Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is there something about Congressman Bob Filner that makes people want to slap a pair of handcuffs on him?

Gerry Braun, columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune, asks and answers this question in an August 29, 2007 column.

Gerry's Exhibit A: Mississippi police arrested Filner for being a Freedom Rider when he was 18. Result: more rights for blacks.

Gerry's Exhibit B: Washington D.C. police arrested Filner 10 years ago when he tried to stop them from breaking up a demonstration over benefits for Filipino veterans of the US military. Result: a bill was signed into law granting the benefits.

Gerry's Exhibit C: Filner recently brushed aside the arm of an airport security guard, who turned around and filed a complaint for assault. Result: Filner says he’ll fight for more rights for air travelers.

My Exhibit D: A few years ago guards at a prison in San Diego were angered when Filner demanded to see an inmate. Result: Nothing. Prison guards may be the most powerful people in California. Even Arnold Schwarzeneggar doesn’t mess with them.

I’ve heard behind-the-scenes stories about several office-holders who are grumpy people. I believe bad tempers are counter-productive, but some people accomplish a lot in spite of having a bad temper. In fact, some accomplishments are directly related to having a bad temper.

A few years ago some researchers went to Europe to interview people who had sheltered Jews during the Holocaust. They expected to find individuals who were over-flowing with sweetness.

They found the opposite. It turns out that people who tend to go against commonly accepted behavior rules, people who ignore social pressures to conduct themselves in a "nice" manner, were the ones who were willing to go against the rules that forbade the sheltering of Jews. The sweet mommies who passed out cookies and kisses? Apparently, they weren't so sweet when social pressure didn't require them to be "nice."

Overall effectiveness is what matters. As Captain Peleg said to Ishmael, “It’s better to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad one.”

I think that a willingness to question authority is absolutely necessary to anyone who wants to make the world a better place.

Which makes me wonder why Filner is so docile and subservient when it comes to failing schools in our area. He smiles and nods and goes trotting around obediently at the beck and call of the California Teachers Association.

How about directing a little of that temper to an issue more important that airline baggage, Mr. Filner?

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