Sunday, May 15, 2011

Personal Attacks

It's time for a glance at first principles. 

The foundation of political freedom is freedom of speech. It's been established that, as long as your speech is no threat to other people, you have the right to say anything you want. It can be true or false, brilliant or moronic, insightful or totally beside the point - doesn't matter. You have the right to say it.

More nuanced but underlying this freedom is the principle that, if you disagree with a statement that someone else makes, you still grant him or her the right to say it. Furthermore, if you don't like what someone says, you have the right to attack the idea but not the person who makes it.

A personal attack thus is an attack on a person instead of an idea. Put another way, it's a method of dissing an idea by slandering the person who states it.

There is no necessary connection between an idea and the person who holds it.

Attacking an idea or a product by attacking a person who holds the idea, or makes or sells the product, is logically beside the point.

The idea or the product is either good or not good. The moral qualities or motivations of the people who promotes the ideas or the products are also beside the point.

History, for example, is littered with artists whose personal lives didn't match the quality of their creations. The classic example (from classical music) is Richard Wagner who was anti-semitic, slept with his best friend's wife, cheated people out of money, and may have influenced Hitler in his hatred of the jews. Certainly his music was used for propaganda by the Nazis.

Nonetheless, he composed some of the most beautiful operas ever written and they are performed almost everywhere in the world today - including Israel.

In sum: Wagner - bad, The Flight of the Valkyries - good.

In short: If you don't like something, explain why and forget the rest.

Cab drivers and the culture of freedom.

We cab drivers are famous for being opinionated. The saying is that you can't get two cab drivers to agree on anything. I would go beyond this and say that any time you have two cab drivers in an argument you'll have at least five opinions.

It's one of the joys of being a cab driver. It's something we're proud of. We can be stupid. We can be crazy. We can say what we like about anything we like and nobody cares.

We have the right to speak.

At least we did until about a month ago.

Personal Attacks ... on Me.

To address this subject, I'm going to start with myself and, of all things, Open Taxi Access (OTA). I'm using this as example because it's a subject about which few people are emotional. First, I'll tell you why I like the plan. Then, I'll give you the attack.

I like it because the plan;
  • Should virtually eliminate no-goes.
  • Will give drivers rides in remotes areas.
  • Will get customers cabs in remote areas.
  • Should improve the incomes of radio players by about 10% - judging by my use of Cabulous.
  • Might keep Malcom Heinicke from flooding the city with taxis thus reducing the value of my medallion.
Now - there are legitimate reasons not to like OTA. Charles Rahbone of Luxor Cab doesn't like plan because he thinks that Cabulous should not be given public funds to compete against Taxi Magic and Luxor. I think his argument is a little off point but it's not a personal attack.

The personal attack came as a comment to my blog. I broke out laughing when I first read it.

"Who are you to defend Open Taxi Access," it began. "Are they paying you off?" This was followed by an attack on my imagined sexual behavior and, of course, an attack on my supposed association with Deputy Director Christiane Hayashi.

The anonymous author of this attack then ended by proclaiming that Cabulous should not be given public funds. Unlike Charles Rathbone, he did not give a reason for this. He simply decreed it.

The reason that I laughed when I read this smear is that the cowardly, anonymous idiot who wrote it clearly does not even understand what OTA is. It's an idea not a company. As such, it can't pay me off.

All the schmuc knows is that I'm for OTA and Hayashi favors it; and that's reason enough for him to launch his slanderous assault.

I'm received about 40 comments like this over the last few weeks. They've all followed the same pattern.
  • They attack me instead of arguing against my ideas.
  • They argue that I'm being paid for speaking against their ideas - to the extent that they can be said to have actual thoughts.
  • They accuse me of participating in sexual activity that they probably would love to imitate but will never get the chance.
  • And, of course, I'm accused of guilt by association.
  • Almost all these attackers tell me that I have no right to speak.
And, of course, all of them are anonymous - meaning that the attackers are too cowardly to identify themselves. 

Mob Mentality.

I've received a few more anonymous comments/attacks since yesterday.

One was sent to my post, This Week's Town Hall Meetings, and goes:

"Bullshit and lies. That's what you are doing. Are you defending your girlfriend. Wait till she get fired. The die is casted. Murai did not defend her. I found Tariq the most powerful and great leader this industry has ever seen."

I know that this will sound ridiculous - like satire - but I believe that Tariq Mehmood actually wrote this. I have three reasons why:
  1. Tariq has written me using his name in the past and the word choice, the sentence structure and the mistakes were similar.
  2. His statement, "Murai did not defend her." 
  3. Chris Hayashi most certainly was defended by Murai but Murai did so when Tariq wasn't in the room.
What Murai said was that she was ashamed to be a cab driver and that the people attacking Chris were acting like "pigs."

The second "comment" went:

"... I do not know what scare you from Tariq or why you are spending time on accusing him. He is not alone ... This is run by Tariq, Tone Lee, Shawni, John Han, Dean Clark, David, John Hanif, Peter, Bill, and nearly 50 others. Medallion holders and some cab are involved ... so not much can be given her ... she will be walked out one day."

Except for electonic waybills, this literary masterpiece barely mentions the policies that Hayashi is recommending. It's clear that these people are not so much interested in changing her plans as they are in hunting her head.

I have two questions:
  1. I've disagreed at times with everyone I know on the above laundry list, why should I suddenly agree with them simply because they've become a mob?
  2. If they are so united, if there are so many of them, if they are so great and powerful, what the hell do they care what I say?
And, what I'm saying is that Chris Hayashi does not deserve these attacks. Two years ago she saved this industry and she's devoted the time since trying her best to improve it. If she "be walked out," it would be a disaster for the vast majority of drivers and the City of San Francisco.

In short, Murai had it about right.


  1. Ed,

    If you cannot take the critisism, then shut down your blog, you have your opinion

    And we have ours, so trying to take the moral high road is not going to work.

    Your articles have a pro sfmta slant which is ok, as long as you do not snivel

    At anyone who does not toe the party line.

  2. OTA---------

    Definately there is no reason to give drivers
    money (public funds) to OTA. If any cab company wants to enhance its business and image vs the
    existing Yellow, Luxor they should sign up with
    OTA and pay their part per cab rate. You are fool to ask money. When some companies are not
    interested to take service for their companies,
    why should their share be given for OTA. It is
    not a communist country.

  3. Dear anonymous - you miss the point. The money would come from funds that the MTA has already taken from cab drivers. No driver or company would have to pay for it. No driver or company would have to use it.

    I estimate that it would make the drivers who would use it at least a thousand dollars a year and radically improve service to the neighborhoods.

    Once again, dear genius, OTA is not a company. It's a network. None of the money will go to it.

    Indeed I am a fool to think that you could ever understand the concept.

  4. Excellent -- and brave -- comments, Ed, regarding OTA and the level of discourse in the taxi industry. Needless to say, when we have a good issue and plenty of support, we lose both by acting like a mob. While I'm still unclear about all the details of OTA, Cabulous has been a lifesaver. It's effectively the centralized dispatch idea drivers have been demanding for years. It's boosted my income significantly, simply by putting people in my otherwise empty back seat. It has problems that will take time to sort out but so what? It could even increase ridership enough that we could put more cabs out on the street, which would in turn increase ridership.

  5. Crocker, the money taken from the drivers is still all drivers money and it is totally wrong
    to use that money for OTA. You should give your
    medallion income or your income to pay. If not
    then don't bother about drivers fund. Secondly
    I found your blogs full of personal attacks
    on others. In fact it is you who is targeting

  6. Ed, I am not sure what I have done that has attacked Chris Hyashi. I think she has come up with some good ideas. I would like to see some of them implemented. I have tried to give suggestions and some I think Chris has heard (ensuring we have air bags, uninsured motorist coverage, safety checks, etc...) However I was a little disturbed in the town hall meetings where Chris seemed to get frustrated with some of the drivers and raised her voice at them.

    I did not raise my voice at Chris one time in the meeting and simply wanted to get some clarification on the data transfer from account to account with credit cards. I felt offended when her voice was raised.

    I have been noticing a trend here with the SFMTA where it really does seem as though the drivers voice does not matter and do feel as though all they want is money from the taxi drivers.

    When we all had to register for A Cards, and the drivers were herded into one Van Ness and most had to stand for a couple of hours.

    When my attorneys were asking questions at the SFMTA about requirements of cab companies after my accident, they too felt bothered by the responses and how it was handled.

    The statement that Chris placed on John Hans website that is supposedly public perception.

    I would like to see the SFMTA work with the drivers to provide regulations to ensure our safety when we drive also for our passengers and possible safety nets in case of a terrible accident like mine. I dont find my input to be any of those things you mention (low, cowardly, nasty, brutish, evil and petty. But, I do believe the MTA Board and the ones in charge of the taxi division do not give a rats ass about the drivers and only care about working with the cab companies on how they can make more money off the driver. I would like to be proven wrong, but from what I have been watching, it doesn't look like it is going to happen.

  7. Ed the word to befitting many in my life is spelled schmuck

    "contemptible person," 1892, from E.Yiddish shmok, lit. "penis," from Old Pol. smok "grass snake, dragon." Not the same word as Ger. schmuck "jewelry, adornments," which is related to Low Ger. smuck "supple, tidy, trim, elegant," and related to O.N. smjuga "slip, step through" (see smock). In Jewish homes, the word was "regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo" [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish," 1968] and Lenny Bruce wrote that saying it on stage got him arrested on the West Coast "by a Yiddish undercover agent who had been placed in the club several nights running to determine if my use of Yiddish terms was a cover for profanity." Euphemized as schmoe , which was the source of Al Capp's cartoon strip creature the schmoo .

  8. Hi Dean,

    1. I didn't list you as one of the people attacking Hayashi, one of her attackers included you as being part of group that was tying to get her removed.
    2. There were a lot of hostile people at the meeting you attended that kept interrupting the Deputy Director. Under the circumstances, I thought she was cool.
    3. The A-card problem has been solved and will never be repeated.
    4. You're entitled to your opinion but you haven't been involved in what goes on for very long. The Deputy Director does lose her temper from time to time but she is very concerned about what happens to the drivers and has done many thing to help us.

    Hi Hybels,

    Thanks for the language lesson and the spelling correction. I'm an Irish kid from St. Paul but I love those yiddish words. "Schmuck" is definitely the word I had in mind.


  9. Ed, with all due respect, I feel you've made some personal attacks.

    When you did the essay that referred to Tariq's protest weeks ago with the 50-60 taxi drivers at the MTA Board meeting a "bitch in"... that was wrong, and a little bit rude, in my opinion. It was a personal attack.

    Because although, in that essay, you stated your opinion opposing that protest, and that's fine, and though it was fair for you to say that you felt those drivers were misinformed, you nevertheless went further and assert that Tariq organized that protest just to "ambush" deputy director Hayashi, and serve his own vendetta against her.

    That's the part that is not fair, because your asserting more of an anecdote that plays with peoples' perceptions of someone, more so than stating a fact.

    We all know they don't like each other.

    But when you say that Tariq organized that protest in order to get even with Hayashi, in my opinion, it is unfair, and not far from someone like Glenn Beck telling his viewers that President Obama supports certain policies because the President "hates white people". It is the type of sensationalism that triggers peoples' emotions and reactions whether the claim is true or not.

    Christiane Hayashi has done a good job listening to the diverse taxi industry and she deserves great credit for that. But Tariq also deserves to be listened to with respect.

    No one has pointed out yet that the reason why we're having these latest round of town hall meetings over electronic waybills, credit card fees and PIMs, is because of the 50-60 taxi drivers organized in a protest that day.

  10. Hi John,

    You're getting really ridiculous - especially after listening to Tariq browbeat Hayashi for two hours with his endless variety of unprovable conspiracy theories.

    You can hardly help but listen to Mehmood the malignant since he shouts in your face but what is there to respect? Every other word that comes out of his mouth is an insult or slander.

    He may also be one of the stupidest persons I've ever met in my life. He's against OTA for god's sake and he doesn't even understand what it is. All he know is that Hayashi is in favor of the plan and that enough for him to attack it.

    What I said about Tariq is that he hates Hayashi because she didn't let jump over several hundred people on the Waiting List. This is merely true - something I observed. If you want to compare that to Beck's statement, that would be you're problem.

    Disrespectfully Yours,


  11. Ed,

    Alright, I reread the 'bitchin' article. You call it an "ambush" but don't necessarily say that it was to get even with the deputy director for the other things. My apologies.

    But it's hard to deny that the reason why we're having these town hall meetings is because of the first protest of 50-60 drivers, and then the massive protest that followed more recently.

  12. Joh,

    It's also hard to deny that the powerful and great Tariq spends much more time attacking Hayashi then he does dealing with the issues.


  13. Ed,

    You have no principles..................and are a schmuck

  14. I had a chance to talk with Tariq Mehmood few times and when I tried to talk about your (Ed)
    blog, comments or other things about Christiane
    Hayashi, his answer was neither I read them nor
    I have time to waste on such things. I got lot of work to do for drivers issues. He said to
    me; don't waste time. So Ed, your blaming him
    for various things and writing too much bad words
    reflect about yourself.

  15. Ed, Tariq must be scaring you during your sleeps.

  16. Why you holding anyone comments and then
    put them under personal attacks. Why you
    don't publish them as they are sent to you.
    You got no ethics. You are the biggest
    fool attacking others. Shut down this