Fighting Defamatory Slanders from UK Channel 4/Wag-TV
"The Sex Researchers" Program
A Report from James DeMeo, PhD
7 June 2012.
The opening years of the 2010 decade mark the onset of series of public defamatory slanders against the biography and research legacy of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich. I’ve already written a critique of the most polished of these attacks, here:
Critical Review of Christopher Turner’s Adventures in the Orgasmatron
A Defense of Dr. Wilhelm Reich and his Orgonomic Science
Against Renewed Sexual Slander and Defamation.
By James DeMeo, PhD
That item will serve as background to understanding the subsequent one described below.
Early in January 2011, I was approached by representatives of Wag-TV and Channel 4 in the UK, for production of a new TV series they were developing entitled "The Sex Researchers". It was represented to me as a serious documentary on the lives and work of various scientific investigators into human sexuality, such as Freud, Kinsey, Masters & Johnson, Magnus Hirschfeld, Havlock Ellis, Marie Bonaparte, and of course, Wilhelm Reich. They asked me for an interview contribution to the Wilhelm Reich segment of their planned program, and stressed how seriously they viewed their undertaking. They claimed to know how badly Reich had been smeared and subjected to defamatory slander in the American press, and in the years after his death, and wanted to help set things straight. They asked to take video shots of me in an interview, along with my laboratory and the orgone accumulator, for production of their movie.
The short report to follow gives some preliminary information on what developed thereafter, one of many "behind the scenes" attacks by emotional plague characters which aimed to create a total destruction of Wilhelm Reich’s research legacy, as well as my own name and work, and which are now almost a yearly occurrence. These are only sometimes brought to public attention, and in this case, for reasons detailed below, it was impossible to speak about it publicly until most recently.
The principals involved were Director and Producer Stephen Kemp, and Assistant Producers Vicky Booth and Ruth Mayer, of Wag-TV. Oversight of the full program was made by Executive Producer Martin Durkin of Channel 4. It is impossible for me to know if all these people planned to deceive and create a malicious slander from the very start, or if the original impulse for their project was honest, and only later was steered into a cesspool by the clever manipulations of key persons. But we know from Reich how one concealed emotional plague character can worm their way into formerly productive and effective organizations, and wreak havoc even while cloaking themselves as "innocent" or "helpful". All I know is, they made a persuasive appeal via emails and telephone calls which sounded fully sincere.
For example I had known some of the prior work at Channel 4, which made a top-notch set of programs exposing the large scientific flaws in the HIV hypothesis of AIDS. They made several broadcast programs supporting a group of scientists led by Dr. Peter Duesberg of U.C. Berkeley, in their criticisms of the HIV hypothesis of AIDS: "The AIDS Catch" and "AIDS and Africa". Both of those programs exposed malfeasance within one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms, and de-bunked much of the confused mainstream claims about what was causing AIDS. They are still available for on-line review, here:
Channel 4 had also produced "The Great Global Warming Swindle" program, which likewise criticized establishment views and political conniving in the promotion of the CO2 theory of global warming.
In both of those cases, Channel 4 took on very controversial subjects which establishment Big Science and Big Medicine have tried to cover up and sequester, treating them seriously and exposing their weaknesses. This gave some badly-needed support to the often-maligned scientific dissenters, who suffered professionally at the hands of establishment censorship and repression. So I had good reason to believe Channel 4 would do a similar strong and serious expose to defend Wilhelm Reich against 80 years of slander, defamation and censorship by the mainstream of science and media. This was in addition to the fact that the representatives of Channel 4 and Wag-TV had personally told me exactly how they knew about the on-going defamatory slander of Reich, knew about life-energy from different contexts (such as acupuncture and subtle-energy research), and wanted to set the record straight. In this, they solicited my help as a former university professor who had validated Reich’s findings in a number of ways, and also to get video images of the orgone accumulator and cloudbuster devices.
My usual procedure in such cases, when dealing with independent film-makers, is to demand full disclosure of the final production prior to giving any approvals or legal release to the production company for use of my interview materials. In that way, if the film directors make a terrible mess of things or stick a knife into my back, I could legally demand they remove my filmed contributions before their production went public. But in this case, I dropped my guard. Not once in 40 years of doing orgonomic research had such an opportunity developed to "set the record straight" through such a major production company. While I had some remaining unsettled feeling (which in retrospect, I should have listened to) I decided to proceed with helping them to produce, as they had expressed, something good and decent.
So I agreed and, over several months leading up to the interview, and afterwards also, presented to them several educational emails which gave internet links to research papers and other published materials supporting Reich’s orgone energy research, including many from within peer-reviewed scientific forums. Many of these are available for free download on my own website:
I also provided them with hard copies of additional research papers and books, detailing good scientific verifications of Reich’s original findings, on human sexuality and on the orgone energy. These included my large work Saharasia, the largest-ever cross-cultural study on human behavior, analyzing the sexual and family life in 1170 different world cultures, and tracking global evidence for the first-origins of social violence in prehistory down into its modern expressions. Saharasia provided solid systematic and objective proof of the validity of Wilhlem Reich’s sexual-behavioral theories, as well as clear evidence and a time-line detailing the first-origins of human social violence and warfare at the time of a major climate-shift towards massive desert formation across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia ("Sahar-asia") at c.4000-3500 BCE.
I also sent them copies of my books detailing new evidence supporting Wilhelm Reich’s orgone energy discoveries, such as the Orgone Accumulator Handbook, and Heretic’s Notebook: Emotions, Protocells, Ether-Drift and Cosmic Life Energy:
They were given weblinks to my YouTube videos on Reich, as well as to several private PowerPoint presentations I had given to scientific conferences in recent years.
In my communications, as well as in the subsequent interviews, I emphasized the slanderous and defamatory nature of Reich’s critics on the issues of human sexuality, that Reich was not any kind of "pornographic character", and was in fact quite modest and had even been contemptuously ridiculed as "a prude" by the modern promoters of the compulsively promiscuous "anything goes" sexual bath-house and "swinger" scene. Reich described such sexual hyperactivity as neurotic and pathological, the opposite side and consequence of equally neurotic and pathological sex-repressive elements within a given society. Reich also emphasized the deeply pathological nature of the opportunistic sexual predator and pedophiles, from whom children had to be protected. I made efforts to summarize Reich’s view of genitality and his sex-economic theory, and how that is so different from every other theory on human sexuality, including the "raw discharge" ideas of Kinsey, for whom any and every kind of sexual stimulation was "equally good". Reich’s concepts of the full genital orgasm, versus the lesser "sexual climax", was also mentioned, not just in the printed materials I provided, but later during the actual interviews which were made. Our correspondence leading up to the actual interview was professional and courteous, and I anticipated they would do an excellent job, sticking with the facts.
I was wrong.
The Wag-TV crew spent a full day with me at OBRL in mid-February 2011, where all the above matters were discussed, and put on videotape. They also got video shots of my accumulators and cloudbuster. When Director Kemp brought up the 1950s slanders against Reich as having "masturbated patients" in therapy or in the accumulator, I emphasized the fabricated nature of those accusations, which were spread by Reich’s enemies in the International Psychoanalytic Association, and the Communist Party. Reich had once been an active member of both, but when he began to openly question their central precepts in the early 1930s, both threw him out of their organizations. Afterwards, they began spreading nasty rumors and newspaper smear attacks began (the Communists actually put him on their death lists); both groups also played central roles in the later spread of defamatory slander against Reich in the USA. http://www.orgonelab.org/ReichPersecution.htm
At the time of his departure to the USA in 1939, Reich was being publicly attacked in both the Nazi and Communist-controlled newspapers in Germany and Scandinavia, his books being denounced, impounded or burned, and his name was on both Gestapo and NKVD death-lists. The psychoanalysts were, meanwhile, spreading vicious sexual slander about him, merely for his straightforward addressing of issues they had systematically avoided, and for his introduction of innovative body-oriented psychotherapeutic methods. All of this was discussed with the Channel 4/Wag-TV representatives and film-crew before and during the interviews.
I also emphasized the scientific legitimacy of Reich’s findings on the orgone energy, the studies proving the orgone accumulator’s therapeutic benefits, and that it was never promoted by Reich as a "sex box". That, I emphasized, was a slander by Reich’s unethical attackers, something which later stimulated the FDA to "investigate Reich". The FDA cobbled together the most exceedingly unscientific evidence against Reich, I explained to the Channel 4/Wag-TV representatives, and they won their case by sophistry and technicalities in a legal case also contaminated by a clear anti-Constitutional criminal malpractice and biased arrogance (derived from malicious public slanders in the American press) on the part of both the prosecutors and judges. I covered all the essential points with the Wag-TV and Channel 4 representatives, who were provided with more than enough evidence by which to judge the matter and make an honest presentation of the facts.
After the interviews were finished, I was informed a copy of their film segment on Wilhelm Reich, which included my interviews, would be sent to me in the mails on a DVD disk, sometime before or around the time it was released to the public. In fact, I never got anything from them.
Months passed and I heard nothing more from Wag-TV or Channel 4. However, by early July friends in the UK informed me that the "Sex Researchers" series had recently been broadcast on UK television, and that it was a first-class slander and hatchet-job, making Reich out to be an insane quack and pornographic charlatan. The sequence on Reich lasted only 6 minutes, of a 45 minute program, but was a testament to the worst kind of defamatory slander one could imagine.
Other than showing a few parts of my interview, their Reich segment used actors making fictional "re-enactments" with a snide-sounding voice-over by a well-known British actor and comedian, Robert Webb.
The Channel 4/Wag-TV production showed the Reich-actor masturbating himself while hooked up to a primitive voltmeter, while standing with his back to the camera in a darkened bedroom with drawn shades. This scene utterly misrepresented Reich’s professional and sensitive bioelectrical experiments on pleasure versus anxiety, as conducted with volunteer test subjects in laboratory rooms at the University of Oslo Psychology Department. Those experiments had been supported by Dr. Harald Schjelderup, founder of that Department who knew of Reich’s flight from Nazi Germany and had welcomed his arrival in Scandinavia, inviting him to continue his research at the University.
Reich’s bioelectrical experiments were conducted professionally with much sensitivity, entirely opposite of the "isolated darkened-room" mischaracterization appearing in the "Sex Researchers" program. The program narrative also falsely and sarcastically ridiculed Reich’s discovery of the orgone energy as "orgasm energy", falsely implied the orgone accumulator was used for masturbation, and invented scenes which never happened in real life. These included the Reich-actor slumping down to the floor, where he rubs his hands over his head and messes his hair, rolling his eyes around in feigned drooling insanity, and where the Reich-actor masturbated a naked woman to climax while on the therapy couch. It openly misrepresented his vegeto-therapy, or orgone therapy, as some kind of "masturbation therapy", which it most certainly never was. The film thereby repeated the worst of the defamatory slanders hurled at Reich since the 1930s by various malicious psychoanalysts and communist journalists, that he had "gone mad" and was "masturbating patients". Those old malicious rumors were started by psychoanalysts of a "Freudo-Marxist" ideology who at one time had been very close to Reich, including his ex-wife Annie Pink, and his former close friend Otto Fenichel. They later turned against Reich and hated his guts, for his divergence from traditional psychoanalysis as well as for his open criticisms of "crude Marxism" and Stalinism. But no matter… the Channel 4/Wag-TV segment on Wilhelm Reich managed to include those slanders, interspersed with my interview segments, carefully edited so as to give the false impression that I approved of their pornographic distortions of Reich. In so doing, the program was as much of a slander against myself as against Reich.
Fortunately, the UK has strict laws against slander, defamation and character assassination. While Reich was dead and could not sue, I am alive and could do so. And the outrageous nature of the slanders, their complete falsity, and the way the film crew had lied to me repeatedly about their desire to do an honest documentary in order to get my help and consent, left both Channel 4 and Wag-TV open to this possibility. They were gambling that the smears were factual material, or that they would go unnoticed in the USA, or that I would not do anything in response to them.
I consulted with friends and lawyers in both the USA and UK, and steeled myself for what would be an expensive and lengthy legal battle. However, there were some preliminary steps to be taken, and which might make legal action unnecessary. The UK has an oversight association in government called Ofcom, which is empowered to hear complaints from the public about unfair treatment by broadcast media. When a complaint is made to Ofcom about a specific program, they investigate the matter and render informed judgements. I therefore made a formal complaint against Channel 4 and Wag-TV, for their slanderous, defamatory and unfactual distortions of Wilhelm Reich, and about the way their program similarly constituted a defamatory slander against myself. I also detailed the numerous lies they had committed, in spoken word and emails, about how they had wanted to do a serious and fact-based documentary, in order to persuade me to grant an interview and open my laboratory to their cameras.
My formal complaint to Ofcom put an immediate halt to Channel 4/Wag-TV plans to make a wider distribution of their "Sex Researchers" program, in re-broadcasts and possibly as a DVD production. By the Ofcom rules, they were forced to stop further distribution of the materials until Ofcom had made an investigation and ruling. The Ofcom procedures also required that neither of us could speak publicly about the matter until Ofcom had reviewed the exact details of my complaint, heard a rebuttal from Channel 4/Wag-TV, and come to a decision about it. This took another 6 months, of back and forth across the Atlantic. I produced one initial complaint letter on "Sexual Slander, Character Assassination and Defamation on Channel 4" on 11 July 2011. This was followed by a "rebuttal" from Channel 4/Wag-TV, which was illuminating on some important points about how and wherefrom they got their distorted ideas about Reich, as I will mention below. But it also carried a tacit admission on some parts of my Complaint. I thereafter provided a more detailed "Response to …the Channel 4 Response."
In the end, Ofcom Upheld my complaint, at least on the narrow grounds of "informed consent" and "fairness". Ofcom ruled I had been deceived into believing they were going to make an authentic and fact-based documentary, whereas the final program was something entirely different. But this ruling also carried a tacit understanding that the final documentary was not honest in its presentation, as otherwise the issue of "fairness" (and ergo, "informed consent") had no merit. It was unfair because it was a defamatory slander against Reich, against myself, and against historical fact and truth. If my objections had been frivolous, they would have ruled against my Complaint.
The Ofcom ruling is now a matter of public record, and can be downloaded as a PDF document from this website:
"Complaint by Dr James DeMeo, The Sex Researchers, Channel 4", Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, #201, 5 March 2012, p.15-30.
I have been informed, Channel 4 and Wag-TV will now remove all of my interview sequences from their "Sex Researchers" program. However, it remains unclear if they will remove the offensive slander and defamation against Wilhelm Reich.
At some point, I may publish the full documentation I sent to Ofcom, which details more exactly the actions of Channel 4 and Wag-TV in this matter, providing detailed rebuttals to each point in their finished program. One hopes they will do the right thing, and remove all of the malicious things they said about Wilhelm Reich, but there are no guarantees, as it is still permissible for "journalists" to lie about and slander the dead.
I should also mention, Channel 4 and Wag-TV admitted, in their Ofcom Rebuttal, they had relied heavily upon the smear-artist and faux-historian Christopher Turner, who published the book Adventures in the Orgasmatron in the UK around the same time the "Sex Researchers" filming began. That book subjected Wilhelm Reich and American orgonomy to multiple defamatory slanders, including the same ones repeated by Channel 4/Wag-TV in their program. I’ve already written a detailed critique of the Turner book, here:
Critical Review of Christopher Turner’s Adventures in the Orgasmatron
A Defense of Dr. Wilhelm Reich and his Orgonomic Science
Against Renewed Sexual Slander and Defamation.
By James DeMeo, PhD
In large measure, my critique and rebuttal of the Turner book also serves as a corrective against the defamatory slanders made by Channel 4/Wag-TV in their "Sex Researchers" program.
Taken together, these materials mark a new phase in the on-going misrepresentations and attacks against Wilhelm Reich’s research legacy, and the science of orgonomy, by a new breed of contemptuous and enraged fanatics, for whom truth and fact mean nothing.
More will be said on this subject in the future.
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth
has a chance to get its pants on."
The work undertaken at the OBRL includes investigative reports as detailed above, but is more centrally focused upon natural scientific issues. These include the new confirmations of my Saharasia findings as previously reported via OBRL-News, plus new experimental studies testing and evaluating (and confirming) Reich’s central-most orgone energy discoveries, as contained in my various publications:
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