Those of you who have not yet assumed internships in the Combat! office might not know my deadline schedule. My practice as a writer is governed by strict adherence to the aesthetic principle of whatever anyone will pay me to do, so my week is planned in advance. For example, I submit my weekly Indy column on Monday for Thursday publication. This Monday, I wrote about the Missoula Police Department’s application for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, in which they cited the Rainbow Gathering as an “extremist hazard.” Yesterday evening, the Missoulian announced that MPD had withdrawn its application and apologized to the Rainbow Family. The Rainbow Family accepted the police’s apology, offered them a joint and was arrested immediately.
Kudos to the Missoula Police Department for doing the right thing. I’m not sure they did the wrong thing in the first place, so much as did the thing that everybody else does when applying for grants. The cops wanted an RV and conformed their situation to the funding preferences of DHS to get it. Any development writer has done something similar, albeit not in a way that turns the federal government against hippies. But the MPD merely connived in a bad system rather than becoming complicit, and it made things right by acknowledging its mistake.
The cops were totally complicit in spiking my column and forcing me to write a new one this morning, though. Where is my kill fee, you blue monsters? Where is my usual Wednesday morning writing Combat! blog at Burns Street Bistro, where I admittedly had much the same experience today but now must still produce a blog? The Rainbow Family may be vindicated, but whither those of us who make our living judging people for stuff that they suddenly are no longer doing?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t do justice for one group without punishing everybody else. I had a whole self-deprecating but moralistic column put together, including the call to action at the end, and the cops had to ruin everything by doing what I said they should do before I could say it. I am a victim of police decency.
Lucky for me, the same day that cost me this column topic also saw the Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Committee float a proposal to restrict the sale of tall boys and pint vodka downtown. That’ll end homelessness. When it comes to weird ideas, the City of Missoula never closes a door without opening a window. We’ll be back tomorrow with a column on that, unless some assholes house a bunch of veterans overnight.