SD Rostra

Beyond Lilygate: Since When Did Filner and the Left Start Caring About Vandalism?

Last fall, given the amount of public and private property that Occupy Wall Street burned, destroyed and even defecated on, I began to wonder anew if there were any forms of vandalism to which the left objected.  Alas, Lilygate provided a silver lining. Whatever the intent of the water fighting revelers, some of them destroyed a source of civic pride (the lily pond) within a larger source of civic pride (Balboa Park).  The silver lining? It upset citizens of all political stripes. I found this strangely heartening.  I gather that it even upset one of the founders the Congressional Progressive Caucus–a left wing Congressman running for Mayor.

However, upon further reflection, my hopes for a revival of large scale civic pride triggered by Lilygate have fled from me.  After all, the left has an unusual aversion to George Kelling and Jame Q. Wilson’s Broken Windows theory.  The theory holds vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers—the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility—are lowered by actions that seem to signal that “no one cares.”  Like most folks on the right, I condemn all forms of vandalism  including the destruction (and defecation) wrought by Occupy Wall Street. On the other hand, the left is very selective with its indignation directed at vandalism. If they can’t somehow label the vandalism as so-called “hate speech” or “hate crime,” they often ignore and occasionally congratulate the vandal. In the world of academia, entire “empirical” studies and philosophical ramblings have been devoted to glorifying graffiti not only as art, but also as a key to a “social world.” This recap of a study done by Tulane University students under tutelage of Professor Stephen Ostertag is nearly priceless, judging by Tulane’s tuition:

What is more, Snyder noted how his research on graffiti and graffiti artists allowed him to learn about a social world that existed right beneath his nose, though one he hardly noticed. His ethnography allowed him to discover a meaningful and insightful sub-world in a city he had lived in for a number of years. In addition to its fit in the scholarship on deviance and its constructions, this project allowed students to explore New Orleans in ways they never would have expected. They discovered an entirely new city, learned about competing definitions of art versus vandalism, learned how deviant behavior can sometimes serve as springboards for more acceptable careers (such as tattoo artist, or clothing designers) and enjoyed themselves in the process.

Tuition at Tulane University is $45,240 a year. Tulane students and parents are committing something more akin to arson than vandalism, by setting that much money on fire every year… and they don’t even use a match! But I digress. I don’t struggle with “competing definitions of arts versus vandalism.”  Unlike Professors Snyder and Ostertag, who presumably have little use for John Locke, I believe the primary purpose of government is to preserve property.  As such, last week I was pleased to use the San Diego 311 app to report graffiti right off of Morena Blvd.  A couple e-mail updates and four days later the graffiti (pictured above) was gone.

Locke died in 1704. While he couldn’t have conceived of a phone app to report property crime, I am confident he would have been pleased with it.  As for Professors Snyder and Ostertag, I can’t say that I feel remorseful that I caused interruption to a “social world” and “deviant behavior that can sometimes serve as springboards for more acceptable career such as tattoo artist, or clothing designers.”

Last fall Occupy Wall Street San Diego splattered blood and urine on the coffee cart and hot dog cart which do business in the Civic Center Plaza. 10 News reported the Sotos shut down their hot dog cart business at the Civic Center Plaza on October 28 because they say they were constantly being harassed and threatened by protesters. “We got followed on Park Avenue,” said Pete Soto. “They kept spitting at the truck, cursing us out and we woke up that Saturday and the truck was full of blood.”  The Sotos received a police escort to the fundraiser that Councilmember Carl DeMaio organized for them.  Linda Jensen, owner of the coffee cart did not show at the fundraiser because she was afraid for her safety. The fundraiser yielded about $4,000 for both carts. So, DeMaio cared about vandalism and people’s livelihoods long before it became trendy a couple weeks ago.

Filner, on the other hand, told San Diego City Beat’s Dave Maass: he did visit Occupy San Diego at one point and that he would’ve handled the situation better than Sanders. He says he would’ve engaged with the protesters and would not have maintained a large police presence at the site. “I would not have used the city power to get rid of them,” he says. “I would’ve encouraged them.”  Which part would you encourage Bob, the blood or the urine? Whatever the case, it is safe to say that Filner—who thought there should be less of a police presence at the anarchic cesspool they called a “protest”– would have little interest in stopping Occupy Wall Street vandalism.

Ah, but there might be a way we could interest Filner in Occupy Wall Street vandalism. He and his consultant Tom Shepard could dream up a cockamamie way to blame a DeMaio family member for it. Then, and only then, would they care about vandalism again.

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