Opinion » Shredder

Uh-otis

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It’s that time of year again—the temperature hovering in the sweltering 90s, the parched landscape beaming its autumnal glow, and my favoritest holiday right around the corner. I know I’m revealing my long-concealed sadist streak, but there’s something thrilling about all those men and women pretending to be something they’re not, begging for treats they probably haven’t earned from people who know they’re not going to get anything in return.

I’ve always loved elections, despite the fact that nothing really changes; the rich get richer, the poor get nothing, and the rest of us scrape our nickels together to pay our monthly smartphone bills. But I won’t deny that elections can pose a challenge to the weaker members of the herd—the apathetic and indecisive among you, swayed by every feeble breeze emitted by loud-mouthed blowhards convinced that they alone are privy to THE TRUTH. The fact that you’re reading this column alone indicates how pathetically desperate you are for guidance. Never fear, though; I love the sound of my own voice, and someone’s gotta steer you in the right direction, you poor lost lamb.

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The important thing to remember is that the people talking the loudest often have no idea what the hell they’re saying. Also, it’s vitally important to consider the source of your information.

For example, when a grown man stages a hissy and has to be booted from a public meeting, it’s reasonable to consider this man’s platform before elevating him to the status of martyr for being politely escorted out of a room. I am referring, of course, to Otis Page’s refusal to behave civilly at a recent Arroyo Grande City Council meeting. A small but very loud and inflammatory following has rallied behind the martyred figure of Page. There’s a certain sort of person—prone to mistaking zeal for accuracy, capable only of lobbing personal attacks and erroneously reasoned rhetoric—attracted to the figure of the old man who took a stand against corruption. Why? Because two people are suspected of having had sex, and when two people may have had sex, you don’t just sit down. Oh no. You rage!

Bear in mind that Page is the author of “Confessions of a homophobe,” a 2010 letter to New Times in which he proudly proclaimed his bigotry, claiming, “There are certain negative societal effects—both secular and religious—that results from tolerance of homosexuality.” Apparently Page is pissed at the idea of anyone getting laid.

So, essentially you’re rallying behind a man who once argued that homosexuals are trying to force everyone to have anal sex. What all of this reveals is not a preoccupation with justice or the truth, but an obsession with sex. And when I say obsession, I mean that there’s a small group of people who are so titillated every time there’s the possibility that someone somewhere had sex that they just can’t shut up about it.

This is also the man who wrote that Obama’s “cultural and ethnic makeup … substantiates the conclusion that he is strongly biased.” So there’s now a movement to canonize a man who thinks that being black constitutes some kind of bias. Obviously because being black isn’t being white and the only way to go through life without bias is to be white, which is the natural state. Just like being heterosexual is Page’s preferred norm.

My point is, it’s important to draw your own conclusions about everything from the situation in Arroyo Grande to the rapidly approaching election, but don’t allow your views to be prejudiced by people who revel in the prospect of a sex scandal the way a dog ecstatically rolls in his own pile of shit. Don’t mistake the people yelling the loudest as necessarily being in possession of the facts.

Then there are the times that it might be worth listening to people—like when we have a hardline Republican politician arguing in favor of regulators against a public utility. Specifically, Sam Blakeslee took issue with PG&E’s recently released seismic studies addressing safety concerns at Diablo Canyon. As previously predicted—by myself and anyone else paying even the slightest bit of attention—PG&E concluded that the nuclear power plant has no safety issues. Hurray! Take our money, please!

The only problem is, of course, that we have to trust PG&E’s word on that. It would be nice to be able to rely on the opinion of, say, an independent committee of experts, but where oh where would we find such a group? It’s not like an Independent Peer Review Panel (IPRP) was just sitting around for the better part of a year waiting to get their hands on PG&E’s seismic studies.

Wait, it’s coming back to me! There is an Independent Peer Review Panel, which PG&E elected to bypass when it released its findings directly to the public. And critics—including Blakeslee, apparently—aren’t happy about it. In fact, Blakeslee happens to be a former geophysicist, and he’s concerned about PG&E’s conclusions regarding ground-motion levels. I don’t really understand what ground-motions are—and I’m sure Otis Page is already working up a lather about how they’re probably akin to bestiality—but I do understand that understating the threat posed by Diablo Canyon could cause my hair and fingernails to fall out, and I’m staunchly against anything that results in poor hygiene … or my death. I just have too much to give and share with the world. Blakeslee took PG&E to the verbal woodshed, calling their decision “disappointing,” and took his criticism even further by calling the decision “consistent” with their previous behavior in regards to the studies.

Of course, given that PG&E’s also in the process of getting its hands slapped for getting a little too cozy with the California Public Utilities Commission, Blakeslee might want to watch his back. Leaked emails reveal that a PG&E official was theorizing about the possibility of decommissioning the IPRP, which turned out to be completely unnecessary since PG&E pulled an Otis Page and simply shouted its own theories first and loudest.

 

Shredder’s synonymous with buzzkill. Send other words to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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