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Recent Comments

Re: “Alameda County Courts the Hackers

The link is wrong. It should be to https://data.acgov.org/

Posted by hastings on 12/06/2012 at 11:34 AM

Re: “The Father of Proposition 8

The bishop, like the rest of us, has a right to express his views on a cultural issue. But the most responsible thing for any religious authority to do is to voluntarily give up their right to express their views on any specific piece of legislation, because they know that so many people will take their word basically as the word of God and become uncompromising. And politics hurts all of us when it becomes controlled by people unwilling to compromise.

I'm okay with Bishop Cordileone opposing gay marriage. I personally know intelligent, incredibly moral people who have many gay friends and also oppose gay marriage. I don't agree with them, but after many discussions with them I can see how they have sincerely struggled with this issue, as I have, and come out on the other side. I'll assume the bishop is a very intelligent, thoughtful, and moral person, and that he has his reasons.

But there are many people on both sides of any issue who are motivated by pure, animalistic hatred. When a man of God tries to influence a specific election, no matter what the issue, it is not helpful, because it just encourages the worst tendencies on both the left and right. It encourages the extremists to justify their refusal to compromise.

Because of the intelligence and open-mindedness of my friends who oppose gay marriage, I am now willing to compromise on this issue. I've worked hard to reach that point. I know there are people on the other side who are also willing to meet me halfway. But if they think God wants them to refuse to compromise, then it won't happen.

And that will be bad for ALL of us.

Hastings Hart
Oakland, Calif.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Hastings Hart on 08/13/2009 at 9:46 AM

Re: “Race and the Oakland Riots

This column looks at nuances of different attitudes that were triggered by Grant's shooting and provides some food for thought, but it's a complete cop-out because it doesn't even begin to do what any decent journalist should do: establish the FACTS. No matter who you are, it's not possible to watch a cop shoot someone lying on the ground and not be affected. But how this event made us feel isn't the whole story, and all of us have the moral responsibility of working past our emotions to determine what actually happened and then make the most informed, reasonable, and rational judgment possible.

Youngdahl points out that police enjoy a special status in our society and are held to a higher standard than thugs. Well, lawyers and journalists also have a special status and more responsibility than the rest of us, and Youngdahl, who is a lawyer writing a newspaper column, has a responsibility to establish the FACTS of this situation, because it makes a huge difference whether Mehserle was brutal or incompetent. From the video, it looks like he was surprised after the gun went off, and although I'm no lawyer like Youngdahl is, my opinion is that Mehserle is innocent until proven guilty, so if I were writing a column I would say that everyone needs to put themselves in his position and give the criminal justice system a chance to work. If this was not another instance of police brutality, then protesting this as an act of police brutality is absolutely unwarranted.

At any rate, randomly breaking store windows is nothing more than mob violence, and for Youngdahl to suggest that "society" has not offered anything for "these folks" to channel their anger into is a pathetic expression of white guilt. Who are "these folks" Youngdahl is talking about, people who have been unjustly denied the right to vote? No matter who you are, no matter what color, no matter how little money you make, do you have any right to smash store windows and destroy the cars of innocent people because there's really no other way "society" has provided for you to show your anger? Bullshit.

Youngdahl ends his column saying that having a black president may make a difference and "the most we can do is hope." Really? When people stop thinking rationally, allow themselves to be overcome by their emotions, and form mobs that go an violent rampages, all we can do is hope that they'll see a black president on TV through the store window they're about to smash and suddenly calm down and write a letter to the editor? But he's just said that society leaves them no other channel for their anger, so exactly what is it we should be hoping for? Youngdahl wants to have it both ways, offering a black mob a healthy serving of white guilt and offering a mostly white, liberal newspaper audience a serving of pious hand-wringing.

Government: conduct an open investigation, leave no stone unturned, and punish Mehserle appropriately. Journalists: hold officials' feet to the fire, and hold citizens to the highest standards of civic duty. White people: make a concerted effort to understand the genuine emotion this has triggered in blacks, but don't feel the least bit guilty or act as enablers for lawbreakers. Black people: don't protest anything until the facts demonstrate that there is actually something to protest, and if there is, find another method than simply gathering a bunch of people in the street for a photo-op; do something that will actually fix the problem.

Hastings Hart

Posted by Hastings Hart on 01/26/2009 at 11:34 AM

In 2000, naive evangelical Christians were ecstatic at the judicial coup d'etat that installed George W. Bush and disillusioned when he turned out to give only lukewarm support to their pet cultural causes. In 2008, naive liberals are ecstatic at the election of Barack Obama. I hope Obama isn't as bad as Bill Clinton, but there's no doubt that many naive liberals are going to be disillusioned when Obama turns out to give only lukewarm support to their pet cultural causes.

The bigger issue is that both political parties use cultural issues to win elections but then govern with largely the same corporate agenda. The Democrats aren't as bad as the Republicans, but all of us who want real change should focus more on traditional issues of political economy and work with disillusioned Republicans to decrease corruption. I say let's start with public funding of elections. It's not a liberal or conservative issue but one that anybody who cares about democracy should advocate.

Hastings Hart

Posted by Hastings Hart on 01/01/2009 at 10:17 AM

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