The Daily Cal Lawsuit Saga: An Open Letter to Harvey Purtz

As I reported in my previous post, Fresno, Calif., podiatrist Harvey Purtz is suing Daily Californian editor in chief Rajesh Srinivasan.  Purtz is angry that Srinivasan declined to remove or alter online stories about the involvement of Purtz’s son– a former UC Berkeley student– in an embarrassing incident at an adult club.  Every student press advocate, journalist, and living, breathing human being who has offered public comment considers this case egregiously stupid.  I share their sentiments.  Below is an open letter to Purtz expressing my condemnation.

Dear Dr. Purtz,

Your lawsuit is sad, and disturbing.  Your son is gone.  Grieve.  Don’t sue.

You may feel you are fighting a worthy battle to clear your son’s name.  You are not.  Instead, you are wasting the time of lawyers and the court on a case no judge worth her robe and gavel will oversee with a straight face.

You are also inflicting emotional distress and an academic disturbance upon Daily Californian editor in chief Rajesh Srinivasan, a young man who had absolutely nothing to do with the reporting of the 2006 incident involving your son or the creation of the newspaper’s policy outlining why the reports will remain online.

And ultimately, instead of accomplishing your goal of erasing the information from the public consciousness, your lawsuit is doing nothing but bringing renewed attention to an obviously sad chapter in your son’s tragically short life.

Negative Google prints can be cruel, but they are not insurmountable.  The key to fighting back: Do not try to change the reality of what they reveal.  Instead, attempt to provide other prints worth clicking upon.  Get a blog up with posts providing your take on what happened with the adult club incident.  Launch and maintain a more general website honoring your son’s memory.

Or, more simply, learn to let go.  We can no longer simply erase our past.  We must be willing to embrace the fact that our own imperfections and those of our loved ones are evermore only a search term away from being uncovered.

The Daily Californian’s decision to leave the reports about your son’s adult club rabble-rousing as they originally ran is not a slap in your face or a black mark on your son’s grave.  It is good journalism.  Every self-respecting news outlet, journalist, and blogger would respond the same way.  As I typically reply to the regular requests I receive to erase or change posts on this blog, I would rather cut off an arm before removing something I consider accurate and newsworthy.

Journalism’s foundation is built atop the integrity of the information we provide.  If we begin giving in to everyone who wants a quick switch or a full erasure of content, we lose the public’s trust.

In the end, grief cannot be a cover for student press harassment.  Your singling out of Srinivasan especially angers me.  I do not know him personally, but I still consider him a brother.  We are bonded by journalism.  A fight against one of us is a fight against all of us.  And we will fight back.

I am sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,

Dan

Daniel Reimold, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Journalism
Faculty Adviser, The Minaret
University of Tampa
Box R, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606-1490
Comments
5 Responses to “The Daily Cal Lawsuit Saga: An Open Letter to Harvey Purtz”
  1. Caleb says:

    “We are bonded by journalism. A fight against one of us is a fight against all of us. And we will fight back.”

    Such a true statement. I applaud your grit sir.

    • hpurtz says:

      caleb,
      I am sure you could not fight your way out of a wet paper bag!
      The ethical approach of journalism is to get both sides of the story before posting harmful 1 sided views as media matters and and your friend Dan have done hiding behind your computers!

  2. DC says:

    The real story is of a son with a severe brain disorder that ultimately resulted in his death. Other web sites have had the decency to remove the link from the incident in 2006 when his illness began. A father has every right to try and preserve his sons dignity. Mr Purtz does not want money he just wants the link removed. What is so wrong with that?
    Free speech is a wonderful thing, but sometimes the best thing to do is to be compassionate – which separates us from the animals and may yet save our violent race. Anyone a father out their with an illness you did not choose?

  3. Rn says:

    I am tired of you left wing, it’s all about free speech, print it no matter the truth liberals. Whatever happened to doing the right thing, the decent and moral thing, especially to our fellow man, who as lost a son, and as had to fight battles for his son during his life and after his passing. Where is the compassion? Let it go and give the family some peace.

  4. hpurtz says:

    Dan Reimold,
    Your arrogance in writting this open letter is only exceeded by your desire to use your position and spread further media intimidation over the internet. Did you know the events that unfolded from both sides prior to the court case? Did you talk to me privately prior to publicly writing this letter and posting on the internet forever? What experience do you have to offer advice on grieving? In regards to your comment, I would take off my right arm before removing an article, I refer you to the bible: Luke9:43 and Matthew5:30. If your school or you do not have a bible, I will send you one. Did you know that every site removed the trash articles except the Daily Californian? Rajesh Srinivasan stated he had final authority over removal. The other sites had an ethical standard. I want you to retract your statement, “Sorry for your loss”,because it is obvious that the only loss you regret is Rajesh Srinivasan missing an insignifcant 1 day of school, while he was held accountable for his harmful decisions. 3 generations of my family are war veterans that have brought freedom of press and speech to other countries. Editors and writers that spend their friday nights dishonoring reputations of their innocent victims by writing insignificant, non historical, non criminal event articles meant only to cause harm, should not be a person’s internet legacy. This is not free speech. It is a weapon used by cowards that do not face their victims while they dishonor them. Is it the victims responsibility to clean up the mess?
    Sincerely Yours,
    Harvey Purtz

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