The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." — Dante Alighieri
Last week while writing about the Mumia censorship issue in Encinitas, I inadvertently misrepresented the opinion of Robert Walker regarding racism and the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association. After the Coast News hit the street I received a call from Mr. Walker who wished to make it quite clear, that he had not accused DEMA of racism, and that any comments about racism were taken completely out of context. Fair enough.
Mr. Walker also said that he did not call for a boycott of the Poetry Slam, and that notice of it's cancelation was not his doing. But when I asked him why he did nothing to correct the misinformation, he was less forthcoming. He did however want to make it perfectly clear that censorship was the issue. When I asked if he would like me to clear up the matter, he said yes. So here it is. Robert Walker of the 101 Artists Colony never accused DEMA of racism.
It was not my intent to demean the work Mr. Walker has done to bring the arts, both alternative and mainstream, to downtown Encinitas. A visionary of the first order, my criticism of Robert lies in the fact that he backed down from a fight. In hindsight I see it was my disappointment that shaded my observations. For that Mr. Walker I am truly sorry.
I also received a call from Peder Norby, Executive Director of DEMA. Mr. Norby wanted to be perfectly clear that DEMA is not into censorship, the foundation of the conversation was, "I'm not a white bread guy whose afraid to take chances." Respecting Peder as I do, and I do respect Peder Norby. I reminded him that his actions relating to the Mumia incident contradicted that statement, and that he was a white bread guy. Hence the reason he was working in Encinitas.
To be fair, and I am always fair in my criticism, DEMA does sponsor an independent film society which has hosted films on Angola farm, the Zapatistas, and the Chiapas movement. He also reminded me that DEMA had scheduled the Black History month event, before calling for it's cancelation. Peder was adamant in the belief that "DEMA is giving life to the arts in Encinitas and the organization supports everybody's right to free speech. Just don't ask them to pay for it." Or provide a venue for it, My words not his. Again, if this is not economic censorship I don't know what is.
So where do things stand now? Everyone has agreed to disagree, the 101 Artists Colony has loss one of it's founding members. and the Poetry Slam was a minor success with councilmember Sheila Cameron winning the event. As gracious as always, Ms. Cameron donated the prize money of $183.72 back to the organization for the next poetry event. Speaking of the next slam if things go as planned, Encinitas residents will be able to see what slamming is all about when DEMA and the La Paloma theatre host Summer Slam 2000.
While I am on the subject of apologies, let me say I'm sorry for wasting valuable time and energy focusing on the petty politics of local officials. Recently I have received numerous calls and letters asking me to start looking at the big picture. One woman called to ask if I would do a series on global warming, another on water politics, and the disconnect between water scarcity and over population.
So with this column I mark a transition into matters more global. Yes, I will occasionally backslide when someone gets my dander up, but for the most part I would like to shift gears and ante up to a larger conversation, one dealing with environmental ethics, Ecopsychology, deep ecology, and the suicidal tendencies of the human race.
This is not to say I won't continue to call elected officials on their dubious dealings, nor will I cease to champion officials that are actually working to restore our failing ecosystem. What this does mean however, is the vacuum we refer to as coastal North County will no longer be one of ignorance, and any one who chooses to ignore the writing on the wall, will be doing so out of apathy, avarice, or anthropocentrism, not lack of knowledge.
The majority of environmentalists, from those with doctorates to those chaining themselves to trees in righteous protest, believe the next decade will decide how we, as a culture, face the coming environmental crisis.