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Friday, September 05, 2003  

The Diva gets incorrect

At the risk of being accused of, Lord forbid, not toeing the liberal line, I've decided to discuss some topics I disagree with conventional liberal wisdom on. The first I wrote about below, in "Perverse Portland: Police scandal outs city," to an extent.

  • The police are not babysitters
  • Too often liberals behave as if they actually believe the stereotype of kindly Officer Fitzpatrick who finds children who have wandered out of the yard and rescues kittens who have climbed trees and are afraid to come down. Then, they go ballistic when the police do what they exist for -- maintain a modicum of public order. The modern cop is constantly saying 'no' to the citizenry and any contact you have with him is unlikely to be fun. This failure to be reasonable about the role of the police is very noticeable in Portland, where an officer is just as likely to be complained about for giving someone the finger as for shooting an unarmed suspect. A lawsuit has been filed by National Lawyer's Guild types against the city. They are representing middle-class white people who were manhandled or teargassed during the raucous protests of George W. Bush's visit to Puddletown last year. Other than pay lip service, the same people have done nothing in regard to the shooting of Kendra James, a poor, unarmed African-American woman who tried to drive away from a police stop and was shot dead as a result this year. This unwillingness to distinguish between the unpleasant and the deadly makes me doubt the judgment of the sort of people attracted to the NLG. I quit associating with them years ago, having had my fill of their hypocrisy. Their behavior since, observed in three cities, has convinced me my decision was right.

    Protests of police misconduct should be saved for real abuses in my opinion. Caterwauling whenever a middle or upper-class white person gets his ego bruised by a cop cheapens protests of serious police brutality.

  • The street is not a home
  • A couple months ago, some of us in the blogosphere, including Venomous Kate and Angry Bear, engaged in a spirited discussion of how public and semi-public space should be used, a topic I've been fascinated with since I was a law student.

    My position is that it is acceptable to exclude people from using a locale for something that contrasts with its primary purpose. One of the uses I would exclude is hijacking city sidewalks for sleeping and, in most cases, sitting. (We won't even get into evacuation, though I have seen people use them for that, too.)

    My perspective sorely conflicts with the 'official' Leftist position in some cities. One is supposed to say efforts to prevent people from converting city sidewalks into livingrooms and bedrooms are attacks on the homeless.

    Homeless advocates and civil liberties lovers have been steaming ever since Seattle's so-called civility laws made it illegal to sit on a public sidewalk. It's pretty clear the laws are aimed at the homeless who often rested, slept, panhandled or just plain sat in the nearest available public space -- the sidewalk. Sidewalk cafes were not affected by the ordinance, and it's still acceptable to take up sidewalk space with planters and sandwich boards.

    Their reasoning is that the homeless don't have anywhere else to be and allowing them to take over the sidewalks solves the problem. That simply is not true. There are shelters and drop-in centers available in just about every city, though many of the shelters have labyrinthine rules or force religion on residents. Given a choice between a sidewalk and a shelter, the latter seems the more reasonable to me. Yes, I know there aren't enough shelters. However, the 'give'em the streets' response doesn't solve that problem. Instead, it takes a situation that is a dilemma for a small group of people and makes it a problem for everyone. When the sidewalks have been confiscated, the rest of us, the majority, cannot use them for their intended purpose, pedestrian transit.

    The Seattle group cited in the alternative press story above has set up a network of benches for people to sit on. I believe that to be a partial solution to the problem because it returns the sidewalks to their owners -- all of us.

  • Minority groups are not superior
  • This issue arose when a gay blogger recently suggested heterosexuals have ruined this society. Though I don't disagree that the society in messed up in myriad ways, I don't think blaming breeders alone is a fair assessment. I believe someone who jumps to the conclusion incompetence and villiany are the attributes of heterosexuals is making two errors in reasoning:

  • Succumbing to ethnic, racial or gender chauvinism.
  • Not realizing members of minority groups can be as wrong-headed as the next person and sometimes support an oppressive status quo.
  • It is often said women would have done a better job of running the world than men have because we are more peaceful people. I have yet to see any proof of that. My guess is women have not have been as despotic as men because they haven't had the opportunity. African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Indians sometimes believe there is something inherently evil about white people, but not their own 'races.' Again, there is no proof of the supposition. The record of abuses in the Second and Third Worlds suggest just about any color of leader can be corrupt, immoral and violent. Privileged people everywhere expect more than their share of resources and that sense of entitlement has more to do with 'what's wrong with white people' than the color of their skins. The gay blogger is making the mistake of assuming homosexuals would not have created the society we live in, a doubtful premise. Middle and upper-class white homosexual men with the right connections have played a role in running this society from the beginning -- because they can keep their difference secret, unlike women and people of color. But for Roy Cohn, J. Edgar Hoover and other men like them, the abuses of the McCarthy era would not have occurred. According to writer David Brock, a 'gay mafia' also has been very much involved in the outrages of the contemporary conservative movement. If we knew who was gay among the white men who ran this society from its inception, we could doubtlessly hold them just as responsible as their heterosexual counterparts for the way things are.

    In summary, believing the black, brown, red, yellow, gay, lesbian and/or female are a higher form of human being is a leap of faith best not taken. I suspect there is no superior group of people.

    I own up to not being a 'proper' liberal when it comes to some issues. If a claim doesn't make sense to me, I will analyze it and let the chips fall where they may. I've already paid the price for having a mind of my own in the blogosphere, where so many of the liberals march in lockstep. So be it. The alternative -- echoing opinions I don't agree with -- is worse.

    5:11 PM