"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 9 February 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

A Special Media Moment



One of our favorite early 90s

spectacles was the bleating of

twentysomethings feigning

indignance at being subjected to

the media and marketing

spotlight. While it might have

been painful to see talentless

spokespeople score all those

talk-show gigs, we can think of

at least one big positive in the

shift from Boomer to X-er as hot

generational stereotype - never

again having to endure that

notoriously self-indulgent

question, "Where were you when

JFK was shot?"



It's been claimed that the

Challenger debacle is some sort

of equivalent defining moment,

but my "special media moment" -

the event whose memory I'll

never excise - resonates in

far deeper and more perverse

terms. I remember it as if it

were yesterday - I was relaxing

at home on the throne, browsing

the contents of Mad magazine,

with an ear to the sounds of the

neighbor's television which,

like the one I'd left on in my

bedroom, was tuned to a Geraldo

special on Nazi skinheads. I

immediately silenced the clamor

of both the cheap newsprint and

my own bowels when I heard the

unmistakable, powerfully

compelling roar of mob violence.

When Geraldo's voice became

absent from the din, I was

paralyzed, fearing for the worst -

Geraldo was getting a beatdown

and I was missing it! I dared

not even wipe.



Though I never saw the actual

scene of chair on face, I learned

valuable lessons that day:

celebrity beatings are the wave

of the future; hypervisible

mouthpieces, both authoritative

and dubious, make great targets;

and racism plays big even

without video. Each of these

fascinations, to one degree or

another, informs our interest in

the unfolding hoax we've

observed in the pages of Time

magazine and the Netly News.

Their stories purport to

document warring racists on

Usenet - white supremacists

battling over might and

integrity in alt.food.dennys and

alt.support.loneliness - but the

bigger picture as we see it

concerns a far more brilliant

motif: opportunistic




On the face of it the story was a

little far-fetched - the

Carolinian Lords of the Caucasus

(CLOC), whose antics anchored both

the Josh Quittner/Chris Stamper-penned

22 January Time piece, "Home

Pages For Hate," and the similar

"Cloc-ers" and "Helter Sketer.net" [sic]

on the Netly News, stretched

common-sense credibility far past

the elastic limitations of our

quasi-journalistic standards.

Who wouldn't raise an eyebrow

over an organization featuring

victim newsgroups like

alt.food.waffle-house, and whose

members' home pages feature

passages such as "We see the

bride-to-be tonight wearing a

wide-brim sombrero and

sunglasses, a shredded shirt

with the words on it WHO

FARTED?, and a pair of Dingo

cowboy boots." MISOR, CLOC's

"Negro Auxiliary," adds an

absurdist touch. True, the line

between idiot and idiotic

performance artist is an almost

imperceptible one, and posts

like the following, from the

CLOC Position Papers posted by

R.C. Richards to

asu.politics.talk, don't help




>I posited that, while producing 
>Aryan children was indeed my    
>main purpose in life, perhaps   
>the marriage thing was pushing  
>it a bit too far. I hypothesized
>that perhaps some single White  
>Men should impregnate as many   
>White Women as humanly possible,
>and as quickly as possible, in  
>order to best increase the odds 
>that our precious genetic       
>material will be preserved down 
>through the ages.               

>Reuben and Teri set me straight 
>pretty quickly, though, by      
>reminding me that "sowing my    
>seed," as it were, too liberally
>would actually _not_ help my    
>genetic structure to be         
>preserved, because it would     
>increase the chances of         
>inbreeding, and the chances that
>my offspring would end up poor  
>and unloved and unsupported and 
>be "poor white trash," or like  


It's fascinating to get inside

your head, R.C.


[Burnin' Cross]

In any case, even if the posts to

alt.food.dennys reminiscing

about beating off in the Denny's

restroom, "fantasizing about the

waitress that thoughtfully

placed me away from the nigras,"

only prove that some strain of

misanthropy is at play, the fact

that the culprits happen to

know each other pre-CLOC and are

less racist bumpkins than

bored, immensely tasteless

slackers makes things a bit

clearer. Admittedly not much

clearer - in that old

Baudrillardian challenge, if one

stages a bank robbery and

carries the performance all the

way to the bank, fooling even

the teller and guards, one

arguably has succeeded in

redefining oneself not as an

actor, but as a bank robber.



It's only in retrospect, after

the prank has been exposed, that

one's afforded the opportunity

to sigh (if not laugh). "This

guy did a post on alt.slack

about how the racial theorist

pulled a fast one on Time

magazine," Richards told us. "It

wasn't that the racial theorist

pulled a fast one on Time - it's

that the writer for Time decided

not to worry as much about the

truth as to write what he

thought was a good story." It

sounds like a fast one has been

pulled, all right, but by whom?


[The Netly News]

"He told me on the phone how

bright I was, and I said, 'Come

off with that bullshit, have you

read my posts?' and he told me

[he] had and I asked him how in

the hell did he get the idea I

was bright - and I gotta admit -

the guy is quick on his feet. He

weaseled his way right out of

it." This is quite a different

self-characterization than the

one proclaiming "our abilities

and birthright" on the CLOC

home page.


[The Torch]

The untold story, perhaps too

banal for Time magazine, seems

not to be one of warring

supremacists, but instead one

of amateur Usenet hacks,

trolling for a rise by resorting

to the most obvious hotbutton

issues to build elephantine

crossposts and entice


journalists. It's hard not to

wonder why Quittner and co.

don't just use these obvious

flamebaiters as contestants in

the Netly News' stillborn "The

Torch" program. Then again, we

understand all too well. In the

crunch for daily coverage of an

often sedentary medium,

mountains-into-molehills becomes

a priceless coping strategy

(look no further than the piece

you're reading right now).



Maybe the hoax is on us? The CLOC

certainly isn't doing anyone a

favor by disrupting legitimate

discussion groups - whether or

not their racism comes from the

heart, the CLOC is spreading

hate, if only of themselves.

Perhaps, by reducing the issues

down to simple binarisms (evil

neo-Nazis vs. the forlorn souls

on alt.support.loneliness), and

thereby simplifying matters for

their reading public, Quittner

et al. is doing us a favor, by

making things less muddled.

It's difficult not to side with

Richards, whatever the veracity

of his allegations, when he

concedes that "It's not that I

didn't like Quittner's story - I

liked it even though it was a

lie and Quittner knew it was a

lie. And I like the way Quittner

writes." At these depths of

ambiguity, who's to say what is

and isn't a lie? Clearly, this

tale isn't about truth (or lack

thereof), but of capitalizing on

invitingly malleable net "events."


[Hey Kids!]

Hell, if we could deftly turn

marginal human interest stories

requiring psychological analysis

of motives into essays on race

relations while scoring

praise from our maligned

subjects, we be writing for

Time, too. Better yet, we'd be


courtesy of the Duke of URL