A Word on Giuliani’s Defamation Trial

A Word on Giuliani’s Defamation Trial December 13, 2023

a judge's gavel
image via Pixabay

I have been watching the news out of the trial of Rudy Giuliani, for his defamation of Ruby Freedman and Shaye Moss.

If you’ve been following the news, you know that this is the civil trial determining exactly how much money Giuliani will be forced to pay Freedman and Moss, to atone for his defamation. He already admitted that he did it to avoid mounting legal costs. He will go to criminal trial for his actions under the Georgia RICO act in 2024.

Wandrea Moss, who goes by “Shaye,” was an elections worker who’d worked faithfully at that job for years. She had great reverence for democracy and loved to help people register to vote. She liked helping elderly people best of all, because they were shy of using computers and preferred to talk with her and do everything in person.

Ruby Freeman, who until recently went by “Lady Ruby,” was Shaye’s mother,  a nice old lady, a personable grandmother, the kind of woman I’m always happy to meet while I’m running my errands or waiting for a bus here in Steubenville. She had a pop-up clothing business that sold pieces to women with “unique fashions.” She volunteered to help her daughter count ballots on election night, while wearing a T-shirt with “Lady Ruby” on it.

Freeman carried ginger mints with her to hand out to people during the pandemic, because she thought they were healthy for the throat.

Personally I can’t think of a more innocent activity than a woman giving people mints. She handed her daughter a ginger mint when they were counting ballots together at the State Farm Arena on election night. It was caught on camera. Giuliani baselessly claimed the mint was a USB port, knowing it wasn’t true. He identified Moss and Freeman by name and claimed they were passing USB ports around “like vials of cocaine or heroin.” He and his mob boss, Donald Trump, repeated the lie to their millions of fans i order to sow doubts about the results of the 2020 presidential election, an attempt to defraud all Americans. And these women’s lives were ruined.

At the trial yesterday, Moss testified about the inundation of death threats and obscene racist insults she received, a flood of hatred that’s never gone away. She became so notorious that she lost her job and couldn’t even get hired at a fast food restaurant. Her son couldn’t use the internet and ended up failing all of his correspondence classes. She came down with panic attacks and other mental health issues and gained a great deal of weight due to the stress. To this day, she is terrified that her son will come home and find that she’s been killed.

Freeman testified that she was also immediately flooded with harassment and threats of the most horrendous nature. Mobs of angry thugs came to her house, banging on the door, and the 911 recording was played in court. She had to leave her home and stay away for months on the advice of the FBI. Now she’s moved into a new neighborhood, where she’s afraid to tell anybody her name. She has to live in hiding because of all the abuse. She found that she’d been put on a “death list.

It’s hard to even express how horrified I am by what these women suffered. My heart goes out to them.

I am beyond infuriated, yet again, with the liars who did this to these two exemplary Americans who were just trying to count votes, to serve our democracy. I am angry with the Republican party, the Party of Law and Order, the Party of Christian values– with America, really. We’ve always been like this.

As I read the hair-raising messages that were displayed in court today– threats to lynch Ruby Freeman, to hang her and snap her neck– I couldn’t help but think of all the personable grandmothers and grandfathers, moms and dads and children who really did have this done to them. All the Black Americans who, while just going about their business, drew the attention of the wrong people and got lynched by a mob of angry white men out for vengeance. Those angry people haven’t gone anywhere. They are still here, an endemic American plague. This is part of what America is.

At one point during her testimony, Freeman was asked if she was still Lady Ruby. Her answer broke my heart; she spoke of the loss of her pop-up fashion business: “No. I mean, I am Lady Ruby. But I can’t market it. I can’t do a show… because I don’t know who’s coming in the hotel. Who’s coming in the show.” I want to say something poetic about America’s proud tradition of robbing Black women of their names, but I’m so choked up with anger I can’t think.

Giuliani deserves far more than being permanently financially ruined. I hope Trump and all who aided and abetted him aren’t far behind. If they spent their lives in penury, it wouldn’t be anything like enough of a punishment, but it’s a start.

I know very well by now that “Christianity” in America doesn’t refer to an honest attempt to follow the teachings of Christ; it’s just a show of a certain kind of patriotism and bigotry these days. But for anyone who actually cares about following Christ: lying is a sin. Calumny not only breaks the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” but also “Thou shalt not kill,” because calumny kills. It kills reputations, physical health and mental health. It can literally get people murdered.
Lady Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss have been all but killed by calumny, and it makes me sick.

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

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