June 25, 2013
Today’s blog is all about personal hypocrisy, asinine rashness, and the consequences of what happens when you let your inherent narcissism get out of hand. Yes, my faithful readers, today we’ll be dealing with the issue of bad judgment, that most dreaded and insidious aspect sheltered within one’s own personal psyche.
Let’s be honest- we’ve all made some seriously bone-headed decisions, and we’ll continue to make more as we walk the path- it’s just human nature, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m almost positive that if one were to take a look at my track record, they’d probably be stunned that I haven’t been given a lifetime achievement award in regards to all the bad calls that I’ve made.
Her second accolade is being the co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, and a small boutique called MADE, which is located on the corner of Fifth Street and Roosevelt in downtown PHX. A normally quiet little street, it contains several local businesses, such as Jobot Coffee, Think, Lawn Gnome Publishing, The Lost Leaf, Aside of Heart, and Missconstrued Boutique.
Because this area is so low-key, it remains a hidden gem to most Phoenicians, and for those who oppose the gentrifying effects of local development, that’s a positive so far as where they’re concerned, and I tend to agree. There is one day however, when it literally becomes ground zero for chaos, both real and imagined, and here is where all of our trouble begins.
Shockingly, if you take several thousand people, cram them into a few square blocks, add alcohol, and let it simmer, you’re going to have the occasional problem. I’ve personally witnessed public/underage drinking, outright public intoxication, fistfights, random homeless engaging in what the cool kids refer to as “that shit be crazy”, and the odd drug bust.
For myself, I’ve always been of the mindset that when the crazy hammer falls, I’d rather have the police coming to my rescue, versus a bunch of drunken beer-swilling Hipsters any day. Overall, I have no inherent issue with cops doing their jobs, and neither do most people with common sense, it seems. But as the saying goes, cops are people too, and just like there will always be the pretentious barista, there will always be the occasionally bad cop.
According to a recently published report, she sent an email to Phoenix police Sgt. Chas Clements that stated the location and time of an Occupy Phoenix meeting on Fifth Street at the same time as a First Friday event.
Now, to be fair, the information she provided was publicly available and may not have led to any immediate harm to activists- a claim that several members of the Occupy movement regard as blatantly false. Upon first reading, the report also strongly suggests that police used that intelligence to take repressive action, sending undercover officers to infiltrate the movement and gather intelligence.
What happened instead was that personal social security numbers, physical descriptions, driver’s license/state identification numbers and home addresses of citizens who had been given ‘warnings’ in relation to Occupy Phoenix activity were collected for God knows what purposes, something that I find to be an outright desecration of civil rights.
When all the dust from this settles, I definitely think those responsible for the PD’s overreach should be publically censured, fired, and if the case can be proven- prosecuted, for exceeding the limit of what their authority actually encapsulates. Heads need to roll, and that right quick, be it the Soldiers or the Generals.
As you can imagine, this unwarranted violation has led to a huge amount of backlash, mostly in the form of highly negative comments all across the social media networks, forcing Ms. Dach to offer a public apology for her lack of foresight and breach of trust.
Once again, in her own words: “I am truly sorry. It was never my intention to provide an intelligence-gathering tip to local police, or attempt to disrupt free speech. Reading through the CMD report last night, I’ve come to realize how naive I was in this situation.
To some, that will make me seem like a fool, but I was surprised to discover how my email was used. When this happened back in 2011, it didn’t occur to me that a First Friday crowd safety concern—just one of many that Roosevelt Row merchants were dealing with at the time—would be used instead to gather information about an Occupy meeting.
Personally, I find this apology to be somewhat weak in the spine, but it does strike as sincere. At worst, she’s a petty little snitch, and at best- a naïve ingénue who apparently is completely clueless as to how the world really works. Getting in bed (metaphorically) with the police has never been a good idea, especially when they’re monitoring the actions of a political movement. Shades of Orwell’s Big Brother and all that, you know.
After this apology was released, one might think that would help settle or cool off the issue, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. Across the social media Serengeti, there were calls for meetings to discuss the issue, poorly debated harangues about her breaching the community’s trust, and not unexpectedly- talk of boycotting her businesses in response to her collusion with the authorities.
And in principle, I agree that all of these should be enacted… up to a point.
Ms. Dach definitely needs to be taken to the woodshed in my opinion, and there should be some consequences in regards to her excruciating lack of common sense. But here’s where I and some people differ in our opinion of how that should be done. Personally, while I feel that boycotts are effective, there’s the issue of what good it would actually do. In the long run, Ms. Dach won’t really be affected that much. The Media really only cares about the big companies, and there will always be a customer base that will ignore such actions anyway.
The cops are another problem altogether. See, the real underlying issue at play here is not Cindy’s snitching to the cops, it’s the relationship between the local community and the police- if I were to make an honest observation, I’ve seen warmer interaction between the cast of Glee and the Westboro Baptist Church.
The cops claim they’re protecting the community, the anti-cop brigade says they’re terrorizing it. As with all differences of opinion, the actual truth lies somewhere in-between. I’ve been in the “scene” since 1991 or so, and have observed the gradual buildup of the police presence in downtown, as well as the commercial development of the surrounding area, so I do remember what it used to be like “back in the day” as us old white male dinosaurs are fond of saying.
Yes, in the sense that seemingly, there exists no reasoned plan for true community development versus what amounts to a rapidly expanding collection of buildings currently adding to the giant heat sink that is Downtown. Granted, there are a few bright spots here and there, a public bike initiative is under development, for instance- but as a whole, there is a dearth of businesses that can help create that solidification of community we so desperately need.
We don’t need more bars downtown, we need more cafes, bookstores, coffee shops, and parks. Oh, and some form of shade would be really nice too- I’ve been told there are these things called “trees”, perhaps we should get a few more of those, or I don’t know… erect some damn sunscreens?
Most of this crime is what is referred to as “soft crime”- think minor vandalism, petty theft, and the like, meaning that police aren’t really going to beat the bushes looking for the criminals who did it, unless they literally trip into luck and find them. Now I’m not saying that downtown has devolved into Gotham City, but with growth there always some form of mild cancer- for instance, I hear about bike thefts about six times a week, and there’s always a burglary story of the day, it seems.
Or maybe it’s something else. If I had a dime for every tale I’ve heard of abusive police, I could have retired already. Now, I’m not suggesting that abuse doesn’t happen, nor am I being an apologist for the PHX police department, because as a rule, I’m not the biggest fan of any law enforcement entity, not by a long shot.
Having said that five times, I hope everybody understands that as a rule, I don’t like cops. However, I don’t really have an issue with them either- I’m just not a fan of authority in general, whether it be police, bureaucrats, or my boss, so don’t even waste effort on an attempt to slander me with the label of one who is a sympathetic collaborator, because I’m not. I am however, someone who deals in reality, and reality alone, so for me- its all about the facts. I do believe that at times, there are rampant and excessive abuses of police authority, wholly confirmed by the release of the report that exposed this clusterf**k in the first place.
Going one better, I also think that not all of this activity gets reported within the context of local media, as well. But when it comes to focused political activism, it’s also not too shocking that the authorities keep tabs on the key players as well as their worker bees. Anytime you go up against an established power base, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll encounter overkill when it comes to governmental interference, and it’s painfully naïve to think that you won’t.
Is it fair? F**K NO. Is it the reality? Sadly, yes.
Utopia is a wonderful concept, but it forgets to factor in one thing: people and all their hard-wired tendencies that undermine a truly collective effort. Involve more than ten people, and its almost certain that you’re going to have a myriad of issues within your movement. Factor in the police spying on you, and the mire increases exponentially.
As is my tendency, I soon jumped in on the various online forums, to offer my two cents about this situation, taking the position that perhaps having a sit-down with the “enemy” might be much more useful in fostering a solution- a nice, neat, common sense approach, as it were. Future suggestion to myself- I really need to learn to listen to my inner monologue, because that cat is wicked smart. His take on my getting involved ran like this:
This is why you do some research before you engage your chosen opponent- it makes you look less stupid. It’s always refreshing to have someone I’ve never met insult me based solely on gender and skin color, especially when you consider how much effort and art I’ve donated for the causes of Gay Rights, Equal Rights, Voting Rights, along with my numerous campaigns against Domestic Violence.
I’d also like to add that I’ve been dating an ardent Feminist for the last four years, so the thought that I happen to be a sexist pig due to the set of genitalia I was born with is laughable at best, asinine at worst. And as for my age, you’re supposed to treat your decrepit elders with some respect- just saying.
She also added that she: “could believe in something, even if she didn’t practice it”. Thank you Lord, for the early Xmas gift. Remind me to get you something really nice.
Justice, on the other hand, took an entirely different tack. Most people who have a differing POV usually launch a counter-argument, complete with bullet points, facts and conclusions. Justice took one look at that approach and decided that was just way too complicated, so he took the most logical and direct approach- he attacked my mustache… my “handlebar” mustache, to be more precise.
As anyone who’s met me in person knows, my “look”, (if you want to call it that) is styled very loosely after the one and only Ian Fraser Kilmister, better known as “Lemmy”- he is the lead vocalist, bassist, principal songwriter and the founding and sole constant member of the hard rock band Motorhead, as well as a former member of Hawkwind.
Peppered with F-bombs, his already feeble argument proceeded to then degrade into a rambling discourse about the evils of Capitalism, it’s role in causing death and destruction around the globe, and how I was a “tool” for not seeing the truth that was right before my eyes, to which, I say this: For the love of Christ, please shut the f**k up already, you touchy tattooed twit.
With all due respect, I’m pretty certain that the marketing of my art and the feeding of my Ding Dong habit hasn’t wiped out any indigenous Indian tribes anywhere. But if I were to form a solid opinion regarding his pitiable inability to debate like an adult, I would speculate that it stems from his refusal to act like one.
It really is just that simple. See, I have no problems with Anarchists (or any political movement) per se, I just think that the refusal to see an opposing POV is somewhat short sighted, especially when the current stalemate between factions has lead to zero positive forward progress. On a side note, does anyone else think that being a member of an “organized anarchist movement” is kind of amusing, considering that the definition of Anarchist is defined as:
No offense intended on any level, I just can’t see a bunch of people who hate authority and the concept of an organized system coming together to form…well, an organized system. In the end, there’s always a need for a Chief, so how in the heck do you select one when you’re anti-authority? No wonder so many within this group drink and smoke weed. It’s just gotta be a sheer living Hell to have to cope with so many contradictions prevalent within your belief system.
Hence the reason why I refer to many in the Downtown Community as “weekend anarchists”. They pull out that particular set of politics to hide behind whenever they feel the need to prove themselves morally and intellectually superior. As proof, here’s a snippet of something I wrote, and the response from one of the community’s noble defenders of the realm, referred to only by her initials:
ARTBitch: “Its been my experience that the artists screaming about gentrification, repression, and capitalism are usually the ones who’ve already taken themselves out of the box of success. And also generally refuse to see another side while demanding that they alone are correct.
KT: you are so closed minded and ignorant.
ARTBitch: “Thanks for your insight. Ill just take my twenty years of working in the real world and go home then. have a nice day.”
Did we all see that? I suggest that in the name of beneficial progress we sit together and find a solution, (a common sense approach) and one of the hypocrisy squadron immediately calls me narrow-minded and dim-witted.
Can you now understand why I seriously conjecture how these people have been able to survive so long without being eaten? Fortunately, I’m not completely alone regarding this conviction, as evidenced by this statement posted on my FB page: “Ive never understood that logic to keep cops out of communities. And a lof of people we know feel this way. Yet their shit goes missing/ripped off on the daily, theres assaults and HARD drug busts all the time downtown.
Yep. Looks like the patchouli patrol is doing a great job of keeping them safe. Maybe they feel less safe because they are doing things that they shouldnt be. I cant even tell you how many times cops were NOT called to occurances downtown because people in the “community” wanted to keep the peace… but mostly because everyone was holding at the times this has happened.
That was soon followed up by a response from Kevin Flanagan, Technical Director at Space 55 and Mindless Drone at The Cult of The Yellow Sign:
[Link to his blog: http://www.principlediscord.blogspot.com/]
“I’ll speak from as neutral a standpoint as I can manage: police are to crime as firemen are to fires. By that, I mean that they don’t really “stop” crime from happening, they are a “first response” to it having happened. If someone was talking about removing police from communities, communities would need to take steps to train everyone to act as a “first responder.”
This, of course, raises difficult questions- each community member would have to be trained in a wide variety of skills, from first aid and conflict resolution to martial skills and other dangerous operations. From where does this training come?
Who are the first trainers? Where did their experience come from?
This training would need to address use of authority, how it can be asserted safely and respectfully, and ways to effectively mobilize in matters of emergency. This is where it gets complicated, because we are not talking about a peace-keeping team of citizens, but a trained and armed militia holding down every city block across the city. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me, it sounds like fucking Starship Troopers.
What street level idealists tend to imagine is “schmolice,” a group of police-like policers policeing, who aren’t police, but citizens helping citizens. Newsflash- that’s police. There are alternatives to organized police forces, but most of them aren’t pretty and don’t work in large, urban settings.
It’s not antianarchist to desire a group of citizens to take on the mantle of organized peace-keeping. It’s not black-hoodie-crass-patch anarchy, no doubt, but the major problem with that particular brand of anarchistic thought is that it places no value whatsoever on the lives and purpose of anyone who wears a different uniform.
Police officers are people, working class people, under the same boot as everyone else- with children, families, and the same problems everyone in the current structure faces. Our ‘little community’ is chooses to demonize rather than communicate, where the truth is that self-governance comes from grassroots outreach.
By involving the PEOPLE wearing the uniforms in your community, they cease to be blue-clad automatons and you cease to be dreadlocked roustabouts. However, that isn’t cool, so no one is going to reach that hand out to begin that cultural acclimation because, let’s face it, the average person hanging out downtown isn’t working class, and doesn’t understand a police officers life or motivations.
That’s right- I called the guy playing guitar a classist.”
Nicely stated, Kevin. But I’m afraid it will fall on deaf ears, given the grudges involved.
“You cannot compromise unless people talk to you.”- Aung San Suu Kyi