Grave new world

I spite on your grave: The reincarnated Sacramento Union may not normally moderate its blog, but a recent letter-writing campaign led it to pull an editorial column by moonlighting Sacramento radio host Mark Williams. The ever-thoughtful Williams, when last we encountered him, was making fun of Allah and champing at the bit to show Fallujah “what the wrath of God REALLY looks like.” (See “Erectile dysfunction,” SN&R Bites, November 11.) Soon afterward, Williams further upped the vitriol, reacting to the death of Yasser Arafat with “Finishing What Hitler Started,” a cheerful little commentary that ends in Williams recommending that “the appropriate headstone over the stiff would be a working urinal.” Along the way, Williams also manages to describe Palestine as a cruel “pile of camel manure.”

The column did not sit well with Elias Rashmawi, who sent out an e-mail alert calling Williams a “repeat offender of hate and bigotry.” The Davis-based activist asked recipients to complain to the Union, Williams’ Clear Channel-owned KBFK and the Federal Communications Commission (as if the FCC’s Michael Powell doesn’t have more serious matters on his hands fighting the good fight against Monday Night Football-gate).

Rashmawi also suggested that Williams’ rhetoric is fueling an atmosphere of hatred toward Arab-American and Muslim students, which culminated, he said, in counter-protesters shouting “kill them all” and dangling a large lynched effigy of Arafat at a Davis anti-war protest.

Last week, The Sacramento Union gave in, pulling the column and running a half-apologetic editorial that ponders the mysteries of how remarks typical of talk radio can appear “jarring” in print. “Tombstones, for example, are not urinals,” explains the editor, who came to this revelation after being “targeted by an orchestrated letters-to-the-editor campaign, unmistakable because of the extreme repetitiousness of content and tone.”

See? Williams and his detractors do have something in common after all!

I sit on your bill: Throughout the past year, the media has bitched about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s extracurricular activities, from serving as executive editor of Flex and Muscle & Fitness magazines to his involvement in the Arnold Classic Fitness Expo. (Well, the latter didn’t raise much concern, although Bites did get some cheap humor out of its Arnold cheerleading component. See “Arnold + cheerleaders = zany fun!”; SN&R Bites; October 30, 2003.) But Bites’ hat goes off to alt-weekly journalist Peter Byrne, whose article in the current North Bay Bohemian ( ) details an apparent conflict of interest in the governor’s recent veto of a bill that would have restricted the sale and use of performance-enhancing dietary supplements (PEDS) on public-school campuses.

In his veto message regarding Jackie Speier’s Senate Bill 1630, Schwarzenegger suggests that PEDS are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Byrne reports that such “body shredding” amino acids and hormones are classified as food by the FDA, which neither tests nor approves them. The story goes on to detail what appear to be extensive financial ties between Schwarzenegger and the PEDS industry, which includes primary sponsors of the Arnold Classic and advertisers in his magazines.

The bill specifically targets those “pain numbing concoctions designed to build muscle mass and improve athletic performance by exciting the cardiovascular and central nervous systems” that have been listed as dangerous by the Department of Health. In his veto message, the governor said he would revisit the issue next year. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the mainstream media picks up on the story.