Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Few, the Proud, the Banned: San Francisco Can't Handle Marines

(Attention, those of delicate constitution: Please read the following first!)
  • The United States Marines did not invade New York City recently.
  • The USMC did not try to invade San Francisco.
  • The uniformed Marines in New York were filming a recruiting commercial.
A film crew recorded the U.S. Marine Silent Drill Platoon's performance in New York's Times Square: right through a Monday morning rush hour.

The Marines wanted to film a performance in San Francisco, too, on California Street.

San Francisco Film Commission Executive Director Stefanie Coyote said that was impossible. No can do.

Well, not quite. She'd let a film crew on California, providing there none of those big, rough, Marines in the picture. The can-do Marine film crew took pictures of the empty street. The Marines can be added later.

Not everyone in San Francisco is Marineophobic.

Captain Greg Corrales, commander of the traffic bureau handles film crews in San Francisco, for example. "It's insulting, it's demeaning. This woman is going to insult these young heroes by just arbitrarily saying, 'no, you're not going to film any Marines on California Street," he said.

Captain Corrales may be biased. He's a former Marine. On top of that, his son is on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The captain says Film Commission Executive Director Stefanie Coyote would only allow the Marine's production crew to film on California Street if there were no Marines in the picture. They wound up filming the empty street and will have to superimpose the Marines later.

"Ms. Coyote's politics blinded her to her duty as the director of the Film Commission and as a responsible citizen," said Captain Corrales.

KGO-TV asked Stefanie Coyote why she won't let the Marines to shoot on California Street. She wouldn't give an answer. She was more talkative ot yesterday's Film Commission meeting. "Traffic control was the issue," she explained.

Oddly, one lane of California Street at a time would have been shut down, for a few minutes each. Captain Corrales said that the Film Commission often approves filming during rush hour.

If it weren't for Captain Corrales, I'd say that the reason New York could handle the Marines, and San Francisco couldn't was that NYC had New York's Finest.

As it is, I'd say that the Captain is right. "Ms. Coyote's politics blinded her to her duty as the director of the Film Commission and as a responsible citizen," he said, according to KGO-TV.

So what?

Does it really matter that an official in San Francisco simply can't abide the presence of Marines? Or, maybe, because, just this once, San Francisco can't handle a traffic interruption?

I think so.

For starters, I believe Captain Corrales. I think that this was a political decision. As another Marine, Eric Snyder, said, "The city of San Francisco made a statement saying, 'we don't like the war' by shutting down the troops. I don't think that was the right thing to do."

KGO-TV talked to other Marines. The station said that they "also make the point that the city allows street demonstrations, anti-war protests and other events which snarl traffic, such as Critical Mass. They still don't understand why the Marines got turned away."

I think those Marines were being polite.

This is not how "free speech" works. At least, it shouldn't be.

San Francisco, by allowing traffic-snarling anti-war protests, but banning Marines who can march through Times Square in rush hour, has made something very clear. In San Francisco, all speech may be equal, but some sorts are more equal than others. (Thanks, Orwell.)

Wouldn't it be nice, if this sort of two-tier freedom of expression were something we found "Only in San Francisco.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.