No nukes, no bottles, no fun

Rules for radicals: Everyone loves a parade, but not everyone can agree on exactly what constitutes one. But here in Sacramento, it’s beginning to look like dressing up as a butterfly and parading around with signs no longer will be considered a crime.

Or will it? Although there are no guarantees on exactly how the new parade ordinance will be worded, a handful of democratically minded citizens turned out for a community meeting at City Hall last week to discuss the matter with officials, as the Sacramento City Council prepares to draft a new and improved list of rules for public protesters.

Deputy City Manager Richard Ramirez and Neighborhood Services Area Director Gary Little presided over the informal gathering, where citizens were asked what they would like to see prohibited at future gatherings in Sacramento.

They asked for floor votes on whether to ban or allow such items as loaded rifles and pistols, rocks and bottles, bricks, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, along with some of the more benign things that people actually carry while exercising free speech, such as otherwise harmless informational signs.

Bites was glad to learn that some of the more powerful instruments of destruction are already prohibited by federal statute, reducing the risk of rogue mushroom clouds over the Convention Center the next time controversy arises.

However, those in attendance would like to see some of the old Parade and Park Permitting Ordinance’s restrictions relaxed.

They voted unanimously in favor of allowing lengths of pipe attached to signs, but only 18-5 in favor of unattached pipe. The votes in favor of allowing glass bottles, balloons filled with substances besides oxygen or helium, spray paint and projectile launchers were similar.

They also favored evening the playing field with law enforcement by allowing paraders to carry operational gas masks and paintball rifles, always useful in a scuffle.

Yet, somehow, a mood of skepticism prevailed in the audience. Linda Roberts, who told Bites she had been attending political rallies and demonstrations since the 1970s, said the only violence she’d ever witnessed had been perpetrated by the police. She also claimed there was no “Battle in Seattle” and that the whole Sacramento ordinance had been dreamed up by City Manager Bob Thomas in response to exaggerated press accounts of what happened up north.

Little, on the other hand, was delighted just to have the opportunity to discuss the minutiae of free speech. “I love this game,” he declared at one point, proclaiming that the event made him feel the democratic process is still healthy and open.

KVIE gets sweet on maple sugar: Local PBS station KVIE has taken some nibbles from Bites in the recent past, so we’re happy to report that it stood up for both diversity and sugary goodness by airing a controversial children’s program last Friday morning.

The episode of Postcards from Buster, a combined animation/live-action show that introduces young ’uns to the joys of tourism, took a trip to Vermont for its “Sugartime!” episode. Turns out the families they visited were headed by—gasp—two women! Not one, but two decidedly laid-back and loving same-gender families with happy, well-adjusted children.

From the savagery of the attack by President George W. Bush’s new education secretary, Margaret Spelling, you’d think Buster had conducted an in-depth survey of icky lesbian sex. But the word “lesbian” is never mentioned, and the discussion of the whole “two moms” scenario takes up less than 30 seconds of the 30-minute program.

Still, it led to PBS pulling funding for the episode and dozens of stations refusing to air it. Kudos to KVIE for recognizing that the show was about Vermont’s mud season, not lesbian mud wrestling.

But they can be stupid: Aging pop idol Jon Bon Jovi, on the media circuit to promote his 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong best-of album, gave our governator his stamp of approval during a chat with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch. “Deutsch seemed unconvinced about Arnold’s qualifications for governor,” writes columnist Liz Smith, “but Jon insisted Arnold was a brilliant man, and would make a splendid president.” This should come as great news to those who, like Bites, never judge anyone’s intellectual capacity until Bon Jovi weighs in on the matter.