I spoke on the telephone today with Bill Schiebler for more than thirty minutes. He had some awareness of my criticism of him, though he bore me no animosity and was pleasant throughout.
While friendly and polite, I learn that Schiebler has very little familiarity with the internet. When asked for his email address, he appears sincere saying he almost never checks his email; it might not even be worthwhile for me to write it down. He expresses curiosity as to whether calumnies, once published on the internet, can be retracted.
I explain that unlike most bloggers, I welcome criticism, particularly from those I censure. When shown to have been in error, I apologize. I don't censor my critics. I am fallible and thank any person who can correct me.
Schiebler is friendly, soft-spoken and chatty--and given to conversational tangents. I explain I want to focus upon one important claim of his--as, essentially, an integrity check.
He verifies that my description of his narrative of the 1965 quadruple homicide he ostensibly ended is fair. Further, he clarifies that the event occurred within Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry--within the 1st Brigade of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. (Perhaps such wording might be meaningful to some readers.)
Mr. Schiebler twice verifies the Puerto Rican perpetrator's name: Juarte Rodriguez. As during his interview, Schiebler maintains a certain qualified support for Rodriguez the man: The four African American soldiers blown away by Rodriguez had, prior to the mayhem, stolen some cash from him. I push back and Schiebler will hear none of it: Rodriguez was indisputably ripped off by the four black GI's, Schiebler affirms--and Rodriguez was, essentially, a good person.
To participate within community discussion about controversial topics, one has a certain requirement to stay abreast of developments in librarianship. One has to maintain some skill in the marshalling of evidence. If Mr. Schiebler once had any such skill, it has clearly atrophied.
As noted, Bill Schiebler has long suffered from multiple sclerosis. Memory loss is the most common mental change in people with multiple sclerosis.
Bill and I discuss the Rodriguez matter in a completely friendly manner--and my skepticism is in no way diminished, post-call. The one change in my thinking: I am again reminded that people can believe false things for a host of reasons, often without any conscious dishonesty or malevolence. In an ongoing way, our brains massage our autobiographies. The little changes that occur, as months pass, can with the years snowball--particularly when combined with a degenerative autoimmune disease that wrecks nerve cells.
So I tentatively amend my previous remarks: Bill Schiebler may be hugely inaccurate and wrong--without being a scumbag or a liar. My fundamental position remains, however: If, for whatever reason--including cognitive degeneration--one publicly states falsehoods about one's wartime record, one forfeits the right to receive public honor, based upon one's military service.
At the end of our call, I tell Schiebler I'll be in the audience for his speech tomorrow. He makes a point of requesting that I stop by and say hello to him, afterward--and I assure him I'll do so. We agree to get together for lunch sometime within the next few weeks.