What Are The Burning Issues?

Manjul_Cartoon_030213pol_rape_lawsRecently our post on crimes got a response from someone calling himself “Larry Harvey”, who purports to speak for Burning Man. They said that the rape kits issue had been dealt with, there was no point getting them on the Playa or anywhere else because they weren’t equipped to handle them and so any samples taken on the Playa couldn’t stand up in court. I thought crimes were decided by a jury and case law, but I’m no expert. Even if they are right on the legal issue, that doesn’t make the actual issue go away. This is a community education and social issue, it’s about protecting the weakest members of our community from those who are clearly invaders, trying to hurt our people and destroy our culture.

Anyway, Larry Harvey’s “nothing to see here, move along, this one’s an old one folks” attitude is completely at odds with my own view of what’s important at Burning Man. I talk to Burners all the time, hundreds of my friends are Burners. Rape kits is by FAR the number one issue that gets brought up that people want me to cover on this blog – mainly because of this ostrich stance from BMOrg.

As the party gets bigger and more famous, less of the sparkly San Francisco rainbow people and more of the druggy thruggy Vegas crowd are going to show up. This is no newsflash, they’re already there. More people, more fame, more demand – but tickets fixed in number for the next few years, and the population cap reached – almost breached. People who bought tickets, in the line for hours not being allowed in. Gate computers going down. Exodus of 9-12 hours for some. MOOP. Trash. Lazy Burners leaving early before teardown. More cops. Cops with dogs. Bicycle theft. Funding art projects. People in RVs. People in plug-n-play camps. People in private planes.

flying in thisIsNotYou

Gee whiz, there’s a lot of issues for Burners. So, you tell us…what do you think are the most pressing issues of the day, for the Burning Man Community? Please comment if you have others.

34 comments on “What Are The Burning Issues?

  1. Pingback: Child Kidnapper Targetted Burning Man | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: Reno Gazette Journal covers Pershing County Cops Settlement | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. How are you going to label someone without knowing them at all. I am a 28 year Las Vegas resident and proud of my home. There is good and bad no matter where you live. I believe there are around 3500 burners in Las Vegas, and your calling them druggy thuggy. I am offended. I love San Francisco, but can’t afford to live there. I will continue to attend Burning Man, no matter your thoughts. You tend to associate with like kind. I know many good people in Las Vegas. With all due respect sir, F##K YOU.

  4. Pingback: Larry Harvey Oswald on Why We’re No Experts | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  5. you are VERY correct – you’re no expert. why not learn more instead of creating conclusions with a little disclaimer and then running with them? you could always start here:


    i’m thinking that some of that stuff may not be very practical, or even doable in BRC. i don’t know, though. i am sure that inadmissible evidence means a rapist walks.

    a few things: a dear friend of mine, i brought her to her first burn, was raped in BRC this year. reno PD kicked fucking *ass* and the perp was arrested and jailed. she left BRC unconscious and when she woke and told them what happened, the hospital got PD involved, PD did the kit and the whole deal, then drove her back to BRC and with her help, found him and his camp. it’s rad that people care so much about this stuff, and really, it’s vital. the sentiment that we need to care for our own is really, really important.

    i do notice the bitching and moaning about rape kits and inadequate response and whatever in the same screeds with bitching and moaning about too many cops. which is it? and is anyone participating in these discussions, this one included, directly connected to a rape victim? or a victim themself? i’m kind of curious as to just how far up in the bleachers these conversations are coming from.

    let’s see, other bitching and moaning.

    private planes were in BRC in 1995. no airport, but a pilot could just land wherever and taxi wherever and camp with their plane. i have a feeling planes were there before 1995, but that’s when i first showed up, and there were private planes.

    plug-n-play camps were sort of there, back then, too, to some extent. were these situations as big and extravagant as they are now? no. there was also no lighting effects on art cars, no sound systems on art cars, no roads. no gifting, either, and the stated barter economy was a pretty fun game. gifting came along later. the man stood on the ground. we carried guns in camp, we drove to the hot springs. there was no practice of preventing burn scars. there was no perimeter, no trash fence. But there were RVs. and private airplanes. the point isn’t that i was more punk rock than you, the point is that *everything* has become more extravagant, bigger. it’s an art arms race and i love it for that.

    i don’t know why some folks get so git danged hung up on these kinds of things. if RVs are ruining your experience, then don’t go. chances are that if you’re reading this, RVs were in BRC before you even heard of burning man. maybe it’s time to get the fuck over it, and this stupid line in the dust where the way you do your trip is OK but the way other people do theirs isn’t. i can’t think of much of anything more antithetical to the vibe that those same whiners are hiding behind, pretending to espouse. hooray, BRC is this awesome free place where everyone can be what they want, well except if you have over a certain amount of means and resources, then fuck you you’re ruining it for me! you’re ruining burning man!
    furthermore, damned near every change or restriction that people bitch about, the meta-whine being that the event being too big or too whatever, these changes were a direct result of of more people showing up. that “more people” is *you*. various neat/awesome things, freedoms, and that kind of stuff all existed in BRC before you got there. and the year you got there, those things had been removed/ended because you and however many thousand new people showed up and made it impossible to do them safely, do them under the radar of various authorities, whatever. watching the sophomores complain about the frosh, wise fools indeed.

    i’m not complaining about y’all showing up, though. i love virgins! i love the event growing, and more people participating! i’m complaining about your complaining. i’m complaining about this asinine, vapid “poll” which places fucking dubstep on the same playing field as rape, and how utterly disingenuous it is for anyone but larry and his son and three friends or whoever was on the goddam beach that labor day long ago to complain about “too many people”. each of us showed up a virgin in some multiple or near multiple of the previous city’s population and effected change. you’re going to burning man now because the organizers, each year for 25 years, did not take attitudes like this and instead lunged and parried to make it work. this instead of whining about how nirvana sucks now because they’re too popular. the vibe in this would have led those organizers to give up long, long ago. anyway IMO all these virgins every year are fucking awesome, and i like many of you have brought many, many friends to the event, some kicking and screaming. i do that every year. damned near all those new people, every year, are someones’ friends. that rules. and ya know what else? what i’ve seen over a couple of decades now is that even the folks with the least compatibility with whatever core values happen to be in vogue for any current year end up leaving more compatible with those values. that BMIR promo from a decade ago, people describing how they got to burning man the first time. one guy ended with “… and i’m not a redneck anymore.” we’re a virus, we’re changing people. the difference between reno now and reno in ’95 is palpable. reno’s been infected, there’s a much more vibrant art scene. many kind of dull suburban nevadans are art weirdos now. this isn’t universal, some predators and other asshats aren’t likely to change. but my experience is that they’re a tiny minority.

    these “exclusive compounds” are how those types of folks travel. that’s their reality, that’s how they do things, and that’s how they’ll keep doing them no matter how invalid you think their existence is, up there on your high horses eating sour grapes. whatever stratification zone you fit in to is just that, a zone. there are plenty of people below you who think you’re an overprivileged asshole, wasting money and resources to fuck off and get loaded for a week. i reckon about at least 2/3 of the population of the planet would think just that. try to step out of the matrix now and then, and see yourself, in the grand scheme of things. take it apart. in objective terms, you’re spot is just the tiniest distance away from the people and experiences you seek to invalidate. i think it’s telling that this is only happening looking up to higher strata, too. in the big picture, it’s the “have-mosts” looking two or three rungs up to the “have-mores” and the former group is acting like it’s some outrage, some injustice against art, some unbridgeable gulf. at its core though its a group of people not doing BRC your way or other ways that you consider OK. i bet the hadj has more tolerance about this sort of thing.

    How To Do It
    than what’s being shown here. and like the dudebros and bo
    ring suburbanites, i’m thankful that those people (i’m not one of them) are visiting BRC. they end up changed at least a little bit too. it’s not the city, or the org, that are putting them on their pedestals. they travel on pedestals. how is that harning you?

  6. to that asshole who stole my bike: you suck!!!!!!!!!! 🙁 so rude. I park my bike with my friends bikes and i wander off in sacred spaces and adventure, i come back and my friends bikes are there. but mine… was gone!!!!!
    Oh well.. tooo many cops otherwise… too many people possibly too… idk

    • i made the mistake of leaving my art car in front of my friends camp, when I left saturday night. There was apparently a feeding frenzy of people trying to take “the abandoned art car” the bikes I had stacked inside it were of course taken as were ALL the stereo components. The car itself was loaded onto someone else’s trailer with the aid of a tow truck and a fork lift. When my delivery/pick up guy got there the person who was stealing it tried to claim i gave it to him. My guy showed him the text i had sent telling him to go get it for me. They almost came to blows. When I got word, I tracked down the dude who took it-(a guy who has been going to the burn for 16 years) at which point he bitched me out and tried to say I owed him $500 for towing and also the storage. REALLY? I am going to reimburse you for expenses incurred while robbing me? Fortunately, the guy who had it in storage is a legit burner and returned it without ransom demands.

  7. I am still waiting on reports of all the DPW kids that shut down the event Friday ,until the police left the site, that was “reported ” here was going to occur. Oh wait that would have had to actually happen .,or had some basis in fact.

  8. Just so everyone is aware, there are only a handful of trained and qualified Medical professionals in the entire state that can administer a rape kit. I believe there are about 5 -10 in all of Northern Nevada. They all work in Reno. If you were raped in Elko, you’d have to go to Reno for it to be administered. This is a Rural state issue, not just a Burning Man issue.
    Here is a link to the Eplaya discussion on this where Joseph Pred explains a bit more.

  9. strikes me as un-“burner” like to disrespect an entire city based on an archaic stereotype. it’s either unkind or lazy, but either way it’s bad form.

  10. The definition of rape has been expanded so far as to include ‘conditional consent’. A violation of conditional consent would be a woman telling a man not to climax inside her. If he does, that is a violation of her consent = rape.

    Further, we now have mandatory prosecution for rape if a woman decides that the number of alcoholic drinks she had prior to consensual sex was ‘too much’. It is the woman’s subjective determination of what was ‘too much’ which will automatically lead to prosecution for a jury to decide if too much was actually too much. And only the woman is raped in the case where both parties were drunk. This means that the responsibility of the man to to determine if a woman has had too much to drink, even though this determination can only be made by the woman after the consensual sex has occurred.

    Consent can only be expressed verbally and clearly. Non-verbal implied consent (which is how most sex happens) is not valid consent.

    A rape kit is only proof that sex occurred, not if rape occurred. However, given the over 900 definitions of rape, proof that sex occurred is essentially proof that rape occurred because the woman said so. If a man is accused of rape, he is assumed guilty and must prove his innocence, which is nearly impossible when it’s his word against her word in the middle of the night. Good luck, gents.

    • I’ll make you a deal – I’ll trade you my risk of being raped for your risk of being falsely accused. I’ll even take all the consequences of the false accusation if you’ll take all of the consequences of rape.

      Considering that only 5-25% of raped are reported, and only about 0.6% of reports are false, I would gladly take a deal.

      Here’s an idea… if you are at all worried that the girl might be drunk enough to regret the sex in the morning, don’t do the sex. Err on the side of not raping people.

      • You need to understand your own rape statistics. Here, let me help you (because that’s just the kind of guy I am, no need to thank me):

      • Wow…. if you don’t have the critical thinking skills to understand that that video is essentially “Yes, I see your several peer reviewed, scientifically rigorous studies, but let me tell you how that’s totally not what happens in the version of the world that happens in my head – now with stick figures!”… I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do for you.

  11. You haven’t mentioned the worst change in BRC I’ve seen in the last decade:

    Everyone thinking they are a photographer and documenting every single moment. Without anonymity, we are not free to be what we want. You cannot escape the default world with every asshole documenting every moment to be shared online.

    Live in the moment. Enjoy it. There is no need to document your burn. You lived it…isn’t that enough?

  12. I’m so sick of all the cry babies. Burning Man is a city. Every city has scum. I learned that my first year. Can’t we celebrate our contributions and trust the ORG to deal with the bullshit?

  13. A rape kit administered by a non official organization (i.e. – a rape kit certified hospital) is not admissisble evidence in a court of law. Period – no amount of stupid rants about it will change that.

    Granted, the procedure for getting rape victims to and from the hospital in a secure manner needs a lot of improvement, but ranting for rape kits on the playa is just stupidity.

    • what about if it’s administered by a trained and certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner? Why is it about the hospital, and not the trained personnel? The training required in Nevada is 40 hours, surely Burning Man could sponsor a few nurses to go through that. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/04/07/whats-in-a-rape-kit/
      Do you have some Nevada case law on this you can point us to? Does this happen often, that trained nurses administer a rape kit, and then the court refuses to even consider it because of what hospital the nurse was at?
      How could it be bad for Burning Man, to have trained medical personnel and certified sterile facilities there? Even if the legal cases did not end up being successful?

  14. Talked to a women last year who reported that 2 women in her camp had been drugged, beaten and raped by 2 men in an RV. They reported it to the police who said there wasn’t enough evidence (bruising doesn’t count?) and refused to do anything. I guess it’s ok to beat and rape and drug people to do so. Just don’t share a joint with anyone.

  15. What are rape kits and plug-n-play camps? U r just tooo cool for me….I think I know a bit about both ..but not sure

    • A rape kit is a collection of medical items used in the examination of a rape victim, for the taking and preservation of evidence.

    • Plug-n-play describes a camp that you pay a large chunk of money for the experience of Burning Man. That is, you write a check in the default world, you show up, they give you costume items, show you to your Rv living space, tell you about the private chef meal times, explain how to ride on your private art car. Then you go out and watch BM. This is the worst case. There are plenty of large camps similar to this that share and participate in the experience of BM, and get it. But these exclusive compounds are what all the hubub is about.

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