The Bright Line

Once again I find myself branded a hypocrite by the columnists and editors at the Recorder. In fact, I’m deemed to practice a  “hypocrisy of the worst kind”.

Just so we’re all clear on the charge, this is the definition of ‘hypocrisy’:

1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
3. an act or instance of hypocrisy.

Their traditional narrative supporting this charge goes something like this: I am an anonymous blogger–> I allow anonymous posters to post to my anonymous blog–> I am a hypocrite and a coward.

The narrative has since been refined recently given my Sunday Muddy Sunday post  to: I am an anonymous blogger–> I allow anonymous posters to post to my anonymous blog–> I allow a poster named ‘Michael Lazorro’ to post on this blog–> I allow Michael Lazorro to parody Recorder columnist Michael Lazarou’s tag line–> I defend myself in response to Michael Lazarou’s recent Recorder column–>Ergo, I am a coward and a hypocrite.

That is their narrative. Let me now offer mine.

First, a few events of note:

1) ‘Michael Lazorro’  first posted on September 19, 2009. Importantly Michael Lazorro’s avatar — his blog image– is that of a female diver seemingly hitting her head into a diving board; the same image used by a previous poster ‘PK Dick’.  Naturally the avatar remains present on all of Michael Lazorro’s posts. As of today, the avatar belongs to ‘Jennifer Eric’ so a reader of the blog is well aware that this is quite likely the same person as ‘Michael Lazorro’ and ‘PK Dick’. And a casual Google search shows PK Dick to be a well known sci-fi author.  The alias looks highly suspect not only in that he never lived here but that the real PK Dick is long dead; 27 years dead.

2) I assert my copyright to this blog in response to the continued violation of my copyright by the Recorder by their reprinting my posts in their entirety in the AmsterdamExpress weekly publication. I make this clear on my posts of July 21, September 16, September 18, October 2. On September 16, I even add a Copyright Notice page and Copyright to the About page of this blog. I make it crystal clear on each post that I do not want any content from my blog published. Period.

3) On October 2, the Recorder prints in its entirety my post and related comments of the post Knock Them Down Economics. The published post printed in the AmsterdamExpress and widely available on your local newsstands contained 4 comments from the poster in question, Michael Lazorro.

4) On November 13, the Recorder once again prints my post in its entirety including anonymous content. In total, the Recorder has published this anonymous blog and its anonymous posts 11 times: March 20, April 24, May 22, June 12, June 19, July 3, July 10, July 17, July 24 (bonus edition whereby editors mock my copyright!), October 3, November 13.

5) On November 15, The Recorder publishes Michael Lazarou’s column. I publish my rebuttal.

So let me recap the events: the Recorder steals my content and publishes it — and more importantly monetizes it — in violation of my copyright. By publishing content from this blog, the Recorder not only violates my copyright but then propagates digital content from an anonymous blog and anonymous posters into print form. Even worse, what had been a digital fingerprint of posters– their avatar– is stripped from their published version of the post. So a reader of the printed version of the  AmsterdamExpress looking at the name Michael Lazorro would not see the image of a female diver used as the avatar nor would they see the connection to PK Dick, the long dead author, nor would they necessarily realize that aliases are prevalent on blogs. In other words, the Recorder creates the very confusion and controversy that they and Mr Lazarou so rail against through their own print media. Think about their argument: as editors and publishers, they publish anonymous comments in print form and then criticize me for doing the very same thing in online media even though the identity of the poster on this blog is more than clear.  And to make it more laughable,  the online version of the AmsterdamExpress contains the very posts from Michael Lazorro ostensibly at the heart of this ‘controversy’.

What I just described are the actions of the Recorder as publishers and editors, not my actions. I have stated it clearly and in no uncertain terms that I do not want my content published. Period. Yet the Recorder publishes it anyway. But according to the editors above it is I who am the hypocrite and the coward. I think not: they steal the content; they monetize  the content; they publish anonymous blogs and anonymous comments week after week from this blog and others and then the very same editors rail against the anonymity of blogs and bloggers which they publish  in their very own media properties in print and online.

I would be fine countering charges of hypocrisy, cowardice, girly-man,  whatever  in this ongoing saga of anonymity going forward. However I find it wholly unacceptable that my blog posts get copied and published without my permission and against my explicit request for the Recorder to stop publishing. Yet again on November 13 however, the Recorder publishes one of my posts. I simply cannot stomach this going forward. I can no longer be an unwilling business partner to the Recorder for them to monetize my content while simultaneously staking an imagined high ground of integrity and principle against anonymity all the while deriving financial gain from my content. Let me put it this way: someone breaks into your house, steals the clothes out of your closet and then shows up on your doorstep in your suit and tie  irate that the cut and finish of the suit does not suit their taste.   WTF indeed!

I’ll gladly accept that I practice a hypocrisy of the worst kind.  I simply pale in comparison to the very best practitioners of  hypocrisy.

I have invested a lot of time , thought and even emotion into advocating what I felt are the right things for our city– that is what this blog has always been about. I have chosen to remain anonymous largely to make a point on local media , namely, why am I held to a standard to which no other local media entity is held? You have anonymous callers on the radio; anonymous editorials in the newspaper; anonymous posts on other blogs and even anonymous posts in other newspapers– the TU, the Daily Gazette and the Leader Herald. And of course, anonymous posts in the Recorder’s very own media properties. Yet each of these is not held to the standard expected of me. They get a waiver, yet I do not. What I find most ironic is that they claim it is not what is said, it is who says it that matters. So the Recorder can publish an op-ed letter stating that gangs are pulling people out of cars intimating of a possible coverup by the police department  or a column stating that blogs are no longer fashionable — both easily refuted and demonstrably not true– but as they have a name, well it must be so.  Off to the presses! And the same holds true on the radio of course. But my blog, well, now that is a problem.

But the bottom line remains: you do not get to steal my stuff and monetize it. That will simply not do, that is the bright line that I will not allow you to keep crossing. Of my options, the most expedient and economically practical for me is to simply not post. Let me blunt: this is a battle that requires more resources than I can bring to bear. And the more I battle the more it will monetize the Recorder. I find that utterly unpalatable.

A sincere thanks for stopping by.


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