Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Are People So Angry? An Answer.

Is Seattle really the uptight, liberal-totalitarian, stronghold of political correctness that Huan Hsu describes in his Seattle Weekly blog post today? I don't think so. If folks at the Weekly really believe the parody that they publish each week, that's their issue. I think there's something else going on.

The top layers are the most obvious. People care about their vendors, and don't like the idea of press that might do them damage. Real Change is something that's sort of abstract. That's just an organization. But their vendors are real people. You fuck with them at your peril.

Beneath that is a sense that The Weekly isn't a Seattle paper anymore. There's anger around that. When the paper that's seen as having no loyalties or ties targets the paper that's part of what makes Seattle special, it's salt in the wound. Not a smart choice. Huan wouldn't have known this, but his editor should have.

And beneath that is the premise of the article itself, which was misguided in its assumption that Real Change is a charity rag.

When we give out of charity, there is a power relationship. I am the bestower. You are bestowed upon. I am powerful. You are grateful. The positions of giver and receiver are affirmed.

If this is what buying Real Change means to you, then it follows that the vendor should be certifiably poor. When they are not, we feel conned. We want the recipients of our charity to be abjectly wretched, not just vaguely-near-the-poverty-line poor.

It's an objectification thing. That's the lens through which Hsu's story makes sense.

That's not what Real Change is about. Most of our readers see our vendors as working people. That's why they like it. They know that we're about offering a paper people want to read. That it's not a pity purchase.

And when people work, the assumption is that they do it to make money. To ask whether that's a problem is to completely miss the point.


Anonymous said...

Here's the deal folks. Each time a person hands a buck to another; it is by choice. I don't care if it's for singing on a corner, selling a paper, let's not forget no one is forced to depart with their cash.

Long before the SW article ran--people have been supporting Real Change by purchasing these papers. IF a person wanted to know the background of how the organization was being ran, then investigate it on your own, before you give up your buck.

Also, anyone making 18,000-20,000 a year is considered rip ass poor in my book. TRY living on that.

I support Real Change for what they are doing for the community...which is more than most of us do.

In my opinion, all of the negative comments on all of the various blogs [of which the comment thread in the SW blog is the worst, least informed, basic pissing match]quite possibly could spark Real Change purchases being paid with a 5$, $10 or $20 bill instead of a buck.
I've read the links to most of the Seattle blogs discussing this, and am impressed that most have decent thought out comments...minus the SW blog where the crew there is quite defensive and completely unprofessional.
The fact that Fefer called need for "therapy" ? I am disgusted.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for Tim. What's the Real Change definition of "homeless"? What criteria must your vendors meet to be eligible for hire as vendors?

Anonymous said...

Interesting, that the SW would write another story about Real Change.

Tim Harris said...

Since homelessness isn't a requirement for us, we haven't had a need to create a definition to meet those purposes. Our vendors are required to abide by the code of conduct. The idea is accessible employment opportunity. Stop by our office some Wednesday morning around 9 when the new paper gets unloaded. There's usually around 40-50 vendors there. I think you'll find that pretty much everyone there looks like they could use a little more "opportunity" in their life.

John said...

Welcome to Blogville, Tim! I only just found out when I read about it in the Weekly!

When I read the story where I learned you were blogging, I thought, damn. Lame. "Uh, Real Change isn't kicking people to the curb once they work themselves to solvency. We checked around, and all the other street papers have the same policy."

Never should have run. Is there a story here?

Anyway -- cheers.

(Who or what's an Apesma? I googled, and found this: Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia. Why are they lamenting, and what does it have to do with you?)

Tim Harris said...

Apes-ma comes from a Captain Beefheart spoken-word thing on the Shiny Beast album. I've always sort of identified. Think of it as Howl. Except more pathetic and neurotic. And I just like how it sounds.

I quote it's entirety in my first post.

John said...

ah -- well, I'll go read your archive.

I think when Mike Seely said, "Singularly bizarre pre-emptive diatribe," I think what he meant to say was, "Scoop."

It's pretty funny.