Sunday, August 30, 2009

Censorship In Paradise?

Whither Joane Garcia-Colson?

I wrote about Joane's departure from Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College a few days ago. She was executive director for the past nine years. Rumor has it she fled the ranch under a cloud, taking with her a fat severance package. I wondered whether her departure was related to the departure of board members in years passed. Was the college pruning all but those punch drunk on Kool Aid?

Since writing the piece, I received a series of emails, some as comments on this page, others privately. I can't say I've stirred a hornet's nest. Those affiliated with the ranch are too savvy to acknowledge criticism. Ignoring critics is passed off as refusing to share power; call if the flip side of the oft-repeated big lie that becomes "truth." Ignoring dissidents and difficult questions can also yield conformity: Humming in unison becomes the music of the spheres.

But a bunch of we mosquitoes are raising questions.

Why is the ranch perceived as belonging to the college when, in fact, it belongs to the Spence Foundation? Are donations used to make improvements to an entity over which the college has no control? Are the boards of the Spence Foundation and the Trial Lawyers College so interlocking as to really reflect the will of one group, or, as the case may be, of one man? What are the terms of the lease between the college and foundation?

I was curious to see if Joane weighed in on the topic. So I went to the Trial Lawyers College website. I checked the list of alumni blogs. My blog was not listed, which is fine: I've not sought, nor am I seeking, a listing. But Joane's is listed on the college website at So I clicked on and received a note that her blog is "temporarily unavailable." Try it youself: The college's website is I did not have that problem with any other blog listed on the page.

So I typed in the address of Joane's blog. Lo and behold, I can retrieve it; I just cannot retrieve it through the college's website. Has she been blacklisted from the tribe?

The title of her last piece is "Blind Loyalty, Betrayal and Self-Preservation: The Silencing of Dissent." It is a bitter piece that names no names. It has the feel of being written just this side of a non-disparagement clause in a separation agreement. Why is her page now suddenly unavailable via the college's website? Is there now censorship in paradise, too?