Mark Twain once said that you should make the skeletons in your closet dance. Paul Berman has gone one better, he is making his skeleton breakdance. - -RW
The New Normal
Someone is trying to use email to blackmail me. Nothing can be done about it.
By Paul Berman
At the end of March I participated in a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan—a lively conversation on up-to-date themes with Leon Wieseltier and Bernard-Henri Lévy, moderated by Alana Newhouse, the Tablet editor. The discussion made for an agreeable evening, reasonably stimulating and entirely friendly and civilized—except for one problem. At the conclusion of the event, a well-known professor at one of the New York colleges, who is also a columnist at a liberal magazine, came up to me and announced that he was blackmailing me.
The professor’s posture and behavior attracted the attention of the security guards, who escorted him from the building. But he had sufficient time to explain to me what he wanted. He wanted me to publish a denunciation of myself in Tablet. He told me that, if I did not do what he demanded, he was going to humiliate me. He explained that somehow he had gotten hold of an erotic correspondence between me and someone else, and he intended to publish it. “Are you threatening me?” I said.
The security guards insisted on accompanying the members of the panel to our next appointment, which was at a bar, where they left us to drink in peace. I put the incident out of my mind. A couple of days later, however, the professor sent an email:
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