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The biggest show in town

POSTED June 26, 2010 1:02 a.m.

As you are reading this at least a dozen people are probably still at California State University, Stanislaus sweeping up peanuts from the circus that was the Sarah Palin event.

On Friday our peaceful town was invaded by the crazies — and I’m not talking about Palin.

Everyone knew that the recent tensions around former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Palin being the keynote speaker at the university’s second 50th anniversary gala was bound to come to a head on the night of the event. But for some reason, I thought it would be anticlimactic.

Instead, I awoke Friday morning to an invasion of the broadcast media. I live near the university, so there was no way I could avoid the news vans sporting 20 feet tall satellites.

While stopped at a red light on Monte Vista and Dels Lane, my daughter was shouted at by the protestors and waved to by the cameramen. She called me soon after to ask what the heck was going on at CSUS.

I don’t know what it is about a television camera that makes people act insane, but whenever a broadcast reporter sticks a microphone in someone’s face they will inevitably say the most bizarre thing. There were plenty of cameras and microphones around town on Friday, ratcheting up the tension with the anti-Palin and pro-Palin protestors.

I remember a time when there was never a cause to say the words “Turlock” and “protest” in the same sentence. A quite boring burg this town was, until the recent cuts to education and, of course, Palin being asked to speak at a fundraiser.

Some of the anti-Palin protestors carried expected signs decrying the Cal State Stanislaus Foundation’s poor choice ­– in their opinion - of a gala speaker. Others were a little more baffling. I’m not quite sure what Ms. Palin’s breasts have to do with her speaking abilities, but at least one protestor took issue.

Frankly, I was surprised by the turnout of pro-Palin protestors. I guess I figured that by buying a ticket to the event, you were supporting Palin and the foundation’s decision to ask her to speak. But lo and behold, there were plenty of “We support Palin” signs at the university Friday.

At one point Friday afternoon, Journal reporter Maegan Martens was sure that the anti-Palin and pro-Palin groups were going to get physical. As far as we know, the rallies never got violent.

The university and city police departments on hand appeared to have a good handle on the crowd, stepping in only when necessary and providing explicit guidelines to all protestors about what was considered appropriate behavior.

And as of 11:30 p.m. on Friday, there were no acts of terrorism directed at Ms. Palin or the anti-Palin groups, making for a positive end to something could have gotten out of control very easily.

I doubt that any of the regional or national media outlets that descended upon Turlock on Friday will stick around for a cup of coffee at House of Java or a piece of Latif’s famous pies. But I say good riddance.

Without the lure of video cameras and microphones, local citizens may actually return to normal.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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