There's a great post over at the Community Alliance Blog that is highly critical of both Pamela Greenbaum and her lawyer, Adam Feder, while still noting that they disagree with the comments calling Greenbaum a bigot:
Whether or not the words written on Orthomom's blog -- either by Orthomom or one of the many (mostly Orthodox) anonymous posters -- are libelous in nature, even a first year law student knows that derogatory and possibly erroneous statements aimed at a public official are not actionable without a showing of "actual malice." [We suppose that the School Board Trustee's attorney was absent from class the day New York Times vs. Sullivan was discussed!]Which goes to show you that one does not have to agree with every stated position to be a proponent of the speaker's right to state that same position. Being of the same mind on every issue is not a requirement to be a proponent of free speech and of the right given to us by the First Amendment to practice that freedom. Having (and respecting) differing opinions is what makes this country the great place it is.
We can understand Pamela Greenbaum's frustration with the majority of the Lawrence School Board-- a majority that has the best interests of private school parents at heart, not public school students, or the community at large, for that matter -- and certainly Ms. Greenbaum has every right to be upset (we think "horrified" is too strong a word) when members of the Orthodox community, who rarely see beyond their own, parochial self-interests, call her a bigot and an anti-semite (statements of opinion, not fact), but clearly, there is no cause for bringing a defamation suit here, and surely, no action at law -- at least not one that could conceivably pass muster.
Pamela Greenbaum, as a staunch supporter of public education (though, in our opinion, a less than stellar representative of the cause) -- even in the face of apparent tyranny at the hands of the private school majority -- deserves praise for standing up for the public school children of Lawrence. They deserve better than what both the School Board and the voters are giving them.
To go on record saying that public funds should not be used for private schools -- a position with which we at The Community Alliance blog wholeheartedly agree -- doesn't make Ms. Greenbaum either a bigot or an anti-semite, protests by some of the more closed-minded in the Orthodox community notwithstanding.
That said, on the issue of Ms. Greenbaum's defamation suit -- designed to have a chilling effect upon free speech and public comment -- the Trustee is way off base.
Her lawsuit is nothing short of frivilous (something her attorney knew or should have known), and warrants not only outright dismissal by the trial court, but moreover, the imposition of monetary sanctions against both Greenbaum and her attorney.
Public debate and the fostering of open communications -- particularly in the forum of public education -- is not only useful, but absolutely necessary. Though unfortunate that some would stoop to name-calling and ad hominem attacks, those in the public's line of fire (as is Trustee Greenbaum), must learn to either take the heat or stay out of the kitchen.