An old friend sent me a link to a blog post with the title Check Out Time at Berkeley’s Hotel California on Robin of Berkeley’s Blog that had an Alexa ranking of 19.3 million, when I checked, and no rank for the U.S. or any other country. The post was dated October 20, 2014.
On the About Page for this almost invisible blog—at least to search engines—I quickly learned that Robin of Berkeley is a pen name, so what we have is a Blog hosted by an anonymous person. Not exactly a dependable source, but one that my old friend, who I will call CW (for Concrete Wall) seems to have accepted without question.
“Robin of Berkeley” said, “This is a sad tale of a friend of mine. I’ll call her Jane.”
In summary, the alleged Jane is a young woman from a small town in Iowa, who comes with home grown values: church, school, wholesome activates, and respect for others, and she ends up at Cal Berkeley for her doctorate in education.
That would mean Jane had to be at least 23 or older when she arrived in Berkeley, and she probably earned her BA degree from a university in Iowa—this fact will be important later. In addition, if the alleged Jane was working toward a doctorate in education, she isn’t an innocent, gullible teenager. She is a young woman who probably left high school for college and has already lived away from her small-town home for several years.
In Robin of Berkeley’s story, Jane meets Brian, a San Francisco native who soon has Jane hooked on sex and drugs—at least that’s what Jane allegedly told Robin, because we never get a chance to hear anything from the alleged Brian.
Robin of Berkeley—the anonymous blogger, asks, “How can someone come to the SF Bay Area a relatively stable human being and end up in the drug and hook-up culture?”
Robin of Berkeley continues: “The temptation may not be drug and booze but the very dark underground sex scene, with its whips and chains and leather. Then there are those hook-ups with random strangers, as well as the ever present polyamorous and/or gay scenes. Some people don’t get involved in high-risk behavior, but become depressed, even suicidal, from the nihilistic spirit around them.”
Jane—of course, in this moralistic tale—gets her sanity back once she returns to Iowa, and Robin of Berkeley concludes that the key is to check out of Hotel California before it’s too late. “Given the severe housing shortage around here,” Robin of Berkeley says, “this Hotel may appear like the only affordable digs in town. But it comes with a gigantic price. For some people, it is their soul.”
After I read this moralizing, anonymous Blog post on an almost invisible Blog, I replied to CW, who thinks G. W. Bush is one of the greatest if not the greatest president the United States has ever had, agrees with the Tea Party movement, is a professed libertarian, a born-again evangelical Christian, and listens loyally to Dennis Prager, a conservative radio talk show host, who is basically a calmer voiced and friendlier version of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.
Here’s my first e-mail to CW after I read the anonymous Robin of Berkeley’s post: “I think we could find people like the ones in this story in every major city. There are also plenty of people who don’t do drugs, go to work every day and live a good life. Even in Berkeley and SF. I know this, because I’ve met many of them. I’ve also run into a few of the freaks/geeks but they tend to be outnumbered by normal, average people—even in Berkeley and SF. What this story does is it reinforces a stereotype, a bias, a lie.”
Then, a few hours later—after some thought—I sent another e-mail:
“Did you know that Houston is the main gateway into the United States for human trafficking (mostly sex slaves from children to women) and there are more illegal whore houses in Houston than the entire state of Nevada—an estimated average of 17,000 trafficked humans is funneled into the U.S. through Houston annually?
“Should we condemn everyone who lives in Houston?””
I also provided a few pull quotes from sources as evidence of Houston being the gateway for human trafficking in the United States just to prove my point.
CW replied, “I think you may find it of value to spend much time to reflect upon this.”
I did, and my next e-mail, a day later, was loaded with examples of moral corruption all over the United States. I provided links to the sources and pointed out that the San Francisco Bay Area wasn’t a mecca of corruption in the United States. In fact, California seldom ranks at the top of any illegal specific drug use, even tobacco, and of the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States, San Francisco and Berkeley didn’t even make the list.
As if I had said nothing, CW replied, “When a culture promotes deviant behavior, members of that culture are very susceptible to taking on that behavior because it becomes … normal. This young woman wasn’t equipped (like most young people for years now) to resist degrading influences. Berkeley is just the extreme that proves the norm. I read a similar story years ago about a young woman who moved into the Playboy mansion, took on that lifestyle, moved out, and then regained her sanity. We take for granite our morality, but really it is something we must fight to sustain. This is one reason I do not watch commercial TV.”
My next e-mail continued the argument: “That would include the deviant behavior of racism, homophobia, etc., wouldn’t it? Here’s an interesting piece that says “Homophobic Southern States Watch Most Gay Porn in America” and then I mentioned the “10 U.S. States Most Plagued by Hate Crimes”, and listed the top five states and pointed out their politics:
- Tennessee (GOP dominates this state)
- Kentucky (GOP governor and one state house has a GOP majority. The other house has a Democratic majority)
- North Dakota (state government 100% GOP majority)
- Michigan (Democratic governor but both state legislatures have a GOP majority)
- District of Columbia (The mayor is a Democrat)
CW’s next e-mail said, “I think any article that references the Southern Poverty Law Center as a factual source has instantly lost all credibility with any informed reader. However, I don’t see any connection between your sources and the Berkeley article, and this brings up another point, it appears that in order to avoid troubling cognitive dissonance you substitute thoughtful reflection with irrelevant sources.”
Note: I question how my sources and the point I was attempting to make was irrelevant compared to the anonymous Robin of Berkeley’s Blog and the alleged story about Jane.
Here are the sources I used to make my point that deviant behavior can exist anywhere, and I provided the links—something CW never does during this argument that is mostly one sided:
- Texas Monthly.com
- A piece published by My Fox Houston.com on a tour through human trafficking hell.
- UHCL The Signal.com, a WordPress blog post on Houston being named a major hub for six trafficking.
- A link to 2010-2011 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
- Business Insider.com
- Democratic Underground.com reporting that Homophobic Southern States Watch the most gay porn in America.
- Atlantic Blackstar.com reporting on the 10 most racist stated in America.
- Richest.com on the 10 U.S. States most plagued by hate crimes
My next e-mail to CW said, “It is a waste of time to debate any subject with you when you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed by Dennis Prager. Did you learn this from your radio guru?”
There were other e-mails in another thread that continued this argument and they focused on parenting where I provided more evidence that any deviant sexual behavior or drug use is not exclusive to Berkeley. My first comment in that thread was “Here you are judging someone else’s thoughts about raising children and judging them a failure when you have never been married, never been a parent, and never raised a child. You live in a land of dangerous conservative idealism that is so far removed from reality that you might as well be living on a planet orbiting another start a few light years away.”
His response was: “Ad hominem again”
At some point, I wrote, “If this couple were white (I was talking about Jane and Brian), then they are representative of 24.8% of the U.C. Berkeley student population, but 17.5% are international students. Almost 40% are East Asian: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Other Asian, South Asian, Vietnamese, Pacific Islander and this ethnic group tends to stay away from illegal drugs, has the lowest incidence of pregnancy outside of marriage, the highest rate of marriage, the highest HS graduation rate, the highest ratio of college graduation compared to other major ethnic groups, had the lowest divorce rate and the lowest unemployment rate in the country.”
That’s when CW wrote, “Your response is a beautiful example of a straw man fallacy.”
During the argument, CW never provided any evidence that the story by the anonymous blogger Robin of Berkeley was even real.
I’m not going to repeat the entire second e-mail thread here, because it will be a waste of time.
In conclusion, I’ve heard some of CW’s stories of how he behaved when he was a student at U.C. Berkeley, but I don’t think Berkeley is as extreme as he thinks based on his own experiences there. I base that statement on the fact that U.C. Berkeley didn’t even make the Princeton Review’s Top 20 Party Schools for 2015 (The top party schools ranking is based on survey questions relating to student use of alcohol and drugs …) In fact, the University of Santa Barbara was the only college in California that made the Princeton Review’s list—and get this, most of these party schools are in the Bible belt, the land of Jane and her so-called pure brethren.
The biggest surprise was when I discovered that the University of Iowa was #1 on the Princeton Review’s 2014 list, and #2 on the 2015 list of Party Schools. I wonder if Jane—if she were a real person and not fictional—attended the University of Iowa for her undergraduate work. If so, when she reached U.C. Berkeley, maybe she corrupted Brian, and only told her side of the story to the anonymous Robin of Berkeley. I wonder what Brian would say—that is if he wasn’t a fictional character too.
I did a search to find the best universities in Iowa known for their education programs. After all, it makes sense that a PhD candidate majoring in education at U.C. Berkeley would have majored in education for her BA.
The University of Iowa, one of the top two party schools in the United States, was listed as notable on a short list of colleges in Iowa that offered education majors, followed by Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and Upper Iowa University.
One last thing—I searched for a Hotel California in Berkeley and couldn’t find one. In fact, here’s a list of all the hotels around the UC Berkeley campus on a hotel guide provided by the university.
Here’s what I think. This story was fiction made up by a far-right conservative, tea party American who couldn’t find any stories to support his/her biased thinking about Berkeley, California so he/she made one up and then lied that it was real.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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