Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal.

Ok. First of all, I'm in Nebraska. Whoa. Weird.

Settling in here after a fabuloso day of airline travel (tongue planted firmly in cheek). It's so weird to leave the Bay Area. Only once I've landed in Denver do I ever realize what an insanely delicious bubble I live in there. You touch down at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and suddenly it's all flannel and slooow drawls and no fresh carrot juice to be found. Within those first two minutes, I realize what a complete urban bitch I have become.

And I love it.

So I spent the two long flights to Omaha buried in my Sunday Chron, catching up on the world. Richard Rapaport had a stellar article in the Insight section yesterday, a rumination on the bizarro political-legal-social phenomenon that is "Zero Tolerance." It's a fascinating combination of criminal and cultural theories. Check out this blurb:

"Like water hyacinth, the pestiferous houseplant invading Southern lakes and streams, Zero Tolerance is taking over the national fishpond, choking out once-treasured values like compassion, discretion and inventiveness. Over the past four decades, Zero Tolerance has metastasized from drug enforcement, to policing, into the court system, the public schools and now, perhaps worst of all, into the American social mainstream.

The institutionalization of Zero Tolerance policies signals the triumph of a bureaucratic mind-set more obstinately retrograde than the once-derided French or German models. I mean, have you been at the counter inside a Barnes & Noble, in line at the Century 20 ticket kiosk, or checking into a doctor's office, and asked for a slight bending of the house rules? Not this time, chump."

Brilliant. It's essentially a call for subversion, a reclaiming of compassion and mindfulness, a revaluing of chaos and a certain trust in redemptive hope and the transformative power of, well, fucking up and learning from it. It's the same spirit that infects the Adbusters shit and the Buy Nothing Day stuff and all of that other culture jamming that makes people question the straight-laced bureaucratic boundaries that we adhere to so fearfully.

Whew, I'm ranting. Can you tell my lefty anger increases in proportion with my distance from Blue States? Point being, the article is worth a read, especially for the greater sense it triggers of a need for reintroducing subversion in a culture that is too tightly-rule-bound.

(Speaking of rules: Transportation Security Agency and 1 quart plastic bags and Terrorism Color Alerts and shit. Ugh. Just going through security is enough to make anyone a bleeding heart liberal.)

"Zero Tolerance - It's the American Way"


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