Thursday, November 01, 2007

biddle reactions from across the web

today mayor peterson, state rep william crawford, and other local politicians staged a press conference about the rishawn biddle controversy, which forced the indy star to actually report on the story. note however that the story carefully avoids mentioning rishawn by name:

The criticism of the newspaper stemmed from an editorial columnist's online discussion board posting, known as a blog, that criticized City-County Council President Monroe Gray.

The blog referred to Gray and other city Democrats using language that both the Star's editor and elected officials called offensive and unacceptable.

Dennis Ryerson, editor of the Star, said he ordered the posting removed as soon as he became aware of it and apologized on behalf of the paper.

He said the employee who posted the comments is no longer employed by the paper and that the comments did not follow the paper's standards.

"I want the Star to be, like the mayor said of the city, a model of civility," Ryerson said. "The Internet should be a center of electronic dialogue, not diatribe."

of course, the post was "removed" from expresso but remains on the server even today.

gary welsh's reaction to the press conference is predictable. to gary, everything is evidence of an all-encompassing antidemocratic conspiracy by "the carson machine", and this is no exception. in garyzarro world, biddle was fired for daring to criticize the Powers-That-Be, not for throwing around racially offensive language like "coonery". never mind that just yesterday gary admitted that the post in question remained offensive even after the "zip coon" part was removed.

ruth holladay asks whether biddle deserved to be fired, suggesting that ryerson and the star share a large part of the blame for creating an environment where biddle could post such nonsense without an editor's approval. to be sure, this incident is embarrassing for ryerson: not only does the star have trouble keeping racist, offensive comments off its talkback pages, but it can't even prevent its own employees from posting offensive material.

doug thinks rishawn's firing "[s]eems like a bit of a loss" because rishawn "seemed like a nice enough guy". while i'm sure that in his actual day-to-day personal life rishawn is nice enough, i always thought that he came off as a bit of an arrogant, condescending twit in his online posting and debating.

abdul thinks there's a bit of a double standard going, because democrats weren't equally up in arms when city-county council attorney aaron haith referred to abdul as "the grandson of willie lynch". there may be some validity to this, but then again, the two acts are hardly in the same league. as i said in the comments at tdw, haith made a spontaneous, one-sentence, offensive remark. rishawn, in contrast, wrote a nine-paragraph screed that was loaded with offensive language, which he went back and edited four times and yet is still offensive. haith's mistake was arguably a crime of passion done in the heat of the moment; biddle's was clearly premeditated, and directed toward the public. hell, rishawn was so proud of his race-baiting garbage that he sent out an email bragging about it. i have to wonder whether any of this would've even happened if he hadn't sent out that email.

and besides, by complaining about his own incident and not condemning biddle, abdul is being just as partisan and hypocritical as he complains the other side is being. it cuts both ways, chief.

melyssa aka miss ann, as usual, uses this as an opportunity to talk about herself. she is still ranting about how an IFD chief allegedly called her a "bull dyke" months ago. i say "allegedly" because, unlike abdul's complaint, there is no actual evidence that this ever happened. melyssa herself didn't even overhear the comment; some dude said it happened, so that is enough for her to post about it on 20 different blogs for months on end. personally, i have no reason to believe what some dude said, and i am immediately skeptical of any claims that arise from the "bart lies" crowd. but if it actually did happen, then she's right, that's disgusting and worthy of condemnation.

indy undercover unsurprisingly jumps at the chance to complain about "democraps". indyu's argument is the same as abdul's (only not as well-written), but the post is interesting in that the commenters are actually more offensive than rishawn's original post: one of them even makes zip coon jokes. that's classy!

various anonymous commenters at various right-leaning blogs defend rishawn on free-speech grounds, which of course doesn't really apply. rishawn is more than welcome to restart his old blogspot blog and do nothing but reprint lyrics from hair for all anyone cares. but the indy star has no obligation to give him blog space on their servers for his ramblings, nor to cut him a paycheck for doing so. plenty of us are out here blogging for free on our own time—in fact, i really need to finish up this entry and get back to work myself.

that's all the coverage of the issue i've seen online, aside from tdw and other things i've linked to in previous posts. but with this morning's press conference, i wouldn't be surprised if this story sticks around for another news cycle or two.

update: gary welsh is now demanding ryerson's resignation because ryerson attended this morning's press conference. it seems reasonable to me that the editor of the paper might want to appear at a press conference attacking his newspaper, in order to defend himself. but to gary it's an outrage!

2nd update:luke ford (who conducted the infamous "little black book" interview) picks up on rishawn's firing and writes:

I knew RiShawn when he lived in Los Angeles and interviewed him Feb. 25, 2003.

I once wrote that he was the only darkie in a room of pale faces (at a panel at AFI). He reproved me for the word "darkie." He said it was racist. I removed the word.

Biddle worked at Forbes. He was fired when his notes couldn't substantiate one of his stories (quotes). He went to the Los Angeles Business Journal and then to the Indianapolis Star as an editorial writer.

ford also quotes from this column by richard prince about rishawn's firing.


Eric Schansberg said...

thanks for compiling all of this in one place!

Anonymous said...

Oooo , me too!

Wilson46201 said...

On Abdul's own blog I was called "deviant", "molester" & "fairy". When I complained, his own response was to tell me to pound sand. The anti-gay epithets remain up still.

Melyssa has been brandishing as proof of the "bulldyke" remark an affidavit (notarized by her own lawyer) from somebody who uses a Post Office box in Beech Grove as his address! Most peculiar. Of course, both Gary Welsh and Melyssa have been using this incident as a cudgel to berate LGBT organizations for hypocrisy.

This is similar to the way Abdul and other conservatives have been trying to milk the "Willy Lynch" remark to attack African-American leaders locally.

Anonymous said...

I've seen RiShawn in the field as a reporter for a while now and found him to be intelligent, hard-working and honest. I haven't been able to read the original blog post, only the revised post, but the allegations of what were said on it were shocking. I would never have expected him to say things like that. Just another reason why when it comes to public discourse in a newspaper, you really, really need to think more than twice about what it is you are going to say and how you are going to say it. It's too bad this controversy is more about politics than it is about race relations in the city. I've seen some of these politicians in action as well and have not been pleased with what I saw and heard. Good thing they don't have a tape deck running 24-7!

Unknown said...

ok what the heck? Gary is missing the point. Biddle's firing was not about politics....
if Rishawn had said that about an athlete (insert any Pacer player here as they behave worse than anyone in the so called Carson Machine) it would have been just as offensive..but whatever. Some of us really have more important things to worry about

Anonymous said...


your also a bigot

Wilson46201 said...

...another IPS dropout posting anonymously it looks like. Pitiful!

In those English classes you cut so egregiously, you would have learned that it's "you're", not "your".

Back to school! (take off your white hood of Internet anonymity too!)

The Amazing Abdul said...


I don't think you people understand the point I was making. We can agree the term "coon" was a bit much in any context, however my complaint about Aaron Haith was that the same people who called for Rishawn's head on a platter never spoke out about Haith. If you are going to argue that it is wrong for a white person to use those terms then doesn't logic and consistency dictate it is wrong for a black person to use them?

And as far as Wilson goes, he wrote the offensive comments himself and later complained about them. We have the IP addresses to prove them. He needs to get a life or find someone to date to occupy the overabundance of free time he has in his schedule.


stAllio! said...

abdul: what haith said to/about you was wrong. i for one have no qualms admitting that.

but there just isn't enough time in the day to get up in arms every time someone says something offensive. you have to pick your battles, and i still believe that rishawn's offense was notably worse than haith's. (besides, it's not like the right-wing blogs haven't been clamoring about that nonstop ever since it happened. you didn't exactly need our help spreading the word.)

though i don't really remember anyone calling for rishawn's "head on a platter". some of the aggrieved parties demanded an apology, which they received, and several spoke out against rishawn's post. but i don't remember anyone calling for him to be fired or even punished. personally, when i first started posting about it, i didn't think rishawn would actually get in trouble... perhaps i was naive.

stAllio! said...

adding: it's possible that the press conference attendees would have demanded he be fired if he hadn't been already. and it's also possible that people were on the phone with ryerson privately demaning that rishawn needed to go, but i don't remember anyone doing so publicly.

Wilson46201 said...

In response to Abdul-Hakim's lies about my posting offensive comments so that I could complain about them: he is flat-out lying to cover his ass.

I have never posted from anyplace except my home computer on a cable modem with a relatively static IP address. Shabazz is relying on the word of his sysadmin. It would be most interesting to actually see the IP logs of the offensive comments to compare them with my comments where I use my well-known Wilson46201.

I suspect the offensive comments were actually made by Shabazz's Republican cohort: Jocelyn Tandy. That mistress of the poison pen is a well-known homophobe who haunts blogs spreading her fabrications under a variety of fake names. As they say: on the Internet nobody knows if she's a dog!