Saturday, February 17, 2007

RiShawn Biddle Just Doesn't Get It

Star editorial writer RiShawn Biddle has made quite a name for himself dropping by local blogs, including this one, to offer his views on different matters. More recently, he's taken to commenting about what other bloggers are saying at Expresso often without the courtesy of naming the blogger or linking to their site. Biddle has done this on several occasions to me. I have no problem with him critiquing what I write about on this blog, but I do have a problem with the cowardice he displays by ditching all the comments I leave at Expresso in response to his posts.

For example, earlier this week Biddle commented that my comparison of the Senate's actions this past week in passing SJR-7 by a 39-10 vote with a period in the 1920s when the KKK controlled the Indiana legislature and used that power to write laws which discriminated against Catholics, immigrants, blacks or any other minority group disfavored by a tyrannical majority. Biddle thought such a comparison made me look silly. He writes:

That by one blogger of state Senate President Pro Tempore David Long to a Grand Cyclops of the Klu Klux Klan because he allowed a vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment contained in Senate Joint Resolution 7. Come on. Certainly the amendment is a wrongful attempt to codify bigotry, but if Long stifled the vote, he would have gotten heat from the same corner -- and others -- for not allowing things to proceed in a democratic manner. And then, be compared to his predecessor, Bob Garton, who tried to hold back discussion of the wine sales bill last year before being ousted by voters. One has to wonder if the Klansman label would also apply to House Speaker Pat Bauer, who is also allowing a vote on SJR-7. Given his leanings, the claim would be laughable at best. But if Long is tarred with this comparison based on this absurd logic, then Bauer is also deserving. Long shouldn't have voted for it, but he did the right thing by letting the vote proceed. And last I checked, he wasn't wearing white sheets, burning crosses on the property of gays and lynching them. A little more reason -- and less hyperbole -- is in order here.

Fellow bloggers Chris Douglas and Steph Mineart offered a spirited defense of my comparison in a comment. In response, Biddle said, "Comparing someone to a Klansman when they (sic) actions don't warrant such comparison makes the one doing that look silly in the eyes of more reasonable people, especially those who are generally supportive of your aims. Or as the old saying goes: Think before you speak." He added, "If you and Welsh have completely lost your sense of reason to understand this, then that is your problem. Hopefully others in your camp aren't so stubbornly ignorant of this."

Following this exchange, I forwarded an e-mail to Biddle which Eric Miller, one of the leading religious right proponents of SJR-7, sent out this week unloading on a proposed hates bill in which he takes direct aim at gays, lesbians and transgender persons. In true form, Biddle quickly responded with a post entitled "Two Wrongs Don't Make Right." Biddle conceded Miller's e-mail amounted to bigotry. But he quickly adds, "Then there (sic) the silly and is an opponent of SJR-7 (again, he talks about me without naming me), who declared last week on his Web site that the state Senate President Pro Tempore David Long will leave a "dark legacy" because of his vote for the proposed amendment and for allowing it to come to a vote in the first place." Because Biddle won't post my response on his blog to his comments, I will share them with you here.

As I explained to Biddle, I have enjoyed researching Indiana's history, both the good and the bad. One would be amazed at how much one could learn by studying our history, but because Biddle already knows everything, picking up a history book is the last thing he's about to do. I've written often here about the Americanization agenda the KKK pursued during its heyday in the 1920s--the primary purpose of which was to foment hate and bigotry at the latest arrival of immigrants and Catholics in particular. Biddle hasn't studied that era much, or the era in Indiana during the 1850s to 1865 when the so-called Black code laws were adopted.

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.

As I explained to Biddle, it's a matter of whose ox is being gored. You can rest assured Biddle would be singing a different song if lawmakers were brazenly supporting a constitutional amendment which discriminated against blacks. While Biddle has expressed his personal opposition to the amendment, he makes light of its true impact on the affected citizens, which is both demeaning and insulting.

22 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

What I object to so much from Mr. Biddle is his attitude of "hetero supremacy" in which he lectures from on high about tactics and strategies for the LGBT movement. We are not inexperienced or clueless - he should recognize that we are quite capable. He has been granted a mighty power at the Indianapolis Star - he seems to use it (perhaps unwittingly) to run down folk he purportedly supports in principle.

Advance Indiana said...

You are right about this one, Wilson. I've been shocked by some of the accounts others have passed on to me of their run-ins with RiShawn.

arnie said...

Could be RiShawn is on his way out.

lori said...

Gary, you and Wilson summed up my feelings about it well. It seems silly (to Rishawn) but if you are on the receiving end. Though he claims to be on our side, it is never without insult and the threat of losing support if we don't do what he thinks we should do, though he never makes that clear either. I have read a lot of that lately. Someone will post that something that we did threatens our support. It is funny but the issues that I support do not waiver whether I agree with the tactics or not and this effort to derail has grown tiresome.

lori said...

sorry, it's late. I meant, it isn't silly if you are on the receiving end.

RiShawn Biddle said...

Ditch your comment Gary? Actually, it didn't get approved immediately because I was approving them via wireless web (running errands) and if I did so, your comments would have been cut off. Out of fairness to all readers, such comments are approved when I finally get to a computer -- which I did earlier this morning.

If you asked me before running your screed, you would have gotten an answer this weekend. But as you've done in the past, you didn't. And got it wrong again.

This is a familiar pattern. Your animus with me goes back to last year's Julia Carson-Eric Dickerson Congressional race, when I criticized your unreasonable rhetoric and called you on the carpet for perpetrating an urban legend that Carson handed a copy of Dickerson's arrest record to this paper. It didn't happen and you were told that by yours truly -- who happened to be at the editorial board meeting in which Carson leveled those allegations -- and was confirmed by the editorial page editor of this paper.

You refused to correct your statement. As a result, I regard you in a territory reserved for two other notable commentattors in town whose lack of class, dearth of civility and unwillingness to deal reasonably: You don't get named whenever cited on Expresso.

You're annoyed that this paper and yours truly didn't back your favorite candidate. That is your right. At some point, however, you need to grow up. People can agree to disagree, even agree on general points and disagree on tactics, and do so in a civil manner.

Your lack of civility severely limits those who want to take you seriously from doing so. And frankly, you won't deserve any serious consideration until you temper your rhetoric with reason.

Steph Mineart said...

RiShawn, your actions are those of a five year old, and they're unprofessional, too.

If Gary's posts are worthy of comment, they're worthy of linkage - which has been the good netiquette standard for over 10 years. You don't get to re-write a decade of cyber-citizenship behavior because you have cranky pants over Gary getting some facts wrong.

And you don't get to "call anyone on the carpet" unless you're their parent or their boss. Last time I checked, you are neither of those to Gary. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I'm an admirer of Gary and RiShawn, but Biddle goes over the top too often.

I admire Gary because this blog continues to break news.

I admire(d ?) RiShawn because he is frequently tilting against the Star editors. And because he raises the ire of Amos Brown, one of the most pompous, self-appointed "watchdogs" in town.

But RiShawn is teetering on the edge here, and his insane desire to get in the last word is, as Steph so aptly put it, childish.

Long ago, RiShawn, you should've learned some humility. Because Gary, in your mind, refused to "take back" something he posted in a commentary last election, you're going to forever ban his name being used on your postings?

Look up childish in the dictionary. There's your picture.
And it distorts the great posts and articles you often write.

Build a bridge. Get over it. Take a walk, take deep breaths...Wilson is right (for once) (thunder heard in background, lightning too) You have been given a tremendous platform. Often, you use it correctly. When you engage in silly retribution, which you stupidly acknowledged above, you demean your other arguments.

Grow up. You're the best writer at the paper. By far. The community needs your sharp mind writing as often as you can. But it needs to be tempered with some humility.

Absolutely fixable. But it will require some work.

Anonymous said...

Damm, 7:24 is good.

Advance Indiana said...

Wow, RiShawn. Funny how you can now insert my comment after a number of comments time-stamped after mine first appeared. Amazing how that works.

As for the animus concerning the Carson-Dickerson race, I'm surprised you would drag that up because your dispute with me at that time made you look rather silly. As I explained back then, my original account was based on the Star's own original online account of how it obtained the Dickerson police report, which subsequently disappeared and was replaced with a different story to make it appear the Star obtained the report on its own after Carson raised the issue with your editors. You then tried to make me out to be a liar because I reported based on the original online story that disappeared. The fact remained the newspaper knew of the police report because Carson first raised the issue and a campaign volunteer first provided the Star a copy of it. Your endless hairsplitting and attempted deception on the issue seriously undermined your's and the Star's credibility.

I trace your problem back to last summer when you appropriately described the actions of certain local black politicians as that "same old ghetto politics" because of their attempts to put a bar in the government center. The ire you got from those folks was more than you could bear so you have ever since been on a mission to redeem yourself with them.

This was evident as you actively participated in an effort to destroy Eric Dickerson, who never touted family values as a reason for supporting him, because of a decades-old, unproven charge. It's interesting that the Star has not bothered to report that the principal author of SJR-7 demanded of his wife of 7 years that she get an abortion back in 1997 and then proceeded to divorce her a week after she obtained the abortion. It seems that personal peccadillo is more newsworthy than Dickeron's old, unproven police report because it bared directly upon the issue the politican was preaching about. Sen. Brandt Hershman claims to be sponsoring his constitutional amendment to protect the "sanctity of marriage."
Does the word "hypocrisy" come to mind. You've even criticized folks who raise this issue about Hershman's past. By refusing to report this item, you allow Hershman to maintain a level of public respectability on the marriage issue of which he is not deserving.

Your attempted redemption with a certain group was further evident when you attempted to defend the illegally-operated Savoy nightclub and even more recently as you attempted to defend illegal pea shake houses. In the case of the latter, you attempted to compare the illegality of pea shake houses to the illegality of gay marriage--a comparison which was both demeaning and uninformed. Apparently you don't understand the distinction between a civil wrong and a criminal wrong. And the notion that there is any similarity between a union of two loving people and an illegal gambling operation is completely beyond the pale.

So it seems to me there is one person, RiShawn, who has been making himself look rather silly of late. Take a look at the man in the mirror.

RiShawn Biddle said...

1)Last I checked, being childish involves name-calling, pouting and whining. None of that has been done on my part.

The problem arising from the Carson-Dickerson affair is not just that Gary got a fact wrong. It's a continuing willful ignorance of the facts and unwillingness to revise and correct when presented with evidence contrary to his claims. And his latest post, is just one more sign that he lacks the ability to not stoop to name-calling.

2) Not naming those about whom you are commenting is an old tradition in rhetoric, practiced by preachers and even the Fouunding Fathers. There is nothing wrong with it and therefore, needs no defense.

3) As far as humility is concerned: Assuming that I have none when there's no evidence of it is a tad ridiculous. Let me make this clear: There was person who held my job before I did and others will hold it long after I've taken a dirt nap. And when I'm no longer in the arena of debate, there will be others doing what I do. This reality makes me quite humble.

At the same time, I'm going to argue zealously, tough-mindedly and without giving corner, for the ideas I expouse. At the end of the day, the meek shall inherit the earth, but they won't influence events, change minds or for that matter, inherit the mineral rights. It's better to be tough to argue with than meek.

4) Yours truly didn't attempt to make you look like a liar. I would never even use the 'l' word in any case; it's inflammatory and connotes a constant behavior about which I cannot testify.

I did, however, prove conclusively that you were perpetrating an urban legend. The fact that you continue to accept this urban legend as fact, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary, not only shows that you have lost your ability to reason, but that perhaps your ability to see things as they are is skewed beyond recognition.

5) I'm a libertarian; this means supporting the legalization of activities that are essentially victimiless. So I support the right of gays to marry, the right of women to engage in prostitution and yes, even oppose the banishment of certain forms of gaming, including pea shakes. I'm consistent on that score. Period. On that, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

6) "Attemtpted further redemption" with anyone? Monroe Gray would likely find your statement to be a whole bunch of silliness as would Bill Crawford, Greg Porter and Carl Drummer.

7) I call them as I see them. Part of this means realizing that there are no simple answers, simple explanations or even simple situations. This also means realizing that both sides in a fight can use the same evidence to prove their points.

On the matter of Savoy, I noted that Bill Mays didn't follow the rules and handle his business. At the same time, I noted that it was quite likely that the motivation behind those demanding the closure of the club was racial in nature. You may disagree with the assessment, but it doesn't prove that I'm seeking "redemption" from anyone.

The fact that you think that I'm seeking redemption from anyone is one more sign that you've lost your ability to reason.

And finally: A bridge can't be built when people are unwilling to even discuss matters reasonably. It's that simple.

And that is all.

Advance Indiana said...

RiShawn, at least the last time we debated the Carson-Dickerson matter, you eventually conceded there was an error in the initial online report on how the police report was obtained. Wilson Allen, a Carson campaign volunteer, nonetheless readily admitted his role in discovering the police report. I contend the only error was your refusal to acknowledge a fact nobody else disputed--the Star first obtained a copy of the police report from the Carson campaign before it independently obtained its own copy from old records in the prosecutor's office. In the context of the story, whether Carson personally handed the report, or simply told your staff, which was later provided a copy from the Carson campaign, is irrelevant. Your paper only knew about it because Carson first spoke of it. Your endless hairsplitting on this issue is pointless.

I GIVE GOOD BLOG said...

hillary can BUY an endorsment, but she CANNOT BUY THE BLACK VOTE.....to sugest it even is racist

Anonymous said...

RiShawn said, "On the matter of Savoy, I noted that Bill Mays didn't follow the rules and handle his business. At the same time, I noted that it was quite likely that the motivation behind those demanding the closure of the club was racial in nature."

I'm sure City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield will appreciate RiShawn calling her a racist. Who's defaming whom?

Marti Abernathey said...

"Last I checked, being childish involves name-calling, pouting and whining. None of that has been done on my part."

Main Entry: child·ish
Pronunciation: 'chI(-&)l-dish
Function: adjective
1 : of, relating to, or befitting a child or childhood
2 a : marked by or suggestive of immaturity and lack of poise (a childish spiteful remark) b : lacking complexity


Do you get to define words now? My definition is from Merriam-Webster: childish

"You refused to correct your statement. As a result, I regard you in a territory reserved for two other notable commentattors in town whose lack of class, dearth of civility and unwillingness to deal reasonably: You don't get named whenever cited on Expresso."

Essentially, you're stealing. You're not crediting a published piece of work. You can dance all around it if you like. Ethically, if you do not link back to a piece that you either quote or mention, you're stealing. It would be like a rap artist sampling a song and not crediting the artist. The new creation is built on top of someone else's work and is not credited.

"Not naming those about whom you are commenting is an old tradition in rhetoric, practiced by preachers and even the Fouunding Fathers. There is nothing wrong with it and therefore, needs no defense."

So you're a preacher or a founding father? As Steph said, you're violating common blog etiquette. It's akin to someone typing in all caps and saying "it's not shouting." That type of comment comes from arrogance or stupidity, and I don't think you're stupid. You're just proving that you're not a blogger, you're a journalist that pretends to blog.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please throw RiShawn a life preserver? He's sinking fast in a cesspool of his own making.

credo said...

bloggers steal words and ideas all the time. They move words around to fit their pattern of writing. Sometimes they can't find stuff from the newspaper so they troll other blogs and steal folks take on an issue.

Bloggers who want to be recongized as professional bloggers tend to be the one who complain when after they post someone else comes along later an blog about the same issue.

It becomes a peeing contest on who is more qualified to blog or able to critize the "authentic professional" blogger.

Once the critizing happens, personal attacks start flying, flying. The reason for the attack to stop the critizing of amen choir.

The debate about gays is not the same issue for African-Americans. How often is this fact pointed out in the gay community? The issue is not African-American rights but same sex marriage. Same sex marriage has nothing to do with skin color. Bayard Rustin, an African-American, so was Audre Lourde great civil right organizers for both African-Americans and gay.



Why is same sex marriage not supported by your political party? Rishawn does not have the answer. Rishawn is not a legislator.

Rishawn is not agreeing with the fact that same sex and the labeling of less than human as being about just discrimination.

Furthermore, discrimination against African-Americans still exist today. But African-Americans can not wait for all citizens to face the fact that African-Americans have rights, they act up on these rights inspite of the fact that many what to remind them that they will not honor these rights.

African-Americans deals with this issue daily in spite of racialist behavior. These are political issues and both parties have failed the gay issues.

But afraid to buck the system, and not vote these folks in, you just rack them over the coal and the next election, you just vote another one in hoping and praying they will be one to give you your god given right.

You are in America do what you will, and understand like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it might be something you just might get killed for.

Do you believe in same sex rights than act upon defy the laws. That was DrKing, Jr. message. Dr. King, Jr wasn't worried about KLU KLux Klan, he knew where they stood. King, Jr. was worried about those who stated they believed in African-Americans but was telling African-Americans to wait.

King, Jr. said African-Americans have waited long enough. And men mobilized behind the message of tearing down cities because they grew tired of waiting.

Did you think the civil right movement was just about nonviolent acts? Know the history that African-Americans died to be included in America.

Run for office if you are not going to stand up for gay rights.

The Urbanophile said...

The problem with extreme rhetoric when you are in a minority position, as those who oppose SJR-7 are, is that is only hurts your own cause.

How is it that President Clinton managed to survive Monica Lewinski and all of his scandals? One key factor was the over the top hatred his Republican opponents showed, which turned off the general public. I believe a similar dynamic was at work in Pres. Bush's re-election.

The thing is, the vast bulk of Indiana residents don't believe that those who want an amendment banning gay marriage, etc. are out donning white sheets after dark. Now maybe some commentators do, and it is certainly their right to say what they want. But is the goal to get your anger off your chest, or to stop this bill? If the latter, I suggest paying attention to John Stuart Mill:

"In general, opinions contrary to those commonly received can only obtain a hearing by studied moderation of language, and the most cautious avoidance of unnecessary offence, from which they hardly ever deviate even in a slight degree without losing ground."

Clearly, given the votes that have been recorded to date here and elsewhere, opposition to SJR-7 is not the "commonly received" opinion.

As a matter of tactics, I would suggest toning down the rhetoric and focusing on the purely practical elements.

Anonymous said...

RiShawn is drowning...going down for the third time...

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Let him go, Gary...he works for folks, as they say, who buy ink by the barrel. He sadly does nto recognize the power of his words, and the timing of blog postings.

As for Amendment strategy, it's open season now. We may not prevail, but those who prescribe moderation of message are missing the point.

Practically, spekaing, as the last poster called for: this Amendment is a ridiculous duplication of existing law. If it's so freaking important, I demand we have Amendments on muder, rape and burglary.

Come on, Eric Miller, Mr. Bopp and Sen. Herschman. Be consistent. I'm right beside you.

Marti Abernathey said...

"bloggers steal words and ideas all the time. They move words around to fit their pattern of writing. Sometimes they can't find stuff from the newspaper so they troll other blogs and steal folks take on an issue."

I used the example of sampling very purposely. If you take the content and move it around and rework it, it isn't the same work. Still, you give credit to the original artist. Most bloggers I know find it MUCH EASIER to link to a blog and blockquote it than it is to go to the trouble of rewording another person's post.

"Bloggers who want to be recongized as professional bloggers tend to be the one who complain when after they post someone else comes along later an blog about the same issue."

Um, no... if you're a professional blogger, you get paid to write.

"The debate about gays is not the same issue for African-Americans. How often is this fact pointed out in the gay community? The issue is not African-American rights but same sex marriage. Same sex marriage has nothing to do with skin color. Bayard Rustin, an African-American, so was Audre Lourde great civil right organizers for both African-Americans and gay."

I'll let Bayard Rustin speak for himself:

"There are four burdens, which gays, along with every other despised group, whether it is blacks following slavery and reconstruction, or Jews fearful of Germany, must address. The first is to recognize that one must overcome fear. The second is overcoming self-hate. The third is overcoming self-denial. The fourth burden is more political. It is to recognize that the job of the gay community is not to deal with extremist who would castrate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us.

The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That's our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest anti-gay sentiment."
- Time on Two Crosses --The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin

"The problem with extreme rhetoric when you are in a minority position, as those who oppose SJR-7 are, is that is only hurts your own cause."

It's not rhetoric. It may be a truth that people don't like or don't agree with, but there's nothing grandiose about the comparison.

"Clearly, given the votes that have been recorded to date here and elsewhere, opposition to SJR-7 is not the 'commonly received' opinion."

I think the last election cycle proved that the people are sick of this war and sick of low wages. When times are good, social issues can be a good surfboard to ride into office on. But in bad times, they'll get your ass kicked out of office.

credo said...

Our job is not to get people who dislike us to love us..Rustin

Xlick on the donation button.

Issue law makers

GaryJ said...

We are not inexperienced or clueless - he should recognize that we are quite capable.
One comment from Wilson that I can agree with. I'm not gay, but I know a few, (7 to be exact), and 6 of them are very capable at their jobs. As far as the seventh.. well there is one in every crowd! Us heteros have a few incapables in our midst as well!
Good post Wilson. thats 3 things that we agree on, now!