By Doug Porter
There were developments aplenty yesterday in the San Diego’s Kabuki dance theater, also known as the Mayor Bob Filner scandal.
Attorney Harvey Berger filed a motion to move the legal venue for Irene McCormack’s lawsuit due to the media frenzy surrounding the case. The motion will be heard in San Diego County Superior Court on Sept. 16 and included the following:
“A change in venue is necessary because publication of the allegations of sexual harassment against Mayor Filner have been so widespread, unrelenting, intense, and outspoken that there is reason to believe that an impartial trial cannot be had in San Diego. Thus, Mayor Filner seeks to have venue transferred to nearby Imperial County.”
I’m told that because this lawsuit is filed in a State court, hizzoner’s only other choice was Orange County. That’s too bad because, IMO if there ever was a case being tried in the news media, this one fits the bill.
Attorney Gloria Allred, representing McCormack, says the trial should remain in San Diego where the alleged harassment occurred.
“We believe that the case should be heard and decided by a jury of Mayor Filner’s peers,” Allred said.
Yes or No Are the Only Options?
Here’s an interesting quote taken from localhistories.org about the Salem witch trials:
One of the most horrific aspects of the witch hysteria was that if you were accused and you confessed your life was spared. However if you were accused and you denied the charge but were then convicted you were hanged. Furthermore if you expressed skepticism about the witch trials you put yourself in danger. You might be accused to being a witch.
Today the UT-San Diego announced an on-line user-friendly format to keep score of who’s been naughty or nice in the Filner case, with naughty being that you haven’t sufficiently denounced the Mayor.
Politicos and union leaders from around the region were inundated with emails yesterday from the newspaper’s reporters yesterday demanding to know, as one union leader put it, “are you now or have you ever been a Filner supporter. And have you called for his resignation yet?”
No doubt inquiring vigilantes want to know… Like the folks who circulated links to old pro-Filner stories on social media, hoping that people would look past the dateline and send hate mail. And then there were the Trolls seeking to heap shame upon everybody who ever supported the Democratic candidate for Mayor in San Diego in 2012.
Remember the pre-election PR offensive to address concerns that #Filner treated women badly? Brace yourself: http://t.co/GT0rUqFt3h
— Ryan Clumpner (@RyanClumpner) August 8, 2013
A Union Speaks Out
The influential local American Federation of Teachers (Guild 1931) sent a letter to its 5000+ local members yesterday strongly condemning the Mayor’s actions while at the same time refusing to join in calls for Filner’s resignation.
Given how the local media, especially 10News and UT-San Diego have spun their coverage of Mayor Filner, I’m republishing the entire letter below:
It is with great sadness that we begin a new academic year with the horrible news that not only has a mayor we supported disgraced his office with his unacceptable behavior towards women, but also that one of his victims is a co-worker, City College’s Dr. Lisa Curtin. We commend her courage in coming forward. At the same time, we urge government officials, attorneys for the various parties, the press, and the general public to treat Dr. Curtin—and all the other women who have made allegations about the mayor’s behavior—with the dignity and respect they deserve in their upcoming legal struggles.
Whatever the end result of the Filner sexual harassment scandal, it’s clear that even if the mayor survives the legal challenges, he has admitted to behavior that is unacceptable in any workplace. His credibility and ability to move a bold populist agenda has been fatally damaged. San Diego’s first truly progressive mayor has squandered the opportunity to be a transformative figure, the progressive fighter and game changer we had hoped he would be. Worst of all by engaging in abusive behavior towards women, Filner has betrayed the core principles of any progressive politics by failing to respect the civil rights and humanity of women. We don’t need to hear all of the details to know that this is true–he has admitted as much himself.
In addition to the women victimized by Filner’s behavior, the losers in all of this are the people who had never before had a real champion in the mayor’s office—taxi drivers, hotel workers, and the working poor struggling for a living wage; the homeless and forgotten; and the residents of neglected neighborhoods where many of our students live and all of us who never thought we would see a mayor who would challenge the shadow government of private interests that has run this city for its entire history. Of course, San Diego’s power elite hates Filner and was out for blood from the beginning, so his reckless behavior in his workplace is not just morally wrong but criminally stupid.
Despite our grave disappointment and anger over Filner’s behavior, on principle as unionists we believe in due process, both for the women making the charges in the legal arena and for the mayor. This position does not mean that we excuse or minimize sexual harassment and/or support the mayor. It simply means we support the process as we do in our own union for our own members, some of whom, in years past, have been accused of far worse behaviors. We realize this is not a politically popular position at present, but if we abandon it for political expediency, we surrender a core principle. Even scoundrels deserve due process and trial by press conference does not suffice.
It might be easier for all of us–the mayor’s constituents, those who had been friends, not to mention his family–if the mayor resigned and underwent bona-fide intensive treatment, while resolving legal questions his behavior has raised, but that’s not what’s happening presently. As of this writing, it is clear that the mayor has chosen not to resign despite losing most of his base and that it will likely take either a difficult successful recall election or felony conviction to remove him from office.
Thus we may be in for a long civic drama. This will certainly become a classic lesson about the abuse of power by men in positions of authority. However, we should not despair and abandon all hope that there will ever be another future progressive champion for San Diego‘s working class. We hope that voters do not conclude that all Democrats or progressives are cut from the same cloth as Filner.
Filner’s election was a reflection of the strong and growing base for a bold populist agenda in San Diego. There will be those who say that Filner has hurt the opportunities for future progressive candidates. We don’t think so. This unfortunate circumstance may even have the positive effect of helping us find even stronger candidates. The hunger our constituents have for a living wage, a greener SD, immigrant and woman’s rights reforms, etc., have not been abated by virtue of Filner’s inappropriate actions.
Our hopes for change sooner rather than later may have been temporarily sidelined. But they have not been derailed and this does not change the fact that San Diego has a strong and growing progressive base that we need to continue to lead. We need to remind our friends, neighbors, and family members to fight against the temptation to capitulate to the cynicism that some will try to foster as a result of this singular episode.
I have no doubt the UT and its ilk will be listing the AFT as ‘naughty’.
Racism with a Capital R
President Obama was out and about in our part of the world yesterday, speaking to Marines at Camp Pendleton about sequestration, sexual harassment issues in the military and the war in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday he stopped off at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, delivering one of a series of speeches about housing and the economy. Outside the school things turned Arizona-ugly, with hundreds of supporters and opponents wielding signs, chanting slogans and arguing with each other.
A contingent of anti-Obama demonstrators on the east side of the street leading to the school took things to another level.
From The Arizona Republic:
Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!
“He’s 47 percent Negro,” 77-year-old Ron Enderle shouted at one point, later telling the Republic that he was “ashamed” to have Obama as Commander-in-Chief.
Okay, I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s just those crazy Zonies, nobody pays attention to them”, but I’ve got more bad news today…
Paula Deen vs. Martin Luther King
From Talking Points Memo:
Paula Deen was roundly criticized earlier this summer for her past use of the N-word, but among Georgia Republicans, the embattled celebrity evidently has more fans than America‘s most beloved civil rights icon.
Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling tweeted out a striking nugget on Wednesday from its survey of the Peach State. According to the pollster, Deen is more popular among Republican voters in Georgia than Martin Luther King:
Although she faced plenty of criticism for her use of racial epithets, Deen also drew her share of defenders. A Fox News contributor claimed Deen, a Georgia native, was being mistreated by the “liberal, anti-South media.” Following the controversy, her forthcoming cookbook, “Paula Deen’s New Testament,” surged to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list.
The score (Approval/Disapproval) Paula Deen 78/11, Martin Luther King 59/28
And in New York…
From Raw Story:
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) hate crimes task force launched an investigation on Wednesday after a statue of African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson was vandalized with a racial slur and other graffiti.
According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the statue of teammate Pee Wee Reese with arm around Robinson was defaced sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
“It commemorates an incident in Robinson’s rookie year, 1947, when Reese, who was Robinson’s teammate on the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked onto the infield and put his arm around Robinson in a gesture of friendship,” the Daily Eagle noted. “At the time, Robinson was being subjected to racist catcalls and threats on a regular basis.”
WNBC reported that the graffiti included the words “die n*gger,” a swastika and the word “Hitler.”
But Wait! There’s More!
Ebony magazine released a preview of its upcoming September issue earlier this week, featuring four photos dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin and an in-depth examination of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws.
It didn’t take long for the “I’m not a racist” types to take to the interwebs to roundly condemn the coverage. There’s even been serious discussion about a boycott. Really? Really!
I really love the Tweet the magazine put out in response:
We have so many Tea Party readers and followers. To lose all zero of them due to our September cover would be devastating.
— EBONY (@EBONYMag) August 7, 2013
White Privilege on TV
Since I’m ranting about racism today, I may as well share this wonderful clip from the Daily Show, examining the subject. Made up or not, it certainly nails the question.
On This Day: 1899 – The refrigerator was patented by A.T. Marshall. 1970 – Janis Joplin bought a headstone for the grave of blues singer Bessie Smith. Smith was one of Joplin’s idols. 1974 – U.S. President Nixon announced that he would resign the following day. (True fact: I was among those drinking bubbly in the street outside the White House that night)
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Democrat, here. Voted for Filner. Guilty of reading past date of recent articles circulated on social media (thanks for the shout-out, by the way). I’m also a union member and staunch supporter of everyone in paragraph three. I do wonder, though, how much is going to be done care of the mayor’s office now that “business as usual” has become “separate, but equal” for any woman hoping to do business with the mayor on behalf of those in paragraph three.
The allusion to a witch-hunt was a good attempt at blankety painting calls for resignation as undue hysteria, but I take issue with such as allusion for the following reasons: 1) I have a hyster and don’t appreciate insinuation to a pejorative term towards the mental instability of women, and 2) the “witch hunt” of smart women who threatened the established status quo of power was grounded in superstitious, unfounded claims – not tangible headlocks and butt slaps.
The use of such an engendered allusion to describe the calls for an admitted sexual harasser (or, hugger) is offensive all around. Please do not associate this man – a betrayer of women – as anything near the victim status of those women who suffered unduly because of persistent political patriarchy.
I am ashamed to have voted for this man. He has comprised the integrity of the office he holds and the ability to do his job with equality for all.
Doug Porter says
1. I’m fairly literate but had no clue that the term hyster referred to a woman’s uterus. Really. Now I know.
2. I was talking about the actions of the pro-recall/resign people and the news media towards others who have not yet taken up the cause, not the women who have come forward.
When using the word “hysteria” about a public phenomenon, apparently the current word choice is “moral panic.” I found that in an online dictionary. I like it.
bob dorn says
GAWD, I had no idea either. The last time I used histeria I got away with that unintentional misspelling,. I never felt the ‘engenderment’ of the usage, or knew it carried that mean baggage. The online dictionary I use does carry a warning that it’s become controversial. The same source carries no warning against “hysterical.”
My old Websters International doesn’t suggest there WAS any controversy. Maybe it’ll take some heavy research on usage.
At any rate, “moral panic” doesn’t do it for me; it’s a phrase, not a word.
Synonyms, anyone? “Frenzy? ” ?
I wasn’t alive when the feminists were critiquing usage of the word in the 60s and 70s, but I was still well aware of the controversy:
John Lawrence says
I think the comparison to the Salem witch trials is apt. The latest “victims” of sexual harassment have reportedly come forward to claim that Filner had the audacity to ask them for a date and that this constituted sexual harassment. This seems to me to be piling on with dubious claims. Since when does asking someone for a date constitute sexual harassment?
If this whole thing goes to court, in that setting, some of these claims will seem downright silly while others will be subject to interpretation., Since when is giving somebody a hug, wanted or unwanted, sexual harassment? A good lawyer could make most of these claims seem childish or subject to interpretation. I wouldn’t defend a pat on the ass or touching a woman’s breasts, but most of the claims don’t seem to include these things.
When that asking comes with a butt slap and unsolicited advances while at a rape survivor’s event. Seriously, if a man doesn’t know that he shouldn’t hit on women at a sexual assault survivor’s event, I question not only his judgment, but his common sense and working sanity.
Amen, Carrie. The most recent allegation really had me hitting my head against the wall. Previously, I just thought he was a creep, now I think he may actually have a real behavioral problem or some sort of inability to read a situation which makes me wonder how he made it so far in politics. Either way, if you don’t know that it’s not appropriate to ask out/hit on people during a professional meeting when you’ve only just met them, then I wonder about you.
And I certainly doubt your capacity to serve as the mayor and chief representative of our city.
John Lawrence says
Make that rule #482 in the dictionary of sexual harassment which is being compiled as we speak.
I teach college students. Many are my age or older. Technically, I guess I _could_ date a student, but that would never happen. No way, no how. The reason? Because I know better than to cross a line that has been created by the imbalance of power of the situation. I know how dangerous it is to wander into gray ethical territory where, even if it is _technically_ OK, it still could encourage an abuse of power, the degradation of my authority, and a culture in which students think they can “negotiate.”
If, as a teacher, even I know better – how the heck the MAYOR doesn’t know better is beyond me.
Dorothy Lee says
The Salem trials have been much discussed in modern times. They represent only one instance among others throughout time when groups of people collectively get hysterical and destroy others who are not “them.” One of the most memorable books I read in high school, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.” As described in Wikipedia, it “is a history of popular folly by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841. The book chronicles its subjects in three parts: ‘National Delusions’, ‘Peculiar Follies’, and ‘Philosophical Delusions’. ”
Causal observance of the evolving hysteria in San Diego shows how simple it is to provoke hysterically blind reactions, especially with the Internet and television, and to morph people, statements, and actions into someone or thing quite distinct from what, in reality, they are, said, or did. It’s most interesting to contemplate philosophical delusions: those who have decided “burn him at the stake” is the only resolution possible are not affected by any interjection of facts, context, or realistic perspectives, nor is it possible for them to have empathy for any other possibilities. Currently, they are positing that Filner coming back to work and not resigning is proof that counseling didn’t work.
Some theoretically politically neutral participants in the hysteria – those who think they provide news and ideas in San Diego – have no ability to discriminate among the crowd of followers that they’ve collected via their publications and in their Twitter rampages against Filner. Some of these followers, as with some of the so-called victims, are a bit cracked and damaged, and the evidence of that is easy to find. No matter. It is what it is for those who suffer from Mackay’s philosophical delusion madness. All “like” believers are welcome inside the circle. No questions asked as long as they all participate in concert in the quest to rid the town of the monster.
There is an Aug 5/2013 Guardian article, “Top Five Ways Reddit is Like Salem Massachusetts in the 1600s” that is interesting.
It reminded me that Leader Lewis, using his hoarse and petulant voice to pitch his blog, recently said, when his clumsy, poorly read website was in need of reinventing:
“we have created something new. Inspired by Reddit and social media everywhere, we have created a new forum…”
That’s right. Inspired by Reddit.
Carrie: you are right about judgment and common sense, but do not use the term “sanity” so frivolously. And please do examine the facts about the “rape survivors” carefully. The facts are available. You just have to notice.
How about this: I’ll not use the word “sanity” if you 1) drop the quotes from “rape survivors” as no one is claiming to have been raped, and 2) discontinue the frivolous use of hysteria, as it is an offensive term rooted in the notion that women are mentally imbalanced. Both semantic sins on your part far outweigh my insinuation that a man who has showcased a tenuous relationship with rational behavior, at best, has issues with sanity.
Two of the women, I have worked with / under at one time or another. My inclination to believe them does not stem from tangential media reports.
It’s easy to pontificate about the effects of media – social media, specifically – but, that article on Reddit is what makes me (a student of Mass Comm and Media Studies), absolutely cringe.
The dynamics of the the online atmosphere – especially meta-rated sites like Reddit – are not akin to “hysteria.” Quite the opposite. While many trolls of the online world exaggerate and approach argument from an emotional stance, the organic hierarchy of the online sphere is created through community policing that weeds out the emotional in lieu of the referenced, persistent, and community supported. The acquisition of social capital in the online world is much like that of the offline world: both have hierarchy, cliques, hubs, nodes, weak ties, strong ties, and links. These cliques and hierarchy are no more evidence of hysteria than any bowling club, fraternity, cafeteria, or office environment is evidence of hysteria. Can “hysterical behavior” and “witch hunts” be found in these social situations? Of course. But, that requires more than anecdotal evidence of unfounded name-calling on Twitter.
Which brings us to the most important point: just because online gusto is easy to document, and anonymity can be used as a shield when spewing vitriol, to suggest that this means all of the online world is a witch-hunt is simply unsupported by any mass comm study to date.
You stated: “Causal observance of the evolving hysteria in San Diego shows how simple it is to provoke hysterically blind reactions, especially with the Internet and television, and to morph people, statements, and actions into someone or thing quite distinct from what, in reality, they are, said, or did.” Casual observance, perhaps – but, empirical, scientifically tested survey would prove otherwise. According to the theory of Agenda Setting (which has been tested, tested, and tested again) – yes: you can tell someone what to think ABOUT, but you cannot tell them what to think. Translation: you can’t change someone’s opinion through media influence alone, you can only direct their focus.
If you’re truly interested in this topic, I suggest you read works from actual scholars in the field. Start with “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky, then maybe move onto the works of Laszlo Barabasi, Axel Bruns, Zizi Papacharissi, and Sandra Ball-Rokeach.
bob dorn says
Better to make sense in the public square than to tell people they don’t know what you do. Just a suggestion.
The voters elected a mayor and we must now deal with the consequences. We seem to be following a DIY guide for handling a dog with behavioral problems. Victims are sharing their painful stories to help define the offending behavior. The media has rolled up their newspapers and are striking away. Politicians offer to get in their parade ready convertibles and drive the dog out of the city. Dog whisperers are sharing their solutions on the Internet. The dog has been trotted off to an intensive two-week obedience course. I have faith San Diegans will find a fix for the situation. In the meantime, let us treat the dog humanely and remember why we chose him.
bob dorn says
Nice, really nice writing.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
1) I am dismissing the AFT write-off as having been penned by Righteous Brother Jim Miller. When CTA or SDEA writes a letter, somebody please notify me.
2) You may be fairly literate, Doug, but the same cannot be said for Carrie. I join you in learning for the first time the term “hyster.” Is that related to shyster? Or hysteria?
3) There is no way Filner can be denied a change of trial venue. I hope it happens.
4) Why wouldn’t Georgians like Paula Deen better than Dr. King? Does he cook? Is he on TV? No, no and no surprise there.
5) You’ve gotta admire our African American President for going to Arizona. He has got courage. Those folks are crazed by heat and wildfires.
6) Multi-racial conversations about race are generally cautious deadends. Years ago some sociologist noted that collaborative work on mutual projects yielded good feeling on all sides of racial divides, and I personally believe this to be true today.
bob dorn says
Yeah, I agree, Fran, on everything you’re saying here. And I especially don’t like the elimination of a useful word that long ago escaped its maladaptation and became standard good usage. Hell, we still have to use Republican for people who only believe in money and an avenging god.
I still like the phrase ” moral panic” because it is more descriptive. By the way, I already knew that about the word ”hysterical’.
I think anyone who has ever had a grade school lesson on root words (am I seriously the only one?), or read “The Yellow Wallpaper” / studied Charlotte Perkins Gilman in high school should know what a hyster is.
And, that’s fine Bob finds no problem with the word because its “usefulness” outweighs its misogynistic etymology. It wouldn’t be the first time Progressives have expected women to take one for the team.
Stick to your guns on ‘hysterical’. I don’t find occasion to use it.
And I am sticking to my guns on due process and fair play for Mayor Filner.
“Today the UT-San Diego announced an on-line user-friendly format to keep score of who’s been naughty or nice in the Filner case, with naughty being that you haven’t sufficiently denounced the Mayor.”