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Circle Jerks 

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Every Sunday, people gather in a corner of Liberty Park to pound drums, dance, pet their ferrets, make conversation, play hackey sack, and otherwise look the part of 1968 hippies. Some go to smoke a little pot. For others, it’s a place to sell a little pot, too. For still others, it’s a place to sell and score drugs a bit higher up the missing-brain-cell chain. By most accounts, though, most people avoid the illegal stuff. I don’t believe it, but that’s what they say. In any case, the drum circle has the reputation as a pretty peaceful place to be on a Sunday afternoon.

That changed a couple of years ago. When two of his officers failed miserably at arresting one drum circle participant, former Salt Lake City Police Chief Ruben Ortega marched his men, women and horses into Liberty Park. It was a show of force against drum circle participants that was so mismanaged and ill-conceived that it pissed off just about everyone. That singular episode became a launching pad for Rocky Anderson, who promised he would fire Ortega if elected mayor. It’s safe to say Rocky had the support of the drum circle folks.

Maybe they thought because he admitted to smoking pot as a youth that he was one of them or maybe it was because he plays guitar. Rocky seemed the last person to butt heads with the drum circle. But this past weekend Rocky walked into the drum circle and told them they couldn’t smoke pot or sell it at Liberty Park because it’s against the law. That didn’t sit too well. Now it’s safe to say that Rocky formerly had the support of the drum circle folks.

It doesn’t matter to me either way. A week or so after the Ortega debacle, I took my family to the drum circle. Other folks did the same, in essence supporting the notion that, on balance, beating drums is better than beating heads. We sat there and listened and watched and smelled the ganja. No problem as far as I was concerned, but maybe not the best place for kids, I thought. Who’s to say?

We didn’t pound drums and we didn’t have a ferret and we didn’t smoke pot, so we must have been quite conspicuous. Maybe that’s why some of the assholes in the group fired bottle rockets at us as we were departing. One zipped just over the head of one of my kids before it exploded.

That’s when I changed my mind about the drum circle. How can anyone support a group that on one week cries brutality and then the next just sits there when some among them try to hurt kids? I can’t.

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