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The editorial board at KSBW-TV must still be waiting for an apology from the folks who blocked traffic on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

With all the pent-up rage of Clint Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski character chasing his Hmong neighbors off his lawn, Joseph Heston, the animated embodiment of KSBW’s editorial board, on Friday unleashed a stern finger wag to UC Santa Cruz students who blocked traffic on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz back in March. Heston and the editorial board are furious because the students failed to “apologize for their incredibly reckless behavior.

The six students were in court last week to plead no contest to misdemeanor charges of creating a public nuisance. Their misdemeanors were committed in March, when they chained themselves to concrete-filled bins they had placed on the highway to bring attention to tuition increases in the UC system.

Heston was apparently expecting expressions of “real remorse” from the students, but he was sorely disappointed.

Ever the reliable defender of commerce and the status quo, Heston went so far as to proffer his own two-bit psychological diagnosis of the Santa Cruz students.

“Perhaps it comes from being a part of a generation that grew up being awarded blue ribbons no matter who actually won the race,” blustered the telegenic amateur Freudian, apropos of nothing. “Or, when acting out in kindergarten or elementary school, the misbehavior was excused as the child’s just expressing his or her true feelings.”


A group of activists, overly entitled according to toad’s standards, commemorates the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., a landmark event in the Civil Rights Movement. The movement went on to considerable success. Little is remembered about the traffic troubles of the time.

As far as local media pundits go, nothing stirs the jaundice worse than a bad traffic jam. Unless, of course, the traffic jams are created in the interests of golf tournaments, food festivals and fancy car shows. They are the sorts of events we should apparently all get behind because their participants aren’t liable to go all social-justice crazy on us.

Six weeks ago, another student protest tied up Saturday traffic on Highway 1 on the Monterey Peninsula. I got caught up in that particular jam, but it didn’t seem much worse than the usual strangulated highway situation on any typical Monterey weekend.

Admittedly, the issue of tuition hikes doesn’t exactly reverberate like the civil rights violations that students in Alabama were protesting when they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma back in 1965, an event that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Still, I would imagine the manager of the Selma television station at the time must have been livid that young and uppity whipper-snappers possessed the temerity to raise awareness for their cause by tying up traffic without an apology.

Rather than showing remorse, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee continued their peaceful protests and eventually succeeded in pushing for the Voting Rights Act. Or, as Heston might have said at the time (as he did in his editorial on Friday), they “pontificated about the lack of justice and proclaimed their ultimate righteousness.”

As I recall, the Civil Rights Movement grew out of a generation in which blue ribbons weren’t awarded to everyone because of their race.

Livernois, a former editor of the Monterey Herald, is the author of “The Road to Guanajuato.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Len Foster May 18, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Whether protesting the absence of civil rights, perceived police tyranny, and unjust foreign war or unfair tuition hikes, I am generally supportive of genuine civil disobedience. However, when someone engages in such actions they need to be prepared to accept the consequences. In the case cited by Joe Livernois, the students should not expect to be heralded as heros by those whose lives, and livelihoods, were disrupted. They should expect to serve some jail time in addition to being required to offset the taxpayers costs associated with safety personnel who responded to the blockage of the highway.
    Personal freedom is limited in any society. An individual’s freedom to swing their arm does not extend to the tip of my nose. Exercising personal freedoms should not deprive another of their’s.
    Since they are “poor college students” this financial burden may fall to their parents.
    Many of California’s college students, perhaps a majority, are subsidized in some way (work study, financial aid, scholarships, etc.) thereby insulating them from the true cost of their education. I have sufficient faith in the system to believe that these students will be appropriately sanctioned for their illegal, however well intented, actions.

    • Bill Johns May 19, 2015, 9:32 am

      Not to worry kiddies, your socialist presidential candidate buddy, Bernie Sanders, wants a government program that would make higher education free.
      Another swell idea .

  • Julie Engell May 18, 2015, 3:30 pm

    You’re right. Tuition hikes don’t reverberate the way civil rights violations did. But I wonder who Heston wants to have looking after things when he’s no longer competent — a generation of folks who we failed to provide with even a decent high school education, a generation of folks who we treated as though their futures were of little consequence? That’s pretty much what we’re doing.

    Speaking of traffic, I’ve never heard a KSBW editorial that challenged the wisdom of suburban sprawl. Never mind that the shortfall for repair and maintenance of local roads has risen to $1.2 billion. You got a project out in the middle of nowhere that’s going to dump more traffic on local roads? Sounds like a great idea to KSBW. TAMC wants voters to approve a sales tax to cover the road maintenance and repair deficit. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts Heston will support that idea. I guess we pay for what’s important to us.

  • Gary Wilmot May 18, 2015, 4:12 pm

    The civil rights marchers did not violate any laws. They were walking peacefully down the sidewalk when they were attacked and beaten by the police for simply exercising their civil rights. The students on highway 1 where violation other peoples civil rights to free passage on a public road. There is a difference.

  • Margie McCurry May 18, 2015, 4:16 pm

    DELIGHTED to get to read Joe Livernois’ writing again!! Thanks for keeping good journalism alive!

  • bill hood May 18, 2015, 4:50 pm

    Hi Joe, as said above, good to hear from you again (i know you have written in that “other” paper from south of Monterey that, on this blog, needs to go unnamed). I sort of agree with your comment on Heston, and sort of disagree. I totally believe he needs to attend a class of how to properly use facial expressions to emphasize, but not totally distract, from the message given. The class, in his case, would have to focus on the closing of the mouth after every phrase, and the interesting movement of eyebrows.

    But, as a former editor, do you really expect Heston to be consistently presenting views that match your own? After all, he works for a money-making organization, and he may have a long leash, and he may have a short leash. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say it is a long leash. If so, he is giving HIS views. If we disagree, contact the station and submit a rebuttal. That is what opinion pages and Tv editorials are all about. The views printed or stated are the views of the individual and/or the organization and anyone has a complete right to criticize. Your piece does a very good job of that. We can state that those who disagree are stupid or crazy (as I frequently do), but we can’t argue that stupid or crazy views can’t be aired. I wish they weren’t, and I wish all opinion, no matter where or when, was well thought-out, fair, factual and persuasive. Unfortunately, most are not.

  • Gregory D. Lee May 18, 2015, 5:51 pm

    As the great philosopher Forrest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” This certainly applies to these UCSC students.

  • Helga Fellay May 18, 2015, 7:25 pm

    I fully agree with some of the above comments, especially those from Len Foster and Julie Engell, so I won’t reiterate the points they made.

    I also am an activist and feel outraged at the impunity with which unarmed men and boys of color are murdered by militarized police in this country. I also participated in the peaceful demonstration in Monterey to express my outrage. I remember the Monterey Police Officers, on that occasion at least, were very courteous and helpful in blocking traffic to allow the demonstration to proceed. I left before 8 of the protestors apparently decided to block Highway One and only found out about this by watching the local evening news.

    Was anything positive achieved by blocking traffic on Highway One for 40 minutes?
    I think not. The demonstrators’ anger against injustice was visited upon innocent commuters who did not cause this injustice, and who no doubt became angry at the protestors, and not at those who perpetrated the original injustice. This means that their act not only achieved nothing, but was actually counterproductive. Did these 8 angry protestors even think of the problems they were visiting on innocent commuters with their demonstration – possibly the mother in labor needing to get to the hospital who did not need this added stress? – or the unemployed person who ended up 40 minutes late for this job interview, now without a chance of ever getting that job? – or the mother picking up her child at day care who now has to pay more than she can afford for being 40 minutes late?

    They say street protests is the only voice left to the voiceless, and for that reason they are important, very important. But before protesting, it is important to focus NOT on your need to express your anger but on how your protest can achieve the change you want to achieve, or if it can. The decision makers do not care – trust me on this – on how you feel about injustice – in fact, they don’t care about injustice. There are only two words they do care about: Profit, and Loss. Monterey is a small, fly-over city, and no one here was in any way affected by the 40 minute highway delay except the commuters and the poor, misguided youngsters. Let’s compare this to what happened in Baltimore following the murder of Freddy Gray.

    Baltimore lost $7.5 million because of the Orioles game alone. Three conventions, involving 2,000 visitors, were cancelled. Baltimore’s tourism, especially its business traveler sector, which is a $138 million a year business, suffered millions in damage. Baltimore’s Aquarium closed, the Kinetic Sculpture race was cancelled. This is the language decision makers do understand.

    The sad part is that the people who suffered the most are the ones who deserved it least: empty restaurants with laid off servers, dishwashers, bussers, who won’t be able to pay the rent; laid off single moms who clean hotel rooms, now standing empty; mom and pop restaurants who may close because there were no customers. But among the thousands of the innocent victims is a handful of Fat Cats – the Oriole owners, the Convention Hall owners, the folks at City Hall who are losing millions in tax revenue, and among them, I can almost guarantee it, is at least one who will tell the police chief: Do whatever it is you have to do, but make sure this doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately, this is the only way I can see how we, the people, can hope to bring about some measure of change in this country which stopped being a democracy a long time ago.

    • Ron Chesshire May 18, 2015, 8:42 pm

      POOR MISGUIDED YOUNGSTERS? In your opinion their action was counter-productive. Just goes to show you can’t please everyone and they were smart enough to know that going in. All lives matter and they were out there to make a statement. You decided to be a fair weather protester. And now you write a pile about, “hit em’ in the wallet”. Unfortunately, a little blood has to flow before the wallet squeaks. Or did you forget all those that sacrificed for every right we have and those that will sacrifice for every right we keep?

  • Ron Chesshire May 18, 2015, 8:00 pm

    Were the Sons of Liberty (Boston Tea Party) stupid? How about the marchers in Selma? Time and History tell whether someone was stupid or not and if their actions were appropriate. I always thought General Custer was pretty stupid but we finally showed those Indians, didn’t we? And, they are still paying the price for not staying on the reservation.

    Those who feel suppressed or believe they are being treated unjustly act out. The form the action takes can be legal, illegal, or somewhere in between. It is meant to provoke thought and action. Those engaged in the action are well aware that they are crossing the line in some manner which may not be acceptable to the public or those in authority. It is the chance they take to make a difference.

    It is obvious to me the students were prepared to pay the price for their actions. It is also obvious to me that there are forces trying to dismantle the education system in America and that a college education is increasingly becoming unattainable for far too many because of cost. This struggle is not new but is picking up steam around the country. It is just a symptom of the inequities legislated upon us for the last 35 years or so.

    I was not inconvenienced and am not going to judge what the students did. But, I will take note of what their message was and will work to try and right it because there is a problem. Those of you who don’t think so can continue to celebrate the way things are and hope it doesn’t change. For those who had to spend a few extra minutes in transit or those of you who believe you have the power to condemn I wonder what your and everyone else’s reaction would have been if a group of students would have sat in front of City Hall or a College Admin, Building, poured a gallon of gas over each one of themselves and flicked their BIC? Would you believe the problem was of a serious nature or would you continue to ridicule them and call them names?

  • Susan Schiavone May 22, 2015, 9:55 pm

    I am actually proud of these young people. With all the on line petitions, social media actions, etc., we forget that good old “getting out in the street” protests are something that get attention. I would like to see younger people, and all people, protesting even more, like about global warming and pollution, or violence against women, and racism. I am not talking about those who commit looting, or violence. The more people who get out in a protest, the better. Leaders pay attention to large numbers. Just think, what if a huge amount of people got out to protest gas and oil dependency? This tactic stopped a war, and it changed racist laws in the past. Nonviolent action is one of the few ways that the common people can address their leaders in a meaningful, collective messaging event. Unfortunately, our representatives tend to listen to those with the money to influence and not the average citizen. So, march on, students, and no apologies!

  • L. Parrish May 23, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Sometimes, and probably most of the time, the pre-occupied, apathetic, ignorant, complacent, passive public in this country (and especially in this overpriveleged neck of the woods) needs a good slap in the face or an appropriate kick in the ass to WAKE UP! I am totally in favor of these non-violent acts of civil disobedience. The purpose? Well, here we are – talking about it. If these kids had not acted out – we wouldn’t be talking about it. Enough said.

  • Liz love May 26, 2015, 11:42 pm

    I’m in agreement with Joe. Traffic jams did not seem worse than bad commute or holiday hours. Just surprising. But that is what protesting is all about — attention grabbing. And community actions always speak louder than individual ones do. Too bad the press focused more on the traffic jams instead of the issues the students were trying to bring awareness of. And I would take Heston more seriously if he changed his hair-do once in awhile. I think we baby boomers get entrenched in our ways and take them too seriously. What if we were all car-pooling, riding public transportation or bikes? Maybe the issues the students were protesting would not be so dire with more money for schools, etc.

  • Amy Gonzales June 2, 2015, 7:00 pm

    While I agree that college tuition have gotten out of control, going up nearly 4 times faster than the inflation rate over the last 20 years. It would be wrong to say that it getting a college education is out of reach of the majority of Americans. We are near an all time high at over 65% of high school graduates going to college. Just a few decades ago that number was near 45% and has risen steadily since. Instead of the students protesting tuition rates, the rest of us taxpaying citizens should be protesting the waste and corruption in our public universities. Out of control salaries, pensions and tenure are the reason tuitions have risen. Protest the cause, not the effect.