Saturday, September 08, 2007

A FOUR LETTER WORD


THE WORD
Three years ago I wrote a little essay which was published in the Daily Pilot that talked about "four-letter words". It was a fun thing to write and was well received. Today I'm going to write about one of those words - FEAR.

DEFINING IT
Fear is a very interesting word. One dictionary describes it as:
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. That sounds about right.

REAL FEAR
I imagine most of us feel fear from time to time. Sometimes it's just the fear of failure, or of being late for an appointment. We might be afraid to fly, or fearful of encountering a snarling pit bull on our daily walk. Our young soldiers in the middle east likely feel real fear as they head out on patrol, never knowing if they will return intact or if they will encounter those damnable IEDs. That's real fear. While it's difficult for me to admit it, I write today because I'm experiencing real fear - that almost paralyzing, looking-over-your-shoulder kind of fear. That cartoon above might make you think I'm taking this lightly. As you read further, you will see that I'm not.

THE JOUST
For several years I've sparred with another writer, both here in the blogosphere and on the pages of the Daily Pilot. My views of his actions and opinions have been well-documented on my blog. He and I have created fictitious characterizations of each other - he is "Your Neighbor" and I am, according to him, "Lonely Old Man". We've used those characters to jeer at and criticize each other. In years past the Daily Pilot would occasionally place commentaries from of us adjacent to each other on the same page. It was kind of a "balanced" approach to the same issues.

ATTRIBUTION
I've attributed acts by local politicians to his "grand plan" based on my observations of him, of them, and from reading his voluminous works. Certainly, none of this has made him a happy person. Some folks just don't like the light of truth shined on them.

STIMULATION AND SPECULATION

While I wouldn't consider our back-and-forth exchanges particularly pleasant, I think we both made our points and I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation. I don't think either of us has felt cordially about the other for a a long time. A few years ago I speculated about what might happen if a majority that followed his views were to be elected to the city council. Well, as you know, that happened and now each of those things I thought would come to pass either have happened or are well on their way to completion.

THE THREAT

However, things changed a couple days ago when he posted on his blog, here, what can only be described as a not-too-veiled threat against me and included my wife. In his own, special way - there are no "accidental words" in his work - he made it very clear that he's keeping a short leash on some of his associates and that it's only his benevolence that keeps them from physically attacking me. I have a good idea just who these leashed mutts are and, quite honestly, I'm afraid of them. Actually, I'm scared "excrementless", because this group is notorious for mindless violence. I have it on good authority that these thugs have physically intimidated a former city official that this guy regards with special contempt. When you carefully read his posting you will see that it certainly looks as though he may be exercising similar restraint as respects a former long term councilman, as well. I wonder what that's all about?

THE WINNER IS... "YOUR NEIGHBOR"!
I am unwilling to put the safety of my wife and myself in jeopardy in order to keep this city from going over the brink, so, I hereby announce to my nemesis, "Your Neighbor", that he has won. His tactics have worked. Fear has carried the day for him.

THE DECISION
From this point on I will no longer discuss him, his essays, philosophy or his influence over events in our city. I'll just step aside and let the chips fall where they may, because it's clear to me now that he is willing to hurt people who stand in his way or criticize him. I'll leave it to others to follow his actions and comment when they feel it's appropriate. I'm not comfortable with this decision, but, having consulted with friends and law enforcement officials, I see no real alternative. Considering how easy it was to shut me up, I imagine he's wishing he'd thought of this a long time ago.

SORRY, AND CAUTION
I apologize to those of you who have come to expect me to keep track of his actions and report my opinions for you to consider. I realize that this is a little like pulling the goalie in a hockey game, but I'm afraid you're on your own now. I caution any who might be tempted to jump into the goal to understand who you're dealing with before you make that leap.

STICKIN' AROUND?
My wife and I now must decide if we can continue to live in a city - our home for more than 34 years - where the agenda is controlled by a thug and bully, and where important issues can be regulated by turning the screws on the decision-makers in this town. The parallel to the pre-World War II Germany of Hitler and his Stormtroopers is remarkable.

THROTTLING BACK

I'll continue to post my views here when I think it's appropriate, but probably not with the same frequency and certainly not with the same intensity. Who knows, maybe I'll just decide to bypass all the angst of commenting on futile city matters entirely and turn this into a knitting blog. (Listen closely, that noise you hear is the cheering coming from my "friends" on the Westside of our town.)

WHY THIS POST?
I decided to write this post explaining my decision so you, my readers, would understand what's happening. I could have simply tucked my tail between my legs, skulked off into the bushes and said nothing, and considered doing exactly that. After a couple days of contemplation and consultation, that seemed like the wrong choice. I think it's important for you to know why I will no longer make any reference to him or his influence in this city.

RETRO READING
I'll close this entry now with a couple of links for your reading pleasure. This one will take you to my original blog, and contains a couple entries from two years ago that you might find of interest. This one takes you to a second entry where additional relevant reading can be found.

SEE YA DOWN THE ROAD
Thank you all for reading. Please check back from time to time to see what's simmering in the old Cauldron. Good luck to you all.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Tom Smallnose said...

Geoff,

This city will never become the kind of plcae you fear it may become. There are 110,000 people here who have a say, and the views which you describe are in the noisy minority.

As for the post to which you refer, it is very strange. I don't know the back story, so I cannot offer any opinion as to its content.

Regardless, the intimidation you perceive is a tool employed by cowards and those insecure in their own beliefs. If their opinions and beliefs carried the weight of truth, no intimidation or stifling of opposing views would be necessary. People who use intimidation are in fact terrified of those they seek to intimidate. Ironic, no?

Because I do not know the back story, I can offer no opinion as to the intent of the post to which you refer, only an opinion about those who feel it necessary to resort to intimidation to silence opponents.

I look forward to future posts. I have been both frustrated and energized by your posts, and I appreciate the opportunity to engage in debate and dicsussion about key issues facing our community. I hope you stick around.

9/09/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Krochman said...

Geoff,

If I were this person making less than veiled threats I would be working overtime to make sure you do not get accidentally injured or worse as this person would immediately be the prime subject of investigation!

How would he then promote his warped view of the world while in jail? Perhaps he would be protected by the likes of Michael Lamb and Jacob Rump. Maybe not!

In any case, I would think you have a new gardian angel more so than a terrorist in your neighborhood!

9/09/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Tommie Griffon said...

Oh-my-god Geoff...this is so creepy! Do you really think he is talking about you in that bizzare story? Are you supposed to be the dog? That was one of the strangest things I've ever read. I feel like I need to read to again because I still don't really get it...but it was so difficult the first time, I don't think I can. In any case, I would hate to think you and your wife are in any physical danger. I agree with Tom S...I think it's just intimidation. Stop letting this sorry fellow get to you. The worst thing you can do to people like Martin Millard is just ignore them. They hate that. It will make you feel better too. I also agree with Tom that it's the voters of Costa Mesa, whom for the most part are thinking people with minds of their own, who will decide what this city will become. So please try to stop worrying...and whatever you do don't move! Costa Mesa and the Daily Pilot blogs wouldn't be the same without you!!
Take care, Tommie

9/10/2007 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck Cassity said...

Geoff, my friend, after your years of tilting at this unfortunate windmill, I'm sorry you feel it necessary to now withdraw. Were it my family, I'd possibly decide as have you. I hope you'll reconsider. If not, go knowing that I've learned a lot from you and enjoyed your insightful and enlightenting commentary. Best to you and your lovely wife.

9/10/2007 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Take care of yourself...your wisdom will be missed. Another sad day for my hometown.

9/11/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Stand Strong said...

I understand your concern but don't let this fool bully you. In the "world according to Martin" he is the supreme leader. He is far from a leader. He is a gutless punk. There are many of us in Costa Mesa who keep an eye on this fool and will never back down from him. Know that we will be watching your back. His attempts at strong arm tactics are evident in his post to threads in the Daily Pilot as he hides behind false names. Not the traits of a man with strength but more of weakness and despire. Stay strong Geoff. We may not always agree with your posts but that is what makes this a great country, freedom to express.

9/12/2007 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thanks to each of you for your thoughts. Those of you who posted here, and others who have communicated via email and telephone, have voiced your concerns and they are much appreciated. I'm not done posting, as witnessed by the next post regarding 9/11/01. I'm not done posting about Costa Mesa and Newport Beach issues, either. My focus will be different - fear does that to you. Thanks, again.

9/12/2007 08:12:00 PM  

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