John Spraggins of the Nashville Scene, his journalistic dagger removed from Bill Hobbs’ back, cleaned, and carefully replaced in the drawer, strokes his chin, marvels at the fuss bloggers made over the whole thing, subtly reminds his readers that Hobbs deserved career assassination for publishing that cartoon (karma, don’t you know?), and does a quick patch job on his own karma (referring to Bill Hobbs’s stiff-upper-lip “I’m going to be fine” post-resignation posting) and assuring himself that Hobbs “landed on his feet.”
Certainly, the whole affair raises issues worth debating. Is an ersatz journalist with mainstream media credentials a fair target? What if he’s prominent in some political circles and, by day, a paid representative of a local university? Can he be fired for his private statements? If an anti-Muslim cartoon is drawn in the blogospheric forest and few people read it, does it still offend? Can an alt-media journalist on his way to work for a centrist politician point out conservative Muslim-bashing when he sees it? And, most importantly, isn’t karma a bitch? In blog comment threads, these questions were dealt with in approximately inverse proportion to their importance. So nothing’s been settled, and lots of names were called along the way.
But over the past week, the Scene has learned a few lessons, and like Hobbs, we’ll paint with a broad, provocative brush here. First, bloggers want media attention until they get it. Second, many of them are far more reactive than the angry Muslims we feared would storm our offices after we took Bill’s challenge and published a hateful Mohammed caricature in our newspaper. Third, pissing off bloggers is great for the Scene’s web traffic. And fourth, you can cobble together enough of their rants, under names real and assumed, to form a decently entertaining political notes column. Read to the end, and you’ll even learn that Bill’s landed on his feet.