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April 11, 2006

Controversy On My Stupid Show

1, we caught heat over Bill's "spank the monkey" joke last week and my "abducted by lesbian cheerleaders and forced to watch them make out" line.

I was informed it was out of bounds to "conjure" images of "lesbians touching each other."

When Jeff and I both came aboard rightalk, we were told we were expected to not necessarily be completely G-rated. It seems now that has changed, before anyone decided to inform us. It's not that I can't work clean, it's that... well, I don't want to. Well, no it's not that. It's that if something can easily get by the censors on, say, David Letterman, I think that's clean enough for the Internet.

I get that I can't be dirty. But now even slightly risque is forbidden, too?

But whatever. I'll deal. Or I won't. First time I've ever been threatened to be fired from a "job" that doesn't pay me a dime.

Meanwhile, there's the Debbie Schlussel vs. Prof. Rusty Shackleford thing.

Basically, as Rusty notes on his blog, he called in to debate Debbie on the point of the propriety of printing derogatory information about Jill Carroll. For the record, as far as the actual information, I don't see why it's out of bounds to discuss it; I didn't think so when I originally linked it, and I still don't. I wasn't kissing Debbie's ass on the general point that I don't get what's so heinous about this information.

Certainly no one complained very loudly when it was pointed out, here and all over the place, that the Christian "peace" workers in Iraq failed to thank the US military for rescuing them/recovering them. There wasn't a rule against saying something uncharitable about former hostage victims then, and I still don't get why the rule is different for Jill Carroll. I understand some object to the "rumor" nature of this, but there's a guy on the record, who's offered up his name, so this isn't an anonymous rumor. It may or may not be true, but if you have a guy on the record putting his own credibility behind it, I don't see how that's a rumor that must not be repeated.

Anyway, on to the Rusty call. Debbie felt this was a kind of set-up/ambush interview situation as she had not been previously informed he'd be calling in; I never planned it myself, and I only found out about it three minutes before the show. I think that's what bothered her the most-- the idea that we had always planned on bringing in a critic to "debate" her as a guest, but had never told ther that. She explained in a later email that if she had known he was only a caller, not a long-planned ambush-debate guest, she wouldn't have minded as much.

I didn't know there was such a huge controversy over this, and such a sometimes emotional and personal one; I thought it was just something being debated. I tried to smooth it over with Debbie during the break to let Rusty ask his question or make his point, but she didn't want to, considering his previous postings to have been too personal in their critique. And more the comments than the postings; she said commenters piled on calling her "c--t" and "whore" and the like.

Not sure how bad any of this was -- again, I really didn't even get that there was this huge firestorm over the matter -- but that's what I was told. When Debbie said she never would have appeared on the show if she'd been told in advance she'd be set up to debate Rusty, we made the decision to not take the call. I tried to get his basic point before he hung up, so I could ask the question myself, but by that time the show was back on the air and I lost him just as he was saying "Well I don't object to the story necessarily, I just object to..."

And then we were back on the air, and lost him as a caller.

I think Jeff tried to ask a lot of questions in the general area of propriety, though I don't know yet if he touched on Rusty's specific objection.

Anyway, so, that was the show. Some embarrassment about feeling as if I'd "set up" a guest, not being sure what the hell to do about it, and then getting yelled at by my engineer for ten minutes over unauthorized use of the term "lesbian cheerleader."

Crucified by rightalk.com.

Update: Debbie says she'd be willing to debate Rusty on the point, maybe on next week's show, if only to dispel claims that she's ducking a critic. So, maybe next week, if they're both available, we can have them discuss this in the last long segment.


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posted by Ace at 04:56 PM

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