Thursday, August 7, 2014

Beer and Art and Human Rights. Oh My!

Apparently all the alleged recent violations in town are driving the Human Rights Commission to drink. 

It's one thing for a Select Board or well known Town Meeting member to tweet about having a beer (or two) downtown after a typical contentious night of Amherst Town Meeting, but quite another for an offical town committee to set a public meeting with beer on the agenda.

Especially considering all the problems our little college town endures because of alcohol.

Yes, the Amherst Brewing Company is a sterling example of a business that does alcohol correctly.  And they are far from a rowdy youthful watering hole -- aka McMurphy's or Stacker's.

But still ... 


Anonymous said...

Where exactly does it mention beer or any other alcoholic beverage in the tweet?

Larry Kelley said...

Actually that is not a tweet. It's the official posting on the town website, which does get sent out as an email to those who are subscribed.

And you gotta, kinda, read between the lines. Just a bit.

Dr. Ed said...

I don't think that "meeting" was appropriate -- and it well may be a violation of the ethics commission rules.

Every other licensed bar in town should have an equal opportunity to have the meeting in their bar -- they have every right to respond to a RFP and to offer a better deal. It gets even more complicated because alcohol is involved.

And then this is the Human Rights group -- by picking one bar they are saying that place is more socially just than it's competitors == and they can't do that. It places the other bars, which are also paying taxes, at a competitive disadvantage.

Now I don't blame these folks for wanting to go to ABC and not elsewhere -- I wouldn't either -- and they are free to go there as individuals. But holding a formal public meeting in one private business establishment and not in others is playing favorites which you can not do.

And then there is the ADA issue -- what about those who wish to (or need to) avoid alcohol? They are being denied equal access to a public meeting...

Anonymous said...

^ calm down its just a meeting sheesh

Anonymous said...

Actually it' s just a fundraiser! People need to get a grip!

Anonymous said...

Well which is it: a fundraiser, or a gathering of the commission where discussion may occur and a quorum is expected?

Anonymous said...

Is there any nit that won't get picked in this comments section?

You could get a roaring debate going on here about which ocean is greater, the Atlantic or the Pacific? But then somebody would say we'd left out the Indian Ocean? And then the Association for the Promotion of the Arctic Ocean would have to chime in.

And then we'd hear from Ed.

Anonymous said...

Big deal out of nothing, Americans drink. Those that do bad when they drink should be punished, but just drinking and being a little drunk or more is not wrong. Even we are not going to get down on all the dumb people out there that are always dumb, we can't get down on those that drink and OCCASIONALLY get dumb. Plus as this blog points out, perhaps a change in the way govt is done in Amherst is needed, this actually may help things along.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:10

I am offended by your use of the word Ocean, please stop the hate.


Dr. Ed said...

And Ed would say that all the oceans of the world are mapped and that the size of each is a matter of recorded fact.

That it isn't a matter of debate.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the issue here is not that of alcohol, but that of a group of people getting together to make decisions for everyone....drunk or not. Reallocating deciions is worse than reallocating money and both are obviously huge problems in Amherst. Towns this size with less government have less problems. There is a causal relationship, do gooders usually do damage and thus justify their meetings that much more to fix their damage with more damage. This is not only in the dictatorship of Amherst, but they do take it to an extreme. Amherst is about dis-empowering the individual by pretending to empower the individual.

Dr. Ed said...

"...a group of people getting together to make decisions for everyone....drunk or not..."

More than that, this particular group of people serve in a quasi-judicial function. While I don't know how much further their power goes beyond just their proclamations, they have the power to proclaim who/what is racist, sexist, homophobic or the like -- an awesome power in today's politically correct world.

The process by and criteria upon which they make such decisions is very relevant to the entire community.

The principle of open government is that "Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant" -- that if governmental business was conducted in a time, place and manner that members of the public could access, some of them (both press and political partisans) doing so would ensure that everyone else would know about any questionable act/decision the entity made -- and knowing that would keep the governmental entity honest.

"Towns this size with less government have less problems."

Back when I was entering my first leadership position as a Boy Scout, a retired military officer advised me that the fewer decisions a commander makes, the better.

His point was that the leader should be visible but shouldn't micromanage, that before exercising authority, the leader ought to ask himself/herself/itself if it is really necessary to do so as the fewer cumulative times that authority is exercised, the more effective the leader is and hence the better off he/she/it is.

Student Government elections are inevitably tumultuous and the only way to successfully run one is to have as few rules as you possibly can -- and then to aggressively enforce the ones you do -- conducting all your business in public, in plain sight, and yourself being impeccably disinterested in the outcome of the election.

Calpurnia was Caesar's wife, a woman said to be above reproach and hence I use the term "Calpurnian" -- to be so clearly neutral that no one could ever claim bias, to be disinterested (not uninterested) in the disputes which come before you.

That is what the Human Rights Commission has to do -- be neutral so that it is clearly apparent that they will neutrally address all issues of human right violations, regardless of who is complaining about whom. After all, human rights are that, the rights that all humans have, regardless of the individual's race, sex, religion, disability(ies),sexual orientation, etc.

If the commission meets in one bar, they must meet in all bars; if they support one fund raiser, they must support all fundraisers -- they must be neutral the way parents must remain neutral in squabbles amongst their children.

After all, if Pruddy Gomez were still alive, and if he had a valid liquor license (which he didn't always), wouldn't he be complaining about how the Commission patronized ABC and not his venue?

And might his race and the races of the ABC owners have become an issue? Might the subjective (as opposed to objective) decision of the Commission been construed as an act of racism?

That no matter the merits of their decision to go to ABC and not Pruddy's establishment (I'd go to ABC too), in not making that decision via objective criteria in a public process, they opened themselves up to allegations of bias -- and in a multicultural community, that inherently brings along all the "*isms" as well...

Dr. Ed said...

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant:

What is not widely known is that Senator Joe ("Tailgunner") McCarthy was drunk during his hearings -- not just by today's standards but by those of a time & place where everyone drank heavily, and he died from it about 18 months later.

Communism was considered bad in the 1950's for many of the same reasons that racism & sexism is considered bad today -- then & now, society sought to abate it.

When his hearing was televised nationally, even if they didn't know of his intoxication, when people saw what kind of a bullying buffoon that McCarthy actually was, the whole thing imploded.

Likewise, if everything I knew about both Jason Vassell and Justice4Jason had been known publicly at the time, I have no doubt that a jury composed entirely of Black grandmothers would have convicted Vassell of at least ABDW and likely Attempted Murder.

Never forget that it was three Black administrators (Vanin, Terry & Cole) who made the decision to expel him -- Vanin making it with both Terry and Cole having the opportunity to reverse. While Esther Terry was then Acting Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, she had not only formerly been Chair of the AfroAm Dept (and I believe still had faculty status there), *and* the Director of the Affirmative Action Office (EO&D, but she'd been a "Freedom Rider" back in her youth.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If everyone else had seen the pictures that these three administrators had seen, if everyone else had seen the pictures of Vassell lunging across the entire width of the lobby and brutally stabbing two men cowering in the far corner, everyone else would have come to the same conclusion they did.

If Team Maria are ever dragged out into the bright light of day -- and I think it's gonna happen -- all of these racism allegations are going to look very, VERY different.

Dr. Ed said...

Three other things:

First, I neither know nor care the race(s) of the folk who own ABC. This is a hypothetical example that already includes one individual who is deceased, so presume for the sake of argument that ABC is owned by Bill Weld.

Second, something like 400% of the population is a member of a protected group, many being members of more than one protected group. We no longer live in a society where only white men hold power, and hence the "power imbalance" no longer is always along such lines.

Facts matter, and it's only discrimination if the person was treated differently because of the protected category, treated differently than those who aren't in the protected category.

Third, EEOC is an alternative to MCAD -- one which I would recommend.

What's not widely known is that most MCAD investigations in Western Massachusetts are conducted by UMass students who are doing it for academic credit -- ideologically charged and politically-correct young people who see everything via litmus tests such as gender and race.

By contrast, EEOC investigators are Federal bureaucrats, often more concerned with their own bureaucracy than anything else, and still holding clear political bias, but (unlike MCAD) they'll at least "go through the motions" when a White Male files a complaint.

Those aggrieved by Team Maria's Minions might wish to take note of this -- at least EEOC and ED-OCR will find a reason why they don't want to rule in your favor and at least Maria G will have to jump through the hoops.

Anonymous said...

Weeding through all of the verbiage, it is true that Mr. Vassell is a very fortunate person that his case became such a cause celebre, thereby preventing the Commonwealth from even attempting to get a fair trial.

Law enforcement was essentially shouted into submission in that case.

Dr. Ed said...

Mr. Vassell is a very fortunate person that his case became such a cause celebre, thereby preventing the Commonwealth from even attempting to get a fair trial.

Get real: The Commonwealth was never even given a chance to tell people what it (credibly) believed he'd done.

Law enforcement was essentially shouted into submission in that case.

No, it was worse than that -- law enforcement was maliciously attacked personally so as to preclude any presentation of objective facts, such as that he'd sliced & diced two unarmed men...

Most important point: UMPD ID#16, who said "it looks like a drug deal", is a BLACK man, and not one whom I would ever accuse of being unsympathetic to issues of racism. He may have been *wrong*, but I don't think James is a racist and everything kinda goes downhill from there if he isn't, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 10:56 pm again

Ed, I'm trying to agree with you!

...without adopting your tone, of course.

You see red so much, that you can't even tell when someone is agreeing.