It’s been quite fascinating to see how some folks desperately want to cling to the belief that a mob of drunken local boys is terrorizing defenseless tourists, without any provocation or cause, at the Hanalei Pier.
Some of it is due to The Garden Island’s usual crummy reporting, which created a certain perception of events. Some of it can be attributed to their own fears or distrust of young local men. Call it haole paranoia.
And some of it is rooted in the same phenomenon that has people still believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and biotech crops are poisoning westsiders: You repeat something often enough and the gullible — or those seeking to confirm their own biases — lap it right up. Then they doggedly hang on to that cherished belief, even when information surfaces that challenges it, or disproves it outright.
With the arrest of Kapaa resident Iona Keola Loi on two counts of third-degree assault and one count of harassment, additional details surfaced about the event. As Police Chief Darryl Perry told me in an email:
Detective Rose did an outstanding job in gathering the facts contrary to what some may believe. What we uncovered was not a situation related to racial overtones, or an organized group of locals hellbent on hurting visitors for no reason at all. I can’t say anymore about this until the case goes to court, but there certainly was more than enough blame to go around than what was portrayed by the initial news reports.
The police have never, contrary to claims made in the comments section, accused Loi of punching a 60-year-old man or a 14-year-old student, or spitting in anyone’s face. Those claims were made by the alleged victims, whose story is already unraveling.
Today’s newspaper reports:
There were “probably eight of them” who were involved in the actual physical assault, [school group leader Tim] Corcoran said, although he added that some of the bystanders tried to break up the scene.
Previously, Corcoran claimed there were at least 20 attackers, and no one came to their aid:
“I really thought we were going to die. We were surrounding [sic] by 20 of them, threatening to kill us. The reason why I think we got out of there alive (was because) they didn’t have any weapons. They didn’t show any knives or show any guns, just bodies,” Corcoran said.
Yet the minute I even broached the possibility that things were not as TGI and the victims contended, I was accused of condoning violence, defending a punk, victim-blaming, drinking police Kool-Aid, sucking up to locals, losing my good sense, dog-fighting, etc., etc., etc.
I doubt those who jumped on me will change their views, even if Loi is ultimately acquitted, but I’ve been fascinated to observe how eager some Kauai folks are to believe that Hanalei has spawned a mob of brown-skinned guys on a hate crime spree, and the cops are covering it up.
As for their paranoia, a local friend observed:
Maybe it is a shock to live in a part of America where it’s not normal for white cops to shoot people of color.
If you crave facts, as one reader claimed, you need to first let go of the belief that you already have a lock on the truth.
Which brings us to an excellent piece in Slate on the fear-mongering and lies that characterize the anti-GMO movement. As Will Saletan writes in a vindication of my own experience:
I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.
Second, the central argument of the anti-GMO movement—that prudence and caution are reasons to avoid genetically engineered, or GE, food—is a sham. Activists who tell you to play it safe around GMOs take no such care in evaluating the alternatives. They denounce proteins in GE crops as toxic, even as they defend drugs, pesticides, and non-GMO crops that are loaded with the same proteins. They portray genetic engineering as chaotic and unpredictable, even when studies indicate that other crop improvement methods, including those favored by the same activists, are more disruptive to plant genomes.
Third, there are valid concerns about some aspects of GE agriculture, such as herbicides, monocultures, and patents. But none of these concerns is fundamentally about genetic engineering. Genetic engineering isn’t a thing. It’s a process that can be used in different ways to create different things. To think clearly about GMOs, you have to distinguish among the applications and focus on the substance of each case.
It’s a very thorough article, refuting the bullshit spread about the GE papaya, disputing the supposed safety of organics over GE crops when it comes to Bt, discrediting people like Jeffrey Smith and UH’s Hector Valenzuela, detailing the misguided attack on Vitamin A-enriched “golden rice,” exposing the hypocrisy and duplicity of Greenpeace and revealing the sham of GMO labeling.
It also discusses the potential available through GE technology: drought-tolerant corn, virus-resistant plums, non-browning apples, potatoes with fewer natural toxins, soybeans that produce less saturated fat, virus-resistant beans, heat-tolerant sugarcane, salt-tolerant wheat, disease-resistant cassava, high-iron rice, and cotton that requires less nitrogen fertilizer, nonallergenic nuts, bacteria-resistant oranges, water-conserving wheat and more.
That’s what genetic engineering can do for health and for our planet. The reason it hasn’t is that we’ve been stuck in a stupid, wasteful fight over GMOs. On one side is an army of quacks and pseudo-environmentalists waging a leftist war on science. On the other side are corporate cowards who would rather stick to profitable weed-killing than invest in products that might offend a suspicious public. The only way to end this fight is to educate ourselves and make it clear to everyone that we’re ready, as voters and consumers, to embrace nutritious, environmentally friendly food, no matter where it got its genes.
If you’re interested in facts about GMO products, it’s a great place to start. But first, you’ll need to open your mind, and release your fear.