Screwed by the Guardian - sort of

If someone had told me even a couple weeks ago that I was going to be mentioned on the front page of the Guardian by arguing for gun rights in San Francisco, I wouldn't have believed it!

  The way it's happened is rather disappointing though. Phil Berg (LP candidate for Congress whom I invited along to my endorsement interview with them) and I talked for around 45 minutes about a whole bunch of different stuff, including lots of issues where we agree with the Guardian, but instead of giving any sense of this, Guardian Editor Tim Redmond chose to prominently highlight perhaps the single issue on which we would probably come across most unfavorably to their readership and (regarding Halloween) to my constituency in the Castro. This could be one of those times that puts the theory about all publicity being good publicity to the test.

  I had a feeling as soon as we left the building that they were going to make hay with the comments about guns. And sure enough, the gun issue made Tim's "EDITOR'S NOTES," which in their new format is the lead article right on the front page (see first article below). I went back and listened to the interview -- which I'm definitely glad I taped! -- and it wasn't just Phil who made inadvisable comments on the gun issue; I was guilty as well. While I tried to steer the conversation away from that topic after Phil and Tim first went at it, Tim insisted on revisiting it and I wasn't quite verbally deft enough to give a principled answer without providing more ammunition (sorry!) for them to shoot us up in print. Of course I expected some of that, but I was hoping they'd balance it by reporting on the issues where we agreed with them, or at the least, do us the courtesy of not trying to make us look like right-wing nut jobs. I was also mentioned in an article by G.W. Schulz specifically about the Halloween issue, again in a way I consider relatively unfavorably given the politics of that issue, although nothing like Tim Redmond's hatchet job (see second article below).

  On the bright side, there should be no doubt among readers about where Libertarians stand on the Second Amendment and self defense. 8) I'm also glad they plan to put our whole interview online, so that people can listen and hear the context from which our more radical responses were very selectively lifted, and how Tim kept asking questions about extreme scenarios in order to prompt us into making those radical statements. On the not-so-bright side, probably less than 1/10th as many people will bother to check out the entire interview as the number who read Tim's front-page inflammatory material.

  Nevertheless, I'm not sorry we did the interview. I think the attention from the SF's biggest weekly paper will help me get other press coverage and public attention, and I intend to write a letter clarifying my position on the issue of Halloween in the Castro, which if they have any sense of fairness, they will publish. (And if they won't, I suspect the SF Weekly will.) The fact that they heard from us is still a good precedent, and the fact that they wouldn't deal with our arguments fairly but chose to ridicule instead will be telling to many political watchers who know from reading my ballot arguments or other exposure that I'm not a kook. Next time we'll just know to be even more careful, no matter how friendly they seem and how reassuring they are about "everybody who comes in here" getting tough questions, how much agreement they voice on policy areas we have in common, or how much their staffer says he likes Reason magazine or the Switzerland approach to defense which includes an armed populace.

Love & liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>

Transcribed below are the parts of our interview where guns were discussed:

to the


Indeed, good job! Although I also doubt that the Guardian would pay
attention (or ever be able to understand) the principles you and
Starchild were trying to communicate, I believe every bit of exposure
of Libertarian thinking helps.

When I was interviewed by the Guardian in 2002 when I ran for College
Board, I patiently answered their questions for 30 minutes, knowing
full well they had no intention of even trying to fathom what I was
saying. The interview resulted in a couple of lines of print, for
which I thanked them politely and that was that.

It is my opinion we should try to continue to get interviews with the
Guardian and other media, accept that in a left of left town like
ours we will be misquoted, but hope that some of what we say will
sink in.


--- In, "ricochetboy" <philzberg@...>


Thank you very much for replying and
considering publishing my note . You
certainly are welcome to publish my full
letter If you choose to edit it, I
request that I be consulted and approve
prior to attribution to me.

I also would welcome a serious discussion
of other issues facing the voters this

I sincerely thank you for your well
intentioned response.

Philip Berg
Libertarian Candidate for Congress
San Francisco

Tim, Thank you for agreeing to allow me to approve any editing.

I must say that it is a shame to get bogged down in this most
difficultissue. It will certainly make it difficult to those
unfamiliar with Libertarians to grasp that the foundation of our
philosophy is non violence. I hope you are aware that in order to be
a Libertarian ie an actual member of the party, one is required to
sign a pledge called the Non Initiation of Force Pledge. Each of us
has pledged not to support the initiation of force for any reason.
All of our philosophy is a logical extension of that pledge. We seek
a civil society based on voluntary action, not coercion. This vision
is the answer to Rodney King. Yes we all can get along.


Philip Berg


  I don't think I said yet, but wanted to, that your responses to the Guardian -- both your letter, and your follow-up notes -- were terrific. I just sent them the letter below; I guess I'm playing bad cop. 8) But I tried to express my frustration at impeded solidarity, rather than just strictly being angry with them.

Love & liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>

P.S. - For those of you not on the LPSF-discuss list who don't know Phil, he is vision-impaired and writes in a large type size in order to see the words on the screen; that is why his letter (at bottom of this email) is only a word or two per line.