I'd prefer not to rake the same person over the coals twice in one week, but TechCrunch publisher Michael Arrington has been engaging in conduct that demands a public rebuttal.

Over the past several days, a bunch of bloggers have been arguing about photographer Lane Hartwell's decision to use a Digital Millenium Copyright Act complaint to get a funny music video yanked from YouTube and other sites. The video, a satire of Web 2.0 by the Richter Scales, included a photo taken by Hartwell without her permission. Her move was either completely justified or ruined everyone's fun, depending on what you think about downloading a bunch of images from Google searches and putting them in a video without asking anyone's permission.

In the midst of this tempest, Arrington launched an extended attack on Shelley Powers, a well-known blogger in the tech community, by accusing her of supporting Hartwell because she's a woman.

He first made this charge Saturday on journalist Mathew Ingram's blog:

Shelley, Lane's attorney is abusing the DMCA for his/her own goals. And copyright has nothing to do with "giving credit." It has to do with being forced to license work unless it falls under fair use, which this clearly does.

Mathew is right, you are wrong. But since Lane is a woman, it really doesn't matter what she did as far as you are concerned. She's a woman, so she's right.

The gender crack was completely out of left field, but when Ingram asked him to chill on his blog, Arrington dug in deeper:

actually, Mathew, I'll do whatever the ---- I feel like, and you can decide to censor comments or not.

Shelley is and always has been a fascist around these issues. If you're on her team (politically) she'll support you to the death. Not on her team and she'll find a way to take you out at the knees. People ignore her rather than call her on it.

On Monday, after Eric Rice strongly condemned Arrington's comments about Powers, Arrington renewed the attack on his personal blog:

I believe Shelley is the kind of person who sees the world through sexist glasses. She is unpleasant. She is a troll on TechCrunch who won't go away. ...

Every interaction I've ever had with Shelley has been unpleasant to the extreme, and I have never initiated any interaction. I believe she is biased, perverse and mean spirited.

As I commented on his blog, this is getting ridiculous. Powers is a well-respected member of the tech community, an author of numerous books and an outspoken advocate for equality in tech.

Anyone who knows her -- and many of us do through her writing -- can cite numerous times when she's criticized prominent women without a hint of favoritism regarding gender. The notion she'd take Hartwell's side because she's a woman is complete and utter BS without a scintilla of evidence to back it up. I suspect on some level that Arrington know this, because on his weblog he doesn't provide her full name or link to her blog, as if he's afraid of what his audience would think if they read her side. (I hate that -- when I slam someone on Workbench I link to them so people can judge whether I've lost my mind.)

At Arrington's instigation I discussed this subject with him privately, but I couldn't make him see that his treatment of Powers is unfair. He's using the huge megaphone of TechCrunch to malign her in a way that's not easy to challenge.

There's no good reason why he keeps attacking her character and making it sound like she harassed him by participating in the open forum he provides on his blogs. The following advice is much less effective without gender bias, but Arrington needs to person up and apologize.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

I used to read TechCrunch regularly, but I think that Arrington has slowly started to lose it - lashing out at commenters, unjustified troll-baiting in some of his posts, etc. I've stopped reading him entirely.

Maybe the pressure of running the Techcrunch empire is getting to him...


 

I thanked you in the post, but wanted to thank you in your comments, Rogers, for your defense.

I'm afraid that you're rather shouting in the desert on this one.


 

The saddest thing about this day, for me, has been the fact that I've had more defense from men, then women.


 

I believe Mike Arrington is the kind of person who sees the world through sexist glasses. He is unpleasant. She is a bully on TechCrunch who treats anyone who disagrees with him attacks on their character, intelligence and often tells them to go away rather than consider other points of view.

Every interaction I've ever had with Mike Arrington has been unpleasant to the extreme, and I have written him off as someone worth attempting to exchange views with... he has not said "Thanks" for that courtesy.

I believe he is biased, perverse and mean spirited.

(I wanted to try Mike's approach to fixing a critic... it's pretty unstatisfying and could lead me to start drinking, so, I'll stop).

Shelley Powers is a determined and powerful voice for a lot of ideas I happen to agree with. So, it drives me crazy to see her trashed by the man I consider to be the "Rupert Murdoch of Blogging" and NOT see a lot of thoughtful people step up and tell Mike to realize that power should be exercised with more consideration for people you don't agree with.

I have a list of people I respect in this virtual meeting ground of bloggers and it's NOT a surprize to see Rogers take on a stand on such an ugly use of the medium.

I know Mike Arrington takes a lot of criticism but IMHO he creates a feedback loop for escalation that creates conflicts that seem to last for years... without even trying. He's has a talent to offend and he generally feels like the world has done him wrong. There's a load of issues that would take a few years to unravel and blogging doesn't seem to fix any of us. In some ways, blogging makes toxic personalities even worse overtime. (We all have our list of favorites in that regard).

We can't fix Mike Arrington... especially by focusing on his worst behaviors. We could potentially drive him from the field with a lot of this analysis and push him into just managing his properties and being less of a "personality". (That's not a threat... thta's a prediction... Mike is actually very sensitive to what people think, even if he does lash out... it's a toxic defense mechanism, IMHO).

So, don't expect an apology, a retraction, or for him to spend too much time considering the "feedback" this post represents. The best you can hope is that he learns what works in public life and what causes him to be attacked for incivility, IMHO.

There are no perfect people. There are some seriously imperfect people. Many of them have huge audiences. Sometimes a determined bully can be accepted as a leader... hard to fathom but true on the less.

Shelly Power is a decent person and it's OK to disgree with her. It's probably safer to conjecture that she sides with Lane Hartwell as a photographer rather than any other common attribute. How love's taking pictures that wouldn't like to be able to make money following that bliss? I think it's great Lane is trying to make her art and skill pay her bills. Most of us wouldn't have the guts to take that much risk. I wish she hadn't pulled the video down for 1 second of image in a 2:46 second "free" mashup but I can understand her reasoning even if I don't agree that she had the "right".

It would be nice to discuss "Fair Use" so we can all understand the limits of re-purposing art for derivative works. But the discussion needs to be led by a great legal mind that can talk the audience through the issues and NOT led people just hurl opinions at each other and lose it like Mike did.

I am NOT a lawyer. I may be have a toxic personality. Who's to say?
I know I love a "good" argument but can rarely find one these days. All the arguments are street fights with powertools. Bloody and on one changes anyone's mind. They just assassinate the opponents character.

Hmmm... did I just do that? Or did I stand up for a mind that I think fights fairly: one of the most civil but powerful minds in the world of blogging. I think it was the later.


 

I had to spit out my coffee when I read Mike's comment. Rogers, you nailed it with:
"Anyone who knows her -- and many of us do through her writing -- can cite numerous times when she's criticized prominent women without a hint of favoritism regarding gender. "

Shelley may write often on women's issues, and take a stand against what she perceives as male bias, but I've certainly found her to be equal-opportunity when it comes to criticizing or siding with someone, and does it based on what she believes. But unlike you, I DO think Mike actually believes what he wrote...as dumb and potentially harmful as the comment was.

I think he was very wrong to make the comment -- not only was it just plain NOT TRUE, but it was one of those automatic dismissals Jeneane just wrote about. But although Mike was certainly accusing Shelley of sexism, I don't believe his comment was itself sexist. Dumb, wrong, hurtful, but not sexist.


 

Over the last few days I've noticed a sophisticated act performed around these issues by a few of the popularity seekers. Between LeMeur and Arrington, a game of "steal the buzz" went down.

Arrington naturally behaved like a lame ass and threw in the sexist red herring because his (successful) style is to generate traffic by being hyper-aggressive and outrageous. The jerk smokes those big stogies for god's sake. What kind of a phallic signifier is that?!? But in the midst of what was going on with the discussion of fair use and copyright, Loren Feldman began to parody that conversational style, cutting off the entire French speaking universe because of something that LeMeur did. LeMeur ended up apologizing to Feldman, and the world is waiting with bated breath to see if the apology is accepted. Meanwhile, one Jemima Kiss hassles LeMeur from another perspective about a vid clip from lebuzzchauffeur that praised "the women of Le Web 3" and that LeMeur had voiced appreciation for somewhere in passing. LeMeur performs several hail mary's and an act of contrition for that one too.

Meanwhile, the FCC approves regs that will result in more media concentration in fewer hands, Putin swaps power with his right hand man in order to perpetuate the KGB dynasty and god knows what other real world issues rose and fell while these bozos were posturing.

Arrington was simply trolling with his insults to Shelley, and I'm afraid we rose to the bait.

This then is my belated comment piling on Arrington, supporting Lane Hartwell, supporting Shelley, laughing at Feldman, and pretty much ignoring Eurotrash like the rightist LeMeur who are distracting us USians from issues we should attend to.

Also, at Shelley's I noticed a commenter calling itself Kathy Sierra has emerged ever more frequently. How do we know that's not McD, or simply a well written Sierra-bot, or something?


 

"or simply a well written Sierra-bot"

Frank, that may just be the nicest thing you've said about me in a long time. {{hug}}


 

"How do we know that's not McD" [impersonating Kathy Sierra].

1. Because she can typo a whole paragraph without hafl a doezn tpyos... or she uses the spellchecker.

2. Because she actually misses the safe community that "can be" found on the web.

3. Because time heals all heels. (Must google for actual wisdom).

4. Because she does it "Head First" and I "Ass Backwards".... eew. Forget that one. Haven't tried that.

Kathy! Blog! Lightning and all that. People learn what works by trial and error. There are some really good people looking for blogs work spending some time visiting. Your work resonated with a lot of people.

5. She probably pays for those images... Pays! I just ski images and go straight for the rush of creating something. Being a commentarian insures one good reader of any effort. Can't ask for more than that.
One good read.


 

@Shelley - sorry to hear that you have had more defense from men than women. I think it's because there are fewer women in tech and/or blogging and because we (I) are too busy trying to work on our business to get involved in this mess. I think I've visited the Tech Crunch site less than 10 times.

You had the guts to call it like you saw it and sadly instead of being challenged on the merits of your case you were dismissed because you happened to have two X chromosomes. Pathetic.

As a long time supporter of women in tech (btw I am a woman), I think it's atrocious what Arrington said and did. I don't have all the pieces but based on the snippets of his comments I've seen he seems to have some deep internal (maybe personal) issues going on. Maybe his dog or cat just died.

Many men just don't understand how it is to be a lone soprano voice in a sea of bartiones. Many people don't like to be reminded of their weaknesses. We can't change the Arrington's of the world but we can change how we react to them. Maybe someone should take a picture of Arrington & Hartwell and parody it in a video somehow. Make people laugh. :-)


 

Aside from the fact this issue surfaced in the middle of an otherwise important conversation (re: Copyright, etc), I felt I was listening to my children give me a non answer when they get caught doing something dumb or how one of my kids loves to blame everything else in the world (like running into a door and then blame the door) HELLO?!

I'm not so naive as to think that yeah, this stuff doesn't exist, because yes, it certainly does. It's important to call on those with large influences and say 'WTF is your problem?' What I found fascinating is amidst fantastic amounts of support, a lot of friends and people I respect took this surreal 'roll-over' approach of 'well yeah this happens all the time' and that it's useless to fight. OR the justification of a 'bad day' heh, come ON, are you absolutely kidding me?

(And to think, these weren't even people who had a startup to pitch or tech-oriented women who could be potentially affected by the permanence of Google showing they brought up sexism issues-- that's a totally OTHER issue.)

Nothing new, blah blah. Frat boy go home.


 

Here's a story to warm the heart: Presidential candidates are schmoozing with Arrington for the TechCrunch primary.


 

Hey, Kathy-bot! Congratulations on your Forbes celebrity status. New years resolution: try to find a happy way to help Kathy move up that list and put 2007 behind us all.

{{$nuggle$}}


 

FYI: Rogers could check IP addresses and verify the source of the Kathy comment. I think she's considering re-joining the conversation. I'm encouraging her to do so.

I disagree with a lot of people and there's actually only 2 I can think of that I would like to see shut up... if they can't develop some better social skills and use their blogs with less malice.

I also couldn't handle Rush Limbaugh and look how big he got... literally.


 

McD: who would you like to see shut up?


 

Frank: Don't get me started... you know I'm obsessed with trying to fix Uncle Fluffy and Mike the A. If they would stop hurting innocents I could find more suitable targets for my efforts.

I just like a good argument. And some people are just ripe for opposition. It's like late night chats with my father. Good times. He liked verbal combat.

Then I go around and spread good feelings for the good people I respect.

Reward behavior you'd like to see repeated and oppose bullies. It passes the time.


 

"Reward behavior you'd like to see repeated and oppose bullies. It passes the time."

Amen, man. That has broader application than the juvenile shitfit that's happening in blogland.

No offense to anyone involved in the current throw-down, but this stuff actually makes it easier to justify my employer NOT embracing blogging.


 

This is exactly the kind of childish hissyfits that happen when bloggers get big heads and start to think themselves as journalists as opposed to the media whores that most of them are.


 

There are times I feel stupid after participating in a blog frenzy over some issue (did I really develop a strongly held opinion over the Google Toolbar?).

But defending somebody from character assassination is not one of those times. Hope it helped, Shelley.

I think Arrington is being driven mad by the steady procession of people who have to kiss his ass by virtue of his position in the industry. He should be seeking the counsel of people who will criticize him candidly, because we're outside the bubble or let our big mouth work against self-interest. Instead he's Nixon with the enemies list and the paranoia that people are out to destroy him.


 

You did, Rogers, and thank you again. Perhaps some of your readers are confusing me for Calacanis, Winer, or Scoble, and think this is a battle between two highly connected and powerful individuals rather than between Arrington who is highly connected and powerful and me, who is, well, confirmed after this incident, obviously not.

One positive thing coming out of this is it did crystallize for me some decisions about my site, so there is some good.

And I got to read a spirited defense like yours, and others here.


 

"sorry to hear that you have had more defense from men than women. I think it's because there are fewer women in tech and/or blogging and because we (I) are too busy trying to work on our business.."

Aruni, if women continue to ignore the harm done other women, we will never be able to be a force strong enough to create change. Instead, the tech field will become more or more males-only, as more women drop out, discouraged because so few seem to stand up--not only for themselves, but for others.

Tara Hunt writes in her comments that she won't buck Michael Arrington because she's 'afraid' of him. Others, too busy. Eventually the people who do the fight, quit.

This could have been viewed one way: bloggers throwing mud. Another way: bloggers trolling for attention. A final way of viewing this, though, is that here is an example of a dominant male using his arrogance and his dominance to shut down one of the increasingly few women in the field. People said Arrington's act wasn't sexist. Frankly, I choose to disagree--it was sexist. It was sexist because he didn't disagree with me because of what I said, but of who I am: Shelley Powers, a woman, who fights for women's rights.

I do agree with Kathy when she says Mike believed what he wrote. To me that's far worse than if he said what he did for attention.


 

Women too afraid, except for Jeneane Sessum, who is de bomb.


 

Shelley, sorry if my defense seemed lukewarm, tempered by my feeling that Arrogantington uses a scattergun style of outrageous behavior to draw traffic. Naturally he would pick on someone he sees as weaker and less well connected because he can suck hits off the struggle without alienating anyone 'special' (like Hugh, the Scoblemeister, Dave Winer, or other enablers of that ilk).

There are a handful of brilliant people blogging who somehow are or have been fair game for this kind of trashing and trolling. Something you have in common is a respect for facts and the truths they reveal. Facts and critical analysis are, for the crew just mentioned, either building blocks or impediments, depending on how they impact on the Arrogantington narrative. Seldom do those folks seem to pull out the facts first and form an opinion there-from.

I could be wrong, being one of such low traffic that even a curly bracketed hug from the Kathy-bot warms the cockles of my blog.


 

Frank, I'm not really referencing anyone in this list, other than the people who took Rogers to task for even writing on it, at all.

Over, done with. None of this ended up being a 'bad' event--just an enlightening one.


 

I believe Michael attacked Shelley because he is afraid of her. Why would that be? Shelley gets to a story like a first-responder and weighs in with a point of view that usually parses the significant bit of truth, where others have gotten it wrong. Further, Shelley either has no conflict of interest or states it up front. So she can cut through transparent B.S. and isn't afraid to do so.

And just the opposite of what Michael says, Shelley has great credibility. She's earned that through her hard work, clear thinking and excellent writing. By making this unwarranted attack I believe Michael thought he could marginalize Shelley. But as Eric Rice rightly pointed out, that would come at a cost.


 

It stinks going to CrunchNotes lately

I'm one of those guys who really appreciates folks who shoot from the hip and share what they feel, especially...


 

I don't read Arrington, I really only know of him via the usual suspects. I gather he's a first-rate ass, in the prickly over-sensitive winer mold. Shelley, I used to read a fair bit. Her I know. I finally realized a year or so back that she is a troll on her own site and I see not much has changed.

"If you're on her team (politically) she'll support you to the death."

Shelley is on her own team. Every once in a while, when that certain gnawing can no longer be ignored, she grabs something -- anything at all, whatever's at hand -- with which to call some eyes her way. Can't help herself. Feminism is the usual garb, but she has been known to savage the sisteren as well. Funny thing is, these two fukwits are more alike than they pretend. Attention is its own reward.


 

Michael Arrington is having a PMS..:)

He must have broken his mirror masturbating to himself!


 

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