Bay Area political correctness

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Although the San Francisco Bay Area is one of my favorite places in the whole world, I wouldn't want to live or vote there because it's the capital of political correctness. Left-wing kooks and nut cases abound in the Bay Area, and some of them are moving to Nevada. Frankly, I wish they'd stay home.

While in San Francisco last weekend, I came across two examples of political correctness gone wild, where the alleged rights of vocal minorities infringed upon the rights of the majority. First, there was the 10th annual "Critical Mass" bicycle ride through downtown San Francisco during rush hour. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the ride "raised spirits among bicyclists and blood pressure among motorists, some of whom idled in traffic for 20 minutes or longer." I watched as thousands of bicycle riders pedaled past Union Square, snarling traffic for miles around.

"When the crowd hit 18th and Delores streets, near the end of the ride," the Chronicle reported, "more than 200 riders remained in the intersection, locked in a stare-down with three dozen police officers wearing riot helmets and holding batons. After about 30 minutes, tension eased and the police walked away." This is what passes for Friday afternoon entertainment in the City By the Bay.

One female rider, dressed in a silver lame' top, black miniskirt and silver tights, claimed that Critical Mass "has shown that bicycle riding isn't just for sideshow freaks. I mean, we look like freaks, but that's just us. Most of these people are just Joe Normal." And because sexual equality is important, there were male riders in cute little miniskirts too. As Bill Clinton might say, it all depends upon what you mean by normal. In San Francisco, "normal" can mean taxpayer-funded sex change operations for city employees.

Some riders wore stickers reading, "Help Prevent Death -- Stop Driving," while others carried banners opposing military action in Iraq. All in all, it was a colorful and educational spectacle, but I was glad I wasn't trying to drive through, or around, that mess of humanity. With all due respect for the rights of bicycle riders, I question whether the city should accommodate them by promoting traffic jams.

On the other side of the Bay last weekend, school officials in Berkeley, the PC capital of California and the West, admitted that their gourmet organic lunch idea had failed at the local high school. According to the Chronicle, "Berkeley High brought new meaning to the term cafeteria food last year when it invited local restaurateurs to deliver daily organic lunches. Famed chef Alice Waters served up organic pork tacos, while bike messengers pedaled to the school's new food court bearing hormone-free chicken sandwiches and farmer's market-inspired vegetable chow mein." And the kids' response? Eeew! They wanted their super-sized burgers and fries.

Apparently, students walked right past the food court on their way to nearby fast-food restaurants. "It's nice to get away with your friends for lunch," said one sophomore girl. "I don't think students really knew about the food court, or where it was." In fact, with some 3,000 students on campus, the food court sold an average of 250 meals per day, resulting in a $1 million deficit in the school's food services budget. So Berkeley taxpayers were subsidizing health food although the government had no business telling them, or their kids, what to eat. The Food Police failed, and I'm glad.

Well, that's my political report from the Bay Area. I returned to Carson with a new appreciation for our semi-sane local politics and grateful that not enough Californians have moved here yet to ban vehicle traffic on Carson Street or to force us to eat alfalfa sprouts and tofu-burgers. I repeat: Eeew! That may be the way they do things in California, but not in Nevada -- not yet, at least. Let's keep it that way.

METH EPIDEMIC -- Last Sunday, Linda Johnson authored an important Appeal column about Carson City's methamphetamine epidemic. "I know of at least five girls in one Carson High School class who became addicted to meth" as part of a dangerous weight-loss program, she wrote. Parents should take heed, and the Sheriff's Department should make drug enforcement a top priority, even if that results in more arrests at the high school. And voters should support that effort by voting against Proposition 9, the marijuana legalization measure, on Nov. 5. Out-of-state proponents of this measure are trying to confuse Nevada voters by talking about medical marijuana. But Prop. 9 isn't about medical marijuana; it's about drug legalization. Thanks again, Linda. Your column was a valuable contribution to the public debate on a life-or-death policy issue.

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.


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