The buzz these days is that "San Francisco Values" are the three dirtiest words in politics.
The term dates back at least to 1996, when California Conservative Rep. Frank Riggs attacked his Democratic rival Michela Alioto over her "San Francisco Values." More than a dozen years later, the phrase was exhumed by the former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio-TV talk show host, Bill O'Reilly to attack any left-leaning politician, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Ideological differences between the political parties are morphing to such an extent that they have become embedded in American society itself. One is either "progressive," the new term for a liberal or a Democrat. Or, if one is a Conservative, most likely, they will be called a Republican or Right Wing. Then there are the Independents who paint themselves as the new intellectual elite too chicken to take a stand. In addition, let us not forget about the Tea Bagger wacko's too disjointed to organize.
It is a shame the United States never reached the Nirvana of the "post partisanship" era of politics at a time when the humdrum business of party and governance would rise above present day extremes of party polarization. Think of it as a Kennedyesque vision of leadership; the inspiration that moves people beyond narrow self-interest ("Ask not what...").
Today's version of post partisanship is akin to political segregation. The voting public has adopted identities so preposterous that attempts to clarify them are as absurd as trying to educate the Tea Baggers in the facts of American history. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of political ignorance all the way around. It seems the rule today is, "Don't confuse me with the facts. I'll stick with my personal bias and assumptions, thank you."
Which precisely brings me to this point: When is television news not news? When it is commentary? The term, "News" has been completely co-opted by our so-called network news industry. When Wolf Blitzer refers to a Tweet in the middle of a news show as "qualified information," I think we really need to question the management of CNN. Twitter as journalism?
Ian Mitroff and Warren Bennis describe a vivid account of the metamorphosis of television news in their brilliant book, The Unreality Industry. In it, the authors clearly explain what has happened to our population that allows celebrities to tell us what is true, what we should believe and never question. We have become a nation of lazy thinkers.
"TV news is not only infused through and through with deception but with entertainment as well. Now so thoroughly a part of TV news, entertainment not only constitutes a significant portion of the content within the news, but it has become integral to 'the content leading up to the news.' If reality doesn't satisfy that perceived public need, then unreality has to be invented in order to fill it."
The unreality of "San Francisco Values" fits the same tone here in that people will choose to believe what a "celebrity" tells them. If the definition fits their beliefs, then it must be true. Right?
An official geographic definition of San Francisco Values includes the San Francisco Bay Area, which reaches to Marin, Berkeley and down the Peninsula to include the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View and of course, Silicon Valley.
These values follow very strong liberal tendencies and are said to have grown out of the Hippie culture. They include same-sex marriage, anti-war activism, pro-choice politics, marijuana decriminalization, and lenient immigration policies.
Following the Hippie legacy of Socialism, San Francisco created a universal health care program called Healthy San Francisco, except that it is privately funded. It also happens to be very effective. No long waiting periods for even the most basic of services. A survey by Kaiser Permanente revealed that participants are very happy with it, as are the providers.
I suppose a liberal San Francisco value of healthy eating could qualify as a Hippie quality. Sprouts and all that, you know. Therefore, in keeping with organic lifestyle of Northern California, the city installed salad bars in public schools.
If you still want to cut your ties with evil San Francisco Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, you really need to make a clean break of everything "San Francisco." This means going cold Turkey and giving up your iPod or anything Apple. HP computers and software, Google, Yahoo, eBay. Don't not forget to shut down your blog on BlogSpot and you can't use TypePad. Sorry. Those products are Bay Area-based.
Also no Adobe or Macromedia products. No computers, either, since most run on AMD or Intel. No tax preparation using Intuit products. Cancel your Netflix subscription. Cancel your TiVo subscription. Remove your Network Associates or Symantec virus protection software from your computer. Unplug your Netgear Wifi router.
Don't wear Levis (or any kind of jeans), Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, or buy your kids Gymboree. Avoid LeapFrog learning toys. Boycott Pixar movies. Boycott any movie using George Lucas' special effects. Don't take any medications that were created at Genentech. Delete your Adobe Systems programs. No more PDF's for you. Stop using any programs from Cisco Systems, Intel, Intuit, Juniper Networks, LSI Logic, National Semiconductor, NetApp, Oracle Corporation, SanDisk, Sun Microsystems or Symantec.
Can't use Craigslist, Digg, Flickr, Salesforce.com, Technorati, Twitter and certainly you have to cancel your Facebook account. No more music from Pandora for you.
So, now let's look at what is on the list of "San Francisco Values."
If you accuse San Francisco of being the bastion of same-sex marriage, it's time you learned that same-sex marriage just became legal in California August 12, 2010 after much debate over Proposition 8 which was found to be unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage is also legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, or our nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
Another non-first for San Francisco is hosting gay pride parades. These high visibility events actually started in New York, not San Francisco. The demonstrations began as a reaction to police routinely harassing and arresting the gay patrons of the Stonewall Bar on Christopher Street. The first parade was June 27, 1969 in Chicago, Ill., followed a day later in New York City.
San Francisco held a small march the same day from Aquatic Park along Polk Street to City Hall in support of the "Christopher Street Liberation Day" events in New York. Now two hundred cities across the country celebrate gay pride in some fashion or other.
Misinformation abounds. A conservative Web site, Conservapedia.com, says, "San Francisco has the largest population of homosexuals in the nation of America." Sorry, this is factually incorrect. According to research by the American Community Survey, a division of the Census Program, by population alone, New York City has the largest homosexual population of any city in the U.S., then Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco comes in fourth.
As for the pro-choice item on the list of what is wrong with San Francisco, it just doesn't register. California comes in ninth on the list of states that rank pregnancy, birth and abortion. In fact, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. rank much higher according to the Guttmacher Institute study.
It's too bad that no other cities with the same evil policies of San Francisco like gay pride parades and sanctuary for illegal's get the recognition they deserve. The fact is San Francisco really doesn't qualify for being first of the list of a cauldron of sin.
Unfortunately, too many people feel the need to tell others how they should live. I heard a woman who called into called into a radio show addressing gay marriage. She said that if the country allows gays to marry then straight men will become gay and there will no longer be any straight men left in the United States.
No wonder the country is afraid of San Francisco. With this kind of mentality, it is curious the U.S. military hasn't marched across the Golden Gate Bridge to take over Coit Tower.
Follow Geri Spieler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GeriSpieler