Of all the holidays on which I get called a jerk for not buying someone flowers, Mother’s Day is my favorite. Not because I respect the contribution mothers have made to humanity—that contribution mostly being humanity, which, if you think about it, is a pretty pestilent plague to inflict upon the Earth. Mostly, Mother’s Day is my favorite of all the Hallmark guilt trips because it happens to be around the corner, affording me a platform for the rant to come.
Moms are full of advice, nuggets of wisdom about keeping your extremities out of light sockets, something about life being like a discounted case of expired vodka, and making lemonade out of lemons borrowed from the neighbor’s backyard when he isn’t looking. Run, Shred! run! Sorry, my poignant tribute to the wombs of our species seems to have tapped into some youthful memories.
But Mom’s best advice was about the things that really matter, like friendship:
“You can’t buy friends,” she’d say. “You can become a neurologist and dangle the prospect of medical services to make people be your friend, but you can’t outright buy them.”
And she was right. Somehow she knew I’d never have enough money to buy myself a friend. But the Templeton Institute of Neurology sure knows how to get likes on Facebook. Simply offer free medical services to patients who get 50 friends to like the organization’s page. Never mind the fact that sick people desperately trying to get enough Facebook friends to earn themselves medical care is about the most disturbing popularity contest I’ve ever heard of.
After New Times reported on Templeton Institute of Neurology’s policy, the institute turned to—of course—Facebook by inviting their “fans” to weigh in. I’m going to disregard the paragraph riddled with grammatical errors—“our Free Neuroloy Second Opinion,” “tell the whole stroy” and “what we do may matter to your firend’s health”—and turn to the comments below to express what I think are rational concerns:
Kim said, “We have been trying for quite a while to come up with enough “likes” for my son, who has tourettes syndrome. However, we just don’t have enough friends!”
Suzy pointed out that neurology is spelled incorrectly, which is kind of a major blow when neurology is your field of specialty.
Wendy opined, “Ridiculous. Unprofessional and obnoxious idea. ... Try asking them to like your FB page. Getting 50 Likes from a patient’s friends strikes me as false advertising, since many or most have no idea what or who you are.”
Now, Mom’s advice about enemies was probably more important than her advice about friends. “Short of being as bland as a bar of tofu, you’re gonna piss some people off,” she said. And she was right. The key to finding the right kind of enemy—the kind that will point out your faults in such a publicly humiliating fashion that you work to remedy them to avoid future embarrassment—is finding someone who can reasonably explain why they don’t like you.
The problem with district supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson is that they’ve attracted the wrong kind of enemy—the kind that resorts to vague name-calling and waving newspapers in their direction at public meetings without actually reading the newspaper. Because if public speaker “Ben,” who stepped up at the May 7 supervisors’ meeting, had bothered to read New Times’ Best Of write-up before attempting to use the fact that Gibson was voted Best Controversy or Scandal, he probably wouldn’t have sounded so smug. So, here you go, Ben:
“If we’ve learned anything since Supervisor Bruce Gibson publicly admitted he’d been having an affair with his assistant Cheri Aspiruo, it’s that the good people of San Luis Obispo County really like calling women whores. And that they’re remarkably obsessed with the sex lives of their elected officials. Hopefully in the months and years to come we’ll find a way to recover from the horror and tragedy, and I’m sure there are support groups forming for those of you who just can’t seem to get beyond it. After all, it’s not every day that two consenting adults have sex.”
Of course, the real irony—and proof that people like Ben only read the newspaper for information they think substantiates the views they already hold near and dear—is the fact that the same issue Ben pulled the Best Of from did contain an indictment of a supervisor: Paul Teixeira.
Which leaves us with Mom’s greatest lesson: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” Mom didn’t actually say that. Maybe that came from one Sirius Black, godfather to Harry Potter. But are we going to collectively turn our backs on his wisdom simply because he’s not a mother? I thought not.
So if you want to know what the city of Morro Bay is like—how it truly regards the marine wildlife at the cornerstone of its tourism industry—take a look at the Morro Bay Aquarium, a facility with a marine mammal mortality rate that makes Guantanamo look like a day spa. And if you want to know who the aquarium’s supporters really are, just look at their arguments: Kids love the aquarium, the aquarium’s been around forever, and we like the Tylers (the aquarium’s owners). Because children should be making our decisions—and remember folks, this is a demographic that would keep sea lions in bathtubs if they could get away with it. And there’s never been a tradition that, in a healthy progressive light, turned out to be utterly contrary to our values. Besides slavery, or all that nonsense about women not being able to vote, and black people not being allowed to vote, and children working long hours in dangerous conditions. And if people are popular, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do whatever they want, including keep large mammals in tiny tubs of water with inadequate medical care?
If you want to know where Morro Bay’s values lie, keep a weather eye on the debate over whether to renew the aquarium’s lease. And if you don’t like the direction the wind’s blowing, there are always a half-dozen other coastal communities that will welcome you, and your cash, with open arms. After all, “Money talks.” My mommy said so. ∆
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