Opinion » Shredder

Hyperbolic heckling

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Do you ever look at someone after they've done something really stupid and wonder how they could have ever thought that something was OK? Obviously, that's a rhetorical question, because yes you have!

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I was thinking that about a month ago as I listened to San Luis Obispo City Councilmember Jan Marx wax on about the dangers of nighttime use of Cerro San Luis, comparing after-dark open space users to Jan. 6 insurrectionists and the dispensary permit issues that the Natural Healing Center ran into because its former CEO is a criminal.

Woah bro!

"We're in an era where ... there's kind of a general wave of people doing something illegal, violating the rules, and then not wanting to take the consequences, and instead pressuring the authorities to cave and cater to them," Marx said during an Oct. 19 City Council discussion, apparently not realizing that there's also "kind of a general wave" of politicians over-dramatizing issues by equating them to things they don't actually equate to. "The Jan. 6 insurrection at the White House is an example of this. ... I believe that this night hiking and biking program is exactly the same kind of thing."

Actually, the insurrection was at the Capitol, but Marx better get U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on the phone! Because he needs to speak with the FBI, which obviously needs to start tracking down night hikers and bikers in SLO County so the U.S. Department of Justice can get some cases on the docket! It's not like they have their hands full prosecuting actual insurrectionists and catching up with people like Helios Dayspring, an actual criminal who bribed elected officials and evaded taxes!

Hyperbolic much, Jan? It most certainly isn't "exactly the same kind of thing."

In fact, it's not even close. Not even in the same ballpark, not even on the same planet.

She must of received some pushback, because she said "sorry, not sorry," during the Nov. 9 City Council meeting where her fellow council members voted to continue the city's night hiking program into the future.

"I want to apologize for offending people and for the comments I made comparing people illegally accessing open space to other groups conducting illegal conduct and then asking for the law to be changed," Marx said, apparently not realizing that the city's night hiking pilot program made night hiking a legally permitted activity. "However, the principle stands in my opinion."

Umm. I'm still very much offended!

"To open up this Pandora's box is going to further divide the community," she added, referring to an ideological discussion between San Luis Obispo's liberal residents, who seem to care more about nighttime use of open space than the city losing some of its waning power on the conservative-leaning SLO County Board of Supervisors!

If she really wants to get hyperbolic, and flex those progressive political muscles, the item to compare to Pandora's box is the county's redistricting process, which is threatening to cordon off a majority of the county's liberal votes into one district and push all of the city of SLO's residents into said district.

But apparently, the city's voters aren't concerned. Of the 107 public comment entries listed with the Nov. 9 City Council agenda, five weighed in on the redistricting letter that SLO is planning to send to the county and the rest were for night hiking.

What is actually wrong with people?

I was asking myself that same questions when I learned about one Lucia Mar Unified School District board member who supposedly followed someone from San Luis Obispo to Oceano for giving her a thumbs down while passing her car.

A video posted to YouTube shows School board member Vicki Meagher—whose fellow board members were facing the recall efforts of Central Coast Families for Education Reform and who was sporting a gigantic "LUCIA MAR FORWARD NO RECALL" sticker on the back of her SUV—in her vehicle. In the eight-minute cellphone video, the neighbor of the guy who gave her a thumbs down asks Meagher why she followed him.

"I just wanted to understand why he was giving me the sign he was giving me," she said calmly, apparently not realizing that chasing a stranger's car down the freeway for 20 to 30 minutes isn't normal behavior. "I just wanted to give him the opportunity to talk to me."

Umm. I'm pretty sure the thumbs down was all he wanted to say.

And then, the neighbor unloaded on her about critical race theory, social emotional learning, masking, and beyond. Ugg. God! Meagher shook her head at one point, apparently realizing, finally, that she'd made a mistake.

"We did not attempt to recall Vicki Meagher, but she totally should have been," Central Coast Families for Education Reform President Shannon Galvan said. "If I chased a board member and followed them to their house, I would be arrested. This is outrageous behavior."

Frankly, there was outrageous behavior on both sides—picketing outside of board members' houses during school board meetings is outrageous, as are ripping anti-recall effort signs down and shouting during board meetings.

The recall effort failed by a couple of thousand votes, but the division and outrageous behavior will remain. That Pandora's box opened long ago, and the hyperbole, heckling, harassment, and haranguing isn't going away anytime soon. Δ

The Shredder is embarrassed for everyone. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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