Thursday, October 14, 2010

Outrage Over Sign Burning Rings Kind of Hollow

The incident over this past weekend where a woman had the lawn signs in her front yard torched had me longing for the old days when the vandals would merely steal the handles.

As despicable and cowardly an act that is, I can't help but think though that our local Assemblyman Pedro Nava's act of calling a press conference the next day to denounce it while at the same time promoting Measure T, which would outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Santa Barbara, was a bit of an overreaction. And given the breadth of coverage the incident and the press conference got in the local media, you would have thought it was a cross that had been burned on Mari Mender's lawn and not some "Yes on Measure T" signs.

At the press conference Nava stated: "These are people who I would describe as thugs, bullies and cowards. If you want to see more marijuana in Santa Barbara, you can expect to see more of this kind of lawlessness."

You'll get no argument from me that whomever set the signs on fire are undoubtedly thugs, bullies and cowards but I'm skeptical of the claim that the legalization of marijuana will bring a boatload of lawless conduct with it. The only people who ought to be painting with a broad bush are artists and Nava ought to know that all Muslims are not terrorists, all Southerners are not red necks and all pot smokers are not thugs, bullies and cowards.

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At the risk of being cynical, I might suggest that perhaps the speed, volume, and fervor with which Nava denounced the sign burning might have been motivated by the fact that Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams, who is the Democratic candidate to take Nava's seat in the Assembly, defeated Nava's wife, Susan Jordan, for the party's nomination to succeed her term-limited husband. Williams, who himself has been okay with the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, counts among his major contributors billionaire Peter Sperling, who has been a deep-pocket in efforts to legalize pot. Nava has refused to endorse fellow Democrat Williams who is facing Republican Mike Stoker in the November election.

The Nava/Williams feud has been reported by both the Daily Sound's Josh Molina and The Independent's Nick Welsh That's just in case you needed a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

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By the way, Williams and Stoker recently went mano-a-mano on "Real Talk," the local public affairs show hosted by Jerry Roberts. You can catch the show on Channel 21 today (Thursday) at 4 pm, Friday at 11 pm and Saturday at 6 pm. According to Roberts, there were some "lively and interesting moments." You can also view the show online.
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