time for people to stop being Murphied into oblivion.

    • Wasn’t there at least one witness though? That’s where I’m confused.

    • Steve Casburn says:

      Mr. Duke,

      The words I’ve written below might be painful to read, and I regret that. I wish that your stepson had spoken for himself at length in this forum rather than standing behind you, but he made that choice, and so it is you I must address.

      You wrote that “Being brave requires facing the truth.” Those are wise words, sir.

      Like you, Mr. Duke, I am deeply loyal to my own; deeply loyal to the library world you hold in contempt.

      In the part of your narrative where you describe my colleagues as “types,” one of your main points is that your stepson “rocked the library world with his message,” and you “just wonder[ed] how well this all went over in the library world.”

      The message you describe as belonging to your stepson WAS once new and controversial in the library world. Your stepson was still in high school in those days. If Joe Murphy boasted of his boldness in advocating ideas that in actual fact have been under discussion in the library world for 20 years now…well, that’s interesting. And it would be a great surprise, I’m sure, to the people who truly did pioneer and lay the groundwork for those ideas.

      And that relates to the point you make in your next paragraph: “The people who knew and understood his work. Where were they?” As you note, Mr. Duke, those people were silent. As someone who works in the same field as your stepson, I noticed that silence right away. It was deafening. Stunning. Telling.

      One could argue, as you do, that that silence is telling about the courage of his colleagues.

      One could also argue that it is telling about the impression your stepson had made over the years on those colleagues.

      A point in favor of the latter argument: When news broke that your stepson (who had “only wanted an apology”) had filed a $1.25 million lawsuit against two librarians in a Canadian court, it gave people in libraries a reason to talk about Joe Murphy, and share their impressions with one another. How did those conversations go? Well…we see the enduring support among librarians for Ms. Rabey and Ms. de jesus, flawed as we all know they are. That’s a strong indicator.

      Again, sir, I know these are hard words to read about a stepson whom you love. I am deeply saddened to have to write them to you, but your stepson chose not to speak for himself, and I refuse to remain silent when people whom I love are spoken of with unwarranted contempt.

    • Anonymous says:

      I keep seeing this appalling use of innuendo and “impressions” as a reason to excuse the false allegations made. If women did not trust him and were concerned that being alone with him was unsafe, that is their prerogative. Opinions are protected speech, even in Canada. Creepy people can sometimes be good employees and good speakers. Sexual predators are never good employees or conference attendees. If you accuse someone of being a sexual predator in public, you better be able to back it up.

      Blaming the lawsuit itself is also ridiculous. If someone is making damaging false claims about you and refusing to stop, then you want the world to know that you do not accept those claims and that you are willing to put it to a trial judge and risk that they be proved true. This is because, as we have seen, when those claims have been proven to be unfounded, that result also spreads far and wide.

      People keep mentioning libel defence in Canada, but they fail to mention the looser definition of sexual harassment under Canadian law. The claim of libel “tourism” is ridiculous. You cannot choose where you want your trial to happen, that is based on where exactly the offence occurred. Canadian law has it’s own idiosyncrasies for sure, but it’s a fair system, not a kangaroo court. The defendants merely had to provide some evidence that the claims were true. They failed to meet that condition.

      That’s how relational bullying happens. Someone decides one action or another violates some social taboo and lets their friends know about it. The game of telephone passes from person to person to the point that the social taboo turns into a social evil and everyone all of the sudden believes something happened because a friend knew someone who was a victim. In this case, the truth came to a head and the defendants could not rely on the hearsay, but had to find real first-hand victims. It turns out either 1) there were no victims, 2) the victims did not want to help the defendants out or 3) the victims were not victims in the way that everyone assumed they were.

      If it’s #2, then those victims gravely betrayed their champions and all of us.

      My guess is that it’s probably #3. He might have made unwanted advances and made some women feel uncomfortable. From the broader perspective it still raises serious questions about gender equality in the workplace – how women feel comfortable in a space where micro-aggressions are the norm. If this is what the defendants meant by “sexual predator” they might have shown some humility and clarified that they were using hyperbole. The tragedy is that they too any disingenuous sycophants pushing them forward and too few true friends telling them to consider the consequences of their actions and words.

      I personally hold no contempt for the defendants here. I think they made the all-too-common mistake in thinking that their social media ‘support’ would protect them from the rule of law. That was their unfortunate hubris. I do have a general contempt for a humanity that is just too willing to apply extraordinary mental gymnastics to rationalize their cyber vigilantism. A personal URL does not a legitimate authority make.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Duke. It is eloquent and moving.

      I can’t seem to figure out how to reply in the comments, so I’d like to reply here in order to address some things that Mr. Casburn has said.

      Mr. Casburn said that he wishes Mr. Murphy had said something himself instead of “stand[ing] behind” Mr. Duke. Mr. Murphy did say something – at length – in the beginning of this dispute. He said something to Lisa Rabey. He said something to nina de jesus. He said something to everyone who would listen. He told them that the rumors weren’t true and asked – begged – them to stop spreading them as if they were fact. They would not. So then he said something in a way that they couldn’t ignore – he said it in the legal system. And now Mr. Casburn tells us that Murphy was standing behind Mr. Duke. Not true. Not true in the slightest, though Mr. Casburn may like to believe that it’s so.

      Mr. Casburn says that Mr. Duke “hold[s] the library world in contempt.” I’d like to point out that Mr. Duke said “I think the library world stinks.” I wonder if Mr. Casburn wouldn’t think that the library world “stinks” if he was being plastered with the epitaph “sexual predator” throughout that world. I wonder if Mr. Casburn wouldn’t think that the library world “stinks” if he got fired, lost speaking engagements, and had his career trashed based on unfounded rumors. But however Mr. Casburn feels, saying something “stinks” isn’t equivalent to saying you hold it in contempt. But it certainly helps Mr. Casburn make his point to misstate Mr. Duke’s words.

      In the part of your narrative where you describe my colleagues as “types,” one of your main points is that your stepson “rocked the library world with his message,” and you “just wonder[ed] how well this all went over in the library world.”

      To all of Mr. Casburn’s points regarding Mr. Murphy’s advocacy in the library community, I don’t really care to respond. They are not relevant to whether Mr. Murphy was defamed. They are certainly not relevant to whether he deserved it. It’s just another way for Mr. Casburn to try to convict Murphy’s reputation based on vague suppositions. Whether Mr. Murphy was a “rock star” or the lowliest, humblest librarian in the world, he does not deserve to be mocked, harassed, and accused of crimes by his colleagues.

      Mr. Casburn says that it is stunning and telling that others in the library world did not speak up to defend Mr. Murphy. As a librarian, I hope that Mr. Casburn will take a course on logic or evidence. There are about a thousand and one reasons why people may not want to speak up. One of those reasons is that anyone who defended Mr. Murphy at the time would be labeled a sexist, a misogynist, or a troll. Mr. Casburn prefers to use their silence to condemn Mr. Murphy – why? Why does that have any relevance to Murphy’s actions? Nothing. Just another brush that Mr. Casburn can use to continue painting Murphy with hurtful speculation – “No one said he DIDN’T harass people, that must mean that he did!” Please.

      Then Mr. Casburn points to the $1.25 million suit filed against Rabey and de jesus. What was his point about that? I don’t know, except that apparently it “gave people in libraries a reason to talk about Joe Murphy.” People don’t need a reason to spread rumors about others. We’ve known that since grade school. Obviously they already had no difficulty talking about Joe Murphy because they were already doing so – they were already calling him a sexual predator based on nothing. Now I ask you, Mr. Casburn, if people were accusing you of being a sexual predator, how long would you grin and bear it? How long would you wait and hope for the truth to sort itself out (although we know that it rarely does)? Would you still be grinning after you lost your job? Would you still just take it after you lost a few speaking engagements? Would you wait until your career was over for a year before taking action, all the while reassuring yourself that people would eventually see reason?

      How long did you expect Mr. Murphy to just accept that his colleagues were falsely claiming that he was a sexual predator to anyone that would listen? And after that time has gone by, what would you do? Ask again? Ask more loudly? Or would you reach a point where you realized that the only way to stop the harmful rumors was through the legal system?

      Why on earth is using the legal system evidence against Murphy? I just cannot believe what I am reading. The very people who pilloried Murphy have admitted that they lied, that the statements were false, and that they were spread to help an agenda. And in the face of that, what does Mr. Casburn point to? Not evidence, no. There is no evidence. Not witnesses; there are no witnesses. Instead, Mr. Casburn piles inference upon supposition to defend the victimizers because Mr. Murphy dared to vindicate his rights in the legal system. That is incredible.

      In how many other circumstances do you think it is appropriate to presume someone is guilty simply because they invoked the law, Mr. Casburn?

      Finally, Mr. Casburn leaves us with this: “I am deeply saddened to have to write them to you, but your stepson chose not to speak for himself, and I refuse to remain silent when people whom I love are spoken of with unwarranted contempt.”

      I’m sure that the long exercise in circumspection truly saddened Mr. Casburn to write – it certainly saddened me to read it, because I didn’t think that intelligent people condemned others based on unsupported rumors. But beyond that, I want to note the hypocrisy here. Mr. Casburn told Mr. Duke that he had to write a screed against Mr. Murphy because Mr. Murphy chose not to defend himself. Again, untrue. Mr. Murphy has spoken again and again about this, for more than a year, and Mr. Casburn certainly knows how to find him. He needed to say this here because he is unwilling to admit that he may have been wrong, that he may have prejudged someone, and that he may have unfairly helped ruin a man’s reputation.

      But Mr. Casburn refuses to remain silent when people he loves are spoken of with unwarranted contempt. It’s too bad that Mr. Casburn only lends this heroic assistance to people he loves and not others who are “poken of with unwarranted contempt. Because Mr. Casburn didn’t speak up when Mr. Murphy was publicly maligned, degraded, and ran through the mud without any evidence, let alone proof.

      Mr. Murphy sure could have used someone who exercised the ideals that Mr. Casburn claims to hold. Instead, he got someone who pushed his face deeper into the mud.

      Mr. Casburn, this is my last question: if someone you loved was in the same position as Mr. Murphy was, would you still hold this position? If it was your father, your brother, or your son being called a sexual predator by his colleagues, would you blame them and say “too bad no one’s sticking up for you – that says a lot about your reputation”? Would you push them further into the mud?

      I don’t think you would. But here you are, still pushing Mr. Murphy.

    • Steve Casburn says:


      Thank you for taking the time to write to me both publicly and privately today. I grew up around Marines, and do miss the frank conversations and sharp questions.

      I agree with you that I owe Joe Murphy an apology. I have had heart trouble culminating in a heart attack in January, and have been edgy and mean-spirited for months. It’s my responsibility to get that in check.

      Joe, I apologize for my recent uncharitable interpretations. I wish you luck in the months and years ahead, and hope you’ll have a clean slate going forward.


    • Thank you, Steve. I appreciate your apology and I wish you well in your recovery from heart trouble.
      – Joe

  34. Amanda W. says:

    Dear Mr. Duke,

    I completely understand your need to comment and more power to you. But the entire library world doesn’t stink.

    • Outside observer says:

      OK, maybe that was a tad bit of hyperbole, but largely, I would agree with the man. The library world either joined in to ruin a man’s career, or said nothing and watched it happen.

      Maybe there were those who spoke on his behalf, I don’t know. I do know that the first two groups were the vast, vast majority.

      The library world might not stink, but it certainly isn’t a place I would care to spend a great deal of time in.

    • Amanda W. says:

      Again, lumping every single library person into this story isn’t fair and the entire library world doesn’t stink. Every day we help people find jobs, fill out food stamps and unemployment, help people improve their lives, etc. I can’t speak for every single library or library employee but to make grand generalized negative statements about libraries seems a bit unwarranted.

    • Elizabeth Tarasevich says:

      Not the entire library world, no. But a good portion of it, especially many of those who join ALA, a ‘professional association’ that advances and advocates for the lowest common denominator of groupthink and political agitation. That part does stink, and does a major disservice to the profession.

      Mr. Murphy’s response – his public statement and the lawsuit – was entirely appropriate and effective. He took the high road, and my hat is off to him for that. The books will be free, no worries there – but libraries still offer value to their users, on the day to day, face to face basis, where it matters.

  35. Still Anonymous says:

    You’re right Mr Duke. I am a coward. Because there was no way to make any comment that would not get attacked from one side or the other. If I had openly called for waiting for evidence on the internet I would have been pilloried as a troll, and to support it openly (which I didn’t felt would be wrong) would get me fun rape threats and threats of doxing.

    So I’m still a coward. I’ll console myself with the fact that I did not join in the mob. :/

  36. SLAPP my ass. If they’re going to publicly accuse Murphy of serial rape, they’d better be prepared to prove it. That’s literally all they have to do to win the lawsuit. If they can’t prove it, they deserve the lawsuit.

    And the premise of the first “Codes of Conduct” paragraph, that harassment was recently commonplace in every male-majority community, is based on no statistics. Rather, just cherrypicked blogposts from a self-selected sample. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-selection_bias

  37. Not a Murphy minion says:

    I use a pseudonym because I’m not old and I do need a job.

    Although I have met both Joe and Lisa, when this first erupted I didn’t consider myself a supporter of either, but rather a supporter of the truth. Yet even now, I am reading on twitter and FB that many people are still making assumptions (BTW – Mr. Casburn, what makes you think the trolls on Twitter are in any way associated with Mr. Murphy?). I’m still hearing comments such as, “this is why we need a Code of Conduct. Victims of harassment need to be protected so that people like Lisa and Nina don’t have to put their reputations on the line in a public forum ever again.”

    That has never been what this case is about. It may be what people want it to be about. In fact, even LJ positioned it that way. But this case is only about harassment when we assume what Team Harpy said about Joe Murphy is true. Because Team Harpy didn’t write about harassment – they named a specific person which they now admit was a lie to advance their cause. I don’t consider that putting your reputation on the line. That’s just lying.

    They spread gossip and rumors. Their cause was noble (in case it needs repeating again, harassment is wrong), but they acted like mean girls.

    This case was never about harassment and protecting whistle blowers. This case was about cyber bullying. Two people spread lies that cost someone his job and when he tried to defend himself the mob blamed him. “Why didn’t he ask them to stop?” “Why didn’t he use this as a dialogue about harassment?” “Why did he choose Canada?” “Why is the amount so high?” Sorry, but that’s victim blaming.

    I’ve been a victim of bullying. People whispered horrible things about me, teased me, ostracized me, shunned me, ridiculed me – all based on untrue assumptions that were so widely believed it was taken as fact – very similar to what Joe experienced. It’s wrong. And we as a profession need to learn from this: no matter how noble the cause we cannot use bullying to advance it, regardless of the victim’s socio-economic status or physical appearance (and I defend Nina and Lisa just as vigorously against the trolls that smear them based on who they are or how they look).

    If we want to be taken seriously as professionals that question authority and teach others not to believe what they read on the Internet, then we should practice what we preach. Quit the bullying. Accept Lisa and Nina’s apologies and move on. Create a code of conduct against harassment, and while we’re at it, include bullying in it, too.

  38. Joe, I hate to say it, but you may have to continue working in reputation management– more than a few blogs have continued to run the claims of team harpy as fact. It can be a bit like whack-a-mole and may not in fact be worth it, but you or your legal team may want to notify those blogs of the fact that the matter has been addressed and to kindly update their blogs to reflect that fact.

  39. Natalie Binder says:

    Over the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of people use their impressions, opinions or gut feelings in place of the facts. The fact is that Joe Murphy, a colleague, was the victim of a public slander that was pretty shocking in its content as well as deeply damaging and painful for all involved. I trust that the accusers’ retractions and apologies were sincere, and I believe that their serious accusations were not. I’m relieved that the situation is not what we feared it was. I’m sad this happened at all. And I don’t think there is any risk to one’s career in coming out and saying that under your own name. I encourage more librarians to do so.

    With so many of us living public lives, we are all vulnerable to rumor, innuendo and even malicious lies. Nobody knows what people are saying about us behind our backs. At the same time, nobody wants to re-victimize (or libel) someone who was abused by calling her a liar. I think (hope?) that is why more in the library community did not speak up earlier. It’s why I didn’t say anything until more information came out. Now I feel like that was a mistake.

    Anyone can be a victim and everyone deserves due process. It should absolutely be safe to say you’ve been victimized, but the accused should also be protected from personal and professional repercussions until the facts are established. That’s true no matter how successful we are, what gender we are, what age we are or even what our reputations are. If I was accused of something, I would want my friends and colleagues to keep an open mind, listen to me and reserve judgement until a formal determination was made. Plenty of people did that (I believe it was a majority), but more should have felt like it was okay to say it. Because if I was *falsely* accused, I would want, need and expect public support. For that, let me get in line to apologize to Mr. Murphy: I’m sorry that this happened and I wish I had done more.

    Fortunately, there are still opportunities to step up and speak out. I think that efforts to blame Mr. Murphy for what happened, or condemn him for seeking legal relief, should stop. It is not a SLAPP when someone defends himself against actual libel. What you think or believe about Mr. Murphy’s behavior, personality or job, it doesn’t justify libel. We don’t ask victims to be perfect people who have never made a mistake. We don’t go rifling through their private lives to see what they did to deserve an attack. We don’t sit around judging whether the victim fits the “victim profile.” We don’t expect a victim to pursue his case a jurisdiction that is unfavorable to him, or judge him for not wanting to have a mediation with strangers who called him a sexual predator.

    Finally, we don’t get to make a person a scapegoat for a diffuse and difficult social problem like sexual harassment. This is especially if there is no evidence that he did anything wrong, but it’s true even if he (or she or they) did. “I was trying to make a point,” is no excuse. The way our system handles rape and sexual harassment is shameful. A lot of victims never get justice. A lot of abusers are never stopped. But even the people who actually committed these kinds of crimes and violations didn’t create the justice system and they didn’t write our laws. And I say that both as someone who has been harassed and as someone who is close to people who will never be able to take their abusers to court.

    I was hesitant to wade into such a controversial issue, especially considering the online harassment nearly everyone who expressed an opinion about this situation has received. I also find myself at odds with many people I respect and trust, and in the rhetorical company of some people who I don’t want to be associated with. Like many other librarians active on social media, I am at the beginning of my career, and I am trying to move up in the world. All that makes me uncomfortable when I court controversy.

    But I’d be more uncomfortable if I didn’t say anything. Because this case is settled, but I don’t think this is the last time a fellow librarian will make or face an accusation. We have to do better. Our Codes of Conduct and other grievance procedures have to leave room for doubt and many opportunities for people to protest and appeal. When the stakes are so high, the need to support, protect and care for victims needs to be matched by a commitment to patience, transparency, due process and the other standards and ideals of a fair justice system.

    I don’t think that this is beyond librarians, academics or society at large.

    • Natalie, when #TeamHarpy started, I asked week after week for #libchat that you moderate to talk about #TeamHarpy, but it didn’t for so many weeks that I finally gave up asking. Would you please tell us why you choose not to raise that issue on #libchat? At ALA Think Tank I and a number of others are blocked and mocked. So #libchat is the only way I know to exercise free speech on library issues. Why didn’t you ask #libchat about #TeamHarpy?

    • Natalie Binder says:

      I’ll take your suggestion for a #libchat topic under advisement. Have a nice day, Mr. Kleinman.

    • Natalie, it wasn’t a suggestion. You were asked a question which you cowardly avoided.

      As an outside observer quite new to this story I can only say that the way you avoided responsibility for anything there was very indicative of how most in the library world have behaved in this case.

    • Natalie Binder says:

      With regard to why this didn’t come up in #libchat before: it involved people’s lives as well as an ongoing court case. It would have invited a lot of uninformed speculation and commentary and it would have been difficult to get people to participate effectively. In general, #libchat tries not to make named individuals or institutions into discussion topics, for both ethical and legal reasons. More abstract questions that addressed the many issues brought up by this situation are welcome and expected, especially now that the case is resolved. That said, I really think this needs to get back on topic. If you’d like to talk more about this, there are multiple ways to get in touch with me.

    • Natale Binder says:

      I should add that I had no interest in spreading these rumors and allegations to people who hadn’t heard about them.

    • Okay, Natalie. At this point TeamHarpy is no longer the issue.

      The issue is and remains sexual harassment of librarians, why it happens, why sexually harassed librarians fear speaking up about it (setting aside Team Harpy), what can be done about it, where are there resources for sexually harassed librarians to get information to help stop the sexual harassment (I’ve started Librarians.cc that Library Journal has already written about in one story), does ALA provide such resources and where, how can library directors be trained that telling a sexually harassed librarian “if you don’t like the harassment you can quit” could lead to charges of constructive discharge, what part does unfiltered p0rn play in the sexual harassment of librarians, why did ALA OIF recently say no librarian has ever been sexually harassed–not even in Minneapolis or Birmingham– and likely never will be, how effective is it to address sexual harassment of librarians by librarians at ALA conferences but ignore or mock talk of sexual harassment of librarians by patrons who have viewed p0rn, etc.

      I know that’s a lot for one #libchat or twenty, but it can be addressed a little here and a little there. I’ll bet if it is addressed at least with one question every #libchat, more people will be interested in becoming involved, at least if the conversation is open and people are not shouted down or otherwise ostracized. Not by you, of course, so far as I recall you have always been a fair, honest moderator.

      But if I were to raise the issue of why ALA OIF said sexual harassment of librarians never happened and never will, I would get a ton of heat for that and people would be told to block me — as has already happened, including being blocked from ALA Think Tank by a person running for ALA president.

      Actually, knowing that, I’ll be basically observing, so long as there’s a healthy conversation on the topic going on within the confines of the usual #libchat structure and not the avoidance of the issue as in the past. I promise I’m not trying to push any views into #libchat, I’m simply trying to get the conversation started, and have it be an open and honest conversation, not one like Team Harpy where you were told if you did not agree with them you were part of the problem.

      @botfap is right. If the library world continues to bury the issue or claim it doesn’t exist, the sexual harassment will merely continue. We all know that. As the moderator of #libchat, here’s your opportunity to contribute to bringing sunshine to the issue. The more sunshine, the less harassment.

    • So, considering the above from #libchat’s moderator, here are tonight’s #libchat questions and a comment that leaves out the filtering process in place for questions, so I guess sexual harassment of librarians is off the menu — again — and another week slips by. The healthy snacks question — that is far, far more important than sexually harassed librarians, apparently:

      Q1 What services does your library offer to non-native English speakers?

      Q2 If you have an IT department, do they manage social media or does another department handle that? Which department? Why?

      Q3 Why are you a librarian?

      Q4 Are people from outside your service area/population allowed to use your library? Do you charge? How does it work?

      Q5 What are your go-to healthy snacks that keep you going at work? Do you have a favorite or a recipe?

      Q6 As a manager (or future manager) how do/would you talk to an employee about an issue that might be embarrassing for them?

      Q7 If you could suggest a reading (book or article) for next week’s #libchat, what would be?

      We don’t have topics usually–people suggest Qs that they’re interested in.

  40. whatever says:

    “”Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, also sees some value in this loose use of ‘rape.’ She says angry victims of various forms of sexual intimidation cry rape to regain their sense of power. ‘To use the word carefully would be to be careful for the sake of the violator, and the survivors don’t care a hoot about him.’ Comins argues that men who are unjustly accused can sometimes gain from the experience. ‘They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.'””

    To Joe, Duke, and Owen

    If #TeamHarpy is suffering a few Internet condemnations, it is not a pain I would necessarily spare them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration by #TeamHarpy and all feminists and social justice warriors. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. “How do I see men? How do I see the cis-gendered? How do I see people who do not look like me or think like me? If I didn’t violate Joe, could I have? Do I encourage such behaviors by others? Do I have the potential to be a sociopathic part of a lynch mob? Could I be involved with gossip, fear mongering, and ruination of the innocents? What is wrong with me? What stories did I learn in college or on twitter and tumblr and at Salon that sre just out and out stupid and malicious? Those are good questions.

    I apologize to #TeamHarpy if I cannot be as Christian as they wish in accepting their apologies and condemning their condemnors.

    Perhaps they can start with a large donation to Fathers4Justice.

  41. Civilization says:

    [This comment was deleted because it violates our Comment Policy.]

  42. Melanie says:

    Unfortunately, I know of at least one male MLIS student who has quit the program in light of what happened with Mr. Murphy. He was quite fearful of being falsely accused as Murphy was. I guess one of my own profs was more right than she realized: “men don’t belong in the library field.”

  43. Carolyn says:

    The lawsuit is over and it is time to move along now, people. We have much work to do in libraryland, including dealing with bullies, the day to day work of running libraries, and planning for the future of libraries. Mr. Murphy still has much to contribute to libraries, and hopefully he will do so, if we can all move on.

    Next time you want to trash someone online or in your library organization, remember what happened in this situation, and do something good for yourself and your colleagues instead.

  44. Jamie Anonymous says:

    I thought Sarah Houghton was a witness? What happened there? Anyone know?

    • I don’t think she ever said – she posted a tweet saying she was coming forth as a witness, but she never said what she witnessed. I don’t know anything about Canadian discovery, so I don’t know if Murphy’s lawyers have heard what she has to say.

  45. To me, this still points to the fact that older men and young women may perceive their interactions and power imbalances very differently. I have been a librarian for two years. I’ve already been warned about a senior male colleague who ‘collects young ladies’ on my campus. It would affect my reputation, far more than his, if I went on a date unwarned, without information on how he is perceived by others on campus.

    I had a male with hiring authority send personal emails and quietly ask to meet up for an evening social occasion unrelated to libraries; although he was friendly and good looking, this made me very uncomfortable. I was a new MLS grad seeking a job with him–and he was a senior manager with hiring authority, indirectly asking me out. I’ve seen him at conferences since, with flattered young women at his side. I have let friends know, quietly– but haven’t shared his identity in public.

    To me as a young woman, warning about men who made advances is what women *do* for other women. I understand why the female defendants likely made the statements they did, not realizing that this is usually done in private, between vulnerable women, and not in public. And I indeed hope that the guy who filed the suit does not experience harm from strong accusations that could not be substantiated. My own uncle was driven out of teaching because of a false claim of sexual harassment by students, so I certainly understand the high stakes for all of us in these type of interactions — and yet how much we still need and desire to work closely together to advance our profession! Ironically, young women and prominent men are probably the two most vulnerable groups in these types of situations — a perfect storm.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I am a librarian who has been raped at a library conference by a conference organizer.
    For what it’s worth, it was not Joe Murphy.

    I also happened to have been raped one other time before in University, which I reported to the police. I had to stand trial and give statements. The defense tore me apart – I had been drinking that night, I had made out with someone else that night, I was too slutty. My parents knew, my professors knew, everyone I know knew, and I went from being known for being smart and funny to being known for being raped. That process was the longest, hardest time of my life. It felt like it lasted forever. He didn’t even get convicted. He was found guilty and then appealed and was let off.

    So when I was raped at a library conference, the whole time all I could think was, “I will never report this to the police.” Yes, that was what went through my head as I was being raped. Because you know if you’ve been raped, that process sucks. It sucks so much. And if all of library land knew, I can’t see a way out of the stigma, short of changing careers.

    All that being said, it would be nice to warn other women that there’s a rapist out there at conferences. But I can’t. And you know why?

    This guy will probably sue me.
    And I will be known as rape girl.
    And I’ll never get another job.
    And I live in Canada, where apparently it’s super easy to get sued for this kind of thing.

    So you know what? I’m glad this case happened. I’m glad Joe Murphy sued nina and Lisa. You know why? Because now I know to never ever name my rapist, in case he sues me. And I know never to speak out because getting trolled and doxed will never be worth it.

    So thank to JM for proving that there are librarians out there who would sue other librarians.
    And thanks to nina and Lisa for completely discrediting victims.

    • James McParland says:

      Gosh, who knew that Library Conferences were such hotbeds of lust?

      I don’t understand why librarians should never sue other librarians. If another librarian rear-ended your car and totalled it, and then refused to pay for damages, wouldn’t you sue? Its called tort law. Do librarians take some kind of oath never to seek justice in a court of law like other citizens do?

      And no, I don’t think Team Harpy discredited any actual victims, either.. Under any reasonable interpretation, they merely discredited themselves.

    • John C. Randolph says:

      …and since you’re posting from the cover of anonymity, we should of course believe you. After all, it’s not like anyone with an agenda to push has ever lied about a rape, is it?

      If you’re telling the truth, then stand up and name names.


  47. ImanAzol says:

    No matter what, we should always assume the man is innocent and telling the truth.

    The Harpies’ (how accurate a name) have committed rape and belong in jail. As we have seen in recent weeks in the news, these allegations are ALWAYS lies. Women ALWAYS lie.

    Oh, they don’t?

    Well, neither do they ALWAYS tell the truth.

    • James McParland says:

      Excellent point, ImanAzol. In my experience, males and females stand on equal footing when it comes to psychological propensities for fantasizing, story-telling, projecting, being defensive, avoiding personal responsibility, and lying. Our legal system and courtroom rules of due process are based on centuries’ of experience dealing with such human failings. To suppose that university Title IX administrators, feminist bloggers or ALA officials now have some superior insight into human conflicts is both preposterous and the height of intellectual arrogance.

    • John C. Randolph says:

      NO, they’ve committed slander, not rape. Expanding the definition of rape to include crimes that are not rape, only helps them in their goal to punish the innocent.


  48. John C. Randolph says:

    The poster using the handle “End Sexism Now” is a vicious, evil little shit for suggesting that an innocent man should confess to a crime just to serve the political agenda of the people who slandered him.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that Solzhenitsyn described in the Gulag Archipelago, where a prisoner who was just grabbed to make a quota would be leaned on to confess “for the good of the party.”


  49. Roger Tanner says:

    Dear Amy,

    You said in the comments that spreading rumors without basis in fact or evidence is OK. And apparently you believe that suing somebody for defamation is “bullying and censorship”.

    I heard a rumor that you might be a child rapist and a murderer. Now don’t censor or bully me please with your lawyer. I hate you because you might be a child rapist and pedophile. According to rumor i might have heard.

    Best regards!