I was disappointed to see Nicole Austin, Associate Producer on The Resurrection Tomb Mystery documentary (The Jesus Discovery in Canada), characterizing this blog as engaging in slander. In a comment on Robert Cargill's blog today, she responded to Paul Regnier who had asked her a question about the scholars working on the project. She wrote:Yes, I find it disappointing too, and, frankly, astonishing. Is this really the sort of accusation Associated Producers Ltd. wants to associate itself with? Both Bob Cargill and commenter "Deane" have pointed out that Ms. Austin is herself using legal language here (and Deane notes that she is using it inaccurately: "slander" refers to spoken defamation whereas "libel" refers to written). In any case, the accusation against Mark of any kind of defamation has no merit and I challenge her to demonstrate otherwise.You are repeating the same slander which has dominated the Cargill/West/Goodacre blogs and has kept the majority of true scholars away from this discussion.Nicole, who works for Associated Producers Ltd., goes on to make other rude remarks, mentioning me by name again, but it is the accusation of slander that I find especially disappointing.
I am not a lawyer and would never think of dispensing legal advice, but, speaking entirely for myself, I would be very cautious about going around making legal accusations against people in print unless I had some pretty compelling evidence to back them up.
I see from the comments on Mark's blog post that I am not the only one who is wondering where James Tabor is while this is going on. He has been very vocal in defending the Jesus Discovery project, as of course is his right, and indeed his duty if his professional opinion supports it. He has not commented so far, either on the original XKV8R blog post (after Ms. Austin's comments) or on Mark's blog post or on his own blog. I know it's the weekend, and I myself was having a life yesterday and didn't blog, but I hope we hear some clarification from him soon about Ms. Austin's accusation and his position on it.
It is a pity that someone so closely associated with the project and documentary has taken the conversation in this direction, since it makes discussion of the actual evidence all the more difficult.
Background on the Jesus Discovery/Talpiot (Talpiyot) Tombs controversy is here and follow the many links back.
UPDATE: The PhDiva makes a comeback to comment: The "Jesus Discovery" Slander etc ...