Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dissecting Outside's smear of Lazarus Lake

The short version of this story is that any person or entity wanting to to be at the forefront of equality in sport or anywhere else would do well to avoid deception, bully tactics, and the exploitation of free labor to get there. (Come to think of it, that would be a poor way to run even an openly discriminatory business; mean people still like to get paid.) In the end, someone ostensibly on your side will notice and report on the mismatch between your mission statement and your behaviors, and suggest that you don’t prod others in the direction of more humanistic value systems while exposing the active corrosion in your own.

On September 11, Outside Online ran a hit piece under the guise of asking its object, someone the article called the “noted” race director of a virtual ultramarathon, why he had banned entrants from using the term Black Lives Matter as a team name in the event, an act that inspired swift social-media reprisals against the RD, Gary Cantrell, whose nom de plume is Lazarus Lake. It was a textbook example of beginning with a conclusion and fighting off every logical exit-ramp to ensure getting to the holy grail of highlighting a far-flung and consequential injustice permeating all of running. Actually, the story and its framing were only part of the smear job; the way its editor, Molly Mirhashem, promoted it on social media was the clincher.

The piece, written by Mirhashem’s de facto male mouthpiece for these kinds of “bad man” stories, Martin Fritz Huber, carries the headline “Why Did a Virtual Ultra Ban ‘Black Lives Matter’?” it’s a fair question, although “Why Did a Virtual Ultra Ban Political Messages?” seems more accurate. But the subtitle, “The infamous race director Lazarus Lake and runner Ben Chan disagree on whether the running community is a place for serious debate,” requires some radical leaps that the content fails to support.

Read the rest.