Libertarian candidate gets creative

If Libertarians were to adopt a mascot, like the GOP’s elephant or the Democrats’ donkey, what would it be? (See the full post to understand the picture that prompted this question!)

While preparing a story about tonight’s Senate debate at IUPUI, I was looking for a picture of the Libertarian candidate, Rebecca Sink-Burris.

I was pleased to find several high-resolution pictures on her campaign website, but this one made me laugh:

Libertarian candidate for US Senate Rebecca Sink-Burris

Which of course begs the question…if Libertarians were to adopt a mascot, like the GOP’s elephant or the Democrats’ donkey, what would it be?

Freedom of speech confusion

Does “freedom of speech” mean “freedom from criticism”?

A strange comment came up on WTHR’s Facebook page the other day. A guy took a swipe at IMPD with regards to Officer David Bisard’s alleged drunk driving crash, but he did so in a thread about a tragic story about Peter Lenz, the 13-year-old killed while motorcycle racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

Other commenters quickly called him out on it, saying it wasn’t the place for his comment. His response? He complained that they were violating his “freedom of speech.”

Does freedom of speech mean freedom from criticism? Because it seems to me when you put your opinion out there for everyone to see, you should be prepared to defend yourself. The original commenter was expressing his opinion, but so were the people who responded to him. He might have said, “Hey, sorry if I offended people by bringing that up, but it’s really been on my mind lately.”

The thing about having a free and open society is that everyone is allowed to express themselves – without fear of being jailed by their government after publishing a story about government corruption, for example. When it comes to casual interactions, the lines are blurrier. Someone says “you can’t say that!” and somebody else says “Yes I can! You’re violating my freedom of speech by telling me I can’t say that!”

The cool thing about Facebook et al is that it allows people to engage with each other and share ideas and opinions in real time…in a public forum. That means we need to be prepared to take a little pushback sometimes. If you don’t like it, you can always start your own blog…and disable comments!

Comments on comments

Media used to be a one-way street. Now you can read a story online and immediately rattle off your opinion about the topic of the story, the typo in the third paragraph, the writer’s predilection for unnecessary adverbs or a TV anchor’s hair style or suit.

One of the great things about life in the modern age is that it’s interactive. Media used to be a one-way street. Now you can read a story online and immediately rattle off your opinion about the topic of the story, the typo in the third paragraph, the writer’s predilection for unnecessary adverbs or a TV anchor’s hair style or suit.

For the humble web content producer, this means that on any given story, there may be a long string of anonymous comments which, in some unfortunate circumstances, may be used in court battles as evidence that a jury was unduly influenced by them. Generally speaking, this is not considered a good thing. Why should readers be able to leave anonymous comments? Shouldn’t they stand by their opinion? Internet advocates argue that your site should be accessible and interactive, without too many barriers – like making people log in to leave comments.

These are questions that are being seriously debated in the world of journalism. What is a news outlet’s responsibility when it comes to allowing such comments on stories? What if a comment is blatantly racist or sexist? What if it’s on the line of what’s acceptable, and who draws that line? Is that censorship?

In answer to the last question, you bet it is. I don’t think hate speech has any place anywhere, and if I see that a comment has crossed the line of what I feel comfortable with on the site, I will delete it. On WTHR.com, we also have a system whereby other users can flag a comment as inappropriate. If three people flag it, it comes back to the moderator for another look.

It’s all about balance. We want to give readers the opportunity to react to stories and to share their opinions or experiences. But more often than not, they also share their prejudices too. For me, if those opinions become too hateful, or if they appear to be libelous (e.g. “that woman is a liar!”), I don’t allow them. But it’s a very tough call, because it’s subjective. Some sites allow everything and let their readers do the policing. WTHR.com uses a moderator who looks at all incoming comments.

One thing to consider is your workplace’s anti-harassment policy. It will probably state that there will be no discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion or disability, among other things. When you post a comment on a story, think about whether your statement is a criticism based on those points. If everyone would just give a little more thought to their gut reactions, we’d probably all have a better chance at dialogue and discussion.

Romney’s PAC contributes to five Indiana GOP candidates

Mitt Romney has announced endorsements for several Indiana candidates.

Mitt Romney has announced endorsements for several Indiana candidates.

Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC says it’s sending the following five candidates a total of $15,000 in contributions:

Dan Coats (US Senate)
Larry Bucshon (8th District)
Todd Rokita (4th District)
Todd Young (9th District)
Jackie Walorski (2nd District)

Coats is getting the max $5,000 general election contribution towards his US Senate campaign, while the US House candidates are getting $2,500 each from Romney’s PAC.

Bike to Work: Point Counterpoint!

It’s Bike to Work Day. That may mean nothing to you, or, for the teeny tiny minority of central Indiana residents who ride their bike to work, that may mean a small sense of validation for a lifestyle decision for which we are marginalized and ridiculed by the SUV-driving cycnical masses.

It’s Bike to Work Day. That may mean nothing to you, or, for the teeny tiny minority of central Indiana residents who ride their bike to work, that may mean a small sense of validation for a lifestyle decision for which we are marginalized and ridiculed by the SUV-driving cycnical masses.

CityBeat reporter Mary Milz and WTHR.com web content manager Sara Galer put together a “point counterpoint” list of reasons why we bike to work. Or not, as the case may be.

Here’s Mary:

Why I don’t bike to work.

I work out regularly. I run, swim and during the summer months, I bike, but I don’t bike to work. I feel mildly guilty about that but I have a litany of excuses that I rattle off to my colleague Sara Galer, who rides religiously. Here are my reasons why I DON’T bike to work.

1) I have to go to bed and wake up early to accommodate the extra 25 minutes it would take to get to work. I treasure my zzzzzz’s

2) I can’t fit everything I need for the day in a backpack – make-up, hair dryer, shoes, clothes, towel, toiletries, etc (that’s not to mention getting a suit to work without crumpling it up in a ball of wrinkles.)

3) That means pre-planning – bringing everything to work a day or two before. Heck, I can’t even get my lunch packed the night before!

4) The shower thing – we have one at work, which is great but it’s like a shower you’d find on a small sailboat… Plus I’d have to wait in line for Sara and other colleagues who occassionally ride in.

5) I carry extra gear in my car – hats, gloves, boots, jeans, etc. Just in case I’m sent to cover, say flooding.

6) What if I need to meet someone for lunch – no wheels. Do I show up in biking clothes?

7) I like the Monon but riding downtown can get a little crazy, especially at rush hour.

8) What if the weather changes? It’s fine on the way in, but what if it starts to pour or storm when I’m ready to leave?

9) And, what if my plans change? I suddenly need to be somewhere after work? What if it’s across town? What if it’s after dark? You’re not supposed to ride the Monon after dusk (and before dawn.)

10) I’m sometimes tired after a long day and still have to get home and get a run or swim in – which brings me back to zzzzzzzz’s.

I admire you Sara – you are my hero, but I just don’t think I have the pedal power in me to ride to work on a regular basis.

My reply:

Okay, let’s just get a few things straight here. I don’t do anything religiously, unless it involves eating some sort of decadent chocolate dessert. However when the weather permits, I do enjoy riding my bike to work as often as possible. I would also like to differentiate my bike riding habits from my husband’s, which verge on the fanatical. He rides in the winter, sometimes in snow, occasionally on ice, which results in elbow injuries that take a long time to heal, and relies on me to drive the car so I can pick him up if the weather is really bad. So I might be crazy, but not THAT crazy.

1) It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drive, or about 40 minutes to cycle. If the wind is with me, it can be as short as 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer if I have to stand on the pedals! Although it does probably add a good 40 minutes to my commute, I don’t mind the prep time because being outside and getting exercise at both ends of my day makes it worth it.

2) Since I’m behind the scenes here at WTHR, I don’t have to make myself beautiful like the reporters do. I carry a set of clean clothes, shoes and a towel. My office casual look usually survives the bike ride. Unless I forget to bring pants.

3) I usually pack my bike bag the night before and then make a game-day decision after checking the weather forecast.

4) It’s true we have a shower room at WTHR. It’s also true that it’s a little scary. I use it for those 90+degree days. Otherwise I just air dry, wash my face, apply deodorant and hope for the best. I also sit a good distance away from my colleagues in the mornings, something they’re probably grateful for.

5) Again, not being a roving reporter, I know that most of my day will be in the office. Which makes my time on the bike all the more appreciated.

6) If I have to meet a friend for lunch, I either hop on my bike or make them pick me up at work!

7) I get off the Monon at 14th, then make my way through the old North Side to WTHR at 10th and Meridian. It’s not too treacherous. Come on, Mary, that’s a feeble excuse!

8) I won’t disagree with you here. I’ve occasionally asked colleagues for a ride home due to unpredictable weather. Rain is unpleasant, but thunderstorms are scary. We report the news. We don’t want to BE the news. Like that guy in Goshen who went outside to roll up the windows on his truck, then was struck by lightning. Now he can’t even count to ten.

9) It’s true that taking your bike to work limits what you can do with regards to making plans later in the evening. Fortunately, there are many bars and restaurants not far from the Monon that are within reach, if you are desperate for that post-work beer. It also takes planning to make sure you are not cycling in the dark.

10) If I refrained from exercise every time I felt tired, I would probably never get off the couch! I like the challenge of biking to work. Some days are a good workout, other days I’m just slodging through and cursing the wind, dodging stray dogs and chain-wielding teenagers (it’s a bit like Grand Theft Auto in that respect). But I get to observe things I would never see in a car (a red-winged blackbird on a fence, Lilly volunteers painting a mural on community day, KIBI folks watering the little trees along the side of the Monon), and it’s a fantastic stress reducer. And once I’m home, I’ve already put in about 14 miles for the day!

What Mary didn’t say is that she runs marathons and triathlons….something that I would never have the self-discipline for! So Mary, I think you’re the real athlete. I’m just a wanna-be! (I should also mention that I supplement the bike riding with Crossfit, a GREAT way to get in shape!)

Danica give-away on Facebook!

We’re giving away signed Danica Patrick memorabilia all week.

If you haven’t “liked” WTHR on Facebook yet, come on over and show us some love! We’re giving away signed Danica Patrick memorabilia all week.

Here’s how it works: Sports Director Dave Calabro asks a trivia question about Danica at 6:20 pm on Eyewitness News. You can leave your answer in the form of a comment (not a wall post) on the WTHR Facebook page. We pick a random number from the first correct 25 answers.

My humble apologies for some confusion over last night’s question. We asked what Danica’s hometown is…we meant where she grew up, which is Roscoe, Illinois. Some people were confused and thought we meant her place of birth, which is Beloit, Wisconsin.

We’re still pretty new to using Facebook for contests…so bear with us! We are finding it is not an exact science.

Also, whiners will be disqualified! (kidding. really. just kidding.)

Mayor Ballard says Indy’s talking tough with Pacers

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says when it comes to negotiations with the Pacers, it’s the city that’s driving a hard bargain.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says when it comes to negotiations with the Pacers, it’s the city that’s driving a hard bargain.

The Pacers say they’re losing lots of money.  They want the city to pay the $18 million a year they say it costs to run Conseco Fieldhouse. Tied in to that? The revenue from non-game events – money the Pacers now get.  It’s one of the issue on the table.

“It’s been a little mischaracterized. We’re the ones being obstinate, not them,” said Ballard, who did not elaborate.

The Pacers have said they want a decision one way or another by the end of next month.

Pacers considering all options

Pacers’ owner Herb Simon wants team to stay in Indianapolis

Mayor speaks about libraries, Pacers

Coats, Democrats fire volleys

It didn’t take long for the first volleys to be fired in the US Senate race for Indiana.

 It didn’t take long for the first volleys to be fired in the US Senate race for Indiana.

 Former Sen. Dan Coats won the GOP nomination. He will face Democrat Brad Ellsworth in November. (Ellsworth posted this statement on YouTube tonight.)

 Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Hari Sevugan released the following statement:

“In Dan Coats, national Republicans got who they wanted, and who they got is an establishment Republican steeped in the culture of Washington; a super-lobbyist beholden to special interests for his fortune.  From Wall Street to big oil, Dan Coats has acquired $2.5 million in assets and an income of more than $800,000 by marketing his services to the highest bidder and securing bailouts for Wall Street.  Dan Coats may represent national Republicans to a tee, but he doesn’t represent the values of Hoosiers anymore.”

In excerpts released by Coats’ campaign, he attacked President Obama as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“In light of the damage that President Obama’s policies already have done to the United States of America, as Hoosiers we cannot afford to be any part of it. We cannot and we will not stand idly by and watch as our personal liberties are diluted, our national security diminished, and our fiscal health destroyed. And we absolutely cannot afford to elect someone to the United States Senate who will enable this radical move to the left. Folks, anyone who has voted to reappoint Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House cannot be trusted to protect Indiana’s interests.”

The Democrats pushed the Coats-as-lobbyist angle.

“The real tragedy for national Republicans is that in nominating such a deeply flawed candidate they also alienated their own base.  Though fueled by his Washington lobbyist friends and a $200,000 loan he made to himself with only days remaining in the race, Dan Coats could not muster the votes to crack 50 percent in the Republican primary. Now, Republicans find themselves with a battered candidate and a fractured base headed into the general election,” Sevugan wrote.

But Coats promised his supporters a big fight in November.

“We are going to confront Congressman Ellsworth and his liberal Washington allies because all Hoosiers, including those who may have voted for him in the past, deserve to have a clear choice in November. In fact, tomorrow morning we will start in Evansville – taking our case straight to the people of Southwest Indiana and the rest of the state! This is going to be a pivotal election and a healthy exercise in democracy because the choice will be clear – the differences between the two philosophies are dramatic. Congressman Brad Ellsworth and I are going to offer Hoosiers two very different views of the direction our country should be taking.  You and I stand for limited government, less spending and lower taxes. Congressman Ellsworth and his party are for binge spending with blank checks.”

Suvegan, meantime, reiterated Democrat’s support for Ellsworth, who is currently serving in the US House.

“While Republicans prepare to go into the general election divided and with a nominee in Dan Coats that is a seasoned Washington lobbyist temporarily deferring a retirement in North Carolina, Democrats are united behind Brad Ellsworth, a man who has stood up to Wall Street, fought against the special interests and who is working everyday to turn our economy around and lay a firm foundation for long term economic growth and prosperity.  That’s an easy choice for Hoosiers.”

Fund raises $200,000 for Stutzman

A boost for State Sen. Marlin Stutzman Thursday.

A boost for State Sen. Marlin Stutzman Thursday. The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), chaired by U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced that it raised over $200,000 for Stutzman’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Indiana.

Stutzman is up against Dan Coats and several other contenders for a shot on the November ballot. Until yesterday, Stutzman was the only candidate who had already filed his financial disclosure form, although Coats submitted the paperwork Wednesday.