Thursday, January 17, 2008

Public Meetings

I have no illusions that council members and boards of directors don't get up to all sorts of nasty shenanigans behind the scenes, but I'd like to focus on the most draining aspect of board work: dealing with crazy people who come to the meetings.

I was part of the board for a local organization for over a year, and while we managed to get a lot done, by far the majority of our time was spent dealing with frivolous people whose mental state ranged from "deluded" to "clueless" to "outright insane."

These folks would often criticize us as a whole for not getting things done, and then they'd bury us under yet another ridiculous complaint or appeal that needed to be treated delicately.

It didn't help that we were timid and inexperienced -- we got involved because we liked the organization, not because we were planning on making a living out of it -- but it's a sad fact that there are few ways of getting a destructive and disruptive person out of a meeting. Which is surprising because they so often plan on attending.

Anyway, I accidentally stumbled across the train-wreck which is the Scranton, Pennsylvania city council meeting. Every week they are accosted by crazy folks, many of who attend every meeting. It doesn't help that the meetings are televised and that it's become a sad sort of reality TV phenomenon. Now the crazy people are becoming celebrities. And one of the council members is notoriously short-tempered and nasty as well.

Maybe EVERYBODY knows about these meetings -- I've heard something about them being referenced in the American version of The Office -- or maybe they're a little Scranton secret. But for your dubious enjoyment, here's a typical segment. When I watch it, I instantly flash back to annual general meetings when we'd sit, dumbfounded, as a guy like this tried to browbeat us.


VanillaJ said...

Hey, isn't that Dave Sim? He's gain a lot of weight.

Adam Thornton said...

Ha! I was thinking exactly the same thing.

I haven't been to any local council meetings so I don't know how he conducts himself, but I have my suspicions...

Anonymous said...

Actually, I've generally found Dave Sim to be very polite, if somewhat aloof. I realize that some of his views are, shall we say, unique, but he's never struck me as the doltish and ignorant type.

As for that guy in Scranton...well, he just makes me feel good. There's a few things wrong with my life, but I have one, and that's more than this social sluggard can say.

Adam Thornton said...

I'm just going by Sim's published opinion pieces, which have made no sense whatsoever.

He's obviously a guy with a world view that he wants to express, but his world view has no logical underpinnings and appears to come down to a bunch of assumptions based on grudges and half-baked ideas.

After reading his long-winded and nonsensical opinion pieces -- and knowing that he regularly goes to the city council meetings -- I can't help wondering how he handles himself. Maybe he is constructive, but I somehow doubt it.

I guess my point would be that you don't have to be doltish to be ignorant, ridiculous, and annoying in a meeting. Sim comes across as all three of those things in his (quote-unquote) non-fiction writing, though not actually doltish.

VanillaJ said...

Erh...when Mr. Sim does choose speak, I don't think anyone could accuse him of brevity.

But, you're right. There's no ignorance in describing half the population as a "Female Void (that) devours the Male Light". It's a refreshingly unique take on misogyny....and polite, at that. I wonder how he feels about black people?

Adam Thornton said...


VanillaJ said...

Mess with Mr Sim?

Apparently he's ready to cash in on the shear frivolity and superficiality of the Female Void with his new publication:

For girls that think Steven Foucault is a FABULOUS shoe designer!

VanillaJ said...

...or is that Michael Foucault? Sorry, there was a sale. I must have gotten distracted.

Anonymous said...

He does opinion pieces? Like in the Record or something? Wow. Colour me curious. I dunno...his beliefs don't really make any sense to me, but I find him fascinating nonetheless. I wonder what it's like in his head.

Adam Thornton said...


Errrr...okay. Interesting career move, I guess. Though I expect it will turn into a bunch of rants against feminists, women in general, homosexuals, athiests, and "secular humanists."

Adam Thornton said...

A few years ago, Xen magazine (now defunct) gave him a "news" forum that he used to present issues in a unique way: by writing mammoth, pushy essays about stuff he hates, backed up with totally ironclad logic along the lines of "I believe it, I read an article about something slightly related to it, I now present you with a bunch of irrelevant stuff, and therefore it's true. Chuckle."

To his credit he seemed as baffled by the continuance of the forum as the magazine's readership was (at least the readers I knew).

VanillaJ said...

Well, we again have the privilege of reading Dave Sim's views in the newly resurrected "Versus", a free local magazine edited by Sandy Atwal. Pray tell the topic of Dave's current mad meanderings? How there is NO PROOF of global warming, hence no reason that we humans should change our consumption behaviour. I hope you never change, Dave, you beautiful deluded bigot.

Adam Thornton said...

Atwal has a strange loyalty for Sim, which sounds like the usual excuse for his behaviour: "But...he's the AARDVARK GUY!"

As for what it's like in Dave Sim's head, a few people have advanced theories. Some of his well-respected old-time comic buddies used to say he was "just kidding," but it doesn't seem like that anymore.

Various people say he's mentally ill, which sounds reasonable.

But the more recent theory -- and the one that sounds most plausible to me -- is that he's a self-hating closet homosexual. He sounds SO MUCH like the folks who "protest too much" and then get caught soliciting in bathrooms.

In any case, I'm glad that the only money he made off of me was from a single Cerebus comic I bought when I was a kid. Which might explain why I'm not star-struck.