The Emergence of Deviant Minorities: Social Problems and Social Change

By Robert W. Winslow | Go to book overview
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Deviance and Democracy in "The City"
The Culture of Civility

Deviants of many kinds live well in San Francisco-natives and tourists alike make that observation. The city's apparently casual and easygoing response to "sex, dope, and cheap thrills" (to crib the suppressed full title of Janis Joplin's famous album -- itself a San Francisco product) astounds visitors from other parts of the country who can scarcely credit either what they see happening or the way natives stroll by those same events unconcerned.

Walking in the Tenderloin on a summer evening, a block from the Hilton, you hear a black whore cursing at a policeman: "I wasn't either blocking the sidewalk! Why don't you mother- fucking fuzz mind your own goddamn business!" The visiting New Yorker expects to see her arrested, if not shot, but the cop smiles goodnaturedly and moves on, having got her back into the doorway where she is supposed to be.

You enter one of the famous rock ballrooms and, as you stand getting used to the noise and lights, someone puts a lit joint of marijuana in your hand. The tourist looks for someplace to hide, not wishing to be caught in the mass arrest he expects to follow. No need to worry. The police will not come in, knowing that if they do they will have to arrest people and create disorder.

Candidates for the city's Board of Supervisors make their pitch for the homosexual vote, estimated by some at 90,000. They will not be run out of town; the candidates' remarks are dutifully reported in the daily paper, as are the evaluations of them by representatives of SIR, the Society for Individual Rights.

____________________
From Howard S. Becker and Irving Louis Horowitz, "The Culture of Civility," in Transaction, 7:6 ( April 1970), pp. 12-19. Reprinted by permission of the authors.

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