Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Glenn Heller, Or The Invisible Man Returns.

My first thought after getting off the phone with Glenn Heller the other night was “with friends like that, who needs enemas.” Not that Heller is a friend, but I think that I have treated him fairly and supported him more than most people have.

When I e-mailed my questions to Glenn Heller, he responded that he would rather talk by phone and I could record the call. I told him that I had no means of recording a phone call and prefer answers in writing as I don’t like to misquote people. In any event, he did call me, but in the entire 45 minute phone call, failed to answer one of my questions.

I still believe that Heller’s charges of tax fraud by Alan Chartock and WAMC deserve further investigation. At the same time, I believe stronger than ever, that Glenn Heller is obscuring his own message. I explained what I meant the other night, during the few minutes he came up for air and let me talk. It was meant to be constructive criticism, but he did not seem to get it.

My point is simply this. If you have something to say, then you should remove as many obstructions as possible that might hinder people from hearing your message. Doing this does not compromise your message.

Take for example the Catholic Church. It has a strong message concerning chastity. But when priests break that vow and when the church covers it up, it hinders people from hearing the message. On the other hand, nothing hindered people from hearing Mother Teresa’s message on love and charity because she practiced what she preached.

Another way a person’s message is unnecessarily hindered from being heard is the way they present it. For example, I used to be a Rush Limbaugh fan. I no longer am, not because of his message. I still believe in a lot of what he says. But he calls people idiots on the air, refers to the media multiple times during a show as the drive by media, and refuses to give his opponents any credit, even when credit sometimes is due.

Columnist Molly Ivins, a leftist, does the same thing to the right. She is difficult for me to read because no matter what President Bush does, according to Ivins he is always wrong.

Both Limbaugh & Ivins preach only to the choir. It’s difficult to imagine that they actually convert anyone to their point of view.

That’s why I like columnist Richard Cohen, even though I disagree with him at least half the time. He makes an effort to reach out to the other side. He treats them with respect. He acknowledges when his opponents have something worthwhile to say, and he tries to convert those who haven’t made up their mind on an issue.

When I asked Heller “what about the fence sitters“, he said they were a bunch of cowards. I said there are two kinds of fence sitters, those who are trying to please both sides and those who genuinely are trying to make up their minds about an issue. He said he didn’t give a damn about them, all he wanted was an IRS auditor to investigate Alan Chartock.

At the same time he told me he wants people to call and write the news media and pressure them to investigate his charges. I say if all you need is the IRS, then call the IRS.

A third way a man can obscure his message is by remaining invisible. It makes people wonder what he has to hide. To me Glenn Heller is the invisible man. He refuses to answer any questions about himself, except that he did tell Fred Dicker that he is a stay at home father.

Heller told me I should focus on his message not the messenger. While it’s true that the message is more important than the messenger, the messenger is not unimportant. When you refuse to answer simple questions about your background and life, then people begin to wonder why, and they have a hard time hearing what you are trying to say.

I’m not saying that Heller has something bad he is trying to hide. I’m only saying his penchant for remaining obscure only make people more curious about who he is and less interested in what he has to say.

As an example of a writer who people read but know little about and don’t care to know much about, Heller mentioned Gay Talese. A simple google search reveals, however, that there is a lot of information available on Gay Talese and people are very interested in Talese.

As a writer, I try to be transparent. You can find out a lot about me from reading my blog and as time goes on, you will find out more. I don’t always deliberately write about myself, but I nevertheless do write about myself.

Transparency, not opaqueness, leads to invisibility. And when you truly become invisible, as Heller has not, just maybe people will read or hear your message.


  • The Invisible Man, eh?

    I like that.

    The New York Times has me as "a self-described wild man".


    By Blogger Blog Editor, at 2:49 PM  

  • I noticed on your blog profile that you also refer to yourself as an Invisible Shadowy Figure.

    By Blogger Dan Weaver, at 6:49 AM  

  • Glenn Heller: International man of mystery.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:06 PM  

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