Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Musings: Clinging to Beliefs

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. 


Anonymous said...

totally agree, teacher's stories not lining up.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? You are the one who brought race and skin color into this, although one of your commenters who claims to have a friend there said Loi started with racial epithets. TGI never mentioned race or skin color.

And your big gotcha? C'mon. The teacher initial said there were about 20 people involved in the attack and in this latest article, he said "There were “probably eight of them” who were involved in the actual physical assault" That means 20 people yelling and about 8 actually laying hands on people and the cars.

Why is it that you want us to disregard the TGI when it doesn't support your beliefs, but suddenly it's gospel if you think it supports your preconceptions.

And if Loi wasn't arrested for punching the 60 year old man or the teen, then what are his two assault charges supposed to be for?

Anonymous said...

We may be too late in Hawaii to end the fight. And the fight is way bigger than the Hanalei pier fiasco, the benefits of GMOs, the use of controlled agriculture burning (used all over the U.S. and LEGAL) where there is no feasible alternative, or the ability to build a telescope on Mauna Kea. The pseudo-environmentalists/quacks have done so much damage poisoning the minds of the too-busy-working to research enough to discern the facts, and leading our spineless policy-makers so far astray, that at best, Hawaii will be stuck in limbo. At worst, we will continue our descent into a place where only the extremists and the extremely wealthy will be able to live. The rest of us will have to leave, or stay and be utterly miserable.
Thought-provoking piece, as usual.

Chuck Lasker said...

A couple of years ago I was talking with an anti-GMOer. I asked her what it would take to change her mind. She said, "long term studies showing the safety of GMOs." I asked, "how long is long term?" She said, "20 years." So I explained, "well, they've been studied for 20 years, served in trillions of meals over the last 20 years, and every credible study shows they are safe." Her response, a response that made me realize what GE proponents are up against was, "Then 50 years."

Anonymous said...

So yes TGI does do a crummy job at reporting, and Corcoran can't remember if it was a group 8 or 20 locals that harassed them... It'll be interesting to find out what transpired but typically arrests aren't made without some sort evidence or probable cause. Maybe both sides bear some responsibility but again, punching or harassing someone is NOT the answer and it's not how we do things in Hawaii. You can't go around punching or spitting at every @ssh-le. And TGI reported there was another arrest for disorderly conduct and harassment a few weeks after Corcoran's reported assault. -The pier has become a hangout where where young (often under age) kids can be found drinking and smoking and more and more it seems they wind up to no good.

Anonymous said...

No worry his aunty probably work for the court house and will get off on probation. That means pick up rubbish for a day or two. Then he'll be back hanging out at black pot acting like a CHAMP.

These young pups are played like drug prostitues to sell the drug ring syndicates product and being home daddy's money.

Then they drive on trucks with big tires and loud music, thinking that they're bosses that run Hanalei or Kauai.

A few years later after some 20 arrests they and work for construction job, while his third baby momma collects EBT and all his kids raid the child services fund and are on quest, the boy is hooked on ICE and is a homeless, wife beater, and career criminal.

Do you all see the big picture? Now look at KCCC, yeah that's you in a few years and your whole lifetime because the drug lords on Kauai makes money off of you wether you all are in jail or out there selling their product.

Nobody likes to talk about it but this happens all the time, year after year, generation after generation.

Free yourselves from your slave masters young men and women of Kauai. Venture the world, get educated, learn new languages and cultures, and become a better person than the one's who are around controlling you.

Say it with me "fuck the Kauai syndicate mafia". "Fuck the drug syndicates". "Fuck the murdering syndicates".

Wooo saaaa

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:05. Skin color was never an issue that was mentioned or implied for that matter. There are locals of all skin colors. Some of them are bad actors. Most of them are not. That being said there seems to be racists of all stripes that comment here though there is one voice that seems to be most prolific in their ranting. That voice tends to support Joan's point of view regarding local/native Hawaiian issues so I have never seen them taken to task for their blatantly inflammatory and hateful speech or maybe there is moderating going on that we don't see and the worst of it does not get posted?

Joan Conrow said...

12:27 --

The worst of it does not get posted.

I do allow some of it because race is such a pervasive issue in Hawaii. It's like, hey, these are your neighbors. This is the mindset we're dealing with here.

The local-haole theme of the Hanalei incident has been a part of the public discussion from the start. Just go back and read the comment threads on my posts and TGI stories.

Anonymous said...

From the editor down to the latest reporter du jour, TGI tells stories; it doesn't report. Turnover guarantees that the typical TGI writer can't tell the difference between a credible source and a toadstool. There wasn't a one of them that did a lick of work to get on top of the science, law, application and history of GMO's or the respective antagonists in order to write responsibly on that admittedly complicated issue. Ditto for feral cats and other subjects. Charlie Fern would be sorry to see this slide into irrelevance. It does not help to have such mediocre work being done on important issues. In fact, it amounts to a disservice. Better that Francis close the doors and buck up the Star Advertiser presence on Kauai to provide credible coverage for the big issues. At this point, TGI is a simply vehicle for advertising and not news.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Kitty Kat Lovers could also take care of the feral locals. Or maybe Da Hoos could make a 500 foot buffer zone around these GMO-ozoned locals. Or even a Barking Local Law.
Get off it all you race f*ckin! Baiters. Y'all are blowing this out of proportion. A couple of punch-outs and the island goes nuts.
If there is a problem it is frustration over the high rents, crowded roads and lack of housing. All of which lie on the doorstep of the Council and State.
And yet, little by little the new Planning Director makes new rules that stifle any hope of housing. And the Council, God Bless these well meaning, but complete idiots, allow It.
So in the next year or so, after rents hit 3000 a month, and houses are 600,000 minimum....and the Planning Department finally executes its long dream of enforcing building and density codes....and half of Hanamaulu, Puhi and Kapahi get red tagged for illegal density and countless structures with no building permits...where will these thousands of folks go?
Not to the long BnBs, these will have already been sold off to mainlanders. Average sales price 1 million.

Anonymous said...

Joan, you venture into squishy territory. There may be good Haoles and bad Haoles and F'in' Haoles. But whether accepted or not, at first are a haole.
But then again, the vast majority of "locals' are Hapas or have plenny Haole Blood li' dat. The poor Portuguese and Spanish are in a quandary they are Haoles on the Mainland, but locals over here. The Vistor/Tourist Haole that comprises about 30 to 40 percent of the ADULTS on Kauai on any given day, put money in the locals pocket, give us jobs, do not commit crimes and are mostly respectful. Love your tourist. And for the non-worker section 8 guys like Andy Parx and the thousands of other Tourist Haters..these tourists put the dollars in your welfare checks, so y'all can keep on whining.
We are all tourists sometimes. Show respect. But never forget Joan, whether you are Champion Queen of da Locals, you still stay one haole. A good haole, but still a Haole.
What ever happened to "Hawaiian Love", it is in the domestic violence section of the Police Blotter and in the court systems.
Speaking of Cops. We even have Haole Cops now. Now the Cops should just patrol Hanalei more often and problem solved.

Anonymous said...

From TGI - "Justin Kollar, County of Kauai prosecuting attorney, said courts will generally not force a defendant to trial when the defense is stating it needs more time. “To do so could create a grounds for reversal of the conviction on appeal,”

But OPA AGREED to these continuances!!!

What goings on here?

Joan Conrow said...

Dear 6:59 -- No haole could ever move to Hawaii and fail to understand he/she will always be a haole, no matter what.

And contrary to what Kauaiboy and others may believe, I have no desire to be a local. I've spent my life discovering my true, authentic self. Why in the world would I ever want to pretend to be anything or anyone else?

Anonymous said...


Joan, I guess you are just confirming what the rest of us haoles already know. No, Councilman Kagawa, we are not "local", nor will we ever be. Please don't misrepresent yourself by trying to be politically correct. Choosing to call Kauai home will never make us "locals", even if we've spent most of our lives here and our children have been born and raised here. We will judged by the color of our skin and be seen as f-in' haoles, a racist derogatory term that is just as vilifying as the word n--ger.

Anonymous said...

It's all hog wash and it's been over 3 years. These donkeys in office treats the public like we're dumb asses.

Anonymous said...

@7:23 - You just explained it yourself: OPA agreed to the continuances because they don't want grounds for an appeal. If you're talking about the Galas trial, yes it is VERY disappointing... This is yet another continuance. But would you rather a hasty trial and someone guilty gets off free? The only hope is to get it right the first time.. "Double Jeopardy" prevents him from being tried for the same crime twice.

Anonymous said...

Chronic Meth Area: Now you think a Haole or a Local did this?

$5,000 reward offered in case of Kauai dog shot, paws and tail cut off
Keoki Kerr

Jul 15, 2015 06:49 PM

ANAHOLA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A $5,000 reward is being offered for information about the killing of a dog on Kauai whose owner said it was found shot with its tail and paws cut off.

A Kapaa woman said her boyfriend found her hunting dog, an 8-year-old hound dog mix named B.B., dead hanging from a tree in Anahola, with its collar nearby.

Anonymous said...

Scared you gonna get chief in trouble? Stupid. Very bad judgment on his part, telling you in writing his opinion of circumstances surrounding Hanalei incident. His remarks and your blog will be in court. That's for sure.

Joan Conrow said...

Actually, I wasn't posting your comments because I don't like to perpetuate misinformation, but since you're so persistent, I'll set you straight right now. I checked and nothing he said compromises or prejudices the case in any way. My guess is even Loi won't end up in court, much less the chief or my blog. Oh, and don't try to practice law without a license -- especially when you have an ax to grind.

But thanks for proving my point about how some people just won't let their preconceptions go.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people who have section 8 are hard working people.
One of your bloggers says to "respect tourists." But in the lines before that, 6:59 spews judgement and disrespect towards people who get HUD.
Generalizations are part of our problem.

John Kauai said...

I was very disappointed in the Slate article.
It basically continues with the canard, "anyone who thinks GMOs are bad is an idiot."

The problem is that the issue isn't necessarily GMO good/bad or ever pesticide good/bad. There isn't a simple answer.

There is a correlation between the rise in autism and the use of glyphosate.
There is a correlation between the rise of CKDu and the use of glyphosate.
There is a correlation between the rise of gluten intolerance and the use of glyphosate.

Glyphosate and GMO are pretty much inseparable because of "roundup-ready" crops.

None of this means glyphosate is the problem. But it is a warning.

The problem is compounded by the fact that Bob Streit tells his clients to NOT use glyphosate. They don't, and their crop yields increase. OTOH, I have a good friend who does use glyphosate who gets yields way above that of his neighbors.

It is like alcoholism. Some people should never touch it. Others can imbibe forever.

I choose to not use glyphosate. I would like to know whether or not the food I purchase is GMO. That doesn't mean I'm totally anti-GMO. GMO is the same thing as human embryonic stem cell research. Bush shut the latter down while promoting the former.

Bottom line, our world is dying. Why?

Mostly I'd say it is because there are just. too many people, but if folks can't get their head around birth control, then they need to expend some efforts in whatever different direction is going to improve things.

Anonymous said...

John Kauai,
First, correlation is not causation. The rise in autism also correlates with the increase in organic food production. Second, the researchers who published the original article on gluten intolerance have since published a follow-up article in which they argue that the condition is not nearly as widespread as thought; in short, most people who think they are gluten intolerant probably are not. Third, glyphosate and genetic engineering ("GMO") are indeed separable. One is a technique and one is a specific application of that technique.
Finally, to your claim that the article has a premise of "anyone who thinks GMOs are bad is an idiot" misunderstands the argument, probably purposefully. A more accurate statement would be: the claim that food containing genetically engineered traits poses a health risk is ignorant.