Friday, February 10, 2006

Borf Gets Tagged: A Wider Lesson

There's an interesting crime/human interest storyby Henri E. Cauvin in the Metro section of today's Washington Post that serves as an excellent subtext for our ongoing Culture Wars both here and abroad. We'll brief you on the story and its climax and then connect this incident to the broader realities of today.

Background: over the last year or two, a "tagger," aka "graffiti artist" who calls himself Borf has been on a rampage, defacing buildings in the District of Columbia, both in affluent and impoverished areas of the city, lashing out against, well, practically anything, since he's a self-proclaimed anarchist.

The Post itself actually did an extended report on him sometime back, carefully guarding the tagger's secret identity, where he proclaimed his opposition to pretty much everything in the U.S. and characterized himself as a kind of one-man vigilanti squad in pursuit of truth and justice. Of course, the fact that he left a considerable wake of property damage throughout the District didn't bother him one whit. It was our problem, not his.

Well, Borf got himself caught, and guess what? Turns out this anarchist, this hero of the people, is actually a rich little twit from the impossibly affluent Northern Virginia suburban area encompassing Great Falls and McLean. It's a community where roughly 80% of the homes are of the size and appearance of badly designed medieval castles, and many have price tags in the multi-millions. So what does Borf do? He gets in his car and goes to the District to do his dirty work. Perhaps it's not so impressive in gated communities.

Borf was in court yesterday for sentencing, which is where we pick up on the Post's story:

The teenage graffiti vandal known as Borf got tagged yesterday -- with 30 days in the D.C. jail and a dressing-down that no one in the courtroom will soon forget.

Borf, aka John Tsombikos, chose not to address the judge who was deciding his fate. But D.C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz had a lot to say to the young anarchist from Northern Virginia. She didn't paint a pretty picture.

Read carefully the judge's remarks here. We have no clue whether she's a liberal or a conservative, but we have zero problem with her following observations:
"You profess to despise rich people," she said. "You profess to despise the faceless, nameless forms of government that oppress. That's what you've become. That's what you are. You're a rich kid who comes into Washington and defaces property because you feel like it. It's not fair. It's not right."
Tsombikos had alleged that he'd adopted the pen name (?) "Borf" to honor a pal who'd allegedly offed himself in 2003, inspiring Borf to cause untold property damage in part as a way of dealing with his grief over the incident. Right. It's never the perp's fault, is it?

But the judge was not done yet:
"That's not artistic expression," she said. "That is not political expression. That is not grief therapy. That is vandalism."

"It's not about whether you want to express yourself," she said. "Washington, D.C., is not a playground that was built for your self-expression. It's a place where people, real people, live and care about their communities."
Tsombikos, we learn, had already pled guilty to the offense but had impulsively damaged his bid for leniency from the court while hanging out at his dad's Upper East Side digs in New York City, where he reverted to form:
And while his case was still pending in the District, Tsombikos got in more trouble. He was arrested on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on suspicion of defacing a streetlight box, ruining his chances of probation.
The judge decided to call it the way she saw it:
"You should have been walking out of the front door of this courtroom today," Leibovitz told him. "Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that you require more than that to impress upon you the seriousness of what you've done. Not because it's a wall, not because it's a building, not because it's a fixture in some abstract sense. But because of people."
So she sentenced the obviously remorseless youth to 30 days in the DC jail (a fate worse than death), plus a whole lot more:
The 30-day jail term is just the start. If Tsombikos breaks the law again within the next three years, he could be jailed for the 17 suspended months of his sentence. Regardless, he has to complete 200 hours of community service, including 80 hours of cleaning up graffiti. And he must pay $12,000 in restitution, money that better not come out of his parents' bank accounts, the judge said.
Just in case Tsombikos didn't get it, the judge helpfully explained to him where the 12K would come from:
"In other words," she said, "not the bogus jobs that your father gives you in New York . . . a real job, going to work like the people you demean, earning it with paychecks and the sweat of your own brow."
Borf's lawyer, fully aware of the difficulties a rich white "anarchist" would face inside the DC jail, tried to get the 30 days changed to a halfway house, but the judge remained adamant:
"I want him to see what the inside of the D.C. jail looks like," she said, "because unlike every other person you've seen in my courtroom this morning, who have a ninth-grade education, who are drug-addicted, who have had childhoods the likes of which you could not conceive, you come from privilege and opportunity and seem to think that the whole world is just like McLean and just like East 68th Street.

"Well," she said, "it's not."
Amen, sister. In an era where, it seems, everyone is adept at dodging the truth, Judge Liebovitz told it like it is. A little more of this in the courts and we'd have a lot less problems.

But the facts lying behind the Borf story conceal a piece of the 1960s history that we, as a Nation, have never really come to grips with, which is the underlying reason for this post.

If you look back on that era, and examine carefully the lives of the heroes of the left, you'll note something quite interesting: the militants, the theoreticians, the propagandists, the bomb-makers, the preachers of hate and violence against Amerikkka and Amerikkkans were, by an large, not the kinds of genuinely underprivileged people who've been electing leftist dictators in Latin America recently. They were, by and large, the spoiled brats of affluent suburbanites and rich to reasonably well-off socialists, communists, and communist sympathizers in large cities, particularly New York.

Like "Borf," the punks of the 1960s knew of poverty only from books, of evil only from the pens of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, of politics and propaganda only from Joseph Stalin, and perhaps Robespierre. With nothing better to do with their time, bored with their lives, and funded by mommy and daddy (and at times with bits of helpful cash from Ho Chi Minh's emissaries and/or the Politburo in Moscow), they created a massive, violent street drama that did, quite literally, change the course of history by undermining our military effort in Vietnam, a despicable accomplishment about which they are always glad to boast. (And which they're trying to duplicate in the current Iraq conflict.)

More subtly, they also acted, in ways not fully appreciated at the time, to erode the foundations of American democracy, initially to fire up a communist revolution, though now it's hard to figure out exactly what drives them.

Inspired, at least indirectly, by the example of the Popular Front and the teachings of Antonio Gramsci, they worked underground, occasionally assisted by the communist-front ACLU, to undermine marriage and the sanctity of the family; destroy respect for religion; infiltrate and destroy university humanities departments and turn them into ministries of theory and propaganda; stack the court system with leftist judges happy to legislate by judicial fiat; and wreck literature and the arts, replacing them with ugliness and propaganda to the point where readership and music appreciation today has been seriously eroded.

Children of privilege, driven by hate, have been a hallmark of our times. And it is distressing, while cataloguing the violent legacy of rage-filled, impossibly affluent leftist Boomers, to realize that even as they begin to reach retirement age, they have spawned clowns like "Borf" to take up where they have left off in their drive to obliterate all that is good in this country.

What drove them, or still drives them to do this? Pure hate? Mindless envy? A fealty to the god of a secular religion that has no god? Or simply a desire to destroy, like the little boy who blows up anthills with cherry bombs just to see what happens? Who knows, really? But it is fascinating to notice that similar children of the affluent—in the Middle East—have embarked from their idleness on a crusade of hatred, murder, and mayhem on an even grander scale, if that is possible.

Your average worker bee, including Wonker, just wants a little peace and quiet, a future for his family, and the opportunity when possible, either individually, via the church, or via other social organizations, to help out the less fortunate. We all hope to leave the world just a little better off than when we entered it. Modest aims. But taken together, the cause of much good on the planet.

But the malcontent children of the affluent, haughty, arrogant, and unmoved by love or human kindness, set off on lives of rampage and blind and unending hostility, hoping to leave nothing behind but the bleak swath of carnage and utter devastation that is the bitter aftermath of lifetimes of hate.

The mystery of why this is has eluded Wonk for a lifetime. Why do those with so much to give take so much away? But we do know this: until Borf-clones, young and old, are rooted out and dislodged from their seemingly impenetrable spider holes in government, academia, the media, and the arts, we will never, ever have a moment's peace here or abroad for ourselves or our posterity.

We all need to stand up to this cadre of hatemongers and get to work defunding them and removing them from the positions of influence that they have so long abused and used to recruit younger generations to their destructive ways. In areas where they're too strongly entrenched, we'll need to work around them and render them irrelevant by building a better mousetrap, particularly here on the Web.

The 20th and now the 21st centuries have suffered from repeated incidents of catastrophic violence, increasingly driven by modern Ghengis Khans sired largely by the wealthy. It is high time we recognize them for who they were and are and rise up to overthrew their extended reign of terror against our homes, our culture, and our traditions.


Anonymous said...

Great piece, Wonker!


Wonker said...

Thanks, anon!!