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L.A. City Council Silences Public Commenter for Saying 'Pussies' (VIDEO)

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Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge In protest, activist John Walsh (left) plans to repeat the word "pussy" 20 times today at L.A. City Hall. - LA TIMES
  • LA Times
  • In protest, activist John Walsh (left) plans to repeat the word "pussy" 20 times today at L.A. City Hall.
About an hour into another snoozeworthy L.A. City Council meeting yesterday morning, a female public commenter injected a little color into the conversation.

Antonia Ramirez told her elected officials that some sheriff's deputies in East L.A. had been acting like "unethical corrupted pussies." (OK, Ramirez also seemed a little off her rocker, but that's beside the point. Plus, given the state of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, she might not be far off.)

Brand-new City Council President Herb Wesson took particular offense to that last term:

"Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait," he said into his microphone, stopping Ramirez. "We have children that listen to this show..."

Which is probably the most wide-eyed, disillusioned, living-in-a-bubble load of self-important crap we've heard a councilmember spew since Bill Rosendahl suggested the council was in danger of being targeted by a Loughner copycat.

"As adults we should be respectful," said Wesson. "I use very strong language too, but not in front of my kids or my grandkids."

Kids? Watching the L.A. City Council meeting? As (semi-)adults, we can hardly keep our eyes open for five minutes of that charade. That Wesson thinks the youth of Los Angeles is the slightest bit interested in watching city pols drag through jargony Environmental Impact Reports and predictably unanimous votes on a random school day -- well, it's actually kind of adorable. But in the scariest kind of way.

(In fact, come to think of it, if children knew there was a chance some angry lady would call a bunch of deputies "pussies" at the podium, they might just try to tune in more often.)

Anyhoo. The council president did let the speaker continue, but when she evoked the great Martin Luther King, Jr. to chastise Wesson for suppressing her First Amendment rights, he'd had enough.

"I don't believe Martin Luther King would ever use that word," he said, and promptly dismissed her on grounds of disrupting the meeting.

Here's the video. (Sorry if it doesn't work; City Hall's idea of "on demand" meeting footage includes an infuriating bramble of infomercials and buffers.)

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So, whatever. Another ridiculous activist-councilmember beef during public comment. But here's the really great part of all of this:

Citywatcher John Walsh, instantly recognizable at any meeting for his super-sexy neon ties and vendetta against Hollywood skyscrapers, is planning a censorship protest for today's meeting. His presser of sorts:

"TOMORROW AT CITY HALL UNDER PUBLIC COMMENT, I WILL USE THE WORD "PUSSY" TWENTY TIMES TO MAKE UP FOR THE PUBLIC SPEAKER WHO WAS CHASTISED TODAY FOR UTTERING THE PLURAL FORM IN A METAPHORICAL WAY JUST ONCE."

Can't wait to see how Wesson bumbles with this one.

Zuma Dogg, another of City Hall's historic gadflies (beanie, sunglasses, no concept of "inside voice"), opines on his blog that though he "has never said that, or used uncomfortable words like that, during the council meetings," Wesson had no right to wash Ramirez' mouth out with soap.

Word:

"HOWEVER UNCOMFORTABLE HERB WESSON MAY HAVE THOUGHT THE USE OF THAT WORD WAS: Federal Courts have already decided that kids in the audience does NOT allow another's free speech, 1st Amendment right to be denied. THERE ARE WORDS THAT ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE USED. And the CONTEXT in which the word is used, is also relevant. For example, you can say, "F*ck, this!" But, you can't use it in a sexual reference. AND YOU CAN SAY, "PUSSIES" IN ANY CONTEXT!"

So get ready, Los Angeles -- and you too, Guinness Book -- because we have a feeling Walsh might set some records today. The word "pussy" echoed 20 times in a single City Council session? Unprecedented. And beautiful, besides.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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