Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Consistently Refuses to Tell Readers Why Firefighters Played a Prank on Tennie Pierce

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Law,Race — Patterico @ 12:00 am

A black L.A. firefighter sues the city for millions over a prank that his fellow firefighters once played on him. The plaintiff argues that the prank is explainable only by reference to the department’s history of pervasive racism. But there is a story behind why his colleagues played the prank on him — and it has nothing to do with race. Yet the city’s largest newspaper consistently hides that story from its readers.

Is this shockingly irresponsible? Well, yeah.

But it’s business as usual at the L.A. Times.

The L.A. Times‘s Steve Lopez went to watch the debate over whether L.A. should give former firefighter Tennie Pierce a few million dollars for being fed a couple of bites of dog food. He says:

So on Tuesday, I dropped in to have a peek. The debate centered on one question:

Was the dog food stunt an act of racism?

Yet in an entire column about that very issue, Lopez manages not to mention the reason that the firefighters actually committed the prank — a reason that has nothing to do with racism. I’ll turn it over to Jon Coupal:

The “victim,” Firefighter Tennie Pierce, is 6-foot 5 inches tall and the star of the firehouse volleyball team. His self-professed nickname is “Big Dog” and during volleyball matches he is known to exhort his teammates to “Feed the Big Dog” so he can spike the ball.

After one match, a fellow firefighter mixed a couple of spoonfuls of dog food into Pierce’s spaghetti, to literally feed the Big Dog.

Ah, so that’s what it was all about! The first time I heard that explanation given, the decision to feed Tennie Pierce dog food made sense for the very first time.

Someone less mature than I am might even find the prank funny — once they understand the circumstances.

Does Steve Lopez even know why the prank was played?? Ask him at

Regardless of whether Lopez knows this, I’m quite certain that the readers of the L.A. Times — at least those readers silly enough to get all their news from that paper — are still mystified. Why would they feed that poor man dog food? It seems so mean! It must be because he’s black!

Are the paper’s readers getting taken in? You betcha! Lynn Kessler of Sherman Oaks wrings her hands:

As a white resident of Los Angeles whose taxes support the Fire Department, the City Council and the mayor’s office, I am deeply troubled by this story. Pierce is absolutely right: This is wrong. I understand the outrage in the black community, but where is the outrage from the rest of us?

How could Lynn Kessler of Sherman Oaks have been left so deeply in the dark? Well, let’s look at the paper’s coverage of the controversy.

I have pored over every story on this topic in the L.A. Times over the past three weeks. Not one single piece fully explains the joke, including the fact that the Big Dog demanded to be fed.

Not one.

It’s not explained in this story about the City Council debate. Or this story about the impending ouster of the Fire Chief — a story that mentioned that the City Council had been told about Pierce’s previous pranks. Or this Q&A piece about local government, which found room to criticize Councilman Jack Weiss for not rejecting the settlement from the get-go, but does not explain the story behind the prank. Or this story about a settlement in an age discrimination case, which also spent a few paragraphs discussing the Tennie Pierce controversy. Or this brief piece about the City Council’s refusal to reconsider the settlement.

Probably the most egregious piece on the case was this November 9 piece by Sandy Banks, which spent paragraphs discussing the terrible history of racism at the LAFD — but never explained the reason for the prank . . . or some other behavior by Tennie Pierce that some might find relevant. I’ll turn over the criticism of that article to Larry Elder:

Los Angeles Times reporter Sandy Banks, in an article about the award, failed to mention a few salient facts: that Pierce somehow managed to survive on the force for almost 20 years; that fellow firefighters referred to Pierce as a “turd stirrer” – meaning he routinely pulled pranks on others; that the 6-foot 5-inch Pierce often referred to himself as “the Big Dog”; that the incident was apparently a reaction to a volleyball game won by Pierce during which he repeatedly urged to his teammates to “feed the Big Dog” by throwing the ball to him; and that, in the frat boy tradition of many firefighters, his co-workers likely fed him dog food as a display of affection, knowing that, after all, Pierce had pulled pranks on many others during his long career – photos of which (including Pierce’s involvement in the shaving of the pubic hairs of a fellow firefighter) later appeared on the Internet.

(In fairness, I should note that the person whose hairs were allegedly shaved has signed an affidavit saying that the picture was a staged hoax, and that he was not actually shaved. But it’s abundantly clear that Pierce has engaged in plenty of actual hazing over the years.)

The closest the paper comes to explaining the joke is in this story, which says:

Firefighter Tennie Pierce, a robust personality whom some firefighters called Big Dog, sued the city after dog food was slipped into his firehouse meal two years ago by several firefighters.

Of course, the group of firefighters who called Pierce “Big Dog” included Pierce himself — which (in addition to the fact that he demanded to be fed) is the very fact that makes the joke so funny (to immature people unlike myself, I hasten to add!).

This story says:

“I think we” — the council — “blew this one,” Wesson said after the vote. “The entire Fire Department will go on trial.”

The editors of the paper hastened to agree in this editorial:

TENNIE PIERCE HAS already had his day at City Hall, testifying before the City Council about harassment and discrimination in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Now it appears that he will get his day in court — and it will be the Fire Department that is on trial.

Why is that? Why is Tennie Pierce’s behavior not going to be on trial? After all, Jon Coupal’s article quoted above seems to make it pretty clear that Tennie Pierce has engaged in hazing-a-plenty over the years:

As it turns out, Pierce was an enthusiastic participant in practical jokes of this type — enthusiastic, at least, when others were the recipients of the conduct. Although there is no videotape, there is extensive photographic evidence of Pierce actively involved in the hazing of other firefighters. Pictures available on the Internet show Pierce — or his double — pouring a helmet full of water on an unsuspecting colleague; as part of a group rubbing old food or garbage on the nearly naked body of a firefighter who has been tied to a chair; and apparently shaving the private area of another naked colleague who is strapped to a gurney. One photo shows Pierce with his hand on the shoulder of a hazing victim who is wearing a yarmulke and has been draped with a sign that says, “Oy Vey! I’m Gay!”


If you are not a regular reader of this web site, or if you have full trust in Big Media’s desire to give you The Whole Story, then you might find it utterly shocking that the local paper is completely failing to tell its readers the non-racial (and, to some, funny) reason that firefighters decided to feed dog food to Tennie “You gotta feed the Big Dog!” Pierce.

But when you express your amazement in the comments, don’t be too surprised if the regular readers just sort of shrug their shoulders.

They’ve seen this sort of distortion far too many times in the past to be surprised by it now.

UPDATE: A commenter points to one story that comes closer to explaining the joke than any of the stories discussed — but still does not give a full explanation. This news analysis from November 22 gives an inadequate explanation for the joke, in the 19th paragraph:

Pierce “has been a firefighter for 20 years, and now all of a sudden he wants to throw in the race card,” [Councilman Dennis] Zine said. “They didn’t feed him dog food because he was African American. It was because he called himself the ‘Big Dog.'”

Close, but no cigar. Actually, it was because he told firefighters to “feed the Big Dog” — which is the full explanation never included by The Times in any story I’ve been able to find. You have to fully understand the contextincluding the fact that “Big Dog” was inviting himself to be fed even as he spiked volleyballs in colleagues’ faces — to understand the joke, and why some (immature) folks might find it funny.

The November 22 news analysis didn’t show up in a search for the word “Tennie” on the Times web site, which lists articles in reverse chronological order, and skips from a Nov. 23 story to a Nov. 15th piece. Nice search engine, guys!

So now we have one piece that approaches an explanation of the prank, out of well more than a dozen. Impressive.

The sentence that originally read “Not one single piece fully explains the joke” now reads “Not one single piece fully explains the joke, including the fact that the Big Dog demanded to be fed.” I also added the parenthetical phrase “(in addition to the fact that he demanded to be fed)” to a different paragraph. These changes improve the accuracy of the post, by reflecting the fact that the paper did give an incomplete and inadequate explanation of the joke (in one piece out of more than a dozen), but that the paper has never fully conveyed why some find the prank funny: the Big Dog demanded to be fed.

Thanks to commenter Neville Chamberlain for pointing out the news analysis.

UPDATE x2: The search engine reveals three more entries dated today (after I posted the post) mentioning the issue. One warns of a higher possible verdict, and doesn’t mention the nickname “Big Dog” at all. Another portrays it as a nickname others gave him, and doesn’t say that he demanded to be fed:

Pierce, an African American who was nicknamed “Big Dog,” said he was humiliated by the event and further embarrassed by taunting in its aftermath that drove him from the job.

And the final entry is more letters from readers left deeply in the dark.

UPDATE x3: What should the L.A. Times have said? I think the paper should have reported exactly what the AP reported in this story:

Critics of the settlement, including Councilman Dennis Zine, said it appeared clear to them Pierce was targeted because, at 6-feet-5, he was known as his fire station’s “Big Dog” and had jokingly told teammates to “feed the Big Dog” during volleyball games.

Now hard would that have been?? Yet I can’t find a single story in The Times that makes this clear. And that, for the hometown paper, is just pathetic.

By the way, here are the photos of Tennie Pierce hazing other firefighters.

UPDATE x4: But did the folks at the L.A. Times know about this? I’m wagering they did. From Sandy Banks’s Nov. 9 story:

A Fire Department investigation suggested the incident was intended to “humble” Pierce — who stands 6 feet 5 — after his team won a fire station volleyball game.

In context, it’s quite clear that Councilman Zine’s information comes from that Fire Department investigation. Is it only one side of the story? Sure. But we heard Tennie Pierce’s side from the paper — all day long, in story after story. How about sharing the city’s side?

UPDATE x5: Yes, it was a fire investigation that revealed that, as evidenced by this passage from the Washington Post:

A department investigation suggested the incident was intended to be a prank to “humble” Pierce after he referred to himself as “the Big Dog” at a volleyball game.

Thanks to steve sturm.

58 Responses to “L.A. Times Consistently Refuses to Tell Readers Why Firefighters Played a Prank on Tennie Pierce”

  1. i can’t imagine that a jury would award this guy 2.7 mil. should be a fun trial. if i were counsel for the city, i’d make it a point to eat some dog food in front of the jury – this would probably have to be done quickly, be prepared to oppose motion for mistrial. sure, i’ll take a can of alpo for the team!
    they do this because we enabled them. we created a racial litigation lottery wherein there is a small but significant chance of a seven-figure jackpot. there must be black people out there who don’t like what tennie pierce is doing, because it paints them all as fragile, sensitive souls around whom one must walk on eggshells. this does not promote racial equality and understanding, it merely provides a justifiable reason for discrimination.

    assistant devil's advocate (29401e)

  2. Here’s an L.A. Times story from last week that says:

    Pierce “has been a firefighter for 20 years, and now all of a sudden he wants to throw in the race card,” Zine said. “They didn’t feed him dog food because he was African American. It was because he called himself the ‘Big Dog.’ ”

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  3. Is it possible that he was angry about being the butt of the joke and made a joke about sueing, and that others, lest they be accused of racism, got the wheels going for the lawsuit, and he couldn’t then stop it?

    Not that that would excuse the paper’s non-coverage.

    htom (412a17)

  4. Thanks to Neville Chamberlain.

    I’ve updated the post to reflect that piece, which amazingly does not show up in a search for “Tennie” on the paper’s web site.

    It’s still not a full explanation.

    Patterico (de0616)

  5. I reworded the update slightly since the last comment.

    Patterico (de0616)

  6. And have reworded it once more. I think I’m done now. It’s much more accurate and flows better now.

    Patterico (de0616)

  7. I am very distressed by the depiction of jews as ‘Gay’ in the picture that Tennie was in. Is there anyone out there that could represent me?
    I would like to hold him liable for—oh I don’t know…2.7 million dollars?

    paul from fl (001f65)

  8. Whatever you feed the Big Dog winds up on the Dog Trainer.

    dchamil (d84e07)

  9. – Wouldn’t the guy in the Yarmulka, or the guy on the guerney with his privates being manipulated, have better “discrimination” complaints. Someone should alert them to all the possiblilities to score at the city’s expense, particularly if there are pictures. They could even call “Big dog” as a prosecution witness. Somehow I think a good amount of “pushback” might put an end to all this faux outrage perfidy. Sounds like the Dog likes to dish it out, but doesn’t like it when it’s his tail being pulled.

    Big Bang Hunter (9562fb)

  10. How could the LAFD not get summary judgment in this case?

    How could this one event sustain a discrimination claim? Where is the adverse employment action taken by the LAFD? Where are the pervasive and severe incidents? Where is the custom, policy or practice of the LAFD that led to the incident? How can this action by ffs be considered within the scope of employment?

    If this thing survives summary judgment, either LA’s attorneys are really, really incompetent, or there is more to the story than this one incident with the dog food.

    – GB

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  11. Is there a better case being made to break up the city of Los Angeles? When are the voters going to wake up? This city is composed of institutions that are too big to control, overly intrusive and abusive union power, taxes designed to drive small business out, and above all, politicians who can’t tell what’s going on.
    Los Angeles is a city of the unions, by the unions and for the unions.

    Orlando (48f7a7)

  12. Good work. You know, I read an LAT editorial about this story recently – it was the first I’d heard of it – and immediately suspected that they were not telling the whole truth. Funny how that happens sometimes.

    Crank (3fed2a)

  13. Pat,

    You cite Coupal as your source for accepting as undisputable fact that dog food was put in Pierce’s food solely as a “feed the Big Dog” joke against a fellow prankster and with no racial animus.

    Who is the first hand witness floating this account? I failed to find an attribution.

    Strange that your skewering the AP over a multi-sourced piece but run – not just as an allegation – but as a factual conclusion a claim that appears to be completely unsourced.

    … and then you skewer the LA Times for not running the unsourced claim?


    Macswain (76d8da)

  14. My main question is this: How is tricking a black guy into eating dog food racist? Bananas, maybe.. not dog food.

    AndrewGurn (c37ea2)

  15. I don’t know if it’s an “undisputable fact” that there was dog food in his food, but in reading all that was written, it seems that it is accepted that it happened and is not in dispute

    Labcatcher (afe438)

  16. even if it were racial animus that led his co-workers to put dog food in that one meal, I still fail to see how that imposes liability on the department for racial discrimination. There still has to be something that the department did to impose liability, and thus far in all of the stories, I fail to see it (unless maybe it was a supervisor that put the dog food in the food).

    Obviously, if the City was interested in paying $2.7 million to resolve this, someone in their law department must feel that there is serious potential liability to the City.

    However, as a practioner in this area of law, I find nothing in any of the cited articles that even remotely would lead me to offer that kind of money. Indeed, as I alluded to in an earlier comment, if the articles contain all of the facts of this matter, I cannot see how the Fire Department / City does not win a summary judgment motion. Which leads me to believe there must be much more not reported on in these stories, or else LA’s city attorneys are really, really incompetent.

    – GB

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  17. From Slate: Chronicle of the Newspaper Death Foretold. The article mentions our honored host’s favorite newspaper and it’s article on newspapers becoming an endangered species — from 1976.

    Dana (3e4784)

  18. I though this line in today’s Metro coverage of the case was interesting:

    Paul Grossman, a management lawyer, said that even though the city’s lawyers would try to keep anyone with knowledge of the case off the jury, at least one or two panelists would probably still know or discover “that some people in the city thought the case was worth a lot of money.”

    Or, in other words, the Times’ coverage would bias any juror.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  19. I don’t think newspapers should restate all the facts surrounding an ongoing story like this every time they print an article about it.

    Should every single article about Iraq start with the Bush administration’s initial claims that Saddam had nukes and ties to al Qeada…and the fact that those claims were later proven to be false?

    I think there’s a certain expectation that if readers are interested in a story, they will “keep up” with it as it unfolds.

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  20. Turn the blog reins over to the Great Banana!

    He/she raises a reasonable issue that actually warrants consideration and even ends with this reasonable conclusion:

    Which leads me to believe there must be much more not reported on in these stories, or else LA’s city attorneys are really, really incompetent.

    But I would ask the Banana – how many times have you actually come across a city attorney’s office that recommends throwing 2.7 million dollars at discrimination claim? Isn’t the first part of your conclusion – from your experience – much more likely than the latter?

    Macswain (76d8da)

  21. This is why I get my news from a handful of bloggers and avoid big media all together. Heh.

    And while I think the media’s neglect of key information is still the main story here, I am still going back to the issue of why it is even considered a racist act.

    Even if it simply came down to a random idea to give their coworker dogfood, how is that racist? Firefighters, much like military types, do some crazy shit to each other. Yet you do some thing tame like this and because the recipient is black, its racism? Or does the ‘outrage!’ simply come from the fact that it was dog food? If they had given him gerbil food instead would it still be racism?

    CorinthianJest (210cdc)

  22. I think that is the point of the editorial Patterico doesn’t like, CJ.

    If the L.A. fire dept. doesn’t put a stop to the “crazy shit” going on in its firehouses, it’s going to cost the residents of L.A. even more money.

    Certain types of people may consider this a story about reverse discrimination…but that doesn’t make it one.

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  23. Looks like the Times actually has something up with more clues on the issue raised by the Banana:

    “Both Grossman and Feldman said the proposed settlement amount struck them as high, particularly for a government defendant. But a history of bias in the department could justify it, they conceded.

    “Two city audits of the Fire Department, in 1994 and one released in January, found patterns of bias and harassment in the agency.

    “Said Grossman, who is also coauthor of a book on employment discrimination law: “If there are a lot of racist statements, if prior complaints were ignored and if true retaliation took place, that might make the case worth more money.” A single incident, such as the spaghetti laced with dog food, would not be enough to win a case, based on a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court, he said.”

    Macswain (76d8da)

  24. True enough Neville.

    Macswain, the quotes you posted seem to have a potential “fake but accurate” ring to them regarding the lawsuit. Which may even be more telling about why the LA Times has ommitted the “feed the Big Dog” details.

    Either way, it’s amazing how often the “fake but accurate” meme seems to be appearing in journalism.

    CorinthianJest (210cdc)

  25. CJ,

    More likely the Times hasn’t printed the “feed the Big Dog” claim because no one involved has stood up and said it as far as I can see.

    Is a person involved actually making this claim?

    Macswain (76d8da)

  26. Dennis Zine is one of the councilmembers who heard the presentation from the City Attorney, and he was quoted making the “feed the Big Dog” statement by the AP.

    See UPDATE x3.

    Why couldn’t the LAT quote what the AP quoted?

    Patterico (de0616)

  27. Wow, that’s rich.

    So Pat really has no witness actually claiming it; it’s just what “appeared” to be clear to one councilman named Zine and some unnamed critics (i.e. rightwingers reading the blogstorm on freerepublic, worldnutdaily, etc.) One wonders whether Zine originated this speculation or is simply parroting it from the righty blogs.

    That’s some standard — the LA Times must print all the speculation/propaganda any councilmember utters even though its completely unsourced from anyone with firsthand knowledge of the incident.

    But Pat goes further – that speculation, you see, should have been covered as what the incident “was all about!”

    This blog just seems to be careening from one car wreck to the next. Good show!

    Macswain (76d8da)

  28. It’s what appeared to be clear to one councilman named Zine, who saw the evidence presented by the City Attorney’s office.

    The L.A. Times found Zine plenty worthy of quoting, on matters for which Zine had equally specific corroboration. They don’t just feel comfortable reporting the convincing stuff.

    The AP did. But not the local paper.

    Patterico (de0616)

  29. But all the propaganda that favors Pierce’s lawsuit — that’s *plenty* worth quoting!

    Patterico (de0616)

  30. I’m reminded of the black woman who thought a comment of mine that combined her unruly kids and a jungle gym translated into calling them monkeys.

    There are a certain class of people who will try to turn anything that doesn’t go their way into a discrimination claim. Not just some blacks, but Latinos, women, homosexuals–anyone who can say they are an “oppressed minority”.

    Too bad they don’t allow this in Russia. My grandparents would have a great lawsuit against the Tsar..

    And admit it, Pat. You found the prank funny as hell. Pranking a prankster always is.

    [If you read me long enough, you’ll discover that I say a *lot* of things tongue-in-cheek. Let’s put it this way: I have never seriously claimed to be all that “mature.” So yeah, you’re right . . . but I think regular readers could read between the lines. — P]

    kishnevi (c18dfe)

  31. LA Times coverage is insulting. Newspapers are supposed to be liberal, and have a clever way of spinning facts. A 2nd to last opinion-spin paragraph is sort of expected. But when they deliberately leave out major parts of the story so you have to dig up info yourself off the net, that is insulting. I feel ripped off for spending 50 cents. These guys must feel that given the whole picture, their liberal followers will switch to conservatives in huge chunks. What a pathetically low opinion LA Times workers have of themselves and their output.

    Wesson (c20d28)

  32. Just because a newspaper doesn’t share your own personal prejudices and biases doesn’t make it “liberal,” Wesson.

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  33. That’s right, Neville. It’s the liberalism that makes it liberal.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  34. This is the new way to retire.

    1. Pick your date.
    2. Lose all sense of integrity.
    3. Become very, very sensitive.
    4. Find/create a situation that can’t
    lose because of PC.
    5. Make sure the people/entity being sued are
    strong on political correctness.
    6. Rush without delay to the nearest
    6. Sit back for a few months while the people/
    entity decide if the exhorbitant amount being
    demanded is actually enough.
    7. World travel, condos, cars, here I come!

    rightisright (2cbc9b)

  35. Dog food sounds like hazing, what he sent around came around.

    Now if they’d served him buttered pancakes, those offended by Little Black Sambo might consider it racism.

    htom (412a17)

  36. Uhm … Pat …

    Need I remind you the title of your post.

    “L.A. Times Consistently Refuses to Tell Readers Why Firefighters Played a Prank on Tennie Pierce.”

    Then all you got is the speculation from one City Councilman who, in fact, had been quoted on the “Big Dog” prank justification he gave them. Yet, you have falsely portrayed that speculation as established fact that should be cited as undisputable truth in every article.

    Who needs witnesses or evidence — Pat was convinced by the speculation therefore it must be printed as established fact. Case over … no racial animus … and, do as Pat, just ignore the retaliation claim which is likely the meat of the issue.

    Pat, one could also more easily note how you and the LAT have not given the full details of Dennis Zine’s background fully revealing all of his biases. It appears that you’ve got quite an interesting character down there to whom you’ve chosen to hitch your wagon.

    Macswain (5b310d)

  37. Uhm, Macswain.

    It appears this story is the result of the Fire Department’s investigation.

    Which means that people familiar with the incident said it.

    See UPDATE x4.

    Do we know it’s ESTABLISHED FACT? Nah, not necessarily. It’s one side of a lawsuit. Pardon me if I have nothing but contempt for the side of the lawsuit seeking millions of dollars of taxpayer money for a coupla mouthfuls of dog food.

    I love ada’s suggestion: the City lawyer *has* to down a coupla spoonfuls of Alpo in front of the jury.

    Patterico (de0616)

  38. Can we get an educated guess as to how much taxpayer money will be spent on the upcoming trial?

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  39. Less than $2.7 million.

    Make sure and look at the collateral benefits of slapping this guy down hard in court, and thus preventing more frivolous lawsuits.

    Patterico (de0616)

  40. Seems like this guy has a fair shot at winning in court.

    The city council voted 11-1 to award him the money already.

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  41. Pat, one could also more easily note how you and the LAT have not given the full details of Dennis Zine’s background fully revealing all of his biases.

    You could note that more easily, Macswain? What is it you could note more easily, how much easier is it to note and why is it relevant to this case?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  42. And the final entry is more letters from readers left deeply in the dark.

    Actually, those letters evidence readers who have quite the handle on the whole ordeal. To wit:

    I served Los Angeles County in law enforcement for 14 years. I have known Fire Chief William Bamattre for 19 years. In any large organization, the buck stops with the leader. But if you are going to hold Bamattre totally responsible, then the whole organization is responsible. Hazing, pranks and teasing are accepted by most individuals who enter a stressful occupation. Whether it is in law enforcement or firefighting, tradition goes a long way. Once an individual accepts hazing, pranks and practical jokes, he has accepted tradition. I know because I participated back in my day; we all have.

    After all the positive strides we have made in racial equality, people still use the race card when things don’t go their way. If it’s all about pride and loyalty, why does a complainer need to sue? To hold one man responsible for the problems of a few crybabies would be irresponsible to taxpayers.


    MichaelW (a34030)

  43. Live preview of comment

    I don’t pretend to hang with a cross section of the LA population; I am middle class, white, and I work around fifty or so Blacks and a lesser number of Hispanics and we exchange pleasantries from time to time. Not a single person on the work force reads the Times; on occasion you will see a Sports page on a desk or two and the women read the Women’s section when they pick it up in a restaurant or something. So where do they get their news? I have absolutely no idea. Black talk radio doesn’t exist; Hispanics don’t listen to talk radio, there are some local Black and Hispanic papers that I see around, but it seems that most minorities get their news from rumor and one another. Yet they have opinions on this poor victimized fireman. The fact that he wasn’t paid off is “proof” of the evils of “the man,” and the hostility percolates inside them most of the time. You don’t have to “read” the LA Times in order to be misinformed.

    Howard Veit (28df94)

  44. I worked as a firefighter in WA. Pranks are a part of the firefighter life and as a rookie I was sent out to the parking lot to guard against gangs (there were none) and had my bed wetted by a IV bag placed between the spring and mattress with the tube placed under the sheet.

    Other rookies were sent to get left handed monkey wrenches or a box of priaprisms (erections that won’t go down) from other staff members.

    I did not like it or participate in it although I would have pranked the bed of the guy I suspected of wetting my bed had I stayed longer or if it were repeated. An old guy I met suggested shaking powered confectionary sugar in between his sheets. The sugar is so fine you cannot feel it but it will collect water moisture and make for a sticky night in bed.

    All male groups do this, the army, schools, football teams. It is form of group bonding.

    The fire department’s unofficial rules were: no pranks could involve equipment or anything that would slow down response time.

    Also…. the fire department handled fire and medic calls and we had a rule that if you or any member of the family needed fire or medic services you owed the station cake and ice cream. It was a town of 30,000 and once a week we had cake and ice cream.

    Were there racists on the fire department, maybe but they kept it to themselves and it did not interfere with work. Just like the army, working in difficult situations with people different from yourself makes you realize that you have a common bond which was often much stronger than any affiliation through race or religion. You became very tight with your team.

    Those pictures of prank playing firefighters are par for the course at a firehouse where men, mostly men ,90 to 95% at some count, sit around and wait for something to do

    Firefighting is extremely boring punctuated by moments of terror or excitement, depending on how you looked at it. I suppose you need something to jazz up the boring time if you are an adrenaline junkie.

    Most of the guys I worked with hunted and rode motor bikes and trucks and fast cars. I was not one of them so I left.

    One captain tested the airbag by jumping off the 6 story tower onto it. 6 months later a doc looking at an x-ray says, “did you break you neck about 6 months ago? because you have a healed break here about 6 months old” turns out he did hurt his neck but thought he had twisted it. and did not get it checked out

    Just lucky for me that the day I wore my girlfriend’s “jockeys for her” panties because I ran out of underwear was the day that my mind was clear enough to pull my pants up after i pulled them down to dress for a call at 3am when the alarms and lights went on in the dorm.

    Dodged a bullet on that one, I do not know if I could have lived that one down in the homophobic environment of the firehouse.

    I am not gay (not that there is anything wrong with that) nor do I wear woman’s panties anymore


    Part of male hazing is, I think, to test and drum out weaker members of the group so when the shit hits the fan, you know that your buddies can stand up to severe stress, espcially when it can save your life or a civilian’s life. I probably has some evolutionary roots and is an adaptation for survival

    iceman (ff3de2)

  45. the WaPo mentioned it in this story about the LA Fire Chief resigning… so I guess the Post didn’t get the word how good liberal papers were supposed to keep that quiet.

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  46. OT: Someone needs to mention how screwed up the coverage of Lebanon is.

    The government is supported (I believe) by almost all countries in the world except Iran and Syria. And yet the LA Times headline and lede is:

    Hezbollah sit-in has Beirut at a standstill
    The Shiite party and its allies say they’re staying until the U.S.-backed government falls.
    By Megan K. Stack, Times Staff Writer
    December 2, 2006

    BEIRUT — Hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters and their allies poured into the capital Friday in a mass protest that paralyzed the city center, laid siege to the prime minister’s office and threatened an escalating campaign of civil disobedience until the U.S.-backed government collapses.

    It looks like Hizballa is writing the news for us.

    neandaman (33fc00)

  47. Along with the poor service I get at restaurants, including becoming invisible, being the butt of practical jokes just gives me another way to prove I am black, when reparations become available.

    J. Peden (90d2a0)

  48. Actually, those letters evidence readers who have quite the handle on the whole ordeal.

    Well, most of them seem to have the right attitude, but none of them explain the idea of the prank. That’s what I meant.

    Patterico (de0616)

  49. And UPDATE x5, using steve sturm’s WaPo story, ties it even more firmly together.

    Helloooo! MacSwaiiiiiin!

    [knocks on MacSwain’s forehead]

    Patterico (de0616)

  50. This is SO funny. “IED Hunter”. Must watch. Gallows humor from Iraq.

    (via Hot Air)

    Christoph (9824e6)

  51. THE LA TIMES IS A BIASED PIECE OF [expletive deleted by management]

    STEVE (32dc98)

  52. IceMan, I bow to your intellect. You made my day with your post, Thanks 🙂

    sharla (f59c75)

  53. […] The paper still can’t bring itself to report the allegation that really explains the prank: that Pierce arguably invited the prank by yelling that other volleyball players “gotta feed the Big Dog!” — an allegation that is apparently corroborated by an internal Fire Department investigation. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Tells Part of the Truth on Tennie Pierce (421107)

  54. Mr. Pierce should not have participated in any type of hazing ritual. Why? Because he is BLACK! Unfortunately African-Americans have forgotten what it took to become an officer in the fire service. They have forgotten how those before them were “screwed” over just because they wanted a career. We will always be “black” no matter what the job is. We have to always be above board because when we screw up it is because we are black. Mr.Pierce thought he was just one of the good ole boys. Wrong! He was and still is a black man working as a fire fighter. However to defend him, if you look at those photos those individuals were activly participating in those “hazing” activities. Did Mr. Pierce knowingly pick out the flavor of dog food before eating it? No! What he should have done was act “black” and beat the rat shit out of everyone who participated in the dog food incident. Oh but that would have been racist on his part, you know a black man beating up poor defenseless white men at work. I can not believe that the Black Professional Fire Fighters of LA would even condone any of their members playing those silly “white men” games at work. All of those brothers who play those games should be put in check and be made to look in the mirror at least five time a day until they remember who they really are. Then there would be no more feeding of any dogs!

    Angé Taylor (adc705)

  55. At the next Regional and International Black Professional Fire Fighters conferences, this and other stupid behaviour that the black fire fighters participate in should be majorly discussed. These brothers should stop this mess. You can not play with these people and expect to be treated with some respect. They need to respect themselves every minute they are on the job. Instead of participating in hazing or other stupid “raindeer” games, they should be studiying for their next higher educational degrees, that way they can advance to the next position in the fire department. For example Chief! Every African-American across the country needs a required class on what the first African-American had to deal with attempting to get that job and what they endured while on the job. Then make the white fire fighters take the same class.

    Angé Taylor (adc705)

  56. Macswain asked:

    But I would ask the Banana – how many times have you actually come across a city attorney’s office that recommends throwing 2.7 million dollars at discrimination claim? Isn’t the first part of your conclusion – from your experience – much more likely than the latter?

    I would agree. If the attorneys are even remotely competent, they would not have suggested such a settlement offer in the first instance without there being a lot of other very, very damaging facts that we don’t know about. If they are offering $ 2.7 million for this one dog-food incident, they are a bigger part of the problem than anything else.

    – GB

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  57. Macswain,

    Another point, having practiced in this area for a while, I can also say that large settlements are sometimes approved for other reasons than merit.

    In government cases, we have to remember that the individuals agreeing to pay the $2.7 million are NOT the ones paying the money. So, they are not looking necessarily at the merits of the case or what the right thing to do is, but instead are looking at how the politics will play and whether it will help them. In other words, they might not care if they waste $2.7 million on a frivolous lawsuit if it helps them get re-elected, or elected to a higher office.

    I have seen it happen before. Not for that kind of money, but nothing would surprise me.

    Thus, having 11 members of council agree to make this payment does not necessarily mean that much to me in terms of the potential merits of the case.

    – GB

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

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