Video: Gerald Posner Apologizes for Ripping Off Parts of Miami Babylon, Then Things Get Ugly
Gerald Posner showed up at Miami Beach Botanical Garden last night fresh off New Times' revelations that he had plagiarized significant text from author Frank Owen's Clubland in his book Miami Babylon.
Rather than ignore the "800-pound gorilla," as he called it, or Owen himself, who was in attendance at the speech, Posner started the night off with an apology of sorts, which you can watch above.
Posner never uses the word plagiarism in the mea culpa, though he does admit that "in this case, I violated my own methodology and my own standards."
Owen wasn't satisfied, but the rest of Posner's speech went smoothly enough. After most of the audience had filtered out, though, things got really crazy, with a shoving match, shouted accusations, and an elderly woman intervening and begging for "peace" in the garden.
Before we get to that wild scene, Frank Owen did push Posner on his plagiarizing ways during the Q & A session after his speech. As you can see in the clip below, Owen asks Posner if he can promise that he's the only author Posner ripped off in Miami Babylon.
Neither Posner nor the moderator are thrilled with the question.
It wasn't until well after the speech, though, when the real trouble began. After most of the crowd had filtered out and Owen had left, Owen's fiancée, Lera Gavin, asked Posner if he still wanted to meet face-to-face with the Clubland author.
We'll let Owen describe the scene from there, because, alas, we had already left the building. From his Facebook page:
The real sparks came after the reading when Lera asked Posner "Are we still going out for a drink to discuss this?" Posner exploded. His plastic face turned red: "Yeah, I'm a thieving cocksucker." "Yes, you are a thieving cocksucker," Lera replied. And then an elderly lady came running towards them: "This is a botanical garden. It's a peaceful place. Can you please take it some place else?"
Posner has responded with this letter, reprinted in full:
You, as a New Times reporter, sent me the note for a comment only after you posted the account on your blog. You posted a second hand account, as Frank Owen was not even there. You gave me no prior opportunity to comment on its accuracy.
Here is a true account of what happened last night.
When Lera Gavin, Frank Owen's fiancé, approached me and my wife, Trisha, after the event, and asked if we were going to go for drinks, I told her that it was difficult for me to do so since I was disappointed about how unprofessionally I thought Frank had gone about this. Instead of having the courtesy as a fellow journalist to call me when he discovered text that he thought had been copied from his book, he instead posted it publicly on his Facebook page on Sunday, March 14, without giving me any chance to first reply. I told her - pointedly - that Frank had said in his very first posting, "Fuck Gerald Posner. Thieving Cocksucker."
I reminded her I'm an attorney - and publicly posted "Gerald Posner shamelessly stole from my book." At other times he called me a "douchebag" and "pussy" (the latter for defriending me from Facebook, which I didn't do, but which he did last night to me and Trisha after my reading at Botanical Gardens). And I reminded Lera that she herself had called me "a sleazy cocksucker" on Facebook and said that "if you look up a definition of a 'Delusional Syndrome' you will find a picture of Gerald Posner next to it."
I had brought my book to the talk and a file folder with photocopies of their Facebook pages and had highlighted the outrageous and vulgar remarks (no wonder they cut Trisha and me off last night from seeing their pages in the future).
Although we don't know Lera, to us she looked incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassed. Lera turned to Trisha and said, "Well, you know Frank is English." Trisha is also British, so I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean.
"Does this mean you're not going to have drinks and discuss this?" she asked us.
"I've already apologized twice," I responded.
"It's not enough because you haven't admitted it's intentional plagiarism."
"It's not. It was unintentional."
"It can't be."
Trisha and a woman to whom she was talking could see the conversation was going nowhere fast. "It's an inappropriate time," Trisha said. Trisha pulled my arm and said, "Let's stop. This is the wrong time." I walked away. None of us, including Lera, ever raised our voices.
But my impression was that somehow Frank, who strangely did not come up to me to talk, was somehow enjoying all the publicity he's engendered.
Even you Tim, a friend of Owen's on Facebook, sat behind Frank during my Miami Babylon talk and filmed the event. You wrote to Owen on Facebook when he said he "should go" to my talk, and said, "If you go, I expect an invite for the fireworks." Really not very professional, for a journalist who "broke" the story and is now covering it for the New Times.
This isn't a game. It's not a matter of "gotcha" or "fireworks" or vulgar mud slinging. When I called you on that remark last night, after you introduced yourself to me, you said, "Oh well, you know Frank." Actually, I don't, and the more I learn, I'm glad I don't.
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