Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Let's Cuss Out Our Politicians

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You're telling me I can't curse the San Francisco Giants at a Dodger game?

I'm going to have to call one of my elected representatives and swear a blue streak until she does something about this.

That's the new reality, now that Southern California's sports teams and venues have adopted a common code of conduct for fans. Among the provisions are limits on profanity, smoking, intoxication, throwing of items or liquids, entering the playing field, fighting, "failing to retain your ticket", resale of tickets or "violating state or local laws."

Essentially, a ban the kind of good, old-fashioned, American misbehavior that is a big part of our sports culture.

Now this might sound like progress to some, particularly those worried about taking children to a game, but beware the law of unintended consequences. If we can't take out our frustrations at sports events, we'll have to get cranky at other venues and at other targets.

Given California's history, the natural target would be politicians.

Now, California's politicians already get blamed for too much, particularly since their discretion has been so limited by voters, the constitution and the courts. But it may be about to get worse.

Of course, swearing at politcians is probably the healthiest choice. This represents a perverse sort of civic engagement. And California politicians are used to it; their main role in the broken system is to serve as scapegoats for tough times that, in most cases, aren't really their fault.

Here's the good news: if you find yourself getting too hot with an elected official, and you don't want to take responsibility for your behavior, now you can blame the Lakers.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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