By Zach Hagadone
Any halfway diligent reader of the Reader since December 2004 is familiar with my coverage of city decisions, trends and politics. They may also have noticed that I don’t often report what’s said in the “public forum” portion of those meetings, in large part because it’s essentially a venting of the collective spleen; which, as a patriotic American, I know is right, proper and necessary.
My favorite forum speaker over the past year or two is the lady who uses her three minutes of democratically sanctioned air time to pray over the council.
As the descendent of more than one preacher, I am sensitive to the expression of faith in the public’s house. Not a fan. Church is church, and City Hall is City Hall, and I tend to pay respects more to the latter than the former, and generally feel that never, ever, should they meet.
However, this lady is well intentioned (I think?), praying that council members find wisdom in their decisions and approach the issues of our day with an open mind and heart. She also recently prayed that if they had inflammation, that it would abate. OK. I can get behind that. We all want wisdom, openness of heart and mind, and no one likes inflammation.
That’s great, but what really burned me up at the July 20 meeting was a bunch of pinched-faced bigots who wagged their fingers at the council (and therefore all of us) over the recent Pride event.
Despite the bevy of important things before the City Council on July 20 (it was a huge agenda), there were gathered a handful of individuals who descended from their City on a Hill onto City Hall with a grab-bag of bizarre complaints about Pride.
The Daily Bee spun those comments into a full story over the past weekend (sidestepping the Bridge Street and First Avenue land swap and proposed ballot initiative to double the bed tax) and gave an outsized platform to complaints that non-hetereo people exist and dare to show themselves in public. I chose not to report that, but here I am, writing about it anyway.
One man — I won’t name him or any of the others because I don’t want to embarrass them — made what he called a “public observation” that “morality is something that’s created and debated outside these doors.” True enough; so why was he debating “morality” inside those doors? Never mind. He also called Pride “toxic” and a “magnet” for unrest, such as the “political violence” — either in threat or deed — that occured in Coeur d’Alene when a bunch of fascists rolled into that town with the intent to riot and inflict injury on citizens lawfully congregated to celebrate Pride.
His comments sounded a bit like a threat and he had clearly been magnetized (enough so to tell us all as much), but, again, never mind. He’s a pious man, and we all know that Pious Men have never done anything harmful to anyone anywhere ever.
Another guy, thinking he was supremely clever, suggested a counterfactual scenario in which he would pay to have exotic dancers trucked in from Stateline and have them perform for local children, giving the kids dollar bills with which to tip their erotic entertainment. Does anyone want that? No. Was that what happened at Pride? No. Super clever. I wonder how long he spent thinking up that idea. I think a penny for his thoughts might not be enough.
He called Pride “a degeneracy event,” presumably as pushback to the drag show that occurred late in the evening, which included no nudity, per both the mayor and Sandpoint police, and others have pointed out that parents were under no obligation to attend with their children. (Not to mention the event was on private property.)
Then he had the temerity to drag the U.S. Constitution into it.
“This is not freedom of speech, this is acts being performed on children,” he said, grimly warning, “This cannot happen in our city ever again,” then jumping over the high hurdle of cognitive dissonance he suggested, “No one hates them [LGBTQIA+ individuals],” yet they had been “sexualizing children at an early age.” He also suggested that anyone who disagrees with his tortured logic would be “ungracious.”
Call me “ungracious.”
Another dude-of-a-certain-age, citing his residence in Sagle, took it upon himself to serve as Every Man: “It does not represent the bulk of the citizens of this town, and you’re going to feel a groundswell,” he cautioned. His credentials to “represent the citizens of this town” — a town in which he does not reside — were unclear as of press time.
“Nobody that I have spoken to in this community liked any part of it,” he added, fronting his friend group and associates as being the real majority.
Further, he trotted out a Q Anon cultist catchphrase in service of a baseless conspiracy theory: “They’re grooming the children in this community.”
The only people “grooming” anyone around here are nutters “grooming” the feeble minded to join them in their ludicrous belief structure.
One woman said she “went down there to pray” at Pride. I have a number of friends who are ordained pastors, priests and ministers, and one of the main things we all agree upon is the power and simple beauty of prayer on behalf of others.
That is, when prayer is performed in good faith. There is no good faith in going out of your way to use prayer as a weapon against people whose very existence is a baseline for your disgust with existence at large. Prayer is an offering of love; when performed in the old “hate the sin, love the sinner” cop out, it is spiritual assault.
This woman, after mouthing a bunch of pious-sounding nonsense, reduced herself to sputtering: “It’s just wrong. It’s just wrong. It’s just wrong on all levels. … It’s just wrong.”
Aquinas she ain’t. Definitely not Erasmus.
I do not begrudge these people their three minutes of public speech. I consider it sacred, and not in the phony, cavalier way that so many others throw their “rights” around. They are, however, profoundly stupid. Bless them, for they know not what they do.
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