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Alan Stang Died

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2009

You may be forgiven if you’ve never heard of him. I wrote this as an introduction when I awarded Alan Stang the LaBarbera Award two years ago:

When I was in high school, a local AM radio station in my hometown used to carry a five-minute program called the “Alan Stang Report” produced by the John Birch Society. The program began with Alan Stang’s menacing voice announcing “This is Alan Stang… Stick Around!” before going to a brief commercial for the local sponsor (a candy and tobacco distributor). And he’d always end his report with “This is Alan Stang… Think about it!” In between, you’d hear another revelation from the strangest collection of conspiracy theories imaginable.

According to Alan Stang, Gerald Ford was a communist. So was his vice president, Nelson Rockefeller. Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were communists too. By the time Ronald Reagan was in office, I was in college so I never found out whether he was a communist or not.

Alan Stang’s "Not Holier Than Thou"

Alan Stang’s "Not Holier Than Thou"

I gave Stang the LaBarbera award for his book, Not Holier Than Thou: How Queer is Bush?. Communists as bogeymen was so 1990; it was now the homosexuals’ turn. Maybe if I had “stuck around” to listen to his earlier reports on the radio, I might have learned that Ronald Reagan was our first “homosexual” president, as was just about every president since then. Who knew?

And in case you had any doubts about Alan Stang’s sanity, you have Paul Cameron to vouch for him. Cameron wrote the foreword to Stang’s 2007 self-published book, in which he congratulates Stang and the reader for having “figured it all out.” Amazingly, Cameron’s foreword was the most sensible piece in the book, even though it was the same loony paranoia we’ve come to expect from him.

But where Cameron’s forward was relatively conventional as paranoia goes, the rest of Stang’s book was simply an unreadable mess. I wasn’t able to get much further than the first chapter. It reads more or less like his web site. Check out his post on McCain’s Sodomites, just to give you an idea.

But I didn’t know any of that when I sent away for his book shortly after having given him the LaBarbera Award. He may have been 78 75 at the time, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know his Google. He left a personal inscription in the copy he sent me, making him one of the few people I’ve written about who knows how to appreciate an award.

I missed his obituary in World Net Daily. He passed away on July 19, at the age of 77 80 (WND incorrectly gives his age at 77). Lew Rockwell, the alleged ghost writer of Congressman Ron Paul’s anti-gay newsletters, eulogized Stang as a fighter who “never stopped punching. What a spirit he had.” An anonymous writer for the John Birch Society remembered him as one of their more popular speakers — as well as a former ballroom dance teacher. Interesting, the things you learn when someone passes away. It’s a shame, though, that Stang went to his grave without his own Wikipedia page. Now the larger world may never learn that the Republican Party was “red from the start.”

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Ben in Oakland
August 11th, 2009 | LINK

1 down.

Only 3,398,478,193 left to go.

KZ
August 11th, 2009 | LINK

“red from the start” and pink at the time of his death.

And I thought LaBarbera was crazy…

Dave in Mpls
August 11th, 2009 | LINK

Someone once told me, “Change happens one funeral at a time.”

ernie1241
August 12th, 2009 | LINK

Alan Stang also unintentionally changed American libel law. After 14 years of litigation, including 2 jury trials, several appeals and review by the U.S. Supreme court, the Birch Society paid Chicago lawyer Elmer Gertz $400,000 for the libelous article written by Stang which they published in their magazine.

The Appeals Court commented that Stang’s behavior during this episode was evidence of “malice” (i.e. reckless disregard of truth”) and, consequently, the court allowed punitive damages in the amount of $300,000.

For more info see:
http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/jbs-3

ravenbiker
August 12th, 2009 | LINK

Oh, Ben in Oakland! I like your thinking! Gave me a good laugh!

Larry Weisman
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

I am Alan Stang’s first cousin, not that I’m proud of it. Alan was a total nut case. However, to straighten out the record, Alan was born in the Bronx, N.Y. on February 26, 1932, one month after me. That means he died at age 77. May he rest in peace.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Mr. Weisman,

Thank you for correcting the record. I don’t know why so many sources gave the wrong age. May he rest in peace.

----
August 14th, 2009 | LINK

Any relation to Ivan Stang, founder of the Church of SubGenius?

Cindy Lacy
August 19th, 2009 | LINK

Alan Stang was a real hero, one who never wavered. I found his lavender book both readable and factual. Hard for me to believe that we are talking about the same man.

ernie
August 21st, 2009 | LINK

Contrary to one reader’s comment above Alan Stang was not “a hero” — unless you believe that circulating false, inflammatory and often defamatory information is virtuous behavior.

I previously mentioned Stang’s role in the Gertz libel lawsuit. I could also mention all of the data in FBI files which demonstrates that Stang routinely disseminated falsehoods during his association with the Birch Society.

Principled conservatives recognize that legitimate anti-communism requires ACCURATE data — not alarmist or defamatory assertions which discredit the cause.

Cindy Lacy
August 21st, 2009 | LINK

Thank you, enjoyed reading the information about the Gertz libel lawsuit and the thinking behind some of the court’s rulings. I’ve appreciated Alan Stang’writing since the American Opinion articles of the 1970′s, never finding that he circulated false, defamatory or alarmist assertions. Other principled conservatives are not in any danger from Alan Stang. Still a hero, RIP

ernie
August 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Well, Cindy, you don’t seem to have done much in-depth research about Mr. Stang’s writings.

The concluding “Observations” paragraph of an FBI memo about Stang’s book about our civil rights movement states:

“The details of the book do not support the strong conclusions reached by the author. We have had available to us all the material which Stang has plus considerable additional data from our investigations and we could not arrive at such conclusions. The impression is received that Stang may have well started with his conclusions and then developed the information and manner of presentation which he hoped would prove his point. This work must be viewed in the light of the author’s apparent close connections with Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.” [HQ 100-106670-1412, May 28, 1965, and 100-106670-1525, June 24, 1965, both F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan]

With respect to Stang’s article in American Opinion magazine which produced the Gertz libel lawsuit, two juries on two separate occasions found the Stang article to be libelous and the second jury awarded Gertz $300,000 in punitive damages in addition to $100,000 compensatory damages. Ultimately, the Gertz matter wound up being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the Oral Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Birch Society was represented by Clyde J. Watts.

See following link for oral arguments (total time 58 minutes, 25 seconds). Gertz’s attorney speaks first, then Clyde Watts.

http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1973/1973_72_617

During the oral arguments, Clyde Watts was asked by a Justice whether or not it was true that the Birch Society ADMITTED during its trial that “falsehoods” were contained in their magazine article about Elmer Gertz.

Please pay particular attention to the follow discussions:

At 35:04 = Watts confirms what the JBS ADMITTED at the original trial:

“It was conceded that some of the remarks in the article were false.”

At 36:01 = Watts ADMITS that:

“Under Illinois law, the inference and impact of the article, absent the New York Times concept, would be libelous. I think the Court is accurate in that observation.”

The 1982 Appeals Court decision made the following comments about Scott Stanley Jr. (editor of American Opinion) and Alan Stang:

“In summary, Stanley conceived of a story line; solicited Stang, a writer with a known and unreasonable propensity to label persons or organizations as Communist, to write the article; and after the article was submitted, made virtually no effort to check the validity of statements that were defamatory per se of Gertz, and in fact added further defamatory material based on Stang’s ‘facts’. There was more than enough evidence for the jury to conclude that this article was published with utter disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements contained in the article about Gertz.” [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 81-2483, Elmer Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 6/16/82, page 20].

There is also a footnote appended to this paragraph in which the Appeals Court observed that:

“Furthermore, Stang’s conduct in investigating and researching the article also is evidence of actual malice.”…

The 1982 Appeals Court also made the following comments about Stang:

“Stang’s research for this article was akin to the ‘slipshod and sketchy investigatory techniques’ condemned in Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 169-70, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 1998-1999, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967) (Warren, C. J., concurring).

Stang visited Chicago twice to research the article. None of the persons he interviewed told him that Gertz had been involved in the criminal prosecution of Nuccio. He did not interview any of the lawyers involved in the criminal or civil actions against Nuccio. He read the transcript of Nuccio’s criminal trial and looked at the pleadings filed in the civil case, which had the names of Gertz and Ralla Klepak on them. He also talked to an unnamed Chicago police officer who gave him notes taken from Gertz’s police intelligence file. Stang admitted at trial, however, that he had no knowledge of the source of the information in the files or whether the information was accurate. Stang also testified that he consulted government documents about the organizations listed in Gertz’s police intelligence file. This was not an exhaustive search of government records, but rather a selective use of particular reports of certain congressional committees published twenty to thirty years earlier. The only facts verified in these reports were Gertz’s membership in the National Lawyers’ Guild to 1950, and that the Guild had been identified as a Communist-front organization. Stang made no effort to find out if Gertz was still a member of the Guild, nor did he attempt to contact or interview Gertz.”

In addition, there are FBI memos which critique other writings by Stang and those memos are equally critical of his “research” and conclusions.

BobK
December 9th, 2011 | LINK

Just thought I’d leave a note. On tonight’s “Head-ON With Bob Kincaid,” I had occasion to remember hearing Alan Stang’s paranoid ravings on a local radio station in Alabama when I, too, was a young man.

The conversation centered on the paranoiac tendencies in the conservative movement and Stang’s “Think about it!” came immediately to mind.

He was nuts, but as you and I both prove, he had an unforgettable streak!

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