Monday, November 18, 2013

Was the BatKid thing a waste of time and money? No.

On Friday the city kind of came together in a way that rarely happens to watch and participate in the BatKid thing.  IMO, it was pretty awesome, both for the kid, Miles, and for the city as a whole.  For one day, at least, we could set aside Ellis Act evictions and bicycle vs. car wars and everything else and have some fun.

Not everybody, though.  A guy named Caleb Garling, who writes for the Chronicle and a few other pubs, posted these three tweets early on in the day:




These tweets made a lot of people feel things ranging from annoyance to rage. Before we move on to why that was, and why I personally completely disagree with Mr. Garling, let's unpack these a little.

Tweet Number 1. What he's saying is that the money and time being spent on BatKid should be spent on other people, not him.  (This assumes that a lot of money was spent, which is apparently incorrect.  My understanding is that everyone donated the money and/or time.)  I guess he means that the money should be spread around and it could help more people that way.  If $10,000 was spent on BatKid, that $10,000, I guess, could be split up and help a larger number of people.  But that's true with everything!  If you extend Caleb's point to its logical extreme, we would have to eliminate the Make A Wish foundation, since that money could ALWAYS be split up and spent on more people.  I don't like that idea.  Maybe Caleb does.

You could apply Caleb's point in all kinds of contexts.  Even journalism.  Why are you writing about a Twitter parody account, Caleb Garling, when there are wars and misery you could be focusing on?  WHY ARE YOU SQUANDERING YOUR JOURNALISTIC TIME, CALEB?

My reaction to this tweet - and probably a lot of other people's - was this: Can't we ever just do one nice thing for someone, even if it costs money that could be better spent?  Can't we just have some fun without some killjoy shitting all over it?

Tweet Number 2. I don't think the police and fire departments were "sidelined" in any meaningful way.  I didn't hear about a surge in crime on Friday or any houses burning down because no one could respond.  In fact, a review of Saturday's SFGate showed no stories about anyone getting murdered, and they usually report murders pretty comprehensively.  So this tweet is based on an erroneous premise.

Also, sure, there is disease and drug abuse, but I wouldn't necessarily describe the city as "ravaged" and anyway, how would cancelling the BatKid event in any way ameliorate those problems?

Tweet Number 3. I'm not sure what an "ostentatious display of myopia" means, exactly.  That the BatKid thing is keeping us from seeing the city's real problems?  Give me a break, Caleb.  We spend the other 364 days CONSTANTLY talking about the city's problems.  Some days it feels alike it's ALL we talk about.  Would cancelling the BatKid thing do ANYTHING, anything at all, to solve a single problem?  Can you explain, specifically, the mechanism for that?

After getting ROASTED on Twitter (and, as much as I disagree with him, I don't think the ad hominem attacks were that cool of an idea), he posted an explanation, of sorts.  Not an apology!  An explanation.  Here's some of it:

A five year old with leukemia absolutely deserves every bit of love possible. But this is a question of proportionality. “So what?” people say. “It’s just one day.” Well, if it’s just one day why not take all the police, fire department, public workers and onlookers that showed up for BatKid to San Francisco hospitals and tell ALL the kids in the cancer ward that they’re superheros.
(Nevermind the parents that have to explain to their kids fighting cancer why they can’t be Batman today.)

Well, I'm pretty sure that people make special visits to San Francisco hospitals to visit kids with cancer on a pretty regular basis!  Here's the 49ers visiting UCSF. Here's sailors and Marines visiting kids in General. These stories are not hard to find.  In fact, the day after the BatKid thing, UCSF hosted a head-shaving event that raised $22,000.  So it's not like we ignore people with cancer, except BatKid.

And also, Caleb, not every kid fighting cancer WANTS to be Batman.  I'm pretty sure the Make A Wish foundation grants all kinds of wishes, not just this kind.

He continued:

And the point I was making in those tweets should not need explaining. San Francisco has a terrible layer of poverty and sickness — from both drugs and disease — which we tuck in alleys, vacant storefronts and the area between Geary, Market and Van Ness. It’s almost trite to bring it up anymore and that’s sad. But it ain’t going away.

Absolutely true! It ain't going away.  Whether the BatKid thing happened or not.  THAT'S THE POINT.  If the BatKid thing never happened, everything else would be EXACTLY THE SAME.

But we did do it.  And you know what?  It made a lot of people, not just Miles, really happy.  What price do you put on that?  Maybe it resulted in more people volunteering or making donations to any number of charities. I hope so.  Wouldn't that be a good thing?

(Here's one tangible result: sales of BatKid t-shirts have so far raised $10,000 for the Make A Wish foundation.)

I guess we could just NOT have done it.  You wouldn't have had anything to complain about then.  But I think it did a lot more good than bad.

I suspect we're never going to agree on this, Caleb, and that's fine.  I share your concern about the problems facing the city.  But let me suggest this: What happened on Friday was worth it, both for Miles and for the city as a whole.

(Eric Mar also posted something similar and got similarly shit on but this is already too long and what's the point anyway.)

3 comments:

Tamagosan said...

I forget where I saw it, but there was a clip of a Fox "News"cast saying something positive about BatKid day AND making a reference to a Nancy Pelosi tweet without crapping all over either as the fault of Obamacare, so THAT was totally worth it.

thesoniashow said...

I *almost* feel sorry for this guy.

That little boy, Miles, has been sick his entire life, and thousands of people donated their time and money to give him a little bit of his childhood back. It was an amazing thing to witness and restored my faith in humanity. And this guy missed all that. Sucks to be him.

Blogger said...

Get all the best alcoholic drinks on Duty Free Depot!

All the popular brand name beverages for unbeatable discounted price tags.