Friday, April 11, 2008

The Cancer Is Spreading

Abdul Hakim Shabazz introduced a cancer to the Indiana blogosphere which is unfortunately spreading and bringing discredit to those of who attempt to maintain some level of professional courtesy and ethics in what we do as bloggers. I'm referring to the practice of some bloggers to adorn a hood and sheet like a bigoted Klansman and post whatever they want about another person or blogger anonymously because they are too much the coward to identify themselves or do so under the disingenuous claim that they must do so in order to protect their professional careers.

The bile from the underbelly of Shabazz came pouring out after last year's election when it was revealed that he was the person behind the IndyUndercover blog despite his sitting across the table from me and telling me he wasn't behind the blog and the fact that he watched in glee as this blogger was twice falsely accused of publishing the very blog to which he gave birth by others in the blogging community. This is the man who, once exposed, blamed the entire ordeal on an over-zealous Indianapolis police department determined to bring him down for investigating allegations that a prominent African-American businessman abused a child. As it turned out, Shabazz himself was the focus of the investigation for outing on IndyUndercover the identity of a confidential police informant in last year's arson investigation--a pregnant woman who feared for her life after being named on the blog. It is beyond my understanding why WXNT would continue to employ a radio personality so thoroughly discredited by his own deceit. It is only fitting that the station continues to anchor a place near the bottom of the ratings among Indianapolis' radio station market despite all the chest-pounding from the attention-seeking Shabazz.

The poison Shabazz has brought to the Indiana blogosphere has spread to the likes of Thomas Cook and Bil Browning. Both are paid bloggers who, like Shabazz, don't bother to disclose to their readers who's putting money in their pocket to flack for their cause. When they disagree with someone or wish to discredit them, they resort to the old Abdul tool of saving the meanest and worst they have to offer for posting by anonymous bloggers whose identities must be protected for the sake of protecting their professional careers. They go about carefully tagging each mean-spirited anonymous attack for maximum search engine value. The anonymous posts are nothing more than their dark sides showing through to expose them as the unethical and unprofessional persons who've they become.

As a blogger with many points of view, I fully expect criticism for what I write. I welcome it, and I enjoy the challenge of defending the positions I take. I'm not always right. My critics aren't always right. But I put my name to my thoughts and ideas. When people don't like what I write, they are allowed to express their opinions (within limits) in comments to my posts. Some people prefer to write to me off-line, while others telephone me. I've taken at least a dozen telephone calls from elected officials in this state over the past year alone who politely called me to discuss their differences with a view I've expressed on this blog. For some of those people, that wasn't an easy thing to do, but I respect the hell out of them for handling it in that fashion. It's just unfortunate that the cancer Shabazz introduced to our local blogosphere has become the tool of practice for some to the discredit of those of us who seek to do good through our work without any expectation of financial reward.


Wilson46201 said...

Local radio producer Chris Spangle commented elsewhere brilliantly:

You know it’s bad when Bil, Wilson, Amos, Abdul, the conservative blogosphere and the liberal blogosphere all agree on something. And that something is how much of a nut you are, lol.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's a badge of honor for me, Wilson. The pleasure is all mine.

thomas said...

And who, may I ask, is paying me to blog?

You know, it's baseless, silly statements like this that are the reason no one takes you seriously anymore.

(And for the record, during my internship with the IDP -- which ended a month ago -- I had statements of full disclosure in three different places on my site. Of course, who am I to question Gary-ality...)

Gary R. Welsh said...

Of course, there's no connection between your job with the party and any payments you received. At least your consistent with Jen Wagner's position, who always insisted to the bemusement of many that Taking Down Words had nothing to do with her job as spokesperson for the state party, even though that blog and her Accidental Mayor blog were regularly updated during the work day from her work computer.

indyernie said...

Give em’ hell Gary.

You are right on 95% of the time.
Wilson hasn't been right since 1965 and then he was only doing as his Mama directed.

Wilson46201 said...

Gary must be so proud that Ernie Shearer remains his #1 Fanboy -- it kinda proves everybody else's point!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Wilson, I would take Ernie and just about anyone else I know in this world over you. If you were a fan, then I would have to be doing something wrong.

Nick said...

Look how long Abdul been on the air and his ratings still suck. Hell, he's worse than Katie Couric. Her ratings may be through the floor, but at least she's paid handsomely! The only people who listen to his show wear tinfoil hats and think the Ron Paul Revolution still has a chance.

artfuggins said...

As vile as Indy Undercover was, Advance Indiana is starting to its place. The non stop unfounded attacks on Andre Carson and Barack Obama are just two examples. Clean it up, Gary. You used to add something to the political discussions in Induy.

Gary R. Welsh said...

nick, If every single person living in the Indianapols market were tuned into a radio station, WXNT's share would be 17,561. We all know that only a small fraction of the population is tuned into a radio station at any given time and an increasing number are choosing satellite over terrestrial radio. If you break down the numbers, you can pretty much be assured there are fewer than 1,000 people listening to WXNT (probably 400-500) at any given time. On any given day, the station's signal flickers like a dying light bulb on numerous occasions. I would venture to guess that Abdul has actually met every single one of his listeners. There's a reason his callers consist of the same 8-10 people who call in every single day with Crazy Larry leading off the list.

Nick said...

Abdul was interesting for a while, but my coworkers and I soon tired of hearing people like Ike Randolph on his show. The fact that Abdul holds Randolph and Sherron Franklin in such high regards should tell you something about his judgment.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I'm hopeful that Mayor Ballard will come to the realization that having Abdul as a number one mouthpiece is not good for getting out his message. He needs to devote more attention to the serious media folks and less time with Abdul's struggling stand up comedian routine if he wants to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

"Local radio producer Chris Spangle commented elsewhere brilliantly:"

He also said this:

"I know all of this smacks of a group of thirteen year old middle schoolers having a fight on instant messenger..."

It does. To put in middle school girl: It, like, totally soooooooo does.

I couldn’t care less about how well all of you get along or who is friends with whom. Grow up.

I enjoy reading AI because it offers a well-reasoned perspective that’s different from my own just-left-of-center political philosophy. (Abdul is also more to the right, but many of his posts simplify complex issues far beyond what my sense of logic will allow.)

I loved TDW; because, Jen’s writing made me laugh like The Daily Show does. (Currently, it isn’t. And shouldn’t a “group blog” average more posts per day than when Jen was just doing it alone?)

And Gary isn’t compensated by any political party or candidate—unlike Bill who I think works for David O’s campaign.

Remember, no one is perfect.

So keep on writing, Gary. I disagree with a lot of what you write, but it’s nice to be able to say I can understand and respect your analysis of public policy.

The Amazing Abdul said...

Hey Welsh,

Just so you know, I'm not a cancer, I'm a Gemini. You must really be mad you didn't get the Corporation Counsel job that you tried to get. What a shame.

BTW, I've never tried to sue anybody for writing bad things about me.

I guess we know who the bigger man is.

Thanks for the free publicity, again.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You continue to repeat that fiction, Abdul. I never applied for the Corporation Counsel position. Please check with your buddy's law partner over at Ice Miller who reviewed all the job applications and you can confirm that fact. You can't lose out on a job for which you never applied. You have a lot of experience in that department so you should know better. On your other point about suing, the truth in your case makes that a practical impossibility. I'm sorry the publicity for which you keep thanking me when you stop by from time to time didn't translate into improved ratings for your station's 18th out of 25 ranking in the Indianapolis market.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks, Hi7654

Vox Populi said...

Does the fact that you are a tabloid blogger and faux journalist make you feel insecure, Gary? Your own party thinks you're a joke, your fellow gays hate you, and every attorney I know who is familiar with you just laughs when I bring up your name.

Congratulations, Gary :)

Gary R. Welsh said...

vox populi, I'm planning your outing very soon. Let's see how it impacts your professional career.

7th CD guy said...

Hey Welsh,

Just so you know, I'm not a cancer, I'm a Gemini. You must really be mad you didn't get the Corporation Counsel job that you tried to get. What a shame.

BTW, I've never tried to sue anybody for writing bad things about me.

I guess we know who the bigger man is.

Thanks for the free publicity, again

Who is Abdul-Hakim? Is he important to know?

Bart Lies said...

Saying Abdul 'introduced a cancer' is like saying Al Gore 'invented the internet.'

So long as groups of bloggers don't lock someone in a room so they can gang-beat them and videotape it for YouTube as a 'lesson' about what they shouldn't blog about, it's acceptable to me that they exercise their Consitutional right to express their individual thoughts.

Vox Populi said...

Be careful Gary, I might sue ;)

And I have to say that being self-employed, my professional career is pretty safe.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry the publicity for which you keep thanking me when you stop by from time to time didn't translate into improved ratings for your station's 18th out of 25 ranking in the Indianapolis market."

Hey Gary, what happened to that BlogNetNews blog ranking you used to have on the main page?

David Myers said...

I really don’t get it. For what purpose was this blog and others, made to do? Fight taxes and get politics back into line of the taxpayers. I have not only seen this this happen in many different groups other then these blogs. When we get sidetracked with bickering among ourselves, our main cause will sure fail.

Being a fellow blogger, with a small readership, I try to stay on subjects of local politics and avoid situation like this. Anyone who reads my blog knows who I am and how to get in contact with me.

Fellows. Stop the bickering and stay on subject.

Gary R. Welsh said...

For a point of clarification, the practice I complain of with respect to Browning and Cook is not in reference to anonymous comments posted in response to a post. It is their practice of allowing persons to guest post on their blogs anonymously and then professing no accountability for the content of what is contained in those guest posts. I might add that Browning's practice of re-publishing a speech or column which appeared elsewhere originally and then representing it as a guest post to his blog is just downright deceitful. Randy, I stopped linking to the the BlogNetNews ranking because it became apparent to me that it was a totally bogus ranking system being manipulated to promote certain blogs over others. For example, this week, Abdul's blog doesn't even appear in the top 20. Last week, it was rated highly. Similarly, this blog may be ranked near the top one week and not at all the next week. Some blogs will pop up on the list that hardly anyone has heard of or that has very little traffic compared to other blogs. I just can't conclude based on months of observation that the publisher of those rankings has devised any rational barometer for gauging how to rank a blog. I provide a link to the site. I just don't promote its ranking anymore because I think it's meaningless, even those weeks it ranked this blog number one.

varangianguard said...

Not that I am high on your "hit" list, but I would like to explain why I use a nom de plume on the blogs.

I started posting to blogs in reaction to some issues with my township's school board and school administration. At the time, emotions were running very high, and there was some rumor that nasty phone calls were being made, and also that there were some possibility of vandalism as well.

Now, my opinions are just that - my opinions. Those opinions do not necessarily reflect anything that my family believes, and so I wished to separate my actions from those of my family.

I certainly didn't want "anonymous" callers contacting my home and unleashing any undeserved vitriol upon anybody besides myself. I also don't want to suffer "anonymous" vandalism at the hands of someone who finds my opinions at odds with theirs. Both of those actions seem to be more vile than postings on a blog, and more difficult to remedy.

So, publicly, I am varangianguard. It's not that I'm hiding, per se, but rather than the name has become associated with a certain point of view, and may be recognizable by others who post to blogs, or the bloggers themselves.

If I had it to do over again, frankly I would have come up with a much shorter handle. My typing skills are marginal, at best, and typing "varangianguard" sometimes becomes quite tedious. To those who find typing it tedious as well, I apologize.

Now, I don't think I often call people names on blogs, but I do sometimes use bigger words to say the same thing. Most people simply answer back, and that's as far as it goes. There are people who think I lack a sense of humor, a sense of perspective, and several other less flattering traits, but I just consider that they are entitled to their own opinion (no matter how wrong it is), and I just consider the source.

The thing is, if anyone ever has a real bone of contention with me, I can make myself available for further discussion, if warranted. Otherwise, it's still just me, varangianguard.