Echo in Chambers

With the first ‘live in council chambers’ meeting in years, a considerable amount of echo hindered the process. While there were actual legal discussions at the city council meeting on April 11, the business at hand struggled against an audience that was remarkably hostile, not just to the council or the problems being discussed, but to civility itself. It seemed disturbingly familiar. 

The standard for resuming live meetings included the rule that those attending must wear masks – proof of vaccination was not required – but plenty of naked faces were seen in the audience, and lots of noses as well. 

The agreement for the standard on the meeting was on the consent calendar; that part of the agenda that contains matters of ‘housekeeping’ or issues that have already been discussed and agreed upon. But that item was pulled for discussion, and I noticed I had heard all of this before. 

I recognized the echo – The reasons that people don’t think they should wear a mask sound an awful lot like the reasons men don’t want to wear a condom. The bottom line is that they feel their convenience and comfort is more important than the risk to your health, possibly even your life. 

Check that out; they feel that their convenience is more important than your life.

During the last pandemic (for those of you not old enough to remember when AIDS hit the population) I had a number of friends who had never had any reason to use birth control. Unwanted pregnancy is not a problem for gay men, but suddenly fatal illness was – I answered questions from some very shy guys who didn’t want to die, or stop living. 

Masks, like condoms, are not at all complicated. 

I was raised in a belief system that sex was part of life, and health was part of sex that you needed to pay attention to, both for your own sake and your partner. But while dating – both before and after marriage – I’ve heard the most absurd and ridiculous excuses used at to why someone would not be willing to protect my health. (That’s a huge red flag on who not to partner with, so sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise. Adios! Good luck!) 

While the council members last night offered different interpretation of the current statistics – cases of COVID are increasing or cases of COVID are decreasing – the fact remains that all you need to do to protect other people’s health is care enough to wear a mask. Most particularly in situations where it is legally stated that you must do so. 

One council member pointed out that children under 5 are still entirely unvaccinated, and many people with health issues have additional risk. Another member on the dais offered that they were personally immune- challenged.

But the bickering continued. It’s not just about contempt for the council members, or contempt for the rules agreed upon for the meeting. This is contempt for civilization. 

I just learned last night about the death of some one I went to high school with, suddenly and unexpectedly – from COVID. He was in a car with friends, felt short of breath and asked if someone could hand him his inhaler (he had asthma) and by the time they pulled the car over and got the device out of his bag, he was gone. CPR, paramedics, all for naught – it was over, he died. Yes, he was vaccinated. He still died. In Los Angeles County. Just days ago. From COVID. That he did not know that he had. 

In America, there is a phenomenon known as ‘red covid’ – where conservative states have so many unvaccinated people – the death rate is 3 or 4 times higher than a liberal area. Not the infection rate, the death rate.  In 27 states, coronavirus infections have increased over the past 14 days, according to data collected by The New York Times

And yes, as one council member pointed out, we have a very, very high rate of vaccination among Culver City residents. But most of the people we interact with on a daily basis are Los Angeles residents, and their numbers are not as high as ours. 

There are many factors involved in transmission, in infection, in symptoms, in fatalities. 

There is one factor involved in participating in a civil society. Treating other people with respect – even the ones you disagree with politically – is foundational. 

Judith Martin-Straw




The Actors' Gang


  1. Ms. Martin-Straw yes, CC citizens were upset because the CC city council does nothing about the homeless issue. So p=Culver City tax payers spoke out. The tone of your article is all wrong. You needed to do more research before publishing “your thoughts”. This is typical in today’s journalism.
    RIP Walter Cronkite.

  2. Ms. Householder, the article wasn’t about homelessness. The article was about wanting civility in our Council Chambers as part of our social contract to protect all citizens. Wearing masks to a meeting where the rules are stated beforehand, agreeing to those rules and complying is part of the agreement that citizens make to go to a live meeting. All citizens can choose to stay on-line if they do not want to wear a mask. But coming to a meeting, not complying with agreed upon rules, wearing half-masks by exposing noses, takes time away from perhaps more valuable subjects for citizens.
    Culver City Crossroads has published recent articles about money and specific projects to address the unhoused in Culver City. While the projects won’t fix all challenges for the unhoused, these projects will hopefully inspire more projects to address this challenge throughout Los Angeles County.
    Lastly this is an opinion piece and is stated as such. It is not a news story.

  3. I’m not sure where Judith Martin-Straw got her data but to say “the death rate is 3 or 4 times higher than a liberal area” is simply not true. A quick trip to Statista 2022 data indicates that Mississippi had the highest death rate of 417 deaths per 100,000 people (BTW, that’s .00417% to put it into perspective) but New Jersey is ranked number 7 at 375 deaths per 100,000 ( .00375%) There is absolutely no math I can use to make that difference “3 to 4 times” . While I know it’s easy to say that conservatives politicized the issue, I see the exact opposite. What is never seemed to be considered by those on the left is the collateral damage of the lock downs and mandates imposed by cities and states run by liberals. When considering 2nd hand effects such as suicide, businesses closing, the effect of draconian policies on children’s health and development etc etc, it is clear that those living under blue rule fared far worse than red. The price paid for that difference of .001% will never be considered by the left because it would force them to look at their own policies. I agree about civility in public discourse and I hope that I have made my point in a civil way.

  4. My statistics on ‘red covid’ come from the series in the New York Times. If you Google NYT Red Covid, you will find a series on the political picture of vaccinations. Since this was an editorial (Just a Thought) there was not formal citation. Had this been reportage, there would have been a reference to the NYT and possible a direct quote.
    Civility is always good form.

  5. “There is one factor involved in participating in a civil society. Treating other people with respect – even the ones you disagree with politically – is foundational.”

    You must be speaking to the school board or city council because otherwise, it’s just more hilarious self-delusion from the CCPBoPIC (Culver City Progressive Brigade of Pseudo-Intellectual Clowns).

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