Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seattle's Corporate Lapdog Weighs In, Again


Last December, Apesmas Lament asked whether the Seattle Times' editorial board was most akin to a Fat Ugly Hog or a Corporate Lapdog and readers responded. The Corporate Lapdog emerged victorious by a decisive 38-7 margin.

This morning's op-ed describes Nickelsville as a transparent political ploy that "Seattle doesn't deserve" and called for it's immediate destruction. The editorial was typical in its intellectual dishonesty and disregard for fact.

Noone should be surprised. Their record is nothing if not consistent. Last December, the Times first weighed in on the homeless encampments issue with the eloquent Squatters Be Gone, which took homeless people who survive outside of Seattle's overburdened shelter system to task for the "easy permissiveness" of their rule-breaking life style. Last January, they again sounded this theme, saying that homeless people camped in greenbelts were exercising the "Huckleberry Finn option." In a play on the city's branding of homeless sweeps as "humane and consistent" they approvingly described the Mayor's new policy as "humane and insistent." Clever. Last June, this newspaper again distinguished itself by dismissing SHARE/WHEEL's eastside survival encampment as "pointless."

At no point in any of these editorials did the Times board come to grips with basic fact. 2,631 people were counted outside of a packed shelter system on a freezing January night this year. Operation Nightwatch, the shelter referral point of last resort is turning people away in record numbers. There isn't enough shelter. Where are people supposed to go?

Happily, the Seattle Times editorial board doesn't always tell its reporters and columnists what and how to write. Columnist Danny Westneat has asked the question about as pointedly as possible. Nicole Brodeur's columns have become more sympathetic over the past year, and reporters Jonathan Martin, John Iwasaki, Sharon Chan, Eric Lacitis, Mike Carter, Drew DeSilver, and Sean Rose have all reported honestly and conscientiously on the homeless sweeps issue.

But the editorials have been uniformly one-sided, heartless, and oblivious to fact. Today's is typical. There is no acknowledgement that the shelters are full and that homeless people need to be somewhere. It confuses the claim that the city is "offering" shelter to campers with the fiction that enough shelter has actually been "provided." It paints the Mayor as noble, caring, and put upon, and homeless people and their organizers as sneaky, lazy, and politically motivated. Nickelsville, they say in a truly Ayn Randian moment, is a bid for "entitlement."

Homeless people in Seattle. They're so entitled. The Times really hates that.

The Seattle Times editorial board doesn't give a shit about homeless people. Fortunately, others do. If you're looking for a good reason to not give up on the human race, go to the West Seattle blog to see the Highland Park Action Committee extend a welcome to their new neighbors. The video of neighborhood activist Dorsol Plants' speech on why Nickelsville is necessary makes me want to send him flowers.

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