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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cowards and Liars: The Seattle Times Ed Board

posted by on May 28 at 14:46 PM

You know when you read a headline like this on the Seattle Times editorial page…

Keeping Folklife open and secure

…that the Seattle Times ed board will be coming out against openness and suggesting measures that will do nothing to make anyone that attends Folklife more secure.

Today’s lead editorial in the Seattle Times is colored by the same calm, measured, thoughtful hysteria that characterized the Seattle Times’ reaction to the Capitol Hill Massacre in March of 2006. Back then the Seattle Times ed board called for the city to crackdown on teen dances (just as Josh Feit predicted they would) after seven people who weren’t at a teen dance but had been earlier that night were shot to death by a lunatic with a gun. In the same spirit of geriatric obtuseness, today the Seattle Times has some suggestions for the folks that run Folklife.

Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival, famous for being free and welcoming to all comers, ought to do something out of character: Folklife should switch from a completely open Seattle Center campus to one with gated security entrances.

Uh… the shooter had a concealed weapons permit—how would gates have prevented him from strolling onto the grounds of the Seattle Center campus exactly?

Such security may not have stopped a 22-year-old man with a concealed-weapons permit who is suspected of injuring three people at the festival last weekend. But a higher level of protection would work in the way that random, thorough checks at airports discourage certain behavior. Festivalgoers mindful that they face spot checks would think twice before bringing guns.

Unless, of course, the dude with the gun was a nut who wasn’t thinking at all. Would someone capable of pistol whipping a stranger in a crowd with cops everywhere really be put off by a few old hippies manning security gates? Don’t think so.

And those random, thorough checks at airports? Those wouldn’t be the same security checks that 10 year-olds don’t seem to have any trouble evading, would they?

Folklife need not start charging to attend. The free admission and open attitude are part of the event’s charm. Folklife has enjoyed 37 years of relative peace. The goal is not to knock the event or the nonprofit that runs it.

One shooting in 37 years—hey, maybe it was an aberration? Gee, maybe one violent incident and one lone nut in 37 years doesn’t justify the expense of putting the entire event in a cage and staffing security check points at all the entrances.

Still, we have to face certain facts. Seattle is changing, and in some ways, not necessarily for the better. Streets are a bit meaner these days.

Cities sure are scary! Never mind that crime in Seattle is at a 40-year low. You can count on the suburbanites on the Seattle Times ed board to overreact to an isolated incident, work hard to make you feel less secure when you brave a trip to Seattle Center, and then suggest measures that wouldn’t have prevented the incident in the first place.

This is not the first Seattle Center event with security problems. The Bite of Seattle and Bumbershoot have their share of rowdies.

To say nothing of ruffians and scalawags and ne’er-do-wells. They’re attracted to Seattle Center by the hussies and floozies and slatterns.

A broader public-safety concern centers on the suspect and his mental-health history. The prosecutor described him as someone with a “history of anxiety and schizophrenia” for which he takes medication.

Wait, what? We had to read this far into this editorial to get to the real issue: a nut had a concealed weapons permit? Why isn’t this in the headline? Isn’t this the real issue? Shouldn’t this be the subject of the Seattle Times’ editorial? The law allows nuts to get guns and concealed weapons permits—what does Seattle Center or Folklife have to do with this? That nut could’ve whipped his legal and legally concealed gun out anywhere—Pike Place Market, City Hall, Northgate Mall.

It is unclear if he has ever been involuntarily committed—or whether his mental-health status reached those awarding the weapons permit.

Either way, legislation should be adopted to ensure that people with serious mental-health problems are prevented from buying or possessing guns. State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels worked last year for this type of legislation and were turned down.

What’s with the passive voice here? Who “turned down” McKenna and Nickels when they worked for legislation that would’ve prevented this nut from getting his hands on a gun? Why aren’t we naming names here?

Public safety is more important than the predictable political intimidation that takes place every time a discussion begins about sensible gun control.

Gee, public safety is important. We all agree on that. But here’s the real point of this editorial: The brave men and women on the Seattle Times ed board want to avoid the “predictable political intimidation”—a.k.a. all those vewy angry letters and phone calls—that pro-gun-control editorials typically draw. So it crafted an editorial that implicitly takes Folklife to task for failing to keep the nuts with guns out of the Seattle Center—why didn’t those dumb hippies know that Seattle’s streets are meaner these days (even though they’re, uh, not) and put up security gates before the shooting?—and lets cowardly politicians and the evil gun lobby off the hook. You see, the brave men and women of the Seattle Times ed board get sooooooo vewy many mean wetters when they discuss sensible gun contwol measures that they’re just not gonna go there anymore. Their feelings might get hurt. It’s easier and safer to slap around the hippies that put at Folklife.

Gated security at Folklife will not solve all problems.

No shit.

Security checks of handbags and backpacks—similar to those conducted at baseball and football games—would add a layer of protection that sadly has become necessary at Seattle Center’s larger festivals and events.

Yes, let’s search every handbag and backpack—that’ll make us all safer. But, wait: I seem to remember reading somewhere that the shooter’s gun wasn’t in a backpack or a handbag. It was concealed in an ankle holster.

Nice try, gang.

RSS icon Comments


The only people I know who take Seattle Times editorials seriously are middle-aged or senior citizen suburbanites who never go to events like Folklife anyway.

Posted by Hernandez | May 28, 2008 2:59 PM

Wait, am I a scalawag or a slattern? I'm confused.

Posted by NaFun | May 28, 2008 3:00 PM

One more point:

"Such security may not have stopped a 22-year-old man with a concealed-weapons permit who is suspected of injuring three people at the festival last weekend. But a higher level of protection would work in the way that random, thorough checks at airports discourage certain behavior. Festivalgoers mindful that they face spot checks would think twice before bringing guns."

He had a concealed weapons permit. Even if a gun was found in his bag, he would be totally within his rights to carry it around a public place. Security wouldn't have prevented him from being at Folklife. Nor would it have stopped him from roughing up a drum circle (I'm with him on that one). The cops, who were security enough, grabbed him quickly. Sometimes, Times, you have to just admit that nothing else could have been done.

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | May 28, 2008 3:02 PM

It seems to me the first thing people do is demand more police/security/gun control when ever something like this happens but these things keep happening. Maybe that is what should be looked at. Why are there people who think guns are the solution to their problems? Maybe that's what needs to be looked at. Why are there people in this society who think a gun should be used against an unarmed person? It would seem to me they haven't been socialised properly to have empathy for others. I think we know what segment of society teaches it's young it needn't have any empathy for others. The same segment that wants to fill our streets with guns.

Posted by Vince | May 28, 2008 3:03 PM

@ #2:

You're certainly not a slattern. I should know, I am one, and you're never at the meetings.

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | May 28, 2008 3:03 PM

It's time to search anyone who admits to reading the Times, since they seem to all not be from Seattle and thus might have weapons on them.

Except the ones riding fixies or sk8rs.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 28, 2008 3:04 PM

Hey Dan, you left out the best part: Grainger ... has been in a methadone maintenance program through the WCHS Renton Clinic since the age of 18.
Any word on why we allow habitual junkies to wander the streets instead of puting them where they can't get ahold of guns or, worse yet, cars?

Posted by Stinky | May 28, 2008 3:06 PM

plastic bags are a sign of the "nanny state" but fences, security checkpoints and random searches at a public outdoor festival are a-ok?

thank you for keeping tabs on these reactionary, pants-wetting pussies. it's the only way i'd have any idea what the Times shit-puked up on the editorial page.

Posted by brett | May 28, 2008 3:08 PM

Dan reads the Times.

Dan, I agree with you 100% now and then *(on the Cap Hill massacre).

If only you had a vehicle to get these opinions of yours out into the public sphere beyond the drunks and drug users who tend to read the Stranger.

Solution! You should write a guest editorial for the Times!

Posted by Jeff | May 28, 2008 3:09 PM

There should be mandatory strip searches anywhere that three or more people congregate within Seattle's municipal boundaries.

Only then, can we be truly safe.

Oh yeah, and that plastic bag tax, too. Truly safe, free, and eco-friendly.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 28, 2008 3:09 PM

Would that have stopped Frank Blethen from shooting another dog? I guess he wouldn't be able to shoot it at Seattle Center (and there were a lot of dogs at Folklife) unless he had a concealed weapon permit or was able to outfix minimum-wage paid security officers whose job is deterrence, according to the editorial, not actual frisking.

Posted by Fakey McGillicuddy | May 28, 2008 3:15 PM

Having just gone through a so-called "security checkpoint" at a major music festival this past weekend, the idea that a bunch of minimum-wage earning yellow-shirts searching through roughly 30,000 purses, bags, and backpacks per day would prevent anything more hazardous than a telephoto camera lens from getting onto the Seattle Center grounds is, frankly, freaking hee-larious.

Posted by COMTE | May 28, 2008 3:20 PM

I'd rather they start confiscating hackeysacks from all the Ave-tards that always fog up Folklife, duuuuuuuuuuuuuudes.

Posted by Josh Feit's Desperate Buzzcut | May 28, 2008 3:21 PM

How low will the Times (and other dailies) circulation have to fall before they start hiring some writers who can produce something more interesting than a high school opinion paper?

These ultra-safe reactionary editorials are pathetic.

Posted by mnm | May 28, 2008 3:28 PM

I normally only like to post comments that spur the conversation.

But I'll make an exception Dan.

"Fuck. Yes."

There you go. Pat yourself on the back and moon the Times offices. You deserve it.

Posted by TroyJMorris | May 28, 2008 3:31 PM


Posted by Is The Worst | May 28, 2008 3:32 PM

Hey Seattle Times:

How's a FREE festival going to pay for all this security you have imagined in your fairy-land? You guys gonna pony up? Cheers to that, motherfuckers.


P.S.: Yer old.

Posted by Ari Spool | May 28, 2008 3:46 PM

Great. Can you imagine the lines? Roughly a quarter million people attend Folklife over one long weekend. It would take hours to get in. It would be worse than an Obama rally. Talk about a buzz kill.

And if the Seattle Times thinks the event should remain free, just who do they think should pay for the fence around the entire Seattle Center and dozens (hundreds?) of extra security guards?

All this for something that wouldn't have prevented the only shooting in 37 years.


Posted by Reverse Polarity | May 28, 2008 3:50 PM

Next time I go to Seattle Center I'm going to insist on a full cavity search!

Posted by michael strangeways | May 28, 2008 4:04 PM

How the FUCK did a mentally ill (didnt I read that he is schizophrenic???) person get a concealed weapons permit in the first place!?!

Jesus christ.... WA state is so fucked up.

Posted by catnextdoor | May 28, 2008 4:06 PM

Stop making sense.

Posted by umvue | May 28, 2008 4:12 PM

hippies need to bring in plastic bags in order to clean up their own messes. I dont care if you're trippin balls on shrooms buddy, clean up your god damn mess. I lived a block away and I cleaned more shit out my driveway/lawn then Bumbershit.

Posted by bobcat | May 28, 2008 4:37 PM

I've said it before: when Dan Savage is doing what he was born to do, few do it better.

I practically fell off my chair laughing at the slatterns line.

Posted by whatevernevermind | May 28, 2008 4:42 PM

Perfect illustration of why local newspapers are going out of business. They suck.

If they were capable of offering intelligent opinion, local news that's worth reading, or national news that they wrote themselves, then they'd still be popular. My junk mail has more interesting articles and less advertising too.

Posted by blank12357 | May 28, 2008 4:43 PM

If pellet guns are not allowed at folklife, how will Frank Blethen shoot at dogs that annoy him?

Yes Frank, some people never forget.

Posted by busdrivermike | May 28, 2008 5:08 PM

I already avoid Bumbershit because of the security/cost. The Bite, afaic, bites. Folklife is all that is left to me, an aging, poverty-stricken hippie. Don't mess it up with more "security." The crowds at Folklife are pretty mellow crunchy-granola. I could see something like this happening where they are playing gansta-rap, and it probably would have ended up in a riot that injured/killed many more people. Here, the crowd grabbed the gunman.

Oh, BTW, just because you have a concealed carry permit doesn't mean that private venues, such as Key Arena, have to let you in with your gun. The announcements are very clear, no weapons are tolerated. Having said that, however, can we please just regard this incident as a "one-off" and get on with the music?

Posted by Silverstar | May 28, 2008 5:12 PM

We should also add strip-searches of anyone known to have shot at:




or balloon animals.

Especially the last ones.

Oh, and people with blowguns who look longingly at pigeons.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 28, 2008 5:22 PM

I agree with Dan about the Times's position being ridiculous, but twice he dismisses the idea that there's more violent crime in Seattle ("why didn’t those dumb hippies know that Seattle’s streets are meaner these days (even though they’re, uh, not)"). Really? Hasn't the Stranger been pushing the idea, which I agree with, that things ARE getting scarier out there? Gay bashings, guys with tasers, stabbings, shootings. But I guess if the mayor and the police chief's position supports your thesis, you might as well use it.

Posted by spencer | May 28, 2008 6:11 PM

1) News entities should stop running editorials as they only piss people off and no one cares what Jim Vesely thinks 2) I hate Folklife and and those patchoulli hackey-sack cretins 3) Your post should have done that "after the jump" thing, I don't care who the fuck you are.

Posted by Josh | May 28, 2008 6:18 PM

Actually Ari, if you'd lived a little longer or were a little more traveled, you'd find newspapers worse than the Times.

Posted by Heard You're Fat | May 28, 2008 6:20 PM

You are so right on with every word of this post! The Seattle Times could not be more out of it.

Posted by Shilo Urban | May 28, 2008 7:02 PM

Lets just pretend this stuff doesn't happen. No seriously, lets not do any increased security, lets not freak out, lets just do nothing. I'll take the minuscule risk of some violence to avoid annoying lines, and excessive security.

If these become a regular occurrence we can start 'taking action', but until then lets not get all worked up about random shit.

Posted by Giffy | May 28, 2008 9:50 PM

"...when Dan Savage is doing what he was born to do, few do it better."

Fellation, I presume?

Posted by suburbanlegend | May 28, 2008 9:53 PM

"...when Dan Savage is doing what he was born to do, few do it better."

Fellatio, I presume?

Posted by suburbanlegend | May 28, 2008 9:54 PM


Crime IS down - overall in the city. However, there's no contradiction between this general downturn and the fact that certain specific types of crimes (e.g. gay-bashings), or criminal activity in some specific neighborhoods (e.g. CapHill) may nevertheless be on the upswing.

Posted by COMTE | May 28, 2008 10:22 PM
How the FUCK did a mentally ill (didnt I read that he is schizophrenic???) person get a concealed weapons permit in the first place!?!

Blah, because we don't pass knee-jerk discrimination laws. Especially against a group that numbers 540,000 people in WA and isn't statistically more violent than the general population. If you want to pass a discrimination law that will actually have a major effect on crime, ban white males from owning guns.

Posted by poppy | May 28, 2008 10:54 PM

Let's just be proactive and torture any Seattle Times people just in case they might have guns.

It's only fair.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 28, 2008 11:50 PM

@36 we dont need to ban guns from certain parties per se, just dont give mentally unstable people concealed weapons permits.

I totally dont care how good of a kid his dad thinks he is, either. ugh.

Posted by catnextdoor | May 29, 2008 12:17 AM


Ok, so, which mental instabilities would qualify for revoking or disqualifying an individual from owning a firearm?

Would you draw the line at schizophrenia? or would you include depression, bipolar, and anxiety disorders too?

Would you also suggest that a person who had been assaulted and suffered from PTSD as a result should also not be permitted to protect themselves from another assault because they are now too unstable for your comfort?

Do you think, perhaps, that this might lead some to not seek treatment for such "instabilities" if it meant that a diagnosis would leave them with less rights than the rest of us and that such a diagnosis would leave their medical information as part of public record, accessible to all, because of it?

Would you propose that they should continue to suffer a reduction of rights due to seeking treatment in the past even after doctors declared them mentally fit after treatment was completed?

Is it less scary to you that such changes to the laws would encourage people with mental illnesses to not seek treatment?

Is an unmedicated and untreated mentally ill person with a gun more or less frightening to you than one who sticks with their treatment plan and voluntarily follows their doctor's advice?

I think that people need to be careful with the knee-jerking and make sure they think things through very carefully before demanding actions that could make the cure worse than the ailment.

Posted by unwelcomed | May 29, 2008 8:36 AM

@39, Mr. Heston, I thought you were dead!

Posted by Stan | May 29, 2008 9:32 AM


Truth be told, I don't own a gun and guns frighten the crap out of me even when in the hands of supposedly sane people. I'd rather, if I had my druthers, that nobody have a firearm if you could get rid of all the illegal weapons out there.

However, don't you think it's a bit disconcerting for people to advocate that one group of Americans should have guns and another group of Americans should be prevented from having equal means to defend themselves against that first group?

It is, in essence, advocating that if you have a medical condition (which is what mental illness is after all) that it means you have less rights than another person... that you are less human, less deserving of the same protections, that you are a lower caste than everyone else, due to no real fault of your own doing.

But, as I said, that fact gets lost while everyone is knee-jerking in lock-step unison.

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