A couple weeks back, I made a very public announcement that I would be taking an indefinite hiatus from Everything Skateboarding for “personal and professional reasons”. Those reasons were pretty specific: I had been advised that, as a consequence of spending far too much time at work (averaging between 80 and 100 hours a week, over a solid six months), sitting sedentary in front of a computer for long periods of time… my weight and blood pressure were either way up, or entirely off the charts. Doctor’s Orders were to lay off the Coke (the drink, not the drug), go outside, get back to being active, and go skate. Not the worst sort of Doctors Orders in the world, I might add. Especially that “go skate” bit.
Then, right on the heels of my announcement, something came along that absolutely torpedoed my best intentions: that damned Jason Jessee controversy. Almost immediately, I was off the skateboard, right back in front of the computer (and on the phone), chasing down an emerging story. This was definitely not the sort of “hiatus” that my Doctor had in mind, I’m sure… but, on the other hand, nobody can schedule when news breaks or doesn’t. Hiatuses can always happen later. But “news” has a really sneaky way of always happening right here, and right now. Dammit.
Now. I want to make something very, very clear here. Being in The Media is a de-facto leadership position. Whether you (or I) want to be “a leader” or not, is absolutely immaterial to the reality of the situation. It is something that just comes with the territory, and you just have to learn to live, and deal with it. For better, or for worse.
My first public call was for everybody to slow down, take a chill pill, pipe it for a minute, and engage their brains. This is not something that Overly Judgmental Americans like to do, nor is it something that comes naturally for them… but in moments of true crisis, it is still the very best advice that I could ever give. Calm, rational, and reasonable reaction to an extremely emotional and irrational situation is never, ever a losing strategy. Quite the opposite: there is an inexhaustible treasure trove of examples of instances where that “calm, rational, and reasonable” strategy has literally saved the day.
In calling for a fair, measured, and balanced approach to this “Jason Jessee is a racist” issue, I suddenly became a White Power advocate, a Nazi supporter, and a racist myself. This is pretty funny, considering that I’m Jewish, and have never supported racist tendencies in my entire life. In fact, I’m well on record of actively opposing them. While everybody wanted to jump all over a bandwagon this week to “boycott Jason Jessee” (and his sponsors), nobody seemed to give much a damn that I’ve been quietly (and consistently) boycotting Jason Jessee since 1989. But, hey, that’s exactly what happens when people literally lose their minds over an extremely emotional and irrational situation. Which is precisely why I continue to call for a calm, rational, and reasonable approach, every single step of the way.
This example of a free, fair, and absolutely independent media putting itself squarely in the path of an internet mob, bent on taking down the career and the livelihood of an accused racist, might be unprecedented. I’m not one hundred percent sure on that… I’ve been looking high and low for other examples of that happening… but in any rate, it is “pretty rare” at the very least. American Media rarely calls for a calm, rational, and reasonable approach to anything; in fact, I would argue that the exact opposite is true. American Media is usually falling all over itself to add to the hysteria; rush to conclusions; anoint itself as judge, jury, and executioner; summarily hang the accused; and then pat itself all over its own back as it counts up the reader tally and the advertising revenues. This is not “fair and balanced” at all. It is, simply put, aiding and abetting the very vigilantism that they should be working against.
In the last two weeks, we have all learned a lot. Myself, included. Jason Jessee still refuses to talk, much to my surprise and amazement, as does Gentle Jones, which does not surprise me at all. “Eraserhead
Fucker” has emerged as the true author of the stories that was submitted to, and declined by, Jenkem; Vice never responded to the submission. In light of these facts, I have duly corrected (not edited) my original “Weathering The Shitstorm” piece, as any fair-minded writer should do. I still steadfastly oppose removing data… words, photos, video, or otherwise… from the public record. But addendums and clarifications are perfectly a-ok by me.
Fucker” also brought a video to the forefront of the debate that does not exactly bring any “new news” to the table, in of itself… it still entirely and exclusively consists of words, photos, and video that have all been previously published elsewhere, quite publicly… but does do an undeniably excellent job of “connecting the dots”, and laying out an extremely fair, well-thought-out, and compelling case against Mr. Jessee in a calm, rational, and reasonable manner. That video has also been added to my original “Weathering The Shitstorm” piece, as an addendum to the story line.
And while I still refrain from calling Jason Jessee “a racist”, per se… that remains an accusation that I have historically refused to throw around lightly, and I still refuse to throw around lightly, for obvious reasons*… I would have to propose that his known history of “racist tendencies” is really starting to pile up, and create a very strong, reasonable, and rational public case that he does need to emerge from the shadows, and answer for directly. Hopefully, far sooner than later.
The more evidence that guys like “Eraserhead
Fucker” compile, and the longer that Jason Jessee sits silent in his own defense, the stronger this “Jason Jessee is a racist” argument is going to become. While I may have a strong distaste for people jumping to immediate conclusions based in internet hysteria, I do absolutely support people slowly making their way to that conclusion based on strong research and solid evidence from credible sources. “Credible sources” being people that have no real (or perceived) vested interests in the outcomes, outside of simply doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. “Eraserhead Fucker” legitimately and accurately embodies that ethos. Gentle Jones, unfortunately, still does not.
If the General Public could be trusted to consistently act as calmly, rationally, and reasonably as “Eraserhead
Fucker” has, then there would be no need at all for a free, fair, and independent mass media to exist. “Eraserhead Fucker” actually embodies the aims and ambitions of the free, fair, and independent media quite well… and I told him so, directly. He’s definitely got talent and skill, and would be excellent reporter and journalist, if he ever decides to go that route. My impression is that he would much rather avoid the limelight, and move on with his plans and his life… and that’s fine. But we all owe him some small debt of gratitude, anyway. Even if we don’t agree with his conclusions, we still have to respect his methodology and his intentions.
If I could trust every internet vigilante to be as calm, fair, reasonable, and rational as “Eraserhead
Fucker”** proved himself to be, then I could take my hiatus, retire tomorrow, and finally have that good, long, and relaxing rest that I’ve been trying to schedule for the last fifteen years.
But until that fantasy materializes into reality, then the free, fair, and independent mass media has to stick around. Because there aren’t very many of those left on the media horizon these days, I guess it’ll be left up to us for the time being. So long, “retirement”. It was a swell fifteen hours (or so) that I’ll always remember warmly.
Sincerely yours, I’ll see ya next month-
* The most “obvious reason” being that, as a de-facto leadership position, it is absolutely not a media editor’s job to throw such a loaded, yet incredibly subjective, accusation at anybody. Defining what a “racist” is, and what qualities that may (or may not) embody, is the sole job of the reader– not a publisher. Never, ever forget that.
* *I would like to take a moment to thank “Eraserhead
Fucker” not only for his strong and solid research; I would also like to thank him for giving me a legitimate excuse to use the word “ Fucker” so many times in an introduction. Travel well, good sir, and never forget to travel lightly.