Tuesday, April 24, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on May 16th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 11

Blood and oil

You can’t spell ideology without idiot. Well, OK, they’re not exactly the same, but you get the point.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, ideology loosely means “a systematic body of concepts.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

I’ve always taken ideology to mean a worldview that is impervious to contradiction or outside influence. Maybe that’s what some would call rigid ideology, or dogmatic ideology.

Either way, it’s a problem.

It definitely helps explain the diametrically opposed sides in the local oil debate (see cover story, page 10), even by their own admission.

County supervisors Peter Adam and Das Williams both decried the ideological nature of the situation. Plus, they both value the revenue the oil industry provides to Santa Barbara County’s general fund.

But ask them about climate change, and Adam says it doesn’t exist; Williams is concerned about it.

At this point, it doesn’t matter what the two sides say to each other. Whether it’s oil industry advocates who call climate change “bullshit” or clean energy activists who say they don’t “believe anything” from the pro-oil side, how can the two sides come together for an agreement, rather than just digging deeper trenches?

This serious level of distrust on either side isn’t limited to just this one issue, of course.

Take for instance the outcry about police officers’ use of force over the past few years, epitomized by the Black Lives Matter movement, which was followed up by the pro-police group Blue Lives Matter. There’s got to be a better way of engaging over a touchy subject than dueling groups.

And it is a touchy subject. Take the recent Santa Barbara District Attorney report on the Lompoc Police Department’s fatal shooting of Michael Ducaine Giles, which the DA ruled justified. According to the police report, Giles had a knife, which made LPD Cpl. Charles Scott fear for his life and open fire.

Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh arrived on the scene just after the shooting, and cuffed Giles, who later died from his wounds at a local hospital.

Putting handcuffs on a dying man can certainly elicit an emotional response. What’s the point?

It turns out there’s more than one good reason to do that, at least from a law enforcement perspective. Chief Walsh approached the subject soberly saying the situation was a “tragedy” and offered his condolences to Giles’ family.

But are those concerned about police use of force going to approach the situation with a level head, and take some time to understand the nuances of law enforcement? I hope so, because local police from several agencies have mentioned in interviews that they’re aware of a palpable anti-police animus.

And again, when people feel embattled, they just dig deeper trenches. If reform and change is what we want, empathy is going to be the pin that these complex and charged conversations hinge upon.

The Canary wants to take the “idiot” out of “ideology.” Send your thoughts to canary@santamariasun.com.

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