“The UC Davis pepper spray incident prompted investigations and retirements because most people do not generally understand such protests. There was nothing at all wrong with pepper spraying the demonstrators at Davis, and I’m about to tell you why.” [Toussaint/Oakland Tribune]
I wonder if the Oakland Tribune is disappointed that its incendiary “My Word” op-ed entitled “Nothing wrong with pepper spraying of UC Davis protesters” has only generated 21 comments? (The average SF Gate article that just mentions cyclists gets a hundred times that in about 5 minutes. I guess we can’t all be winners?)
Newspaper op-eds are typically written by members of the community, people who have a dog in the fight and aren’t beholden to the conflict and bias rules facing a paper’s editorial board. That said, most papers have a heroic person who fact checks and edits those submissions.
It’s unclear from reading Dale Toussaint’s (reportedly a former Lieutenant with the beleaguered Alameda County Sheriff’s Department) piece, which contains arguments like “We are not trained to hit people in the head with clubs. Nevertheless, that’s the shot the media wants” and “I’m not giving my guys bad backs, hips or knees by ordering them to carry your sorry butt” underwent that level of vetting.
Some, like Oakland community organizer Max Allstadt believe the column needed a bit more scrutiny from the Trib, causing former Oakland Trib Editor turned “senior editor, community engagement,” for the Bay Area News Group Martin Reynolds to tell readers to “get over it” via twitter.
“Why the fuck would you react like that to clearly intelligent people disagreeing with you?” asked the Winnower tipster who sent us Reynolds’ tweet.
“The disdain for intelligent discourse — for intelligence at all — is just overwhelming, and everywhere.”
But perhaps all is not lost! In the comments to the article, Reynolds says “A My Word is his word. He has a right to express it, whether you agree or not. I don’t. I find it appalling. But I appreciate his honesty.”
So it sounds like the Trib’s doors are open, not just to viewpoints that oppose Toussaint, but to all sorts of pieces. Let the games begin!