Recently, on the fat acceptance mailing list, that I belong to, someone sent a message about an article they found on the Web at a site called "Tabloid.net" titled "Mazza Reports on New York's Train Pig - Subway Whale." If you have internet access, you can view this article in its entirety at http://tabloid.net/1998/09/03/fishbone_980903.html. Be prepared to get really angry if you do get a chance to read this article from the National Enquirer of the Net!
I'm sure you can get the gist of this article just by reading the title. It got me and a lot of others steaming. Mr. Mazza was reporting about Dwayne Richardson, a 450 pound man who was turned down for a job driving a subway train because he did not pass the physical which required him to walk for three minutes on a treadmill. Mr. Richardson then sued, claiming that he was disabled and that this was discrimination. A federal court agreed with Mr. Richardson and he got the job.
Mazza's take on this, "Sure he's disabled. He's stupid. A man who hacks off his own leg is disabled. He's also insane. So is a man who gouges out his own eyes. We lock these people up. Yet this is the kind of "disability" Richardson has. He, and he alone, is responsible for his massive size. Of course, a man who hacks off his own leg can't grow another. Richardson can lose weight. He simply chooses not to. He chooses to be disabled. He chooses to hack off his own leg."
Mr. Mazza referred to Richardson as a "circus freak," and about failing the physical, Mazza says, "Doctors called him morbidly obese, which is a medical way of saying 'big fat pig'."
Mazza goes on to say, "Would you trust this man to take you to Yankee Stadium? Would you accept this man as your guide to the Holy of Holies? Sure you would. Just as you would allow Michael Jackson to watch your kids. Or let your daughter intern at the White House. Maybe they could sell popcorn, cotton candy and fried dough to the passengers, who could take turns pulling the emergency brake so they get to see Richardson make his way through every car as he attempts to uncover the cause of the alarm. Of course, it takes more than three minutes to walk from one end of a train to the other, so it might be a while before the train gets going again. Be patient, He's disabled, you know."
People on the mailing list decided to launch a letter writing campaign in protest of this article. First, they emailed the publication's editor Ken Layne. The only replies that were received were just as nasty, if not more so, than the original article. Deciding that this was not going to get them anywhere, they began writing to companies who advertise on Tabloid.net. It turns out that Tabloid.net was using an advertising firm called Flycast.
When Flycast got wind of the hate-filled article, they dumped Tabloid.net like a hot potato, claiming that they were violating their rules and that "Advertisers have complained about the objectionable and sometimes offensive editorial content that you post on your site."
Mr. Layne posted an editorial commentary following this matter, which basically said that they weren't really making much money from the advertisers anyway, so who cares. His explanation, "At some point, it became necessary to carry advertising, in order to make the site look official to whatever brain-dead moneybag who might pass a fraction of his fortune our way." He then went into a rant about Flycast not paying them what they should... blah blah blah.
Internet advertising pays you according to how many people actually view ad banners. If nobody visits your site, you don't get money. Maybe Tabloid.net doesn't reach as many people as Mr. Layne had thought. He claims that they receive more than 500,000 page views per month, which I find very hard to believe.
This is not the first time that Layne has been inundated with email complaining about Tabloids hate-filled and offensive content. "The midgets and dwarves -- for different reasons -- were outraged by our coverage of Hank, the Angry Drunken Dwarf. Idiots around the world wrote threatening letters in response to my columns suggesting that maybe Diana, Princess of Wales, wasn't a saint and was perhaps just a dull bimbo. The right-wing fanatics have sent a steady stream of hate mail in response to my reasonable description of Linda Tripp as a repulsive gorgon and Ken Starr as a Bible-thumping Freud case obsessed with the lives of those who have experienced sex." touts Layne.
The offensive article is still on the web, sans ad banners. But I feel that the letter writing campaign was a success. At least we know that the ad companies actually care what we think or if we are offended. As for an insignificant rag like Tabloid.net, if any of the above-mentioned stories are indicative of the content of their publication, its not even worth worrying about anymore. The only reason they haven't removed the article is to show us that they don't care what we think. With that attitude, they will soon be the only people to view their rants, except perhaps for a few skinheads and lost KKK members.
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