Opinion » Street Talk

The Shredder does SLO


Since I've revealed my identity to the rest of the world, I might as well reveal it here too. I, W. Mark Felt, former No. 2 man at the FBI, am the Shredder.

After exposing the Watergate scandal and helping to run Nixon out of office, I decided to expose wrongs wherever possible. By the time I turned my watchful eye to San Luis Obispo, I was operating as "The Shredder," since the name "Deep Throat," turns out, was already copyrighted - as a porn movie, no less. I had no idea!

So now that my cat's out of the bag, I've got nothing to lose by telling you all that you suck. All you do is complain, and you're not even very good at that.

Back in my heyday, when I was spoon-feeding secrets to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, people knew how to complain. Crowds of angry citizens, fresh from Vietnam War protests, clamored to impeach the president - even though he resigned before the fun really got going. Everything was "Hey ho!" this, and "Hell no!" that and people in power really feared for their positions, or their lives, or both.

Nowadays, people whine. They whimper. They wheedle. It's disgusting.

The only holdouts are the protestors who oppose the war in Iraq, but even they stay in line, coordinating their PDAs and e-mailing each other to be sure to bring sunscreen to the rally on the street corner. No real impact. No flaming Dumpsters. No big whoop.

Everybody else is just muttering about little piddly things like too much rain or too much sun. Oh sure, occasionally you get a few people raising their voices to complain about Diablo or Los Osos, but it's nothing to make anyone flash peace signs and step down from any offices.

And then there are those of you who, instead of yelling about how there must be some bigoted American interrogators out there pissing on Muslim ideals even if Newsweek couldn't actually prove it, choose to call in and yell at New Times because your listing for your art summer camp was between listings for a casino night and an AA meeting, despite the fact that the mistake did get you under the "Special Events" category in the summer guide, just two places away from a tropical luau and three away from the Cambria Heritage Celebration.

Now that my cat's out of the bag, I've got nothing to lose by telling you all that you suck. All you do is complain, and you're not even very good at that.

I'm not saying that people should just roll over and be silent when they've been wronged, but I am saying, quite loudly while I type, that they should use some sort of scale when they're deciding how to react. There is, after all, a difference between pointing out a wrong and complaining. One makes people want to help you. The other makes people want to hurt you.

There's a big difference between whistle-blowing and whining. And there's a huge difference between flushing a Koran down the crapper and printing the wrong credit for a publicity photo. If you're going to take the time to write an angry letter or hiss at someone over the phone, make sure it's for something worthwhile and make sure it's not me you're writing to or hissing at, because if it is, I'll just nod my head and wonder what the boys at the Washington Post are doing for lunch.


Playing like the
big leagues

Speaking of differences, there's a huge difference between the Tribune and Newsweek, and I'm not talking about how one's glossy and how one rubs off all over your fingers.

Executive Editor Sanda Duerr, inspired by recent critiques of Newsweek's ethics in printing a story with apparently questionable source material, drew parallels between the two publications when she took it upon herself to explain her paper's policy on anonymous sources. I guess it's just in case anyone in town decides to soak a sacred text in Tidi-Bowl.

Apparently the Tribune won't publish information based on anonymous sources at all, unless that information is really, really important to the story and the public, and it meets a few certain criteria, and it's approved by someone in charge.

Come to think of it, that's just about the same policy as what we have here at New Times, too. Ugh. I'd say that maybe this means New Times has more in common with the Tribune than I realized or would care to admit, but then I see that City Editor Silas Lyons noted in an unrelated issue that it's "in the public's interest to know the full details of any death in official custody," and I wonder if he's just spitting sound bites or if he's just getting it for the first time.

Either way, I'm worried, and my money's still on Newsweek. ³

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