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It all began when Times columnist Al Martinez wrote a column about the events at the Pacific Palisades high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the brouhaha, a number of students took it upon themselves to publish an underground paper for no other purpose than to attack some teachers they disliked. In the course of five issues, they accused their targets of being prostitutes and pedophiles. When they promised to print the addresses and phone numbers of the teachers in an upcoming edition, the administration finally stepped in. They suspended 10 students, as I understand it, and transferred the two ringleaders.In his piece, Martinez accused the grown-ups of over-reacting. He felt that a case could be made for both sides, and wrote that, as usual, the truth was to be found someplace between the two opposing factions.Having known Martinez for a few years, I felt justified in writing him a "Dear Al" letter, addressed to his home. In it, I suggested that the students (and their parents) had gotten off lightly. The combination of blatant lies and obvious malice would make them all quite vulnerable to lawsuits, the laws of libel being what they are.

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