How getting beaten by cops helped Paul Krassner learn mindfulness

Our friend Paul Krassner is the founder of The Realist, which was a huge influence on my decision to launch bOING bOING in 1988. Paul is turning 80 next year and he wrote an essay for Counterpunch called “My Lesson in Mindfulness,” about how a brutal beating he received from a billy club wielding police officer in 1979 eventually led to his life of mindfulness.
In 1979, my life changed while I was covering the trial of Dan White for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Former police officer White had confessed to killing the progressive Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was becoming the gay equivalent of Martin Luther King. ... it came to pass that a double political assassination was transmuted into simple voluntary manslaughter. White would be sentenced to serve only seven years behind bars. No wonder there was a post-verdict riot in front of City Hall. A dozen police cars had been set on fire, which in turn set off their alarms, underscoring the angry shouts from a mob of five thousand understandably outraged gays. The police were running amuck in an orgy of indiscriminate sadism, swinging their clubs wildly and screaming profanity-laden homophobic epithets.I was struck with a nightstick on the outside of my right knee and I fell to the ground. Another cop came charging at me and made a threatening gesture with his billy club. When I tried to protect my head, he jabbed me viciously on the exposed right side of my chest. Oh, God, the pain!  It felt like an electric cattle prod was stuck between my ribs. I had a fractured rib and a punctured lung. The injuries affected my posture, and I began to develop an increasingly unbalanced body -- twisted and in constant pain.
When I saw Paul a few years ago in Los Angeles, he walked up to a stage to give a talk and his leg gave out, causing him to fall on the floor. He sprang right up and jumped on the stage. My Lesson in Mindfulness


  1. Man, that makes me want to wear knee armor all the time. I mean, I don’t live in toronto; my risk of an unsolicited assault by a “police officer” is very low. But still.

  2. Ugh, twisted and in constant pain… if only I couldn’t relate to that… :(

    Amazing story, how horrifying that must have been.

  3. Krassner.  Awesome journalism and activism since before I can remember and still, every once in a while, he amazes me.

  4. He should have sued them.  Dolores Huerta received a similar brutal beating by the SFPD in 1988 during a peaceful protest.  She received serious injuries but sued and won, and was awarded substantial damages which she donated to the farm workers cause. 

  5. I found the linked story baffling; it seemed to have little regard for cause and effect or narrative continuity.  He was beaten in 1979 and got a rib busted and a lung punctured, but then eight years later he had spinal problems, then years later started falling down?  I had my rib busted and lung punctured (& collapsed) around the same time, but none of that other stuff happened to me – what’s the connection?  I don’t get it!

  6. Jim Slemaker-
    He is a journalist and was covering the trial. RTFAHe has taken chances his whole life, and has made the world a better place for it.What have you done?Now be safe, go back to your couch and never experience life.

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