Wednesday, November 01, 2006

10 Shot At San Francisco Halloween Party

Check out this story:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Gunfire broke out between two groups at a massive Halloween street party in the city's Castro district, wounding at least 10 people, including innocent bystanders, police said Wednesday.

The shooting began around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday as authorities were dispersing thousands of revelers under a curfew aimed at controlling the traditionally raucous party.

Two people were detained for questioning, but no one had been arrested early Wednesday, police Capt. Al Casciato said. He said two groups of people had gotten into an altercation before the shooting began.

One victim was listed in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital.

The once-spontaneous and unsanctioned party was taken over by the city four years ago after police recorded five stabbings and a number of assaults in a 2002 crowd of 500,000 people and confiscated a chain saw.

Officials and members of the district's large gay community said the party had started attracting gay bashers along with the usual colorfully costumed characters.

Ok now, you're gonna have to go with me a bit on this one. Trust me. Don't jump to any conclusions, please. Hear me out.

It is highly possible that these shootings were perpetrated by people who hate gays. Now, there are complex reasons for why people hate gays, so this is not an easy issue to deal with. Among the major reasons people hate gays are,

1) Instinctual - I really believe we all have within us an animalistic rejection of homsosexuality. I think this comes from a herd-protecting instinct. I believe there are two reasons for this instinct. One is homosexuality does not reproduce and the herd wants to reproduce, as it should. The second is that homosexual men are often, not always, effeminate in their demeanor. The herd does not want weakness in its midst. That is natural.

2) Homophobia - some people are afraid of gay people because they have a fear that they may possibly be gay, or be perceived as gay, themselves. Therefore, being around gay people makes them uncompfortable, and if a gay person hits on them, they take it as an insult. If you think about it, that reaction does not make any sense. Question for the guys: If a big fat ugly woman hits on you, do you get mad at her, or do you just politely tell her you are not interested? Why would the reaction not be the same if a gay man were to hit on you?

3) Ideological - There are people in our society who foment dislike, and sometimes outright hatred of gay people on ideological grounds. I used to go to a church where the Pastor would, approximately once a month, insert angry criticism of the "homosexual lobby" into sermons that seemed to have nothing to do with the subject. Most ideological criticism of gay people in America does come from religious people, and is expressed as being a matter of religious principles.

There is, certainly, some basis for concern that there is a homosexual lobby which is attempting to have its agenda inserted into the curriculum of public schools. However, I do not recall ever hearing the Pastor to whom I referred ever make a distinction between normal monogamous, everyday gay people, and the radicals who might try to effect massive and unwanted change in the structure of our society.

I think all Christians should ask themselves if those of their fellow Christians whom they hear criticizing gay people, the "homosexual lobby", or any of the other attributes of gay culture, ever turn around and defend the gay person's right to be gay. Do you ever hear these critics of homosexuality stand up and say, "Of course, there are many gay people who live normal lives, and I have no problem with those gay people?" Do your fellow Christians have any gay friends? Would they be willing to have a gay person as a friend? Will they befriend non-Christians at all?

These are important questions to ask ourselves. Especially if we are going to criticize Islam for being an intolerant religion.

Let me be very clear, I am not making a case for the idea that Christian criticism of homosexuality is anywhere in the same ballpark as Muslim hatred of gays. Islam orders that homosexuals be stoned to death. There is no predominantly Christian society on the face of the Earth that has such laws.

But what I am trying to say is that sometimes Christian criticism of homosexuality does veer into the realm of inciting hatred of gay people. When there is no balance, no acknowlegement of the fact that there are many good and decent gay people leading normal lives, when there is no acknowledgement of their rights to be who and what they are, or choose to be, then there is no love intended, no matter how many times the mantra, "Hate the sin, love the sinner," is repeated.

And, what is the absence of love? Apathy? Dislike? Hate?

Why am I going into all this? What does this have to do with the story above? Do I think the people who opened fire at the gay street party in San Francisco were church-going Christians? I have no idea, AND I seriously doubt it. At this point, we do not even know if the shots were fired because of hatred of gays.

However, I believe we need to remember that we Christians are supposed to be the salt of the Earth. That means we are supposed to be the preservers of the Earth. Part of what we do is contribute ideas to society which are intended to help society. But, the truth is, we also on occasion contribute ideas which hurt society. Our ideas do have real world consequences. We don't just sit around in church talking about how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

If the ideas we are contributing are adding to the already magnified reasons that many people hate gays, then we have done Christ a disservice.