Every now and then something colossally true and revealing shows up in the Chronicle
, and the Sept. 11 edition had a doozy [“Friends Like These
,” News]. Mary Ingle, president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council, the overarching neighborhoods organization in this town, lets drop that she's been spreading a rumor, one that she hasn't investigated the truth of, about a competing neighborhood organization, the Friends of Austin Neighborhoods, being a front for the Koch family evil reactionary throwbacks. In her own words: “It's [just] a rumor ... I'm passing it along.” Ms. Ingle went on to comment about how people should just get along, you know.
There's Austin, Texas, revealed, folks. Particularly the neighborhood organizations, and probably the majority of people active in them, particularly their officers. Ms. Ingle gladly and casually says something about a competing organization that if said against an individual would likely leave her, and her organization, liable for a slander per se lawsuit. I hope local attorneys are paying attention; sooner or later the neighborhood associations, and the tween-girl-mentality people in them like Ms. Ingle are going to find themselves sued. They are certainly overdue for it.
The sad truth is just how average these behaviors and thought patterns are in what this city sees as its most important local political organizations. I've seen this same endemic ingrained tween-girl mentality in normative adults firsthand with the SRCC, oldest of the neighborhood associations. The longstanding notion in Austin political thinking is that these neighborhood groups truly represent Austin and its inhabitants. That notion is widespread and longstanding, and from everything I've seen from all my years living here, I don't see how it's wrong, much as I'd like to think otherwise. The truth about Austin, Texas, and the culture of this place in present times, and of so many of the people living here, particularly the politically inclined ones, is revealed to us all by this remark of Ms. Ingle to the prints. Tween-girl-mentality is us. Ya gotta love it.
Daniel N. White