San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins sets the scene this way: "Last
week, out of the blue (as in blue movie), a photograph of two topless girls
lying in bed was projected onto a large overhead screen during an otherwise
humdrum sexual-harassment seminar."
And this wasn't just any sexual harassment seminar. It was being held in the
city council chambers of the southern California community of Oceanside for
about 50 city employees, including a handful of police officers.
The image appeared only briefly - so briefly, in fact, that part of the ensuing
dispute centered on what exactly had been shown. Some eyewitnesses thought they
saw child pornography.
"In the days that followed," Jenkins writes, "speculation ran
wild about who slipped in the offensive picture and why." Some City
Hall insiders suspected the Oceanside Police Officers Association of planting
the photo to get back at Mayor Terry Johnson, who has described the association
as an incubator for costly racial-bias and sexual-harassment lawsuits.
"What could be richer for the POA than revealing the city's sex-harassment
experts as unwitting purveyors of kiddie porn?" Jenkins asks. Adding to
the tension, several cops complained of being blocked from investigating the
matter as a possible crime.
But Jenkins reports that it appears the person responsible for the incident
had been alone watching a DVD version of "Girls Gone Wild," the heavily
advertised video "of bacchanalian party scenes that feature college women,
usually in a state of glassy-eyed intoxication, pulling up their tops to please
a leering camera." A technical hiccup, according to this version of events,
caused a video image on one computer to migrate to the workshop computer that
was at that moment switching to a PowerPoint presentation.
"If the picture did come from the mainstream 'Girls Gone Wild,' the question
of criminality appears answered in the negative," Jenkins writes. "As
the city is winding up its internal probe, the police are conducting their own
"Who knows? At this precise moment, officers may be screening 'Girls Gone
Wild' or searching in the bowels of a city computer's software
to find the picture that launched the riot.
"A dirty job, but somebody has to do it."