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New Times / Shredder

The following article was posted on January 9th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 24 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 24

Put a cork in it

Up is up. Grass is green. Pulp is gross. Supervisor Adam Hill’s a pain in the ass. The sky is blue. Eco-hooligan Bill Denneen’s a cool old progressive dude. The Earth rotates around the sun. It’s a simple worldview, warm and snug, with very little chance of some naysayer coming along and rocking my metaphorical boat.

So why am I now tugging out tufts of my own hair in a desperate attempt to plug an e-mail-sized hole in my once-seaworthy vessel? (And yes, I realize that it’s difficult to size an e-mail, or to argue that e-mails have sizes, but I’m laying an intellectual trail here; follow it!)

It all started with a widely circulated e-mail written by none other than supervisor Hill denouncing business-owner Bill Thoma for “fear-mongering” as well as his “selfish and dishonest” attitude for trying to raise opposition against the proposed Homeless Services Center on the southern side of SLO. Hill’s been known to express himself forcefully in the past—and while he sometimes errs on the side of bullying, I have to respect a politician who actually says what he believes instead of dancing around an issue like a politically correct carousel, all fanfare and unicorn music. Not to mention the fact that over the last year or so local officials have not taken a particularly sympathetic attitude toward the city’s homeless.

Just consider the fact that during the city’s National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day, a candlelight vigil to commemorate people who’ve lost their lives to the cold, Mayor Jan Marx took the opportunity to remind everyone gathered there not to give money to people on the street because many of them have substance abuse issues. Which makes Hill’s defense of a project intended to remove homeless people from the cold, unfriendly streets look downright noble—even if it was probably motivated by his relationship with CAPSLO director Dee Torres. So the only thing that surprised me about Hill’s missive was the fit of vapors and finger-wagging certain members of the media indulged in. No one asked Marx to clarify her unfeeling remarks about the homeless made on a night intended to commemorate them, but a supervisor calling someone out for passive-aggressive behavior standing in the way of a project to help the homeless gets everyone’s Fruit of the Looms in a bunch. Or is that Fruits of the Loom?

As if Hill’s bout of entirely defensible anger wasn’t enough to turn my world topsy-turvy, Denneen—everyone’s favorite occasional nudist and population control advocate—had to go and send New Times a letter that started out as slightly offensive and misinformed, quickly turned to downright perverted, and then swerved right into blatantly misogynistic. All under the guise of being progressive, of course.

“Prior to about 45 years ago, women just didn’t (couldn’t?) participate in any sports,” Bill begins his letter. It kinda sounds like, prior to writing this sentence, he pulled this “fact” out of his solar-powered left field and didn’t (couldn’t?) be bothered to do a bit of research. In 1912, Australian Fanny Durack won an Olympic gold medal for swimming. And I’m guessing he’s never heard of—despite calling himself an elder—Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who excelled in track and field, basketball, golf, baseball, softball, and, well, you get the picture. At the 1932 Olympics, Babe won two gold and one silver medal for track and field. Six years later she competed in a men’s PGA golf tournament. I could go on, but I shouldn’t have to.

And, in any case, it sounds like the only female athletes Bill is interested in are the ones he can ogle. “I enjoy watching women in sports—first because I am male, and looking at women is built into my DNA.” He goes on to recount an instance in which he was staring so intently at two young high school girls that he fell off his bicycle. Can we maybe just agree to leave high-schoolers off limits? And believe it or not, women like Fanny Durack and Babe Didrikson Zaharias—and, for that matter, the two teenage girls who were simply trying to enjoy some exercise—aren’t athletes for the appreciation of men. They’re athletes for the same reason as their male counterparts: to compete, to push the limits of their strength and endurance, for the rush of leaving their competitors behind in a cloud of dust.

“The second reason I enjoy watching women play sports is it means they are NOT adding to the population explosion…Women working as doctors, lawyers, scientists, truck drivers and engineers means they probably decided to have fewer babies or none at all.” I hate to break it to you, buddy—actually, that’s completely untrue; I’m getting a total kick out of deflating your pseudo-progressive attitude toward women—but male athletes, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and truck drivers have been having babies for years, and women today have that same choice. Women don’t belong either in the kitchen or the office. In point of fact, women don’t belong anywhere—and certainly not as pawns on a board for the male of the species to move around as they see fit.

The thing that kills me about this absurd letter is that I actually agree with the core premise: The world is overpopulated, and the problem grows by the year. I simply don’t see how objectifying women in sports and telling women to get into the workroom and shove a cork up their womb is going to resolve anything besides further enforcing the notion that a woman’s place is wherever man happens to want her to be—whether in the bedroom, on the sports field, or in the board room.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world would probably be a better place without so many people; unfortunately, a lot of the people it could do without are already here.

Shredder’s boat is sinking fast. Send plugs to shredder@newtimesslo.com.