Free Speech in the Digital Age: Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins Share Their Experience with a Cyber Bully

Free Speech in the Digital Age: Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins Share Their Experience with a Cyber Bully

This past March on Love Liberty & Lip Gloss, host Donna Lyons addressed a critical topic in the digital age: cyber bullying. While many of us tend to think of it as a problem that affects mostly teenagers, the truth is, anyone can be a victim.

Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins know from personal experience that this is true.

First, a little background.

I “met” Jefferson in cyberspace via Donna, when she mentioned his interest in being a host on the Writestream Radio Network. As with many other solid, genuine people I’ve met online, I developed an easy friendship with him. Having known Donna for several years (even though we’ve not yet met in person), I trusted her judgement and after several conversations with Jefferson, had no doubts about the depth of his character.

Soon after, we made plans for him to broadcast The Formula: What Is It?  The show airs on the fourth Tuesday of the month, featuring entrepreneurs at various levels of experience, who reveal their unique “formula” for success.

However, as Ima stated in the interview, it’s natural in the Digital Age for people to conduct internet searches on others. I’ll admit I did that with Jefferson, mainly because I was impressed by the scope and depth of his career and wanted to know more. Intuitively, I knew I was dealing with a decent, honest person, which is why it was so disheartening to come across several slanderous posts about him.

Jefferson Keith Langley.

As the owner of an internet-based business that collaborates with a variety of clients and personalities, I’m aware that anyone at any time could take to their keyboard with the intention to slander my character and harm my company’s reputation. For that reason, I save all email correspondence and document all communication with every client. I won’t pretend I don’t make mistakes; I’m human, after all. But I do my best to explain the self-publishing process, maintain a schedule, and deliver a quality product. When necessary, I own up to my errors and correct them asap.

But Jefferson and Ima’s harrowing story is definitely a wake-up call, whether or not you own a business. It’s too easy for an individual to destroy good people and companies just by taking to their computer keyboards and publishing outright lies. Because the burden of proof falls on the victim and not the cyber bully, it’s nearly impossible to remove the offensive posts — and sadly, most people are quick to believe the worst.

In Jefferson and Ima’s case, this meant a significant loss of income and clients as their business dried up. Worse, the damage to their reputations made it difficult to even find a “pay the bills” job to support their basic needs. To their credit, they persisted. I highly recommend listening to the interview by clicking below.

When I came discovered the negative internet posts about Jefferson, I recognized them as a desperate attempt to discredit a good man and his business partner. Yes, I thought about calling him up to discuss it. Then I figured he’d already dealt with enough garbage and let it go.

What was the point of dredging it up with him when I’d already concluded that this was the work of a deranged individual?

As I got to know Jefferson better over a period of several months, my faith in him was vindicated. Because I produced his monthly show, we maintained regular contact via phone conversations and text messages. I’ve also seen the multiple glowing testimonials on Facebook from happy clients who have experienced amazing results in their businesses, thanks to his expert coaching.

I support his efforts to change the laws to adjust to the Digital Age. I’m a huge proponent of free speech, but free speech should not condone personal and professional destruction by dishonest, amoral people who leverage the easy opportunity the internet provides for “revenge.” In Jefferson’s case, the perpetrator — a woman — became obsessed with him in a classic case of “fatal attraction” (though thankfully, he’s alive and well today…unlike the wife of a CEO he knows who was the target of a smear campaign, a story he shares in the interview with Donna).

Again, I highly recommend listening to Jefferson and Ima’s on-air account of their experience with a cyber bully who nearly destroyed them — personally and professionally. It’s a cautionary tale for everyone, especially business-owners who work closely with clients. Thankfully, they managed to turn things around and have gone on to achieve greater success. As a result of what they have endured, they are also determined to draft legislation and petition Congress to address this crucial issue.

I’m grateful to Jefferson and Ima for their courage, honesty, and willingness to take a stand for integrity. Circumstances reveal character, and in their case, their horrific experience at the hands of a sick individual has proven that they each possess a strong, solid, and inspiring one.

A final word of advice: question EVERYTHING you read online, do your homework, and, if necessary, confront the person with the information you find on the internet. Give them a chance to defend themselves. Don’t just blindly trust “anonymous” sources who may have nothing more than an ax to grind, simply because they can get away with it.

In the Digital Age, the Golden Rule applies more than ever.

Discover more about Jefferson and the services he provides at and

Follow Ima Sumac Watkins on Instagram and

Need help with copy writing, independent publishing, or ghostwriting? Contact me here.



New Singer-Songwriter Cephas on Love Liberty & Lip Gloss

New Singer-Songwriter Cephas on Love Liberty & Lip Gloss

I had the pleasure of filling in for Love Liberty & Lip Gloss host Donna Lyons last night when I interviewed a talented new Christian musician, singer and songwriter known as Cephas. Click below to listen to his inspiring story and his new single, Break Free:

We had a tech issue in the first two minutes, which thankfully resolved itself. For the full line-up of hosts and shows, visit


Goodbye NFL

Goodbye NFL

I just left the following comment after reading Daniella Bova’s excellent post, “You’re not a Real Fan!”:

Funny how the NFL is selective in its support of “free speech,” even though this really isn’t a free speech issue, which pertains to the freedom of individuals to criticize their government without fear of punishment. The NFL is a private organization (although why they have a nonprofit status is a mystery to me), and as such they have a right to enforce a code of behavior when their players are at work.

Where was the NFL’s support for Tim Tebow, who was mocked relentlessly for kneeling in prayer? Why did the league forbid players to honor September 11’s victims on their cleats or prevent the Dallas Cowboys from honoring their slain police? Why was it okay for Colin Kaepernick to wear socks depicting cops as pigs?

The NFL’s blather about not wanting to make a “political” statement is patently absurd when they’ve been doing exactly that all along by what they allow and disallow. I’m disgusted by the Pittsburgh Steelers for shaming a true American hero, Al Villanueva, for standing in pride for the anthem.

As someone who was raised on football, whose family had season tickets to the Eagles before I was born, and whose fondest memories revolve around sports events and family parties, I am DONE with the NFL. I never thought I’d say that, but this country means more to me than a game.

Let’s also remember that these overpaid millionaires and their overpaid commissioner voted not to assist the players who came before them, the ones who built the league and never made a fraction of what these men earn today. These guys are suffering from all kinds of bodily injuries, yet these selfish jerks refuse to help — even though they owe them everything.

Just as with the election, the NFL has underestimated the passion and anger of everyday Americans, to their own detriment. Good riddance to them and God bless America.

Here’s a link to a 2013 article in the Washington Post highlighting the plight of former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams and the ongoing issue of retired players’ medical bills and problems, excerpted here:

The NFL’s disability board, jointly administered by management and the players’ union, has a denial rate of almost 60 percent. When players file for workers’ compensation for the on-the-job harm they suffered, they often find their claims opposed by their former teams. The league is currently in legal and legislative fights with at least 3,000 former players, who, like Williams, have attempted to seek reparation for their injuries by filing claims in worker-friendly states. When these claims and all other avenues for medical care are exhausted, the cost of their poor health can often fall on the taxpayer.

“First and foremost, the NFL is in the hurt business,” said Mel Owens, a former NFL player who is now a California attorney and represents Williams. “In workers’ comp they will end up paying for the players’ brains, hearts and livers, as well as orthopedic injuries, and it’s expensive. But they don’t want to pay at all.”

The NFL contends it offers benefits — many extending beyond an athlete’s employment — that are more generous than those offered in most professions. Workers’ compensation is just one of those, afforded to players by the collective bargaining agreement with NFL owners. When it opposes claims, the NFL says it is seeking to limit what would otherwise be “nearly unlimited exposure” for years-old injuries.

Pardon me, but when the NFL Commissioner makes in excess of $40 million per year and players today sign multi-million dollar contracts, the least they can do is help the ones who blazed the trail.

With respect to whatever it is they are protesting, since they have an abundance of wealth (thanks to hardworking Americans of all races who subsidize their salaries and stadiums) and an influential platform, why not start a foundation? Volunteer in their communities?

Better yet, take some time for reflection on the destructive policies in the inner cities that purposely create the poverty and crime they supposedly decry. Why not reach out to, say, the city of Chicago, rampant with black-on-black crime and do something to turn it around? These pampered show-boaters have risen above their own circumstances; instead of acting like a bunch of spoiled ingrates, they ought to be mentoring others to follow in their example of overcoming humble beginnings.

Perhaps they could also reflect upon the fact that there is no other country in which they could experience such upward mobility and reap obscene financial rewards for their athleticism, made possible by fans who can only dream of making that much money in a lifetime.

While they’re at it, they may want to get the actual facts about cases like Ferguson, since the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ narrative has been exposed as a lie.

It would also be nice if they would recognize that the white people they tar and feather as “racists” have been colorblind in their emotional and financial support. As noted above, my family had season tickets before I was born. I grew up watching players like Harold Carmichael, Wilbert Montgomery, Mike Quick, Gary Cobb, and Randall Cunningham — along with Tom Dempsey, Ron Jaworski, Vince Papale, and Stan Walters.

These men and their teammates were not only fine athletes devoted to the game, they were also gentlemen who appreciated their fans and loved their country, much like Tommy McDonald before them. To the best of my knowledge, none of them beat their wives or girlfriends, nor did they whine about how “oppressed” they were. In my family, none of us cared who was black, white, Asian or whatever…they were part of our team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and we supported them. Any criticism was limited to their performance on the field. Period.

My patience with the NFL was wearing thin last year, but thanks to the antics of this past weekend, including the Pittsburgh Steelers shaming of a true American hero, Al Villanueva, I’m done. And to the players who knelt for the National Anthem in England, yet stood for God Save the Queen, please get a clue about British colonialism in Africa and American Exceptionalism. Your little stunt only proved the extent of your ignorance.

I’m a busy entrepreneur growing a business; I can find more valuable uses for my time on Sundays than watching you disrespect the United States military, its citizens, and our flag. I’m also a proud and grateful American who’s had enough of your nonsense.

Goodbye and good riddance, NFL.