Sexual Assault at Burning Man - another point of view

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Sexual Assault at Burning Man - another point of view

Postby This Woman » Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:32 pm

Everybody is gearing up for Burning Man 2008, packing their supplies and costumes…and maybe even a little mace this year. It’s no surprise that sexual assault has become a real concern for the organizers, participants and law enforcement. There is abundant information on the interwebs and a whole system of response set up at Burning Man, and I urge all to do a little research for your safety and for your loved ones’.

But I’m writing about the lesser known, very relevant danger of being charged with sexual assault when it is not warranted. This may be a circumstance where one is falsely accused of sexual assault or when a charge is warranted, but one lesser than sexual assault.

Nevada has mandatory minimum sentencing for sexual assault. This effectively takes the judging out of the hands of the judge. He or she becomes merely a witness to the proceedings. If substantial bodily harm results the minimum sentence is 25 years. Okay, burn the bastard, right? Right. But if no substantial bodily harm results the minimum sentence is 10 years. And when you do get out, you will be registered as a sex offender, which in Nevada entails not only the public having access to your home address but to additional information as well, such as the routes you walk and the cars you drive…even if you don’t own them (at least until someone challenges the constitutionality of the new laws that went into effect on July 1st).

What exactly IS sexual assault to the State of Nevada? NRS200.366 states, “A person who subjects another person to sexual penetration,…against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his conduct, is guilty of sexual assault.â€
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Postby Marscrumbs » Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:07 pm

Play it safe. Video tape all your consensual encounters or get it in writing.
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Postby somekind » Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:21 pm

Marscrumbs wrote:Play it safe. Video tape all your consensual encounters or get it in writing.
Touche'.
http://burningmanvideos2007.blogspot.com/

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If someone asks you for drugs, it's a cop.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:13 am

point of the matter is, if anyone does anything that could be considered sexual assault to my girlfriend and/or any other female that i know, the nevada authorities will be the least of their worries.


i'm sorry, on second thought, i was being sexist....the above statement applies to men as well.

No means No motherfuckers, and that is that.
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Postby dr.placebo » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:31 am

I can understand the feeling of injustice that must result from a false accusation of sexual assault. If I were the victim of such a report it would devastate me.

I also know a bit about the statistics. Most studies show 2-4% as the rate of false reports, about the same as for other crimes. So it is fairly rare to have a false report made.

If you want to feel outraged over injustice, the numbers support being angry about how many rapists are unpunished. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) only about 1 in 16 rapists ever spends time in prison.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates
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Postby Toolmaker » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:05 pm

I was sexually assaulted by a greeter.. I didnt report it cuz i got a stiffy and she was really cute.
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Postby gyre » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:17 pm

dr.placebo wrote:I can understand the feeling of injustice that must result from a false accusation of sexual assault. If I were the victim of such a report it would devastate me.

I also know a bit about the statistics. Most studies show 2-4% as the rate of false reports, about the same as for other crimes. So it is fairly rare to have a false report made.

If you want to feel outraged over injustice, the numbers support being angry about how many rapists are unpunished. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) only about 1 in 16 rapists ever spends time in prison.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

I question statistics on false accusations.
Any statistics without an error rate and information on the basis are completely meaningless to begin with.
How exactly would anyone determine the rate of false accusations for any crime, much less sexual assault?
America is the land of conflicted sexuality even at burning man.
Just look at the lack of agreement among the CT "Parade" participants...and that is minor nudity.
Crimes themselves are under reported by cities, often very deliberately.

How would you determine a false accusation in a case where the accuser wants to believe it themselves, even if they are making an effort to be honest?


And Simon.
I'd like to introduce you to women, with all of their dizzying varieties of reality.
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Postby mmmagenta » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:11 pm

I too question how the error rate is found. It's not a number that you can really prove.

I think this post is especially important as Burning Man is known as a place to indulge- in alcohol, substances, and sex. When folks are drinking and partying together, people hook up. Unfortunately, remorse can sometimes be twisted into a victim mentality. Also, memories on mind altering substances can be warped.

Many sexual assault reports filed by women were filed as the result of a drunken party hook up. Usually the alleged perpetrator was also drunk. Hypothetically, a male defendant could claim the same charges against the woman, but in a court I have strong doubts that would ever hold up. Most likely the female would win. I say this not to negate any victim of sexual assault, male or female. I support he/she wholeheartedly, but do acknowledge that not every case filed is legit.

Further, I apply the referenced laws above to my experiences on the Playa and beyond. Have I gotten trashed and hooked up with someone? Absolutely. Have I felt victimized? Never. Could I press charges because I was under the influence of mind altering substances? Yes. Could I put them in jail for 10-20 years? Yes. Would I? Absolutely not.

This brings me to my ultimate point, which is to encourage people to know their limits and not to push the boundaries. Take your substances safely, consider the environment you're in and the company you're with, and set some rules for yourself. Don't get so wasted that you don't remember/follow these rules. Partying is plenty of fun, but arrest/victimization can happen on the Playa and it does. The safest and most respectful choice for sexual relations is to only indulge when both participants are of sober and sane mind. If there's any question in your mind about your potential lover, refrain!

Thanks This Woman for presenting the other side of this issue.

Have a safe, consensual burn!
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:22 pm

i think you misunderstand my point of view....i am referring to the true asswipes, and you know the frat boy of which i refer....we all do...the Opportunist, the predator.

i have a sister, and two daughters. I fear for them every day because 1/3 of all women will experience some sort of sexually based assault. Many never talk about it. Having been in a couple of relationships with women who were victimized i am especially sensitive and possibly a bit dogmatic and vigilante-like.

that is not my intent, although i'm sure my inner anger towards these types of people leak out into my posts on the subject.

i am not talking consensual, or any role playing or fetishism, or whatever, Vatch Und Bevatched, i have no problem with and may even participate in some of the above, my issue is with those who prey on circumstances that arise at burningman such as people who for one reason or another do not have the sense to make ANY decision at that moment, and may need assistance, from US, the community to insure that person is not taken advantage of....that is all.


ask people if they are ok, if they appear not to be...take care of someone who is incapcitated until some help arrives.

think of everyone as YOUR daughter or son, and you become much more aware and protective of the little sheep who may wander off, only to be fair game to the wolves.


i'm sorry, as a sheepdog, i have no other choice.
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Postby MozyBonz » Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:40 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:i think you misunderstand my point of view....i am referring to the true asswipes, and you know the frat boy of which i refer....we all do...the Opportunist, the predator.

i have a sister, and two daughters. I fear for them every day because 1/3 of all women will experience some sort of sexually based assault. Many never talk about it. Having been in a couple of relationships with women who were victimized i am especially sensitive and possibly a bit dogmatic and vigilante-like.

that is not my intent, although i'm sure my inner anger towards these types of people leak out into my posts on the subject.

i am not talking consensual, or any role playing or fetishism, or whatever, Vatch Und Bevatched, i have no problem with and may even participate in some of the above, my issue is with those who prey on circumstances that arise at burningman such as people who for one reason or another do not have the sense to make ANY decision at that moment, and may need assistance, from US, the community to insure that person is not taken advantage of....that is all.


ask people if they are ok, if they appear not to be...take care of someone who is incapcitated until some help arrives.

think of everyone as YOUR daughter or son, and you become much more aware and protective of the little sheep who may wander off, only to be fair game to the wolves.


i'm sorry, as a sheepdog, i have no other choice.



I would have to agree with Simon on this. Predators BEWARE~~we're watching you.
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Postby **burn** » Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:47 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:think of everyone as YOUR daughter...


Will you adopt me?
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Postby ygmir » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:01 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:i think you misunderstand my point of view....i am referring to the true asswipes, and you know the frat boy of which i refer....we all do...the Opportunist, the predator.

i have a sister, and two daughters. I fear for them every day because 1/3 of all women will experience some sort of sexually based assault. Many never talk about it. Having been in a couple of relationships with women who were victimized i am especially sensitive and possibly a bit dogmatic and vigilante-like.

that is not my intent, although i'm sure my inner anger towards these types of people leak out into my posts on the subject.

i am not talking consensual, or any role playing or fetishism, or whatever, Vatch Und Bevatched, i have no problem with and may even participate in some of the above, my issue is with those who prey on circumstances that arise at burningman such as people who for one reason or another do not have the sense to make ANY decision at that moment, and may need assistance, from US, the community to insure that person is not taken advantage of....that is all.


ask people if they are ok, if they appear not to be...take care of someone who is incapcitated until some help arrives.

think of everyone as YOUR daughter or son, and you become much more aware and protective of the little sheep who may wander off, only to be fair game to the wolves.


i'm sorry, as a sheepdog, i have no other choice.


Simon:
well said, well written;

I'm with you on this, for the same exact reasons........

We may dis-agree on stuff, but, here, we're in lock-step.

by consent, it's all good and fun.......but, without "informed, coherent and cognizant" consent, beware my wrath..........or the best I can do anyway........

oh yeah, there's a great "Wyle-E-Coyote" cartoon you bring to mind with the sheepdog analogy..........that'd be me, too.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Aug 04, 2008 6:21 am

i understand this woman's point of view too...How horrible to be wrongly accused of anything, but something as ugly as sexual assault is one of the worst. Your reputation, your career, all could be shot to hell because of getting the short end of a losing stick in the he said she said argument.

i hope the community will self-police on this and other matters BEFORE they occur with some awareness and compassion, and the ability to speak up, question situations (politely) and not let something go because "you dont want to get involved"...

think of kitty genovese and others who suffered as others looked on, unwilling to help.

be a good samaritan, take care of your neighbors, friends and strangers, just as you would hope they would for you.

that is all i am saying, i dont want to form a posse or a lynch mob, just a agreement to step beyond our normal default world responses to these and other activities and show others that we, as burners, regard our community as an extended family that must be protected from those that would take advantage of our sometimes incoherent little lambs.


as far as being wrongly accused, i would hope that we would be able to give everyone involved a fair hearing of the issue, without pre-judgement, but, i'm afraid this probably is difficult because of social opinions already in place.

a conundrum, but not one that cant be solved, or at least minimized.
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Postby EvilDustBooger » Mon Aug 04, 2008 6:48 am

No more cluster-fucking Binky while he`s passed out. Got it.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:35 am

unless you have a pre-cluster fuck agreement with binky that'll hold up in court, like say, on a napkin, or tattoo.
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Postby This Woman » Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:53 am

I've researched the statistics, and 2-4% is the reigning number at the moment, while men's rights groups put it at around 30%. I imagine it's somewhere in between. But as mentioned by Gyre, how does one even gather statistics?

Burning Man adds unique challenges too, that other events don’t have to contend with.
I’ve been a Ranger in the past, and I remember a discussion on how to distinguish a sexual assault from a couple having S&M play. This is not a challenge that comes up at a lot of events.

Excellent dialogue - thanks all!
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:28 am

It very much depends on how the question is asked.
What are the parameters for those statistics?
I have been accused of about thirty major crimes by people I was involved in prosecuting.
These are usually dismissed as worthless very quickly, so I don't even count them.
But it depends on what you are trying to measure.


I have heard of two assault cases at burning man.
In both cases, both people expect support but won't discuss it.
Naturally anyone with any sense can't have an opinion.


Burning man has a much wider variety of social styles than the normal world.
This will inevitably lead to some misunderstandings.
Many women out there expect a high level of sexual aggression.

The problem is some women are very good at communication.
Most suck at it and think they are fucking brilliant at it.
Every woman is very different in their expectations and communication style, yet they often think they are using some universal language every woman speaks.
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Postby Badger » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:24 pm

Many women out there expect a high level of sexual aggression.


The problem is some women are very good at communication.
Most suck at it and think they are fucking brilliant at it.


So, at the core of the sexual assault issue is women's inability to commnicate?

Every woman is very different in their expectations and communication style, yet they often think they are using some universal language every woman speaks.


Cheezus, I don't even know where to start with this.

How about the possibility that it often involves a man's inability to comprehend the words 'No Means No!'
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:11 pm

Badger, this thread is about false accusations.
I'd like to think there aren't many deliberately false allegations, though I know it does happen.
I'm suggesting some causes for misunderstandings, not rape.

I have had many, many women tell me about their having been assaulted.
At least two of these were incest and I got one of them to go to the police and report their father.
I think the rate of this occurring is very high and most people just don't hear about it.
Of all of these stories I have heard, only two stand out as having been possibly not intentional assault.
In both cases, I have no doubt they were severely traumatized.
Of course, I have only one side of the story.
And it is just from my personal experience.
But that is not a very high rate of doubt.

I had a friend that someone else had said was raped.
But she never said anything about it to anyone else.
And she later spent the night with the person who had been accused.
Sometimes it is hard to tell what happened.

I want to mention that trauma is very much a result of our perception of events and in particular, surprize.
I dated a girl for a long time who had been grabbed as a child by a stranger.
She was rescued before anything happened to her, within minutes.
But she was so traumatized by it that it affected her from then on.
I think she took her cues about how serious it was from the adults, as we all do at that age.
Even if true, knowing that doesn't help now.


Every man has known women that are so conflicted and repressed that they want to not make decisions.
Often they tell themselves and others they are non-sexual.
They drink some and all this comes roaring out.
The next day, they prefer to think it was the alcohol or they were taken advantage of, a quaint phrase.
I do not believe alcohol conjures up things that don't exist.
But some do.
In the worst cases, women want behavior without giving any hints about what they want or feel.
It totally creeps me out to meet someone like that.
But they are out there and they create problems with and for any man dumb enough to think it is normal.


I am saying the range of normal social interaction is much more diverse at burning man, therefore more challenging.

And yes, I am saying that some women never have any trouble making themselves clear and many others never seem to make themselves understood, but are sure it's because everyone else is so stupid.
If you think you've mastered something or it's "natural", why would you ever get to be good at it?
Just like everything else.

"You knew what I meant to say." an actual quote, seriously
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Postby HughMungus » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:16 pm

Great post TW; interesting way to look at it.

Yes = yes.
No = no.
No answer = no.

Be careful, guys.
It's what you make it.
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:20 pm

Badger wrote:
The problem is some women are very good at communication.
Most suck at it and think they are fucking brilliant at it.


So, at the core of the sexual assault issue is women's inability to communicate?
Not inability.
Too many women communicate clearly and effortlessly, even non-verbally.

But I do think the failure to communicate is not helpful.
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:47 pm

Badger wrote:
Many women out there expect a high level of sexual aggression.
Do I really need to address this?
This is true.
And it's not a problem, as long as you communicate well.
And I can see men with less social experience getting into trouble not understanding the variance in tastes.

I have seen woman walk away from someone they felt wasn't being physical or affectionate enough.
Maybe they took it as lack of interest?
What happened was, the guys weren't getting any cues about what was expected/ wanted whatever, so they were being cautious and smart.
Most of us are pretty adaptable really.

The word to notice in that sentence is expect.
It doesn't hurt to tell someone what you want.
Level of physicality is not the issue there.
It is about understanding, no matter what is happening.
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Postby dr.placebo » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:49 pm

We could differ about the level of false reports about rape. The 2-4% rate may be too low, although a false report rate of 30% is way above my ability to believe.

I sympathize with all victims of injustice, whether they are victims of false reports or victims of true assaults, gender and orientation regardless. The point I was trying to make earlier is not that false reports are too infrequent to credit, but that a much larger problem is that rapists all too frequently are unreported, unprosecuted, and unpunished.

As to whether women are good or bad communicators, it should be pretty clear that we all could use better communication skills, especially when communicating between the sexes. And of those communication skills most lacking is the ability to listen.

So here's my plug for the B.E.D. workshops on communication called "Clarity and Consent: Negotiating Sex". We have 3 this year, and I hope that people who have posted in this thread will consider showing up. For more info on B.E.D. see

http://www.bureauoferoticdiscourse.org/

Thanks.
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:03 pm

dr.placebo wrote:We could differ about the level of false reports about rape. The 2-4% rate may be too low, although a false report rate of 30% is way above my ability to believe.

I sympathize with all victims of injustice, whether they are victims of false reports or victims of true assaults, gender and orientation regardless. The point I was trying to make earlier is not that false reports are too infrequent to credit, but that a much larger problem is that rapists all too frequently are unreported, unprosecuted, and unpunished.

As to whether women are good or bad communicators, it should be pretty clear that we all could use better communication skills, especially when communicating between the sexes. And of those communication skills most lacking is the ability to listen.

So here's my plug for the B.E.D. workshops on communication called "Clarity and Consent: Negotiating Sex". We have 3 this year, and I hope that people who have posted in this thread will consider showing up. For more info on B.E.D. see

http://www.bureauoferoticdiscourse.org/

Thanks.
I applaud what the BED does, but I actually had someone use the BED rules to play bad communication games with me.
I bet you never saw that coming?


I am curious as to the basis for these statistics.
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Postby Boijoy » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:05 pm

THATS IT !
This year at Burning Man I'm only touching myself !!
,,,and I may even accuse myself of sexual assault later depending on how drunk I was when I touched myself. Either way no means NO ! and I deserve what I get for touching myself without my permission!
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Postby dr.placebo » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:40 pm

The 2-4% rate for false reports of sexual assault appears to be generally accepted and in line with other crimes. The "true" rate could be different, although I have difficulty believing that it is likely to be extremely wrong. To get some idea of how difficult it is to get a handle on the problem, I refer you to

http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/acquaintsa/participant/allegations.pdf

For gyre, your experience of having someone misuse the BED materials is unfortunate, and is completely against what we advocate. BED is quite sex-positive, is gender and orientation neutral, and is strongly against sexual assault (on the playa or anywhere else). Being clear about desires and boundaries requires a clarity of intention that apparently was not present in the person you encountered.
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:08 pm

The rate appears to concern police cases.
Is that correct?
If that is the source, I think it has limited usefulness.


With the BED rules, she may have been caught up in the rules rather than the intent, or just been playing games with them.
I hope other people don't see them as something required rather than an aid.
I am certain her intentions were clear enough to herself.
Merely annoying in this case.

But it shows that people can always be obscure.
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Postby dr.placebo » Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:12 pm

Yes, the stats are for police reports. Malicious gossip is not covered. If we are talking about prosecution for sexual assault it all starts with a police report, so I don' t know what other statistics or reports would be relevant, even if they were available.

BED does not present "rules" for communication or behavior. At best we give some advice. Our notes for last year's workshop are at

http://www.dr-placebo.net/BED/BMsexed2007.pdf
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Postby gyre » Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:24 pm

I'm not faulting BED.

Some statistics have tried to measure by direct survey.
And of course, they address some of the issues with police methods.

But I am very aware of how shockingly flawed the police methods are.
I am quite energetic about filing police reports, yet about half of mine disappear into the ether.
That is very deliberate here.
It's how they keep the crime rate down.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:40 am

what happens in gigsville, stays in gigsville....ba dum dum...

this is an interesting thread, and varied viewpoints...this is why Burning Man is unique, and much needed in the current swamp of discourse we see in the default world.

and we can laugh at ourselves, which is truly a blessing.

i think the reason why i also feel so fervent about this issue is the desire to have burning man be a place where yes, you might die at any minute, but you also feel safe, and comfortable if you want to be.

a do-able dichotemy, i hope.
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