By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
Wang didn't respond. So Crawford decided to impersonate Wang by writing an e-mail to himself and signing it with Wang's name. Then, he posted the fake e-mail to his site, under the headline "Oliver Wang called me a nigger."
"Listen here darkie, I don't know who the fuck you think you are, but the last time one of you jigs tried embarassing me in public like this, I fucking karate chopped his ass right into a wheel chair. [...] Let that serve as a warning to you that, if you attempt to come anywhere near me or my Honda Civic, I will bust a cap in your nigger ass. Two times."
Wang was exasperated. "My academic background is in race relations, and the idea that Byron is casting me as sort of this vitriolic, anti-black racist is obviously a bit unnerving on both personal and professional levels," says the San Francisco-based Wang, whose gigs include reviewing rap albums for National Public Radio.
"I think that's the reason he posted it -- he very precisely knew what he was doing in putting that up. It's an evil genius sort of thing. His site has a lot of power, whether people want to grant it it or not."
Says San Francisco hip-hop writer Clyde Smith: "I felt that what he was doing was promoting sexist, homophobic, misogynistic perspectives. There was kind of a relentless mean-spiritedness to the whole thing."
As far as Crawford's unrelenting venom directed at Kanye West, gay-centric magazine New York Bladecalled the postings "sickening sentiments," tantamount to "gay-bashing."
Crawford insists he's neither homophobe nor racist, and stresses that he voted for Ralph Nader last year and against Missouri's constitutional ban on gay marriage.
"The Chinese probably think I'm Louis Farrakhan, but I think most people who visit the site probably realize what's going on," he says. "It's just a lot of back and forth -- it's not me saying that one group is better than any other group.
"I think political correctness puts constraints on any kind of conversation or debate," Crawford goes on. "You never push the conversation forward. They have a lot of political correctness on network TV, but not that many people are watching network TV. Howard Stern's leaving commercial radio for satellite proves that a pretty good portion of the population doesn't care about political correctness."
USC's Robert Niles says Crawford won't be able to slander people forever.
"At some point, these guys are just going to create business opportunities for attorneys," he says. "That's why we send people to journalism school, we pass down these hard lessons from generation to generation. A lot of bloggers haven't had that training, haven't learned those lessons the hard way. But many of them will."
Crawford says bring it on.
"What, is someone gonna sue me and take away my six-year-old computer?" Crawford says. "I'm not saying I'm above the law, but I know enough to know that there's only so much you can do over the Internet. Worst-case scenario, I might have to go delete a sentence, or change a few words around."
Months after West's angry BBC tirade, Crawford is still fuming. "Kanye West vs. Adolf Hitler, A ByronCrawford.com Special Report" read the title of a September posting. It alleged "striking similarities" between West and Hitler:
"Of course Adolf Hitler eventually caught syphilis and shot himself. Will Kanye West's self-loathing due to his sheer lack of intelligence lead him to a similar fate? Because he's a down-low homosexual, I suppose he's more likely to catch some sort of VD."
Titles of other recent Crawford posts include: "Kanye West's mother is an idiot," "Kanye loves the gays," "Kanye needs to check his people" and "Kanye Kicks It With The Gs?"
Crawford says his most recent wave of anti-West vitriol has been caused, in part, by political interests that have championed the rapper in the wake of his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" statement.
"He goes on TV and says his little half-thought out statement, and the next thing you know he's the next Jesse Jackson. Ten years from now, he'll probably be running for president. People want to put him up on a level as a political figure, compared to artists who put thought into their actual work."
Crawford stresses, however, that he has a problem with the media -- not Kanye West.
"Like I said, I don't really have an issue with him personally. Let's say next year somebody else were to reach that level. Say it was [teeny bopper] Nick Carter and he won fifteen Grammys and people were saying he was the smartest man in pop music."
Crawford pauses, and you can almost see the smoke pouring from his nostrils.
"I would be like, 'No, actually, he isn't.'"