Like an old-fashioned minister of information, Art Bell has
tried to control the propaganda coming from his opponents,
and failed. Apparently unaware of the famous aphorism that
the Net routes around censorship, he has tried persuasion
and cajoling to shut down opposing viewpoints on web sites
and discussion forums. But it hasn't worked.
The most recent casualty of
Minister Art has been the infamous "Shadie Pines" (sic) web site (www.shadie-pines.com), maintained by
Joe Oddo. Surfers became aware that Oddo's site was defunct when they tried to
access it yesterday afternoon and received an "access denied" error message.
Later in the evening the entire site was replaced by a single page with the
cryptic message "Peace" in large black letters.
Until yesterday, Oddo's site was the best source of information and gossip on
both sides of the Talk Show Wars, a fierce dogfight of words, and now lawsuits,
being played out on the Internet between Art Bell and his detractors, namely
former talk show host and "Reverse Speech" guru David John Oates, and the
frequent talk show guest Robert A. M. Stephens.
Ironically, Shadie Pines started out several weeks ago as a 100% pro-Art Bell
web site, an outgrowth of Art's heavily trafficked web page about the dispute.
Art's site only posted articles and net flotsam generally sympathetic to his
side of the story, until the volume of articles became so numerous that it was
just simpler to link to a whole new site specializing in pro-Art Bell items. So
Art stopped managing the news himself, and linked to shadie-pines.com.
However, Oddo eventually insisted on linking to web bulletin boards containing
messages posted by Art's enemies, and other dissenters. So the link between the
two sites was severed. Oddo said at the time that he felt it was better
to provide both sides of the issue than to be censored.
In this case, Art's persuasion techniques have worked, at least temporarily. In
an email to Pigdog Journal, Oddo explained that he removed Shadie Pines after
talking with Art Bell who convinced him that a settlement in the legal case
between Art Bell and David John Oates was more likely if he "[reduced] the
ability of the rumor mill to agitate the situation."
Despite attempts to put a lid on the information flow, the net rumor mill
cannot be easily silenced. Through a network of increasingly numerous anonymous
web bulletin boards, with colorful names, such as "Howl," "Behold II," "Reap
the Whirlwind," and "Shadier Pines," the discussion continues to rage unabated.
These are maintained by both friends and foes of Art Bell alike. How long will
it be before someone else puts up a web site to organize and synthesize this
Incidentally, Pigdog Journal's coverage of the
Talk Show Wars began with a piece questioning whether someone was out to
silence Art Bell. By a quirk of fate, Art is seemingly stooping to the same low
tactics that his opponents use.
Is it time for Art to hire a net savvy PR consultant?