My Comments on other’s stuff….

My reply to Richard Prince’s column on Rishawn Biddle, on the Maynard Institute website. The column was being discussed in the forums.

If a white male writer in Indianapolis had written what Rishawn wrote he would have been fired, and probably a lot more quickly than Rishawn was.
What he wrote wasn’t edgy or even necessarily correct, especially in some of the original, non-cleaned up versions of the blog post which are floating around on the web. He actually revised it repeatedly and only in the fourth version did it have somewhat of a point; the originals were offensive beyond measure.
An African-American city-county council president is under investigation for ethics violations, but the end of that investigation is by no means a foregone conclusion, even though the local right-wing blogosphere has tried and convicted him repeatedly in volatile rants laced with racial epithets, all of which have little to do with the actual supposed violations and everything to do with trying to break down the democratic power base of Indianapolis’ urban townships.
Rishawn got caught up in the noise of Indy’s politically-charged, shoot from the hip blog world, and forgot he worked for a newspaper that has actual fact-checking standards and ethical requirements.
The Indy Star’s reader’s forums have repeatedly been criticized on a national level for being full of racially charged, borderline KKK rants, and the newspaper has been under scrutiny both by their corporate offices and by national journalism standards boards for it, so it’s not surprising that they were sensitive enough to the issue to go to pinks slips quickly.

Continue ReadingMy Comments on other’s stuff….

Rishawn Biddle Gets Fired

I’ve been trying to avoid writing about local politics of late, just because the bile and animosity therein was way to much to deal with given my increased workload at my place of employment, and because others do a much better job of saying what I would anyway.

On occasion here, I’ve ranted about Indy Star editorialist Rishawn Biddle, who brought to the paper something less than what was actually necessary to write a good editorial column regularly.

The other day, Rishawn posted a diatribe on the Indy Star’s Expresso blog against Indianapolis City-County council head Monroe Gray, who is being investigated currently for god knows what. It’s hard to figure out in all of the racist bile being slung around. I’m sure someone will helpfully post some racist bile here to explain it.

Anyways, the diatribe was full of racial epithets towards Gray and other black members of local politics. StAllio! has a pretty entertaining reconstruction of the post, which was edited several times, although remnants of the unedited versions still exist. I guess Rishawn thought he got a pass on calling people Coons because he himself is black. Turns out, not so much. He got fired for it, and rightly so.

Schadenfreude, she is so beautiful, but deadly. I should not laugh.

Continue ReadingRishawn Biddle Gets Fired

Comparing the Indiana Legislature to the 20’s KKK is NOT Hyperbole

I’m sorry, RiShawn Biddle, but if you studied your history, like Chris Douglas and Gary Welsh have pointed out to you in several posts, you’d know better that to call it hyperbole. RiShawn is an editorialist for the Indianapolis Star, and posts to a “blog” on the newspaper’s site — which I still maintain is bizarre – if you write for a newspaper, it’s and editorial column, not a “blog.” Lately, RiShawn has taken it upon his bad self to tell the gay community that they need to be more civilized and “reasonable” while their rights are attack, claiming that making comparisons to the KKK and other oppressive bodies is “hyperbole.”
Gary Welsh points out [RiShawn Biddle Just Doesn’t Get It] that in the 1920’s the KKK was in the background of legislation much like SJR-7:

Under our former constitution, our esteemed legislature decided to enact Article 13 (appropriately numbered) to our old constitution. It excluded new black arrivals from the state, barred interracial marriages and prohibited a black man from testifying against a white man, among other things. One of the state’s leading newspapers, the Sentinel, endorsed Article 13 so that the state would not be “overrun with a miserable population” according to the “Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly.” There were legislators at the time who decried racism at the same time they cast a vote in favor of it. One such legislator was Sen. James Hester (D) of Brown County. He described the proposed laws as “inhuman, and will . . . be inoperative in enlightened communities.” He said he, nonetheless voted for it because he believed a majority of his constituents wanted it.” A Whig newspaper in Madison, Indiana, distraught at the position of lawmakers like Hester, wrote:

There seems to be a determined and studied prejudice, against those unfortunate citizens who have a black skin, in the Legislature of this State at the present time. Constitutional privileges and natural rights–to say nothing of human sympathy–seem to be but feeble barriers when opposed to this prejudice. Some of these gentlemen are evidently courting popularity under the false impression, that public sentiment is as insane and inhuman as they will, doubtless, succeed in proving themselves to be.

At that time in history, the only legislators who voted against these racist laws were the Whigs. The Republican Party was just being born, and the Democrats, who dominated the legislature during some of this dark period, embraced the racist agenda. In the 1920s, it was the Republican Party which dominated the legislature and carried the torch for the KKK, although a number of Democrats joined forces with them as well. Fortunately, Article 13 was nullified after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War. Such discrimination has never made its way back into our state’s constitution, although there have been plenty of discriminatory laws enacted by our esteemed legislature.
Now, David Long, Brandt Hershman, Brent Steele and all the others who champion SJR-7 as the end-all, be-all solution to preserving the sanctity of marriage can profess all they want that they aren’t anti-gay bigots. The fact remains they are carrying the torch for folks from the religious right, such as Eric Miller, Jim Bopp and Micah Clark, who most assuredly are anti-gay bigots. The end result is the same as Sen. Hester understood back in the 1850s when he cast his lot with political expediency over the fundamental rights of black people. When legislators cast a vote for the anti-gay bigot’s agenda, they are endorsing this form of bigotry, just as those legislators who supported the KKK’s agenda in the 1920s and the organized racists of the 1850s endorsed institutionalized racism and bigotry. Everyone knows SJR-7 will do absolutely nothing to stem the breakdown of “traditional marriage” as represented by a growing divorce rate and an increasing number of children being born out of wedlock. It’s purpose is to punish gay people–nothing more and nothing less.

And Chris points out [The Goebbels Experiment] that the Jewish community here in Indianapolis, who have spoken eloquently against SJR-7, recognize the parallels to their own history:

“Shortly, you will be either looking the other way from, or even supporting, measures that will denude your Jewish engineering professors of their rights of citizenship, because of your distaste for them… well.. not for your personal professor or tutor, who might be friends, but for ‘Jews’, who really will not be… well…’German’ enough.
“Then your alma mater will strip your professor of his ability to support his family, including his spouse who is sick. You will think that somebody maybe should have done something, except you will be too busy and you will not want to risk your own career by being identified as a friend of the Jews… not any Jew specifically… after all some , some will be friends…but.. you know… ‘The Jews.’ Anyway, your professor, from whom you learned much and upon whom the department depended for at least one area of expertise, will leave for another place, America, where a university will be willing to employ him. You will think that is regrettable, but perhaps think it was just as well. Especially, since his position will open for somebody who will truly be a friend, and not some abstract, unfortunate Jew.
“You will protest that what follows then will be the actions of others, not your own, for it would be unreasonable to pin on you and your inaction the fact that your beautiful and peaceful Germany will go on to invalidate Jewish marriages, to attack Jewish participation in all economic life, and to drive Jews from their neighborhoods. When the rights of Jews are being stripped in their early stages, all those things will appear too absurd for you to imagine. The Jews who will protest will appear unreasonable and alarmist, and all the more distasteful for it. After all, yours will appear to be a civilized society; though it will become uncivilized because of the actions of others, it will not be because of you. You couldn’t be blamed for what happened later… not the ghetto… not the extermination…. not the destruction of the peace, beauty, and civilization. Who will have thought?”
Nice little mental game, isn’t it?

RiShawn would do well to spend a bit more time reading history and a bit less time lecturing gay citizens on how best to protest the erosion of their basic civil rights. For any kind of civil matters or divorce cases etc, people need to contact family lawyers serving Lapeer County.
To me — it’s all the same hate. The men pushing SJR-7 are no different, in my mind, than the guy who fired me from my job because I’m gay, or the guy who stalked and raped me, or the guy who pistol-whipped my roommate in the alley outside Greg’s Place downtown.
One takes their hate and puts it into action by crafting hate-filled legislation, and the other used the blunt-force of a gun handle against someone’s skull – why do I have to treat one differently then the other? They have the same devastating effect on my life, either way; I fail to see any real distinction between the two. But I have to engage in “principled, reasonable discussion” with one, but not the other? Mary, please.
A bigot by any name is still a fucking bigot.

Continue ReadingComparing the Indiana Legislature to the 20’s KKK is NOT Hyperbole

Rishawn Biddle and Questions on Hate Crimes

Over on the Expresso blog, Rishawn Biddle asks this question regarding the current hate crimes legislation in the house.

3.) Can the supporters of the hate crimes penalities proposed in House Bill 1459 muster up evidence that gays are being murdered or assaulted at any higher rate than the rest of the population? More importantly, doesn’t the laws currently on the books against murder, assault and the like already assure that those committting hate crimes will spend time in prison anyway?
I attempted to reply there, but their comments don’t seem to be working, so let me cover it a bit here:

#3 – that isn’t the standard for whether a hate crimes law should go on the books. According to the domestic violence attorneys serving Casper, the answer is that we can show that gay people are being murdered and assaulted; whether the rate is higher isn’t relevant, the fact that it’s happening is.
As for the assertion that “current laws cover it” – check out this relevant passage from Chris Douglas’s “Hate Crime Legislation: A Respectful Response to Common Assertions” that I have posted here on my site…

Under Indiana law, crimes are treated differently according to their victim, their impact, and their intent. Indiana law already provides for enhanced penalties when the victim of battery is deemed to be among society’s vulnerable (under the age of 12, over the age of 65, or mentally or physically infirm) or when the battery is deemed especially injurious to public peace (battery on a police or corrections officer.). For criminal cases, federal criminal defense attorney’s help is required and you can get it from here!

Definitely click the link to Chris’ article – it’s very enlightening on this subject, and I’m glad to have it on my site.

Continue ReadingRishawn Biddle and Questions on Hate Crimes

RiShawn Biddle Doesn’t Know Anything About Blogs

I participated in a panel of bloggers this morning, addressing the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America, Hoosier Chapter) to talk about local blogs with public relations people. Here are my fellow panelists:
RiShawn Biddle, Editorial Writer, The IndyStar, and Expresso blog
Jennifer Wagner, Taking Down Words blog
Gary Welsh, Advance Indiana blog
Matt Tully, political news writer, and IndyStar blog

The Indy Star “bloggers” (I’m sorry, you can’t “blog” inside a newpaper, no matter what bandwagon you’re trying to get on) dominated a lot of the discussion and seemed a bit self-important about their status as “real” writers. That’s nice. I have a journalism degree, too, kids. I thought it was interesting that Matt Tully only has to write three articles a week. I should have stuck with that journalism thing, because that’s pretty slackerish to me. I have to write a lot more than that at my job, and I’m a designer for pete’s sake.

Of the five panelists, I’m the only person who has a technical background and did all the set up for my own blog. I’ve met Gary Welsh before and read his writing every day, and I read Jennifer Wagner’s blog every day also. Both of them cover political issues and are fascinating to read — they know way more about politics than I do and I learn a hell of a lot about what’s going on locally from both of them.

When it comes to RiShawn Biddle, I think the “doesn’t know anything about blogs” is pretty fair of me. What tells me this is the list of “big national bloggers” he threw out — who he thinks the major league players are. His was a pretty comical list — he mentioned “Instapundit” three times, and someone from a news site twice. I know that Instapundit falls into the top list of unique links, but that’s not the only measure of “big.” I factor “awareness of new media trends” and “tech saavy” into the the mix, which means they not only have a large audience currently, but will adjust with the changes when the “blogosphere” morphs into something quite a bit different, which it’s currently poised to do. He also threw out Movable Type as the hot new blog technology for savvy bloggers. I have this site on Movable Type, but it’s about 3 years out of date as the hot technology. I’m looking at coding my own content management software in Django right now.

Here are some actual “A-List” national bloggers according to me, but with some backup from Technorati:
Boing Boing
Jason Santa Maria
Signal vs. Noise
Creating Passionate Users
Daily Kos

Also, I don’t know if Rishawn knows a lot about education. Not that I do either, but his example of educational shortcomings was pretty off. He mentioned that in his blog he covered an issue about the fact that the standard “passing level” for the driving test is higher than the standard “passing level” for the ISTEP — and how wrong that seems to him. This is a really dumb example about education for a couple of reasons — one being that you’re comparing apples to oranges. For one thing, the driving test is way more important, so the standards for it should be higher — it keeps people from killing me with their cars. And for another, the driving test is an accurate measure of people’s rote memorization of the driving rules they’ll be applying on the road. But the ISTEP isn’t in any way an accurate measure of what students have learned in school. Students learn way more than the ISTEP really measures, and part of the reason they’re “failing” the ISTEP is because it isn’t asking the right questions. ISTEP is a poor yardstick with which to measure education, so it doesn’t matter that the “passing level” is low. Comparing a test we need that helps keep us safe with a test that is irrelevant and needs to be thrown away is silly.

Continue ReadingRiShawn Biddle Doesn’t Know Anything About Blogs