We Sincerely Regret Our Error

Regret. Apologies. Both are a bitch.

Last night PriceWaterhouse Cooper “sincerely regretted” mistakenly handing Warren Beatty the envelope for the Best Picture Oscar. This led to what us pro wrestling fans call a “Dusty Finish”* moment where the cast of “La La Land” stopped their acceptance speech and hand the award to the cast of “Moonlight.”

PriceWaterhouse Cooper is the accounting firm for the Oscars. They tally all the ballots and then issue the envelopes that contain the award winner names. Their official apology is a classic story of how to fuck up an “I’m Sorry” moment.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

“We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

Conflict resolution occasionally requires an apology from a party. There’s three steps to a good apology. Let’s examine each, and the moments where PWC botched them.

1. I’m Sorry

This is the classic start to the apology. You say you’re sorry for what happened. It’s the basic step towards making amends for the issue central to the conflict in question.

PWC doesn’t directly admit guilt or sorrow over the incident that led to the Oscars gaffe. Their sincere regret doesn’t even mention the firm. Deep regret doesn’t cut it when you can’t even be bothered to directly admit you fucked up.

2. It was my fault.

Simply saying “I’m Sorry” in some form doesn’t cut the mustard for someone you wronged. If the situation was one you caused, the best thing to do is admit you fucked up. An admission of fault when making an apology makes you look honest and sincere to the person or parties you wronged. Owning your mistakes is crucial to an effective apology.

Here PWC didn’t even bother to admit fault. They said the presenters were given the wrong envelope, when the mistake was discovered it was immediately corrected, and that an investigation was being launched into how this occurred. Why bother even attempting an apology at this point? PWC’s essentially saying they had nothing to do with the gaffe.

3. What can I do to make this right?

This is the crucial third step to making an apology, and one that must be handled with care. You have to see if the other party is willing to let you fix the situation, and best practices are to ask the other party what steps you can take to remedy the issue.

Asking works best because it gives the other party a chance at directing a proper “fix” to the situation. Sometimes that may not work. Sometimes you may have to take a proactive step and reach out with a potential remedy. In those cases, you deal with the situation as you must and see what happens.

PWC got this issue “sort of” right.  They announced an “investigation” into what caused the gaffe. Whether that investigation will actually occur is anyone’s guess. If you think this might become a scenario where results of that investigation are announced and people actually see a resolution, you’re delusional.

PriceWaterhouse Cooper is an accounting firm that handles Hollywood’s greatest awards. They may have motivations to “sincerely regret” their fuckup instead of owning an apology and doing so properly. I have no doubt after last night PR professionals were busy sweating over every word of the “official statement” so as to not draw any ire from Hollywood’s top stars and executives.

That careful wording doesn’t make the apology any better. It just makes the entire thing as scripted as an episode of Monday Night Raw.  It also makes the entire “statement” sound disingenuous. A more heartfelt expression of regret would have resonated with the public, the Academy, and all those with time invested in the show. Now PWC must deal with the backlash.

Apologies are important when they are merited. I had to apologize for an issue I created recently, and I took the steps outlined here as best I could. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the party who fucked up, I contributed to the fuckup. That’s a situation meriting an apology, and I did what I had to do to make sure the parties I wronged knew I not only sincerely regretted my contribution to the fuckup, I would take active steps to see the issue made right.

Who in your life that you’ve wronged deserves an apology, and what active steps will you take to make amends today?

*A good definition of the “Dusty Finish” can be found here.

Do We Miss Richard Simmons?

I met Richard Simmons once in my life. He was traveling through the McGhee-Tyson airport in Three Stooges pajamas. I stopped and said hello, and he insisted we take a picture together.

The creator of “Deal a Meal,” “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” and other wildly iconic fitness gimmicks was a fixture in media for some time. Then in 2014, he disappeared. Simmons didn’t return phone calls from friends. He stopped talking to people that visited his Hollywood Hills mansion.  Something was wrong.

Was Richard Simmons missing? Did someone kill him? Was he being held hostage by his housekeeper? Apparently speculation ran so rampant Simmons did an interview on the Today Show last year to let people know the rumors of his demise, capture, or otherwise were completely unfounded.

That’s not good enough an explanation for Dan Taberski, one of Simmons’ friends, a Daily Show producer, and former regular at the “Slimmons” exercise classes Richard taught up until his “ghosting” from public life. In an effort to get some closure or answers regarding the fitness celebrity’s disappearance, Taberski launched a weekly podcast in the vein of NPR’s “Serial” called “Missing Richard Simmons.”

When I first read “Missing Richard Simmons” was “like “Serial,” but better,” I had to give it a shot. The first two episodes have been interesting, and I’ll continue to give it a shot into the third episode. It’s full of stories about Richard Simmons and his interactions with the public. It also raises a very troubling question: Does Simmons owe the public an answer as to why he’s peaced out of public life?

Taberski seems to intimate the answer is “yes” through the two episodes he’s cranked out so far. His rationale is that with the amount of people Richard Simmons helped lose weight over the years, simply refusing to speak to anyone isn’t good enough. There are some, possibly Taberski, to whom Simmons owes at least a courtesy call or text saying “I’m taking a break.”

This view smacks of entitlement, foolishness, and a complete disregard for Richard Simmons as a human being. The sad thing is Taberski manages to acknowledge without saying in two episodes exactly why Simmons is entitled to remain “missing,” and either doesn’t understand or is cleverly keeping the audience listening to find out.

Two episodes in we learn Richard Simmons is a very emotional caring person who can be described as a giver of the highest sort. He saw a calling in helping people who didn’t look like gym rats get fit and stay fit, so he actively pursued that calling. It made him millions, but the money wasn’t as important as the lives he touched. That would explain why up till his sudden disappearance, Simmons still taught exercises classes for twelve bucks a head.

Eventually, the giving wore out.  There’s only so much a person can give of their time, money, and energy before there’s nothing left to give. If one follows this basic axiom and applies it to what we know about Richard Simmons, his obsession was giving people the gift of health and making sure they stayed healthy. Simmons gave and gave until there was nothing left in his tank. As a result, he decided to go into isolation until he could recharge his batteries.

Taberski, the Slimmons regulars, and those whose lives were bettered by Richard Simmons are right to care. It’s as if a close friend kept a great, positive relationship with you for an extended period of time and then stopped talking without any explanation. If they want to hear from Simmons again, the best thing all parties could do is take one simple principle to heart.

You are entitled to nothing. The world owes you nothing. 

This is true in relationships, business, hell all of life. You are owed nothing, even if it’s an explanation why one of your business associates decided to stab you in the back. No one “deserves” an explanation from another human why they decided to hit “unfriend” on Facebook. Yet we feel we are deserving of such issues, and that only speaks to the hedonism and narcissism of our modern society.

If Richard Simmons wants to stay missing, he can stay missing. He’s earned his money. He’s made his relationships. Like any adult, he’s free to do with them as he pleases.

Until the next episode catches my attention, I won’t be missing Richard Simmons, and honestly you shouldn’t either.

The Work Never Stops

Last night I had a conversation with a friend, colleague, and mentor about the amount of work I cranked out last week.

“The other guys, they’re wondering how you do it. It’s almost like you’re a monster.”

Monster, beast, whatever you want to call it, the remark stunned me. I’ve heard it before, but I don’t really understand why working hard and being productive is a bad thing. If you really enjoy what you’re doing then the “work” isn’t something that’s really seen as work. Moving forward with goals to accomplish what you want in life isn’t something that should be seen as “work.”

In the last week, I’ve launched a 501(c)(3) with an immense amount of detailed paperwork. I’ve cranked out YouTube and podcast content. I’ve written for Fault Lines. I settled a case in mediation with a contingency that will take care of a good portion of my bills. I did all this work and managed to still spend time with my family, cook dinner on most nights, and get in quality time with those I love most.

I even “worked” two days with a sick kid. That’s a feat when you practice law or do any form of business. I’m lucky to be able to work from home most days, so it wasn’t too terrible of an issue, but it did crack down on the amount of work I was able to produce. My various forms of work usually require peak focus, so having to divide my attention between cranking out a brief and doling out the next portion of crackers demanded by a two year old can hamper the work that gets finished on a certain day.

But still I work. I do more in a given day than the average Joe ever will, because I have to keep moving. I have to continually move towards my goal of providing for my family in ways I have yet to achieve.

When I don’t work, I experience a certain feeling of dread or anxiety. I’m comfortable with relaxing, mind you. It’s something that has to happen so the body experiences balance. If there’s tasks that need completion, and my mind actively knows it, then I have to work. There’s no time for playing a round of “Gunman Taco Truck” on the iPhone if even something as simple as dirty dishes are in need of cleaning.

Everything during my day is usually planned out the night before. This is a habit I’ve developed since starting the Best Self notebook mentioned in a previous post. It doesn’t always happen, but the Best Self format encourages you to block out your work in 30 minute slots. Sometimes my work takes more than thirty minutes for a task.

When you block out your work and plan your day, you find you get more accomplished. You move closer towards your goals. You get insane amounts of productivity because your body and mind are actively training to work more than ever before. You keep moving forward.

Even when I’m not working, I’m usually thinking about the next move or the next line of work to pursue. This is a habit from my law school days, when one of the Trial Advocacy professors told me in an inebriated rant “While you sleep, other people are figuring out ways to make your money.” I took from that a notion of never stop thinking about the next way to pursue what you want, especially if it’s a business endeavor that will lead to your success.

Have I reached a plateau of success yet? Not in the traditional sense that most people would think. I’m no millionaire, I don’t drive a Maserati, and I don’t dine at Ruth’s Chris on a regular basis. But I do have a good job, I have friends and family I can count on when needed, and I put food on the table. I have a roof over my head.

I set out to reach goals daily. I work daily to reach those goals. More often than not I manage to hit most of them, but that’s because I plan the work, I execute the work, and then when I don’t accomplish a task on a given day I try to figure out where things went wrong and learn from the missteps.

People don’t want to work in America. This is a fact few are willing to mention. They want to collect a paycheck, sure, but they don’t want to find a meaningful way to fulfill their lives. Some are so desperate they go on the dole, sure, but by and large we are a hedonistic, wage slave society.

Most people would rather count on the security of a paycheck, slaving at something they really hate doing, because they at least know the money is coming somewhere. In the meantime they go to the nine to five, converse with co-workers they hate, put up with the boss telling them to come in on Saturday, and count on those two days at the “week end” when they can put their feet up and binge watch Netflix.

This sort of work produces nothing of value to the person or society. It brings you money, sure, but work that brings you money and fulfills you is far more satisfying. It makes you a success when you can get up each day, do that which you love, and get paid to do it. Most people will never reach this level of work, because catching up on the latest episodes of “Black Mirror” or “Game of Thrones” is more important than creating work that will lead to a successful life.

One of the goals I set for today was to sit down and write 1,000 words about something. I had no idea it would eventually be about work, and the process or views I see as my work.  Yet here I am, at almost eight in the morning, and I’ve already reached a goal.

What will you start doing today to actively work?

Banning Milo, Finale?

When Milo Yiannopolous appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and called President Trump “not really a Republican like most people think” I knew he would raise some hackles. Once word broke that MILO would speak at CPAC, a conference full of conservative speakers, something told me a hit job was about to go down.

I didn’t think it would happen as fast as it did. Almost overnight a group called the “Reagan Battalion,” a Twitter feed claiming to be a blog for conservative news and thought, released a two minute, highly edited video of MILO claiming to endorse sex with boys. The Regan Battalion’s clip, taken at face value, practically made MILO the keynote speaker for NAMBLA, not CPAC.

Once people noticed the clip contained mashed up footage from the Rubin Report and the Joe Rogan Experience, plus a clip from another source, the Regan Battalion got called out on their shit really quickly. The response was to release the “unedited” clip from another source, a YouTube show called the “Drunken Peasants,” where MILO goes to great length discussing in his typical shock and awe fashion aspects of gay culture that could be seen, in a certain light, as condoning sexual relationships between men and underage boys.

He does advocate for precision in language during that video, though, and makes it very clear that he is not advocating pedophilia, nor does he think sexual relations between grown men and young boys are okay at all. Still, the shock and gallows humor the “Dangerous Faggot” brings to the table every time he makes an appearance was a touch too far this time.

CPAC promptly disinvited MILO from their speaker list. Simon and Schuster dropped publication of “Dangerous” after weeks of standing by Yiannopolous and calls for boycotts of the imprint. Numerous thinkpieces quickly sprang to judgment over how the party of family values had been taken in by an impish, click bait driven troll.  After all, if you can trust any political affiliation to police themselves, it’s conservatives, and one thing they don’t like en masse are kid touchers.

I wasn’t ready to rush to judgment when all this started coming out, because it smelled like a hit job. One of my acquaintances remarked “A casual stroll will suffice.” When I finally did take a few minutes to watch the video, I didn’t see a thing that advocated pedophilia and remarked to my acquaintance MILO actually seemed to discuss certain aspects of gay culture I didn’t understand, so I couldn’t rush to judgment on whether it advocated for criminal activity or not.

The world found where MILO stood at three PM yesterday. He did everything one would expect a person in his position to do. There was an explanation of his position on the videos. He discussed his experiences as a victim of child abuse, and how it affected his life. He expressed great regret for his imprecision in language, and acknowledged that his word choice could be construed to at least “condone” child abuse, which he deeply regretted.

Then came time for public atonement. He stepped down from Breitbart, stating he didn’t want any spectacle around him to detract from the great work they were doing. “Dangerous” would still see publication this year, and ten percent of all book royalties would go to child abuse charities. And MILO would now focus his efforts on a new media company, speaking tour, and “education and entertainment” as a performer.

At the conclusion of his remarks, MILO pointed the attention at the people and motivation behind what was going on with this latest ginned up outrage.

But let’s be clear what is happening here. This is a cynical media witch hunt from people who don’t care about children. They care about destroying me and my career, and by extension my allies. They know that although I made some outrageous statements, I’ve never actually done anything wrong. These videos have been out there for more than a year. The media held this story back because they don’t care about victims, they only care about bringing me down. They will fail.

And he’s right, in a lot of respects. Once the conservative press heard him call the President “not a real Republican” it was time for MILO’s downfall. Something had to be done to stop him, and if it meant faking allegations of endorsing pedophilia then so be it. The “provocateur” had to go, because the party of “family values” couldn’t take a gay Jewish Brit with a fondness for black dudes getting more attention than their chosen figureheads.

Will this be the end of MILO? Some of my friends and acquaintances think he won’t bounce back from this debacle. I think he’s got a bit more left in him than most people think, and that his fanbase will rally behind him stronger than ever before now that he’s “come out” as a child abuse victim.  It will take time, and it will certainly cost a lot of money and energy on his end, but Milo Yiannopolous will come back.

And the “establishment Republicans” who felt it necessary to throw Milo under the bus need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and figure out why this character assassination attempt was necessary. Yes, he’s a self promoting ass, but he managed to hand you more of the LGBTQ vote than many others had. His college talks brought the millennial vote out in droves for your party, because Milo told them “If you want to piss people off, if you want to be cool…you have to be conservative.”

The Left is the party that got really good at throwing people under the bus, and they specialize in hit jobs like this. Don’t go to the Left’s playbook when you’re considering ways to get someone you don’t like out of an influence sphere.

When Good Guests Strike

We had guests at the Compound this weekend. A family of four. This meant eight people in a household normally designed for four. You can imagine the productivity in the house went absolutely to shit.

The guests were perfect, surprisingly. One is a badass who works with the State Department and has probably toppled three governments and assassinated a few dictators, if not drug lords. He’s currently studying Spanish for his next job in a country where we’re not building a wall and making said country pay for it. As you can imagine, he’s a completely nice, wonderful guy who has nothing but love in his heart.

His wife is the perfect person for his next assignment. A Spanish teacher, she’s taught everywhere from Africa to Australia as her husband travels. Their two kids are the epitome of everything you’d want in kids: bright, looking into science and engineering, athletic, and inquisitive. She speaks Spanish to her kids just as much as English, and the kids responded in return.

I expected the two days to be a shitshow. No sleep, complaining kids, no help whatsoever. Again, there was a surprise. They did the dishes. They helped with the kids. We took everyone to the zoo yesterday and they graciously paid for all the people needing tickets. They were gracious when we made them dinner.

Today they leave, and life returns to normal. I’ll actually miss the lot of them. It was a nice visit, and one that forced me to relax a bit. Yesterday I got the first chance to really “play” and relax. The four guests were completely wonderful, and the time flew by to the point I didn’t even realize what hour it was and when the kids needed to be in bed.

The weekend was a nice reminder that not all house guests are like viruses. You can have a select few that are good and will give you a good time when they come by. A select few might even make your life easier when they show up. It just depends on the person or people who show for a few days.

Still, horrendous curmudgeon that I am, I waited to figure out when they would leave, what time, so I could put on my nice happy smiley face, wish them a good day, and then get back to my normal business of being an utter bastard. That’s what my people do. We act like we’re the nicest on earth and preach civility until someone acts a fool or tries to be a dick, then the lawyer kicks in and we respond accordingly.

Our short time with the guests was a nice reminder that it’s okay to let our guard down occasionally around those we can trust. The trick, unfortunately, is figuring out who you can let your guard down when they’re near so the wrong person doesn’t get the chance to stab you in the back.

Sometimes you can actually have fun when people come to visit. It’s a nice reminder that there are good folks out there, especially for those people like me in a profession where you see the worst in everyone. Unfortunately, these moments come few and far between.

I’ll actually look forward to these guests coming back. They did all the dishes.

WOZO and the Streisand Effect

Yesterday was a fun exercise in watching the Streisand Effect work its magic. By day’s end more eyes were on my little radio show than ever before, and the lunacy at WOZO’s DJ “team” was exposed for the lying nutjobs they are.

Fault Lines Managing Editor Scott Greenfield contacted me Thursday about The Sit Down’s ban from WOZO. He wrote a post about it at Simple Justice on Friday. That post gave the tiny “People’s Radio” show a lot more attention than it’s seen in recent months. The fact the attention was negative, calling their cowardice for what it was, didn’t help much.

So the station launched its “conflict response team” into action. This “response team’s” acts usually involved posting negative comments to my YouTube channel, trolling producer Aaron Campbell’s Facebook page for “That Midday Show,” and blowing my Twitter feed up with repeated at mentions over how I was a “nobody,” a “toxic person,” and an “amateur.”

If that’s the case, why did WOZO’s DJs take so much time and energy to attempt to shout me down?

Let’s look at what happened.

1. WOZO’s DJ “team” objected to the content of the Sit Down and acted accordingly.

From the beginning, it was clear the leftist DJ staff at WOZO wanted The Sit Down gone. They attempted a number of tactics in an attempt to get rid of the news hour broadcast. The first was attempting a straight ban because my broadcasts contained “racist, sexist, transohomophobic, bigoted, ableist, or other “ist” content. Unfortunately, no such content existed, and the one thing the DJ team could find objectionable was the disclaimer broadcast twice during the show, which one DJ found “offensive.”

The second tactic was to frame the narrative of the ban as me wanting “special treatment” from the community radio station. They couldn’t bear the truth shining on their intellectual dishonesty, that they simply didn’t agree with what I had to say, so they came up with a convoluted story about how I was the only show “host” who wasn’t a DJ, hadn’t gone through the steps of becoming a DJ, and wanted to subvert the station’s “rules,” which seemed to apply differently with every DJ at WOZO.

2. WOZO’s DJ “team” launched an all out attack on me and my producers through social media. 

I am told I was “owned” on Facebook. I have no knowledge of this, as I have no access to any social media showing me how I was “owned.” I also have enough adult sense to understand the Internet isn’t real life, and mean hurty words on a digital screen aren’t enough to hurt me or mine.

I am told there’s plenty of “sick burns” of me on WOZO’s twitter account. I have no knowledge of this, because the official WOZO twitter account blocked me.

My producer has no knowledge of this either, as WOZO’s DJ “team” banned him from their listserv, blocked him from their DJ only Facebook group, and blocked him outright from their personal forums for communication. If I or my producer were getting “owned,” it’s WOZO’s DJ team acting out the film “Mean Girls” in real life.

What I do know is during the day random Twitter accounts associated with WOZO came to attack me. DJs at the station left comments on my YouTube videos about how I would find another platform for my “Breitbart trollathon bullshit.”

I screwed with these people as I chose, because I’m a Southerner who enjoys a good fight, even if it’s an online one. However, at the end of the day, the digital conflict amounted to one final result for WOZO.

WOZO now has negative publicity internationally because of their interactions with me. 

One of my Twitter followers, @MachMinotaur, summed the issue perfectly.

This nothingburger would’ve never been a story were it not for two-bit tyrants…at a local radio.

That radio station will still not matter to people not in that area, but now it’s known for its poor behavior. Win?

People as far as Germany came to ask the Twitter eggs that are allegedly WOZO DJs if the continued replays of butthurt feelz were really worth it. The response was a continued double down on stupid, rather than engage in an honest discussion about what really happened. Now instead of being known for honesty, a commitment to free speech, and inclusivity of all ideas, WOZO is seen as a two-bit station with a “team” of teacup pirates behaving poorly when confronted with speech they don’t like.

Here is the truth of the WOZO “ban.”

Aaron Campbell was a dues paying DJ at WOZO who went through their arbitrary process to become a DJ. He came from commercial radio and several of the DJs at the station hated him for it.

He launched a four hour show on Tuesdays called “That Midday Show” which quickly became one of the most successful and listened to shows on the station. In fact, he pulled off a live broadcast at Scruffy City Hall during the Scruffy City Comedy Festival featuring several of the festival’s headliners.

I was a part of that broadcast, as I was a part of many. One of the first people to pitch an idea to Aaron for that Midday Show, I ran the “news desk” and developed the “Headlines” and “Final Thought” segments. During “Headlines” we would riff off stories that I’d find during the week that were funny or unusual. The “Final Thought” was pulled straight from the Jerry Springer show, and we made great fun of it by playing the Jerry Springer music at the end of the segments.

Early January, Aaron came to me to see about rebranding the fourth hour of That Midday Show with a new name, and have me as the “host.” I was never a DJ, and never had any intentions of paying the station’s “dues.” The name change was well within his rights, and as a DJ he had every right to kick me off the air whenever he chose. If he felt like a line was crossed, all he had to do was cut my mic and excuse me from his home studio.

We started the Sit Down. Our listens doubled within two episodes. By Episode three people were objecting to content they’d never heard. Eventually, the station’s DJs concocted a narrative that I was disrespectful to their DJ staff and the station, that I wasn’t a DJ that had ever contributed a single bit of time, money, or energy to their station, and that I was asking for special treatment on their platform.

Yes. I was disrespectful to the people who allowed a DJ to assault my producer, then banned him for being assaulted for the end of calendar year 2016. The way I see it, they deserved what they got. I never had any intention of paying DJ fees. I actually encouraged my producer to split from the station after the assault and subsequent suspension, but he decided to play nice with WOZO and kept broadcasting once the “conflict response team” lifted his suspension on That Midday Show.

Taking “The Sit Down” and repackaging it as deeply conservative was a move on my part to stick it to the people who wronged a friend. That the content struck a nerve with the “progressive” leftists at WOZO meant we were doing something right. They called for Aaron to censor or force me to tone down my social media posts. He refused to do so, being a sensible adult, and pointed out that if I were to tone down my attacks at WOZO for stifling free speech, then WOZO’s DJ “team” should extend the courtesy of not attacking me.

Three episodes later the station now has negative international attention, lost their biggest show, and gifted That Midday Show and The Sit Down the ability to run ads, make money from the broadcasts, and do whatever we want. We are now uncensored, no holds barred, 100% politically incorrect if we so choose.

Every attack WOZO’s DJs take to “own” me simply gives me more attention. Attempting to “blacklist” me from performing “comedy” is ridiculous move as I don’t even do standup or perform at comedy shows. What it does do is expose the Tolerance Police for what they are: cowards who can’t stand ideas with which they disagree.

And I’ve got more eyes on me than ever before. Suck it, haters.

Cease Fire Between The Sit Down and WOZO

As of last night, the war between WOZO in Knoxville and The Sit Down with Chris Seaton is over. WOZO’s top brass indicated they support free speech and the open exchange of ideas. They are to be commended for their support.

The Sit Down’s genesis came from the “Headlines” segment I used to do for producer Aaron Campbell’s flagship show “That Midday Show” on WOZO. It was a four hour long live show dedicated to comedy, geek culture, and entertainment. They had an “open door” policy when the show began and were looking for new ideas.

I picked about four or five stories from the news I thought were interesting and we would riff off them for an hour or so making bad jokes. It was a fun endeavor, and the highlight of my time with the show was getting to do a live broadcast from Scruffy City Hall during the Scruffy City Comedy Festival.

The show was a drain on my business ventures, though, so eventually I had to scale back what I was doing and concentrate on other areas of my work. I would still pop in occasionally for the odd bit, plug a project like “Silenced,” and then pop out in a heartbeat. Still fun, but not as much of a time commitment.

Something happened to TMS at the end of 2016. A comedian on the show made a joke that was admittedly off color and might have run afoul of FCC standards. The funny thing is the quip was so quiet it can’t be heard on the recording of the days’s events. What can be heard is another station DJ calling in, objecting to the joke, and saying “What that guy said was offensive and inappropriate. I’m coming down to settle this.”

Any reasonable person would think “I’m coming down to settle this” meant “I’m coming down to talk over what was just said.” This “DJ’s” interpretation of “settling” a problem over some words involved an assault and potential multiple FCC violations with live mics.
When I learned of the incident, I encouraged my producer to file a police report and have the two individuals responsible arrested for assault. The vitality of his show depended on it. Certain individuals begged Aaron to not file a police report and instead handle the matter through the station’s “conflict response team” in a “mediation.”

During the “mediation” Aaron Campbell, my producer and friend, got an apology from the two jackasses who assaulted him in the studio. The “conflict response team” also penalized Aaron and That Show Productions by pulling them from the air for the rest of 2016.

To this day That Show Productions hasn’t done a live broadcast at WOZO Radio’s studios.

“The Sit Down” found a home at WOZO when Aaron Campbell agreed to give the fourth hour of That Midday Show to a project I’d been working on, a highly conservative talk show featuring news, entertainment, lifestyle subjects, and in a one hour format. The best part of getting to use Aaron’s home studio for the broadcasts is the beer in the fridge, and the setup is light years better than what WOZO had. In fact, That Show’s production facilities rival those of most major radio stations.

It didn’t take two episodes of an ultra-conservative talk show airing on an incredibly leftist leaning community access network until the station’s “DJs” started calling for the show to get axed. One person at the station said since I was a “host,” that automatically made me a DJ subject to the fees the station’s DJs paid each month. I argued I was talent, not the DJ, and the DJ granting me that slot had the right and privilege to axe the program as he saw fit.

Others objected to content they’d never listened to. At the beginning of each show and during the break a “disclaimer” runs to the effect of “Warning. The following program may contain language or subject matter the listener finds racist, sexist, transohomophobic, bigoted, ableist, or any other “ist” or “ism” you can find. If the listener finds the program offensive, the management would respectfully request you suck it up, snowflake, and find something else to listen to.” It was a poke at the notion words used to silence others in the past didn’t work anymore, and a light hearted reminder that no matter what we said someone was going to get outraged.

The outrage poured in as quickly as Episode 2. “Station DJs” were combing through both hours of the program trying to find something, anything they could label with an “ist” or an “ism.” so they could say the program was in violation of their “station rules.” The DJs were moving to have the program banned from WOZO, my producer banned from the station, and me from ever appearing on WOZO content again.

Outrage poured over to Twitter, where an egg I assume was a station DJ claimed I wanted special treatment and attempted to circumvent the rules. Another got upset that I “disrespected” the DJs calling for the stifling of conservative viewpoints on the station. Another egg started the discussion off the bat by calling me racist and sexist and demanding WOZO pull That Midday Show and The Sit Down immediately. From Canada, allegedly.

The tension came to a head last night when Aaron Campbell met with senior WOZO staff who acknowledged no one at That Show Productions violated any rules. I’m told Margo referred to me as an excellent “shock jock,” which baffles me as I don’t mean to “shock,” but I’ll take what I can get, especially if it’s a compliment from someone who has as much clout as Margo at WOZO.

The conflict brought eyes to the show, and for every new listener we greatly appreciate your support. To Margo and all the DJs at WOZO who supported “The Sit Down,” we appreciate your commitment to free speech, an open exchange in the marketplace of ideas, and tolerance of really bad jokes.

“The Sit Down with Chris Seaton” airs every Tuesday at 4 PM on 103.9 WOZO LPFM in Knoxville. I’m reliably informed that if you can use Winamp you can hear the station broadcast live. Replays go up on the podcast networks like iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and TuneIn on Wednesdays at 8 AM EST.

You can also go to the show website and listen.

If you like what you hear, consider becoming one of our Patreon sponsors.

Is there a War of Words in America?

Dave Rubin declared in a recent “Direct Message” segment of his hit YouTube show “The Rubin Report” the “War on Free Speech” has officially begun. I’m putting the video below so you can listen to Dave’s arguments for yourself.

Are we in a society where the War on Free Speech is underway? With riots like that at UC Berkeley over Milo Yiannopolous’s appearance are we truly in a “war” on free speech? I’m going to respectfully disagree with Dave and say there is no “free speech war” unless we choose to make it happen.

Because it’s important to define terms, and Dave knows words mean something, let’s go with the Merriam-Webster definition of “war.”

Definition of war

  1. 1(1):  a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2):  a period of such armed conflict (3)state of warb:  the art or science of warfare c(1)obsolete:  weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic:  soldiers armed and equipped for war

  2. 2a:  a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b:  a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end <a class war><a war against disease>

Well, crap. It would seem I’ve trapped myself with this definition,wouldn’t it? After all, isn’t what happened at UC Berkeley and UW Seattle “open and declared armed hostile conflict?” At worst, are we not in a “struggle or competition between opposing forces…for a particular end?”

I would submit that if we’re in a free speech “war” there’s no other nation or state that’s declared hostile conflict over things American citizens have said. That may change when our President twits something out that pisses off a particular nation-state, but right now those who would declare our current turmoil a “free speech war” are abusing the language in the same ways Fox News and other outlets declare a “war” on Christmas with Starbucks cups.

Now the second definition becomes a bit more problematic to refute. It seems there’s a “struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.” On one side, you have the “social justice warriors” demanding diversity and inclusion for all. The other side, well let’s call them the “anti-pc” crowd. Both have conflicting views on free speech and how it is best utilized. Does that make it a conflict worthy of the term “war?”

My response is “no.” It’s a conflict, but “war” is a strong word. It connotes open and hard conflict between opposing sides. While we’re seeing small skirmishes break out among opposing views, this really isn’t a “war” in the sense of the term. Until there’s an all out battle “declared” by one side or another it’s just a series of decisions whether we self-censor or we risk something by saying what we really mean.

Start with Justine Sacco and her horrendous joke about being safe from AIDS in South Africa because she was white. The Social Justice mobs landed on her in a frenzy. By the time she landed in South Africa she had no job, no hotel room, and no way of getting back absent her own resources.

That was a sort of cultural turning point, I think, for the alleged “war” on free speech. This was the time when an ill-conceived twit could cost you a job. Now people had to set their Facebook settings to “private” so prospective employers wouldn’t find a political opinion someone found offensive. Blog posts were carefully written so as to keep the Internet Hate Machine from coming down on a person.

If there was a war on free speech, it was a bloodless war, and it’s already been fought.

The violence we’re seeing right now is an extension of what happens when one side gets tired of losing battles and pushes back. Conservative and libertarian types are pushing back against the “progressive” groupthink and saying “what you do and say doesn’t matter anymore.” Worse still, they’re using progressive tactics against those who would silence them, and it’s causing the “progressive” movement to come unhinged.

One recent example is MILO’s demands people stop calling him a white nationalist and threatening lawsuits if publishers don’t print a retraction. This is a progressive play, taken straight from about a decade’s worth of their own tactics. Yet when a conservative speaker like MILO uses it, the progressives laugh and call him a “special snowflake” seeking a “safe space.”

None of them understand the plays being called, and they’ve used them for ages. The fact these plays are working on them now doesn’t make it any easier for then to recognize.

No outside force is causing a “war” on free speech. If anyone’s doing it, we’re doing it to ourselves out of fear for losing something important, like a job, income streams, or friends. Until we can reach a climate where everyone can listen again without needing to agree on everything we’re going to continue this silent conflict, potentially for the rest of our days.

That’s why the film is called “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech.”

 

There’s Nothing Like A Good Notebook

I keep at least one notebook with me wherever I go. This is funny because among my family members I’m considered the most tech savvy. That means, according to modern thought, I should use some sort of app to take all my notes.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing like putting pen to paper. And notebooks, unlike tech products, don’t crash. The trick is finding the one that works best for your needs. Here’s a quick picture of the three I use.

Yep. Three separate notebooks for the sake of everyday work, plus four pens. Each has their own specific purpose. I’m going to break down the focus of each, and hopefully give you some tips on which would work best for you. We’re going to work from left to right in this photo.

1. Moleskine Smart Writing Paper Tablet and Pen+

This is about as close to high tech as I get. The black Moleskine has been a staple of my notebooks ever since I got my first one. With the Smart Writing set Moleskine took writing to another level. The Pen+ records everything you write and saves it to the M+ app as you write it. If you want voice recording on the pen, it’ll add that to your notes too. The entire set up is like something out of a James Bond movie.

If you don’t have the app open when you’re writing, no worries. The pen will automatically transfer the data to the device with the M+ app installed when you open it next. You can also specify notebooks and more. I’m still getting used to the functionality of it, but it’s been a handy device when my MacBook isn’t around.

The entire setup runs about $139 at Barnes and Noble.

2. Rite in the Rain Journal And Pen

This number is what I carry everywhere. It’s small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and designed to take notes even when it’s raining outside (hence the name). The pages in the notebook are waterproof and the pen’s cartridge allows you to write on wet surfaces. I keep a Space Pen with this when traveling out and about in case one ink cartridge runs out. It’s great for jotting down brief thoughts or notes. The notepad and ink cartridges are naturally replaceable and easily findable if you have a nearby REI.

If you have the complete case with the cover, there’s also two pockets inside you can use to stash a few items of interest. Not really something I’d use often, but the notebook is the key.

You can get the set for about $40 at your local REI, or online.

3. Best SELF Journal

This is a personal choice, and one that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to anyone. It’s a journal designed as a daily planner for people with a specific goal to achieve. The start of the journal is a brief overview of their 13 week system to help you figure out a specific goal and achieve it. Then you sign a pledge and date it to fully “commit” to the process.

There’s space for you to outline months in your 13 weeks, and spaces where you’re asked to write about specific goals and steps you took in every process. Every day you’re encouraged to plan your day to the hour, set a goal and define targets to hit that goal.

Best Self encourages reflection on your day as well as gratitude. You will be asked every morning to write down three things you are grateful for, and do the same in the evening. There is a space devoted to “lessons learned” for the day and a “brag zone” where you list what you achieved that day.

There’s also space each day for you to list your appointments and such, but you have to make sure you plan those in with your goal setting.

Does the process work? Yes and no. The first few days I had issues getting what I wanted out of the journal, because I didn’t really grasp the focus. I suspect new users won’t as well.  That’s why they have an “online community” for you to join that will allegedly help you reach your goals. I am not a fan of “communities” that I have no relation to, but I do enjoy the structure the journal provides.

I’ve definitely become more productive with the system once I started and stuck to it.

You can buy the Best Self journal for about $40 at Amazon if you’re so inclined.

There you have it. Three separate notebooks, each with their own usage, and each promoting a sense of productivity about them. All a part of this writer/lawyer/hell-raiser’s toolbox. Hope some of this helps you.

Cumulus and the Slow Burn of Terrestrial Radio

Last night I got word Cumulus Media, a Knoxville based terrestrial radio conglomerate, fired half the staff in a “cost-cutting” measure. The losses ranged from ad executives, on-air talent, and more as yet to be determined across the spectrum of their stations.

This isn’t something anyone with an eye on the world of radio couldn’t have seen. A local business incubator/startup meeting saw a legendary radio personality glumly admit “terrestrial radio is on its death bed, and maybe it’s time I started looking for work elsewhere.” That’s a grim statement from someone in the trenches and firmly rooted in the radio business.

Cumulus isn’t to be blamed for the decision to cut costs. Fewer people are listening to talk radio, no matter the personality. With the prevalence of satellite radio and podcasts, people are less interested in what’s available over the airwaves locally. That means ad revenue once plentiful to the radio organizations is getting more and more scarce.

Yet decisions have to be made, especially in the areas of news and talk. Do you work with local talent interested in showing their chops to the world if given the chance? Or do you keep paying out the exorbitant fees and ad percentages to guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to keep your conservative cred? It’s a tough choice to make, as the local talent would have to make an immediate impact and show they could bring their chops to the table.

On the other hand, you have the big names like Rush and Sean who would attract listeners at the right times. The problem becomes that these are national shows, not local, and there’s going to be less listener interaction with Rush and Sean than the local talent. And part of the appeal for the local “call-in” shows is for the listener to have his or her few moments of glory for the day on the radio.

The Cumulus talent let go in the coming days will have some difficult choices to make. Do they go the terrestrial radio outlet and find another station at which to work? The sports guys might be able to land a gig at another station, since their job is to cover mankind’s successes. Someone with a talk show that has an esoteric bent might not fit in the alt rock or country station of choice.

Satellite radio is basically a no-go unless you’ve already got a national platform. The Breitbarts and wellRED types will get a show at the drop of a hat, because the game in town is getting the biggest and best talent at the biggest dog in the yard, SiriusXM. Even there, where the FCC allegedly has no restrictions, the satellite talent still has issues with the “social consequences” of what they say. Just ask Anthony Cumia.

I have a feeling the talent with Cumulus that left will go the podcasting route. It’s an easy barrier for entry, the cost for each would be minimal, and there’s no restrictions on topic, language, or subject matter unless the hosts place it. Monetization of the product would be simple, and those with a dedicated fan base could make a monthly donation or subscription type service work.

Dave Rubin’s done it. He left ORA and went completely fan-funded. It was a big step for him, but now he’s free to talk with whomever he wants about whatever he wants. There’s no reason the highly motivated talent without work now couldn’t do the same. And something tells me un-shackling from the FCC’s restrictions would produce some amazing content you wouldn’t hear from the talent otherwise.

The Internet, podcasting, and YouTube are some of the greatest areas to earn money as an artist, talent, or creator. Guys like Mike Cernovich and Victor Pride will show you how to do it if you just do a bit of research and put in a little bit of effort. Whether the new radio ronin will take their advice is another matter entirely. Sometimes it’s just easier for people to stay in a rut instead of forge a new path and try new outlets.

Cumulus will have some time for reflection in the wake of their cost-cutting. If, as I suspect, it was done to keep the bigger names on the air, was it really worth the measure when local talent would take the spot in a heartbeat and run with the ball in ways the front brass couldn’t expect? There’s no easy answer to this. No one ever said life in any business was easy.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to dip my toes into this new world. This is still a formative project, and something I’m really excited about, so stick with us. You can find my newest experiment on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Sit down with me for an hour. I hope you like what you hear.