I’ve occasionally been a news figure. That’s not by choice. I’m a fairly quiet guy, but I do believe in speaking up. About 4 years ago I appeared in front of Vernon City Council on a bylaw to ban all pro MMA (Mixed martial arts) events in Vernon. This was reported in the online news, and attracted several comments, including:
I have considered some of the comments for some time. Wow, almost 4 years in fact. That may seem a little petty, not having much else to focus on in life? I’m not suggesting that I’ve non-stop been thinking about this, but when people come out with clever and anonymous comments those comments have an effect. I think an explanation is in order. Here it is:
I was well aware of the parallels that could be drawn as I made the comments that I did before city council. When I went to this council meeting I had hoped to be as anonymous as I could. I didn’t wear a sign or badge that said “gang lawyer”. I walked in quietly, tried to keep my head down in case anyone recognized me, and didn’t plan on saying anything. I had heard that city council was going to vote on a matter that concerned me, being a ban on professional mixed martial arts. Now say what you will about gangs and mixed martial arts, but I just don’t see them as being synonymous. Apparently the police in Vernon do. They are concerned enough that they make a secret presentation to council that got this whole thing started. We don’t get to hear what the concerns that they had are, that’s all “in camera”, meaning you’re never able to know it. I just heard they were having a vote to ban any MMA professional bouts in Vernon, and I thought “hey I like MMA, I think it’s a heck of a sport.” I’ve watched hundreds of matches on the TV, and have been able to attend one while on holiday in Mexico. I had tried to attend another in Vernon but the match didn’t go ahead. I believe the reason it didn’t go ahead was a lack of ticket sales? In all of those matches that I’ve watched I’ve never seen a gang symbol of any sort that I recognized. I haven’t heard any slogans/phrases that seemed to be associated to gangs, not a single one. There was never, at the close of hundreds of matches that I’ve watched, an announcement of the victory of this or that gang. I hear more gang associated stuff from professional wrestling, and no one in the world ties anything of meaning to that. The ghost of Al Capone did not call me up and say “hey, gang lawyer who’s been disgraced publicly, run down to city hall and try to oppose this bylaw that prevents our gang fund raising.” What kind of strategy would that be?? It in effect undermines the very thing you’re trying to accomplish?? Yes, I knew that. I’m not dull witted. So I went to the council meeting with every intention of being as anonymous as I could, but hoped to be in silent support of whoever might speak up against what I see as a really misguided and discriminatory bylaw. I sat quietly in my seat, I got there early as I thought that the mixed martial arts clubs in town (small struggling businesses to be sure, no sign of gang involvement that I’ve been able to detect) might put in a good presence and I wanted to be able to sit down as my back hurts if I stand for too long. I had thought there would be some lengthy debate. What happened….. No one showed up and no one stood up. Not one person spoke up. They asked if anyone had comment and there was complete silence. None of the members of Vernon city council said anything in opposition, none of the pubic said anything, silence. I looked around, and looked around, and the time to make any reply was about to be gone, so I stood up. I knew full well the parallels that would be drawn. I expected that I may well be recognized and ridiculed due to the “gang lawyer” association, but I really thought this bylaw was discriminatory and misguided and surely someone should say something???? So I did. I spoke for about a minute and a half, and talked about how I enjoyed the sport, and that there were clubs in the city that practised this very sport, to become skilled, and in some cases become professional, and how the money that was involved was so very small at the level that we would see here in Vernon, not ever even coming close to covering gym costs, and it fell on utterly deaf ears. The “in camera” presentation by the RCMP apparently had devastating effect. I was not asked a single question. No one else stood up and spoke, and Vernon city council voted 100% in favour of the bylaw, and there’s not been a professional mixed martial art bout in Vernon since then.
So there’s my explanation. I don’t see too much that’s “Ironic” in that, but I guess if you’re desperate to find it and very clever maybe you’ll get there. I note that there has never been, to the best of my knowledge, a professional mixed martial arts event in Vernon, so the whole thing is a bit of a tempest in a tea pot I guess. The one that tried failed due to a lack of ticket sales.