When the Pie Hits Your Eye, It's Not Amore

By Rob Morse, Examiner Columnist
San Francisco Examiner, Thursday, January 21, 1999, page A2
� Copyright 1999 San Francisco Examiner

Funny how innocent baked goods can bring out the best and worst in people. I don't mean the smiling grandmothers who hold charity bake sales, or the rude yuppies who chaw on baguettes in supermarket lines.

I mean pies in the face. In San Francisco, a pie in the mayor's face has led to stupid and seemingly endless political posing. A group of silly people, who probably would be streakers in another decade, jammed pies topped with tofu cream in the mayor's face. They were laughing, but on the TV news they looked ugly and dangerous.

Most people were appalled. This is our mayor. He represents us. This was a pie in our faces. The mayor wrestled one of the twerps to the ground. That's good - downright Jesse Ventura-like, in fact.

Next there was a demonstration by African American civic leaders protesting a demeaning assault on one of the most important black elected officials in the United States. The goal of throwing a pie in someone's face is humiliation, not humor, and it hardly qualifies as a political critique.

The pie throwers said they wanted to bring attention to the homeless problem. As if a splattering of pie does the job better than a walk down Powell Street.

Then came the trial, and real insults to our intelligence. A lawyer for the pie throwers told a Superior Court jury that, because of the higher purpose to the pieing, his clients should be acquitted of charges of misdemeanor battery and assault on a public official.

"The purpose was to change the course of policy on homeless crimes through media attention and discussions afterward." And here we are in the media discussing the hazards of pies and the nature of racism.

After the three pie throwers were convicted of battery, but not of assault on a public official, Brown was angry. "They were guilty of attacking me, but not attacking me as mayor," he told Channel 2. "I hope they're not just attacking me because I'm black."

Wait a minute. Let's put the race card back in the deck. It's one thing for black community leaders to be offended by a humiliating pie attack on Mayor Brown. But it sounds like misplaced insecurity coming from a mayor who was elected overwhelmingly by a multiracial citizenry.

The Simple Simon Brigade could have been attacking him because of his expensive clothes. They could have been attacking him because of his pointed wit. They could have been attacking him just because he's mayor. In the past that's been enough for attacks, physical and otherwise, on white mayors. They probably did it just to get on TV. If so, it really worked.

Idiots do idiotic things for lots of idiotic reasons. In San Francisco, though, organized idiots feel the need to have high-sounding political excuses - like doing it for the homeless.

There are enough racists in the city, state and nation - real racists, insidious racists, racists in positions of power - without the mayor suggesting he was hit by racially motivated pies.

Just look at what's going on in Washington. A president who is very popular with black Americans is the defendant in an impeachment trial that smells like a musty Confederate uniform. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and the most rabid prosecutor, Bob Barr, give speeches at meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens - a direct descendant of the old segregationist White Citizens Council. Leaders of the Council of Conservative Citizens have said things like "Demographics is destiny" and "The most critical thing is to preserve the genetic basis of our race." In 1992, Lott told a meeting of the group, "The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."