Last week, I posted about my brief interaction with Tom MacMaster, the man who posed as “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” Today, my publicist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt forwarded me the following email from someone purporting to be Mr. MacMaster. (I have deleted my publicist’s name from the correspondence.)
—– Original Message —–
From: Tom MacMaster (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: (name deleted)
Sent: Tue Jun 21 01:50:34 2011
Subject: Minal Hajratwala
Dear (name deleted),
I am contacting you regarding a client of yours, Minal Hajratwala. On her website, she has posted information regarding me as well as copyrighted materials. Please advise her to remove all of these forthwith as, otherwise, I will be seeking legal action against her.
Dear Mr. MacMaster,
Since you have my email address, as is clear from your earlier email to me as “Amina,” you are welcome to correspond with me directly and say anything that you wish to say to me. My email address is also available through my website, which is where I am guessing you found my publicist’s email address in the first place, so the purpose of sending her this email is rather obscure to me.
I am sharing your email via my blog and with a few of journalists who have been covering your story. I will also be encouraging others to mirror my original blog post, including the PDF, in case for some reason my site needs to be taken down. In case a legal defense is needed, I feel quite confident that the blogosphere will volunteer its assistance.
I received an immediate response via email:
from Tom MacMaster email@example.com
to Minal Hajratwala
cc (name deleted)
date Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 8:37 PM
subject Re: Fw: Minal Hajratwala
Dear Minal Hajratwala,
Please note that the Amina Arraf gmail account has been destroyed as well as all correspondence sent there. I am currently in conversations with an attorney here as to potential libel cases as well as potential copyright violations.
I do not wish to start a flame war with you. I am not seeking further publicity, positive or negative, and wish you no ill. Hence, my request to delete those materials so as to avoid potential legal troubles for both of us.
For the moment I think I’ll refrain from further commentary; if this is indeed Mr. MacMaster, I have a feeling others will say everything that needs to be said about this.
I’m also open to the possibility that this is not from him, but from someone who is so irritated with him that they want to keep the story alive and make him look even worse than he does.
Want to help?
Here again is the PDF of the memoir draft that “Amina” had sent me, if anyone would like to upload it to their own site: A-Thousand-Sighs-Part-I.
All are welcome to mirror/repost my original blog post, in which I talk about how this suddenly newsworthy document first came to me, and share my impressions of it.
Legal advice, media query, something else? Please do feel free to comment below or contact me.
Post amended to add:
As I was writing this post, I realized that the original damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” has been taken down, which makes it difficult for anyone to see the level of deceit we’re talking about here. I was just sent a zip archive of that blog, which seems to include everything except the last two entries (in which Tom MacMaster came out as, and then apologized for, Amina). I believe strongly that the blog as it appeared remains an important part of the public dialogue. For that reason, with the permission of the person who sent it to me, I am posting the zip archive. Click here to download it..
I’ve been told it’s a good idea to have multiple mirror sites in case this one gets taken down. That’s why I’m asking people to feel free to upload any of these files to public sites or your own blogs. (Thanks to those who have already done so; see links in the comments below.) I’m not on a vendetta here, and in fact I’ve been far less involved in this issue than many other people. At this point I simply think it’s important to keep the public record public, and to live with your own mistakes — rather than trying to cover them up or to blame other people for pointing them out.