Let he who has never done anything stupid cast the first squirrell

“Who are you?” “The spirit of Cesar Chavez.” “Why do you look like Cesar Romero?” “Because you don’t know what Cesar Chavez looks like.” The Simpsons Season 12 Ep. 15

Well, apparently my advice from last week was taken and Don Blount formed an opinion on something. Predictably it was a horribly wrong opinion. I said it Thursday and I’ll say it again, people are allowed to be ignorant. Why else would half the people in newspapers still be around?

We touched on this last week. But since Don saw it and decided to push it into this week’s news cycle, we’ll go a little bit more in depth.

First of all, was what he said really that bad? We’re of course taking him at his word that there was no malice meant in what he said. What did he say? That he thought Chavez was a Communist organizer. Is calling somebody a Commie even really an insult anymore? Barack Obama gets called socialist on what seems like an hourly basis on Fox News. That’s a legitimate (well, as legit as Fox gets) news organization that’s broadcast nationwide. Bestolairdes’ transgression was sent in a private e-mail that was leaked to the press. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point is, that calling someone a communist is a fucking joke. Nobody outside of the 1950s uses that as a serious accusation. Anybody who takes it as an actual insult is a fucking pussy. It even states in the column that Chavez found it entertaining to combat allegations of communism. It’s an absurd accusation. Joe McCarthy thinks it’s laughable in this day and age.

I’m actually glad Don Blount brought up Barack Obama’s “Special Olympics” remark on Leno as another example of an insensitive misstep because anybody who was offended by that is also a fucking pussy. If you had listened to the context of that joke you’d know Obama was right. Leno was in the midst of blowing him over his decidedly average bowling score and Barry correctly told him to cut that shit out. Why the fuck was that even a news item? Well, that brings me to my next point.

News organizations get e-mails from special interest groups all the time. It’s really fucking annoying. And unfortunately, Bestolairdes’ e-mail was sent directly to a special interest group. They saw an opportunity to push their agenda right before Cesar Chavez Day and sent the e-mail to the Record. The Record pounced on the opportunity because, as we bitched about noted, last week was a painfully slow news week. The result? Don Blount and the various outraged local Latino organizations are calling for a public apology for an e-mail that they made public! This makes the Latino organizations happy because it puts them in the news in the week leading up to their big weekend celebration. And it makes Don Blount and the Record happy because it fills space and gives them a different angle to present the Cesar Chavez story instead of printing something that resembles a high school term paper on Cesar Chavez Day. Everybody wins, except for Steve Bestolairdes of course.

And that’s truly the sad part of this whole thing, in the interest of self-promotion and space filling, intent was thrown out the window. Did Bestolairdes intend to offend Stockton’s sizeable Latino population? Of course not. He made an ignorant statement in a private e-mail. If anything, the Dolores Huerta Foundation should be apologizing to Bestolairdes for publicly disseminating his e-mail. He apologized to the involved parties.

If he had accidently hit “reply all” and sent that e-mail out to every city computer or something, then yes, a public apology would be warranted. But he didn’t publicize his ignorance, the special interest groups did. All to pretty blatantly promote their agenda. Because, let’s face it, Steve Bestolairdes knows who Cesar Chavez was. He’s not retarded. He was just a tired man who made a bad joke. Funny thing is, the joke wasn’t even about Cesar Chavez. As far as we can tell, dude was making a joke about Barack Obama. A guy who’s opponents referred to him as a community organizer in a negative fashion. And a guy who, as we said earlier, is called a communist on a pretty regular basis. He was comparing the bullshit Chavez faced with the bullshit Obama faces today. So, if anything, Bestolairdes was guilty of making a bad joke after a 16-hour day. Which A) is exactly what he apologized for, and B) is something every single fucking one of us has done before.

But let’s assume for a second that he didn’t know who Chavez was before getting politically gangraped by the Latino special interest groups. Is it really that big of a fucking deal? Isn’t that why we have a Cesar Chavez Day? To educate those who don’t know as to who the man was? In the article Jennie Rodriguez wrote about the Cesar Chavez Day festivities (which appears on the page opposite Blount’s column) one of the people she interviews is a Mexican immigrant named Enrique Jimenez who admits that he doesn’t know much about Chavez himself. I don’t see Pedro Ramirez running to hand him a pamphlet. And that brings me to my last point.

The only reason this is even an issue, and the reason Blount argues a more public apology is necessary, is because Bestolairdes holds a public office. And everybody’s all too willing to jump on public officials because they “should know better.” Well guess what? That’s bullshit. The beauty of our political system is that any Joe Schmoe can hold a public office. But nobody wants to because for some God forsaken reason people think that if you can get a majority of the people to like you enough to vote for you, you must be smarter than they are. Well, they’re not. Just look at the past couple Delta trustee boards. They’re people just like you and me. And, I hate to be the one to break this to you, people fuck up all the time.

Especially at this low of a level of public office. I can at least understand some of the outrage directed at Obama for his comment on Leno because he’s the fucking President and said it on a nationally televised program. Bestolairdes is a school district trustee. And in one of the smaller school districts at that. Fuck, if I had the money, a death wish, and lived in the proper area I could be a Lincoln Unified Trustee. Yet, Don Blount is comparing him to Barack Obama and nobody seems to have a problem with this? How is that an apt comparison?

Of course, none of this is new. As a society we’ve been overscrutinizing our public figures for years with no regard for the impact it might have. To see the impact one just needs to look at the postgame press conference of almost every sporting event. You get homogenized quotes like “Both teams played hard” and “I’d like to thank God and my teammates”. It’s fucking boring.

But guys like Bob Knight or Ron Artest, who are just genuinely being themselves, are vilified for being too honest with their emotions. Ron Artest is labeled as crazy for, in the heat of the moment, running into the stands after somebody threw a beer at him. In hindsight everybody was eager to say “How could he do such a thing with so much money and fame at stake?” When, in reality, if somebody throws a beer at me I’m not thinking “What are the financial ramapercussions of my actions?” I’m thinking “Where’s the motherfucker who threw that fucking beer at me? I’m going to beat the fuck out of him.” If you think that’s an incorrect line of thinking let me know where you’re drinking this weekend and I’ll huck a Coors Light at you and we’ll see what you think then.

I guess what I’m trying to get at in an entirely roundabout way is that we’re all too eager to judge others while ignoring our own shortcomings. Everybody fucks up, it’s just a matter of to what degree. Bestolairdes fucked up to a microscopic degree and for some reason it’s being treated as if he called Chavez the brown Hitler. All to promote some bullshit event.

Was it really worth it? I guess we’ll find out the next time somebody tries to pry some actual important information from an elected official. Will they speak somewhat freely (well, as freely as a politician can speak) and let that nugget of information slip? Or will they remember how their pal got destroyed in the press over a tiny misstep and clam up? Think about that the next time you see a “no comment” in a story. That’s real journalism at work. Intent be damned, there’s pages to be filled.

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~ by Slick Diaz on March 30, 2009.

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