Holden (R) with his father Raul, being interviewed
on television following the slander. Click for video.
Bring a gun to a knife fight: This is follow-up to my story only two days ago about the defamation and slander of 9-year-old Holden Armenta by Deadspin Senior Writer Carron Phillips. Both had falsely accused this innocent child of racism because he attended a game wearing facepaint with the red and black colors of the Kansas City Chiefs, like numerous fans have done for decades. My story was about a GiveSendGo fund-raising campaign still on-going to send Holden to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas this coming weekend to see his team play, in person.
On that same day the boy’s parents filed a lawsuit against Deadspin and its parent company, G/O Media, accusing both of defaming both Holden and themselves, and demanding actual and punitive damages.
You can read the complaint here [pdf]. It is a heart-breaking document to read, especially when it describes the painful consequences to Holden because of Phillips’ vicious and false attack.
Shannon has had to devote significant time to H.A.’s [Holden] emotional and social well-being after the attacks from the Article and had to confront troubling incidents at H.A.’s school because of it. As only one example, Shannon and Raul have signed H.A. up for sports activities far away from his community because the Article poisoned H.A.’s relationships (and their relationships with the parents of H.A.’s former friends). Shannon drives more than 80 miles round trip twice a week to take H.A. to these distant activities.
…H.A., meanwhile, has greatly struggled in school due to the unwanted and unwarranted attention from the Article. Last year, when he began third grade, he scored “at/above benchmark” on a standardized reading test. This year, after Deadspin’s defamatory attack, he scored so low that the testing company recommended an “intervention.” His classmates bully him, and some question his Native American heritage. He has lost many friendships. He has begun seeing a therapist. He and his parents have had to spent considerable time and suffered considerable heartache trying to find new friends that are not infected with the controversy created by the Article.
Most gravely, H.A. has suffered a devastating loss for a nine-year old boy—the innocence of youth, and the deep, unencumbered love for his favorite football team and its players.
Prior to this evil attack the boy had been a wide receiver and safety in a local kids football league, and apparently even played in its All-Star game. All of that is now apparently destroyed. The level of pain and hurt this must have caused the boy is unimaginable.
The lawsuit makes it very clear what it thinks of the actions of Deadspin and Carron Phillips.
Defendant published its defamatory statements with negligence and/or actual malice. H.A. is not a public figure—he is a nine-year-old boy—and therefore only needs to prove negligence to recover. Nor are his parents public figures. In this instance, however, Defendant knew its statements were false, or recklessly disregarded the truth or falsity of its statements when it republished them in full on November 30.
It describes at great length the malice exhibited by Deadspin and Phillips, first in doubling down on the false slanders, then attempting to make believe they didn’t do anything wrong, even as both continued to publish the article with only minor changes. Even when Deadspin finally re-edited the article to remove references to Holden specifically it still maintained it had done nothing wrong, and that the implications of bigotry against this little boy in its original report was simply “unfortunate.”
I think every decent American should be rooting for a very big win in this lawsuit by the Armentas. When it is finished not only should Holden Armenta own Deadspin, lock, stock, and barrel, he and his parents should win enough money to pay his way through college and beyond. Such a victory cannot bring this boy’s innocence back, but it can go a long way to healing the wounds that Deadspin and Carron Phillips so maliciously inflicted.
Meanwhile, I urge my readers to go to the GiveSendGo site and donate to the campaign. It would be wonderful if Holden Armenta could see the Superbowl this weekend, in person.