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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Muni Sickout' San Francisco's Own Quran-Burning Moment

Posted By on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Is this the braniac behind the Muni 'sickout' flier? - JIM HERD
  • Jim Herd
  • Is this the braniac behind the Muni 'sickout' flier?
Is this the braniac behind the Muni 'sickout' flier?
With threats of a Muni sickout receding into the distance, San Franciscans can get back to their usual litany of complaints about our transit service: urine, loons, crime, loud music, the driver accelerating while you're trying to sit down, and urine.

It rankles, however, that one all-caps flier put out by perhaps a sole anonymous and semiliterate person essentially put the entire city transit system and its hundreds of thousands of daily riders on red alert. It required serious people to come up with real contingency plans -- on city time -- and deal with Muni operators as if the possibility of a sickout were real and imminent ... and not just the brainchild of someone with access to a computer and a Caps Lock button.

That's a pretty sobering development. Until you realize that a heretofore unknown man named Pastor Terry Jones just essentially held the entire world hostage.

Jones -- who, if there is a God above, is into the 14th of his 15 minutes -- is the bigoted zealot who threatened to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, then didn't, then did, and finally, did not.

Tea Partiers seem to feel it's a major issue that health care isn't mentioned in the Constitution. Wholesale idiocy and deep malevolence aren't mentioned there either -- but you essentially do have a right to be a nasty idiot. The Nazis can march through Skokie and Terry Jones can burn his Qurans.

What rankles, however, is that this extremist -- whose 50 church members could fit comfortably into a Muni bus -- suddenly became a crucial world figure and a man top political and military leaders deigned to make entreaties to. Please sir, it's for the sake of our troops -- who would be targeted by equally misguided and mindless bigots. Astoundingly quickly, the whole issue was being driven by anticipation of how the very dumbest people in the world would behave -- and the rational folks were forced to cater to and appease them.

click to enlarge Thank God we only have our regular Muni complaints to complain about - JIM HERD
  • Jim Herd
  • Thank God we only have our regular Muni complaints to complain about
Jim Herd
Thank God we only have our regular Muni complaints to complain about
Sadly, in 2010, you don't need talent to be famous. And you needn't be relevant to take the world hostage. Yesterday is gone and it ain't coming back -- but, in the days before freaks like Jones could become international celebrities overnight thanks to the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, wacky pastors could have burned armfuls of Qurans in towns across the United States. And, far from being elevated to central figures in life-and-death matters, they'd have been relegated to where they belonged -- the lunatic fringe.

In the end, Jones did not take a match to a single Quran. God knows what rationales finally resonated in his warped mind to lead him to this decision -- and, so much the pity it was deemed necessary to pay him any attention at all. Regarding the "sickout," however, it appears drivers took a look at a patently moronic proposition and decided they wanted no part of it. If you're looking for silver linings, perhaps there's one: A victory over out-and-out idiocy -- and you weren't left waiting for the train.

Of course, on Muni, even silver linings are soaked in urine.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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