Wow. Things certainly can happen fast around the blogosphere.
A couple of days ago, Pilgrim — one of the contributors to Rob Port’s Say Anything site — was delighted to hear one of his pieces being read on Walton and Johnson, a Gulf-area syndicated talk show. At the end of the piece, they didn’t give him credit — but they did say it was posted on their web site.
So Pilgrim went there, and found out that not only did they not give him credit, but had made some very slight changes to his article — one where he compared Islam to the mafia. (It’s a good one, too.)
Well, Pilgrim sent them a polite note about the matter, and they essentially flipped him off.
Then Rob, Pilgrim’s nominal boss on the blog, wrote his own piece about one of his people being ripped off.
In the comments, a reader said he had sent in a complaint — and got blown off rather rudely.
Rob featured that response in its own posting, and in the comments to THAT piece even more people reported the response from Walton And Johnson’s web site — not only did they send out even ruder e-mails, they redesigned their front page to highlight the general theme of Pilgrim’s piece (still without attribution).
Now, that’s when I decided to stick my nose into the whole situation. Nobody asked me to, I just did it. I like Pilgrim and his work. I kind of identify with him a bit — we’re both middle-right essayists who write for big blogs owned by someone else. I also like Rob quite a bit — we’ve co-blogged on several occasions, both here and at Say Anything. And I have a deep and abiding loathing for plagiarists.
But that didn’t feel like enough. This morning, I went to Walton and Johnson’s web site, clicked on their affiliates, found one that offered online streaming, and listened for a bit. (Personally, I think they suck.) Then they opened their lines for anyone to rant, and gave out their number. I took great use of that opportunity.
After I was hung up on, I still felt like I should do something. That’s when I noticed that the station I was listening to was based in Houston, Texas.
Laurence Simon comes across as a psychopath (albeit a tremendously entertaining one) online, but can be remarkably civilized and polite and responsible in person when called for. Also, he contributes to a Saturday radio show, so there was a chance he might even know some people at the station that carries Walton and Johnson.
It turns out that I struck gold when I reached out to Lair.
The station he works at happens to be the very same station. Also, the Powers That Be at the station are very appreciative of bloggers, and were NOT pleased to hear about a show they carry treating a blogger so shabbily.
Well, as far as I know, Pilgrim hasn’t received his apology. But the article has disappeared from their web site, and the front page’s theme has been changed from the one ripped off from Pilgrim’s piece.
As has been so often said about bloggers and more traditional media, “they might be smarter or bigger than any of us, but they’re not as smart or as big as all of us.”
These dipshits stole a piece written by one guy in Louisiana. Who told his blogmaster about it, who runs the site out of North Dakota. Then a blogger from New Hampshire reads about it and gets steamed — steamed enough to not only call and bitch at them, but steamed enough to tip off another blogger about it. Another blogger who happens to work part-time at their Houston flagship station, and is on good enough terms with that station’s management to get their ear quickly and let them know what was being done over their airwaves.
Walton and Johnson appear to have learned a hard lesson: when one of us is stolen from, a lot of us will rally to his defense. Because we all know we might be next.
And we are legion. And we are everywhere.
And nearly all of us don’t do this for a living. That means we not only don’t have to worry about getting fired over raising a stink, we’ll be doing it sheerly for entertainment value. The longer they hold out, the more fun we’ll have attacking them.
Until we win, or until we get bored.
But this sort of thing can be a tremendous amount of fun, and a font of new material. Personally, I could have written several more pieces about Walton and Johnson, and made a few more phone calls.
But it appears over, and the bad guys blinked.