NUZ: Homophobia on Facebook and the Politics of Parking

Take Back Santa Cruz users criticize Assemblymember Scott Wiener over new LGBT bill

Homophobia doesn’t always look like homophobia at first blush.

Sometimes, though, you don’t need to scratch far beneath the surface to see the flaming embers of bigotry. Outright misinformation and stubborn refusals to think critically often fuse together like buried coals, simmering away under an abandoned fire pit.

That’s what happened on Wednesday, Jan. 23, when a photo flashed across Take Back Santa Cruz’s Facebook page showing state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) in a skimpy black leather vest to match a black leather tie and skinny black jeans—none of which had much to do with the true content of the rambling post itself.

The inflammatory post, shared from a California home schooling advocate’s personal page, noted that Wiener recently authored some legislation known as Senate Bill 145. Particular cause for alarm, at least in Santa Cruz’s public safety-oriented crowd, was the fact that the bill’s own language offers certain sex offenders “relief” from registering under Megan’s Law. The post quickly garnered 35 reactions and more than 30 comments.

“Un-freaking-believable” the first commenter wrote.

“DISGUSTING!” wrote another.

Wiener is gay, and his outfit in the posted picture—worn at the 2016 Up Your Alley Fair in San Francisco—did not go over well with the Take Back crowd. The horrifying implication was that Weiner authored the bill to ease sex crime laws and take advantage of young boys, as if he were trying to build some bizarre, real-life Pizzagate cabal from the ground up. (Spoiler alert: He isn’t.)

“Wow, Wiener is a sicko!” one Facebooker wrote. Others made less-than-clever remarks about the names of Wiener and S.B. 145 co-author, Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D-Stockton).

The truth about the bill is that it extends protections to certain gay couples in consensual relationships, which their straight counterparts have had for years. A few users did try to point this out in the comments. Some public safety advocates, meanwhile, called for wider-ranging reforms to an entire system that they generally view as too lenient to start with. But for the most part, those voices got drowned out in the bigger, angrier comment mob before Take Bake administrators froze the comments and then subsequently removed the post altogether.

Most of the Facebooking wingnuts probably never realized that Wiener is, in fact, drafting nothing more than a common-sense piece of civil rights legislation. The fact that it was totally lost on them is kinda the point here.

If nothing else, the short-lived, dumb saga is a reminder that when people are too lazy to do their homeworkbefore typing up an angry comment, they can create an ugly mess, leaving administrators no choice but to go back and put out the whole stupid fire.


Starting Friday, Feb. 1, we’ll be adding an extra step to our pre-errand routine before every trip we take driving into downtown Santa Cruz.

That’s right, you’ll find us sifting under the couch cushions for loose quarters. Or asking for spare change at the nearest gas station.

That’s because the city is upping the rates for hourly parking, monthly parking permits and most metered spots. It will also start phasing out parking deficiency fees. Hourly lot rates are doubling from 50 cents an hour to $1.

To make sense of the changes, here’s a short list of folks who might actually support these changing parking rates:

  1. The businesses who’ve been whining about burdensome deficiency fees for years, probably since the days of the horseless carriage
  2. Environmentalists, who oppose plans for a brand new combined library and parking the structure on Cedar Street
  3. Also, if you can believe it, many supporters of said parking structure.

That may all sound confusing and contradictory. Supporters and opponents of a development agreeing on a financing structure?

Here’s the thing: If the garage gets built, it will need funding, which is partly why the city is re-structuring these rates. Many environmentalists, meanwhile, will back any disincentive to nudge commuters and shoppers away from driving—especially when it’s such a beautiful day for a bike ride! And hey, the bus isn’t bad, either. (Activists are leaping for joy at the thought of Santa Cruz maybe implementing a robust alternative transportation program, including bus passes for downtown employees.) Not only that, but the anti-garage crowd is betting that steeper rates will cause demand for parking to drop, cutting out the need for a structure in the first place.

Ah, sweet compromise—when foes can agrees on the details of a would-be controversial plan, albeit for bizarre (and pretty much 100 percent opposing) reasons.

But before we close the book on this topic… here’s a short list of folks who will be pissed about the climbing parking rates, which are just gonna keep going up: everyone else.

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