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Friday, May 30, 2008

Violet Blue, the Guardian, and the “politics of personal destruction”

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

By Benjamin Wachs

I got mentioned on the Guardian’s web site! It’s only a matter of time now before I’m linked to a scandal at PG&E!

I’ve also been mentioned … at greater length … on Violet Blue’s blog (where apparently she talks about sex – who knew?).

Both are rummaging through my personal life to try and find embarassing information to share with the public.

What? Why would they do that? Well ...

The shrinking Violet is mad at me for my “attack on sex work in San Francisco,” and my “Puritanism,” and for the fact that I also write for (GASP) NON-SAN FRANCISCO publications! My Goddess, if the REST of the country reads what I write I must be EVIL!

See … it’s that kind of attitude I was mocking. Not sex work. One doesn’t have to be a Puritan to think about many San Franciscans: “You people really need to get over yourselves.”

Anyway, the Guardian commented on the whole dustup (Violet Blue "digs up some good dirt on ... freelance writer Benjamin Wachs" the Guardian's Steven Jones wrote approvingly, before adding his own mud to the mix), and now a bunch of rumors are running around about who I am, what I’ve done, and where I live. I can’t imagine how my fairly ordinary personal life even warrants the Google search the Guardian performed, but in the interest of full public disclosure, here’s a quick fact check:

The Guardian says their “research” shows I moved here a year ago from New York. Actually, it was just under 2 years. But … does anyone really care? Is there a rule saying you must have lived here THIS long in order to write news and have an opinion?

Violet Blue thinks that I “must have the power to be two places at once.” Sadly no, not anymore. My mutant powers disappeared on “M-day.”

I do, in fact, write local news on both coasts simultaneously. How do I manage to break news on the East Coast while living in the west? I will NEVER tell you the secret of my air travel! NEVER!

Violet says I have “GOP fundraising pals about town” based on a photo taken of me at a bar with some Republicans that appeared on Fog City Journal. Hmmmm … how can she say I’m not a local reporter if she’s linking to photos of me taken at San Francisco bars?

Regardless: what exactly does this prove I’m guilty of? Bob Brigham (who works for Mark Leno) was photographed by Fog City Journal at the very same event with Republicans Howard Epstein and Arthur Bruzzone – is Bob guilty by association? Also pictured is Green party activist Sue Vaughan… is she guilty for having attended a party? What about Democratic consultant Darcy Brown? She was there and had her picture taken. Is she under suspicion? Wow, how deep does this conspiracy go?

Come on, are we really going to play “guilt by association?” Really?

If it matters (and should it?) I worked for the Democrats in Illinois to elect Al Gore in 2000, have supported gay marriage for years, and once met Quintin Mecke in a bar. He was nice.

Violet Blue accuses me of "Puritanism": Because I disagree with the Chronicle's sex columnist I must be anti-sex. Huh. For what it's worth I wrote for (a sex-positive publication) for four years. They were fine with me. But why do I need to "prove" I'm sex-positive enough for Violet Blue, the Guardian, or anyone else in San Francisco? Do we get rated on a point system? Is there no room between "thinking Violet Blue is wrong" and "burning loose women at the stake?" 'Cause I bet there's a middle ground.

Violet thinks it’s hilarious that I once wrote a “screenplay” called “The Adventures of Stark Rock, Manly Detective At Large.” You know that is pretty funny, actually. This was almost a decade ago: I originally wrote it for the Gotham Radio Players (it’s a radio play, not a screenplay) out of NYC, and it’s been performed a few other places. The comedy is … I’ll admit this … amateurish. I’m glad it got a positive reception, but it really isn’t very good. Violet Blue has definitely got me there.

But look at what’s happening here: Violet Blue and the Guardian are rifling through my background for dirt because I dared to have an opinion they didn’t like. Is this really necessary?

Seriously: Violet? Guardian? Is there no room in San Francisco to respect people you disagree with? (My original post, by the way, makes fun of what Violet says but has nothing bad to say about her personally – check it out). Can we debate ideas without getting into personal attacks? Do we really need more Manichean “anyone who disagrees with me must be evil” crap thrown out into the body politic?

Isn’t searching through my garbage emblamatic of the “politics of personal destruction” we all want to get past?

Think about it. Then, if you want to talk about it more, contact me through SF Weekly. That’s a sincere offer, one journalist (who happens to disagree with you) to another.

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