The skinny

Sharp minds: It was just a week ago that SN&R got the anonymous call: “Man, you guys ought to write something about the SHARPs. They’re out of control these days and trying to kick everybody’s asses.”

A reporter called the Sacramento Police Department to see whether these SHARP fellows were indeed kicking everybody’s asses, but she was told that, nope, the cops hadn’t heard about any increase in ass-kicking by the SHARPs.

Bites heard about this while lurking around the coffee machine, and of course my immediate reaction was, “What the hell is a SHARP?” Turns out it’s an acronym for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, sort of a white hat version of those bald neo-Nazi punks.

Bites’ newfound subcultural knowledge would come in handy just a few days later, during a Friday night bar crawl on June 29. Apparently, the problems began in Benny’s bar with an ass-grabbing, which is usually a precursor to an ass-kicking when said ass belongs to one of the SHARPs’ girlfriends.

She, of course, responded to this indiscretion (by a Hispanic guy she knew, no less) by flipping open her knife, sticking it in his face and offering to cut a few ventilation holes. Well, as these things go, words were exchanged, testosterone surged, and pretty soon some SHARPs went over to the Press Club to get more SHARPs, and the mob was formed.

It’s funny how much a mob of angry young anti-racist skinheads chasing a group of Mexican-Americans down Q Street at midnight looks like a normal old mob of skinheads. At least it struck Bites as funny until some SHARPs threatened to kick Bites’ ass and the ass of a friend who had been snapping photos of the incident, a confrontation that ended with the friend erasing the pictures under duress.

As tempting as it is to chalk their antics up to “boys will be boys,” there’s something very disturbing about the SHARPs’ logic-tortured vision of right and wrong. Racism is bad, but a fairly benign mindset unless coupled with actions, and the very worst of those actions is violence. And random violence backed by numbers seems to be more SHARPs’ schtick than enlightened anti-racism.

Whether it be ass-kicking SHARPs, gay-bashing homophobes or American bombers over Iraq, perpetuation of violence as a means of conflict resolution is perhaps the biggest barrier to human evolution, a worse problem than racism, homophobia or nationalism.

Yet more than perpetuating pacifism, the purpose in this little tale is to promote dialogue. So, SHARPs, if you want to defend your perspective, drop me a line at Or if you just want to kick my ass, my real name is Steve Maviglio, and you can find me in my field office (which also happens to be the governor’s press office) in the Capitol, Room 1178.

More Mueller: Bites finally got to see an old foe in action last week. Yup, that’s right, Bites had a front row seat when Walter Mueller of the neo-fascist Northern California Council of Conservative Citizens squared off against a group of young activists with the Jewish Defense League.

The occasion, as you may remember from last week’s column, was a scheduled speech to the CofCC by Holocaust denier Harvey Taylor of the Institute for Historical Review.

So Bites settled in at a nearby seat to watch the Jews battle the Nazis, but because Taylor had cancelled at the last minute, it wasn’t much of a show. Both sides were civil, even as they took their gentle shots at one another.

A short, balding man with a guttural European accent, Mueller was unapologetic about the subject matter, saying Taylor had spoken to the group before and would do so again and politely asked his uninvited guests to leave so they could continue the meeting.

Bites left too, vowing along the way to just leave Mueller be after this one last story. Sure, his rhetoric is vile and hateful, but after seeing the small, pathetic group of his followers assembled in that little room, he no longer seems like the threat that he once did.

“Aren’t you going to stay for the program?” Mueller, thinking Bites a potential recruit, yelled as I walked to my car.

“No,” Bites yelled back, and drove away.