Pussy Whipped
St. Louis Post-Dispatch social media editor Kurt Greenbaum underwent a slow-motion self-immolation, beginning Friday, November 13. That was the day Greenbaum outed a poor schmoe at a local school who had the gall to answer an innocent question — "What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten? And did you like it?" — with a one-word rejoinder: "Pussy."

Greenbaum saw that the response came from an IP address belonging to the school and called the school's headmaster. The commenter was later confronted by the principal and resigned immediately from his job.

The vigilante site, kurtgeenbaumisapussy.com, is registered to Domains by Proxy, an Internet housing site that allows Web-page creators to hide their identifies.

Daily RFT recently contacted the man (or woman?) behind Kurt Greenbaum Is A Pussy about a certain Post-Dispatch editor who may (or may not) share similar qualities with "a vulgar expression for a part of a woman's anatomy."

The creator of kurtgreenbaumisapussy.com declined our request for a telephone interview and wouldn't provide his or her name. (Yes, who is calling whom a pussy?)

However, s/he did agree to answer some questions via e-mail about the purpose of the site and the reaction it's received so far. 

So, without further ado...

Daily RFT: We noticed that your website is registered anonymously to the hosting service Domain by Proxy. Why hide your identity?

Anonymous: Because privacy on the Internet is important. The story is not about me, it's about Kurt Greenbaum's behavior. Some people would want to parlay a site like this into fifteen minutes of fame. No thanks. I understand that my posting anonymously may affect how some people judge the content on the site, and that's a price I pay for being anonymous. It's my ideas that have value here, not my identity. Oh, and there's a long, proud tradition of anonymity in controversial public speech, starting with Thomas Paine.

What do you hope the site accomplishes?

I hope this whole event encourages public discussion about some interesting topics:

1. It appears Greenbaum violated his employer's Web privacy policy and caused harm to someone. I'm curious to see the fallout from that. This will be an interesting test to see how the Internet and the legal system respond. I wanted to be part of the Internet's response.

2. One way to look at this event is through the framework of the current culture wars. St. Louis tends to be a very conservative, religious, red-state kind of place. The Internet, by contrast, tends to be a very libertarian, non-religious, open-minded, blue-state kind of place. I think Mr. Greenbaum's good old-fashioned Midwestern values and the values of the Internet just got a chance to introduce themselves and found each was an affront to the other. Mr. Greenbaum felt his actions had the possibility of being a good "teaching moment," while the Internet sees it as a grave betrayal.

3. I think it may also turn out to be an interesting milestone in the decline of American newspapers. The fact that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would allow this to happen just shows how completely out of touch they are with the Internet and the modern world. Perhaps they're trapped having to cater to their aging, dwindling subscriber base who would support Mr. Greenbaum's actions and who are afraid of the Internet. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is a teetering zombie. They will get run over by the Internet long before they awaken from their slumber.

4. I think the event resonated with a lot of people because it seems to be a hypocritical betrayal by Mr. Greenbaum. He appears to be trying to make a career out of being an expert on social media, courting the Internet and all its possibilities, but he then takes the opportunity to use thuggish old-school power to try to enforce his morality on the world, which is the opposite of prevailing Internet culture. People feel cheated and betrayed, and I think that accounts for the intensity of the response.

There's a reason Jon Stewart is routinely voted "the most trustworthy news source in America," and that's because MSM (mainstream media) often does stupid things just like this and expects to get away with it. Stewart succeeds because he routinely echoes our suspicions that the emperor has no clothes, and then he backs it up with devastating evidence. Wow, I guess you could say this website is motivated by Thomas Paine and Jon Stewart.

Why do you think a website is the best way to tackle your agenda? 

The First Amendment is a wonderful thing, but I probably don't need to tell you this. I wanted to contribute to the public debate about this event and maybe provide a little bit of influence on how this develops. I think of the site as a public service, and it is a small way of meeting my obligations as an engaged citizen. This website was a fast, easy way to get my ideas out there.

Have you heard from Greenbaum or anyone at the Post-Dispatch?

No, I haven't. If he wanted to talk with me, I'd be delighted. I'll bet we could have a very interesting, respectful conversation where we both learned a lot. I'll buy the beer.

Have you heard from other readers? What are their thoughts on your site?

There have been many e-mails. They've almost all been very supportive, and several have offered links or guidance.

Why did you publish Greenbaum's home address? What good will that do?

His home address is no longer on the site. Please note that his home address is already public knowledge. He publicly blogs at igreenbaum.com and has chosen to leave his domain registration information public, and has chosen to register with his home address and telephone number. This information has never been "private," and anyone who has an expectation of privacy here obviously doesn't understand the Internet. However, I've removed them from the site but point out that they aren't actually private. I know you've already tried to look up similar information about me through my domain name registration, so you see what I mean.

Have you had any contact with the person who supposedly lost his job because of Greenbaum?

No, but I'd like to. I very much want to hear more about what happened. I'd like to improve the factual content on the site.
—Chad Garrison

Come Give Us a Smooch, Jerry
Back when we was a pup, men were men and what happened in the newsroom stayed in the newsroom. That's why Unreal coughed up our morning tequila shot when we read Chad Garrison's scoop about 76-year-old gossip column emeritus Jerry Berger getting banned from the Post-Dispatch premises for allegedly feeling up the male help.

"After a recent newsroom visit, we received several complaints from staff members about inappropriate behavior directed at them from Jerry," says P-D editor Arnie Robbins. "I love Jerry. We're friends. But we cannot tolerate that type of behavior in the newsroom."

Well, here at Riverfront Times, we take pride in our old-school cred. That's right: We not only tolerate "that type of behavior in the newsroom," we openly encourage it.

That's why we hereby invite Jerry Berger to come aboard the USS RFT as Unreal's first-ever gossip intern. The position's unpaid owing to budget constraints, but the perks more than make up for the lack of remuneration. (Funny, that's what our boss said to us when we asked for a raise. Anyhoo.)

We're already planning how to introduce our newest addition to the newsroom: Jerry's First Day on the Job: A Riverfront Times Slideshow.

That's sure to rock out the page views!
—Unreal

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