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Futility at its finest 

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I'm not sure which is worse, a former mayor of San Luis Obispo calling a proposed bike lane "gigantic urban rape" or a sitting county supervisor telling one of his constituents to "fuck off" for writing a letter to the editor.

But then there's the aftermath of both situations, where sitting SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon is attempting to shame the SLO Tribune for daring to print former Mayor Ken Schwartz's letter, and SLO County 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill publicly states that he is going to "absorb all our community's hate and be blasted into space with the ghetto kids."

Both the causes and the effects of these public spats highlight the fraying shreds of what's left of political discussions over disagreements. Welcome to President Donald Trump's Great America.

Just look at the Facebook thread—yes, social media, a pillar of our crumbling ability to compromise—on the New Times story about how Uber makes it really easy for its drivers to target and sexually assault young women who are intoxicated. Susie N Marc Barnum (BTW, WTF do couples share a Facebook page? Over it!) is/are pissed at us for not calling an Uber driver an "illegal immigrant" (I guess calling him a "Mexican national" wasn't good enough) and for saying that the "women were drunk." (Listen you lady/dude/couple you, that's the whole point of the damn story!) He/she/they lumped us in with the #failingNewYorkTimes and called the story "#fakenews." We've finally hit the big time! CNN better watch out!

And when did the five members of the SLO County Board of Supervisors become divided into what the good folks who email New Times letters to the editor call the "conservative cabal" and the "Democratic cabal." It's not like it's a big damn secret where they stand politically. Don't be so dramatic.

But back to my favorite rose-adorned leading lady. There's this little thing called the First Amendment. And from the sounds of it, Heidi, you should leave decisions on censorship to the newspaper that's been practicing the constitutional right of free speech for more than a century.

Do you really want them to not print an opinion piece written by a former mayor in which he actually writes a sentence like this one: "The rape will not be performed by a male penis, but by thousands of inanimate bicycles guided by individuals who will have absolutely no understanding of that precious tranquility they will be destroying in their mindless focus ... "? OMG, I can't even finish the stupid sentence it's so aggravatingly long.

Schwartz is clearly a privileged old white man who's never interacted with the potential of being sexually assaulted by a male penis, but possibly has had a weird experience with a bicycle. He's an idiot who hasn't truly reflected on the difficult conversation our nation is having about rape and how commonplace sexual assault is.

But his letter's extreme tone is definitive of the rhetoric that our society spits out. The Trib should absolutely be highlighting the current state of political discourse by printing a letter to the editor such as Schwartz's. That way the person—I'm looking at you Keith "I hate Adam Hill but love Ken Schwartz" Gurnee, who once suggested that SLO needed to "honor" Schwartz by installing a bronze statue of the former mayor in Mission Plaza—can advocate for something else, like, oh, I don't know, a former mayor not to use the term "urban rape" to define the construction of a controversial bike lane.

And you, Heidi, were absolutely right in calling Schwartz out for what he put in that letter to the editor. For saying "the tone and tenor of this discussion and other topics has been out of control," and "at the foundation of this, we must collectively stand on civility to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue."

What I'm wondering is, when are you going to turn that push for civility on a member of your own party? Yup, I'm talking about the man who wants to shoot into space alongside the "ghetto kids." The man who thinks there's no room for civility in politics, as he opined in a New Times commentary not too long ago ("Time to speak out," Jan. 18).

Adam, you told Mark Burnes (a constituent who used to support you) in a very long back-and-forth over Facebook Messenger that you live in Shell Beach—one of the richest little enclaves of McMansions in SLO County. How many ghetto kids do you actually know?

Does it hurt when you can't claim that a person who criticizes you, such as Burnes, isn't part of the CalCoastNews/Times cabal of Hill haters?

He doesn't support you anymore because you're incapable of responding professionally to people who disagree with or critique you. And how does that further the political will of the constituents you were elected to represent? Case in point: You responded via Facebook to Burnes' Tribune letter (it was critical of Andrea Seastrand more so than you) by saying, "Thanks but no thanks for your stupid letter ... . Fuck off. All talk, no balls."

Wow. That's exactly the kind of behavior we've come to expect from you. New Times will be waiting for your predictably nasty response in electronic form. Please don't disappoint. Δ

The Shredder prefers email critiques from his elected representatives. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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