Non Standard Standards

An interesting contradictory coincidence has provided me with a topic this week.  The LATimes reported on June 17 that a U.S. Senator had come out about an affair he had with a staffer about a year ago, lasting some eight months.  Both were and are married. He does not plan to resign from office.  The night before, Burbank’s City Council decided to remove a recently appointed police commission member because he had about a year of probation left for a DUI.

The coincidence and contradiction should be self evident.  But why is this relevant to the Armenian community?

In the federal example, the senator has been a very strong supporter, with a grade of A+ up to the 2008 election from the ANCA.  Obviously, some consider what two bconsenting adults do with their private parts relevant to policy and fitness to serve.  Otherwise the paper would not have reported the senator’s intention NOT to resign.  Were this mediaeval mentality to prevail, the loss of such a senator would impact our Washington D.C. efforts.

In the Burbank example, the analog to the first case’s prudish mindset is an overabundance of caution.  The police department has been slapped with a lawsuit for discrimination, harassment, etc.  by five of its sworn, one of whom is Armenian.  By accident of the calendar, at about the same time, four seats on Burbank’s police commission were to be filled.  One of those appointed happens to be a friend and someone with extensive experience on the human relations front, both in Burbank and LA County.  Unfortunately, he also committed the “heinous” act of being two years into a three-year probation period for a DUI ticket.

So on Tuesday night, June 16, City Council, voting 4-1, decided to remove my friend and reopen the application process.  He was perhaps the single best situated person to inform the discussions that will unavoidably occur in the context of this lawsuit and its outcome.  So the council hurt the City’s best interests through its narrow view of the matter.  Somehow seeing “conflict of interest” (how?), problems with “access to sensitive information” (what, do they think he’s still under the influence after being dry for 2 years?), the public’s disapproval (they cited no specific complaints), inability to go on police ridealongs (uh-oh, there’s that 2-year-old alcohol coming through his pores and intoxicating the officer behind the wheel!), and other issues.  This is ridiculous.  It stems from overcaution, overreaction, and living in a perpetual state of fear.

I even cited my own experience with the Burbank PD.  The department puts on a great “Community Academy”.  Over several weeks, participants are exposed to the workings and doings of the police.  I’d applied.  Not hearing back, I called to inquire only to learn that I had “too many traffic violations” to participate.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that such a “problem” could only be ameliorated by my exposure to policing?

It all comes from fear.  It’s a horrible way to live.  I realized this when I saw Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine.

We’ve lost the input on the Burbank Police Commission of someone who would have been very helpful from the City’s and Armenian perspectives.  More of us should pay attention to and act on these kinds of local developments.  It can only enhance individual standing in our communities and help eliminate the alienation non-Armenians feel from us.

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