Friday, March 03, 2006

Bastard of the Day

Today's award goes to Crystal Lake homophobes. Organizers of the 2006 Gay Games would like to hold a rowing event in Crystal Lake, a far northwestern suburb of Chicago. Unfortunately, the plan tripped over its first hurdle, the Crystal Lake Park District board vote. At least it was close, 2-2 with one absent when three votes were needed for approval.

Like Tracy Baim, co-vice chairwoman of the Gay Games board of directors, I was not surprised by this. Chicago may be willing to accept the Gay Games, but the suburbs, particularly on the fringes, are not. Remember, Illinois is a red state with a blue city. Here's one goofball homophobe's logic:
Crystal Lake resident Scott Spencer told the Park Board that homosexuality is "contrary and detrimental" to traditional family values. Saying that view doesn't make him a bigot, he added: "Let me point out what my prejudice is toward: my wife, my children, my grandchildren and the sanctity of the home."
Yes, because gay people just want to rape your kids and grandkids (while the bull dikes have their way with your wife), as soon as they're finished with the family dog. You are a bigot. And a moron.

First of all, this isn't going to be like Sturgis, SD when the bikers come to town. We're talking about one event, and come on, it's just rowing. It's not the Super Bowl, and it's not a Gay Pride parade marching up US Highway 14. Gays are not going to infiltrate every nook and cranny of Crystal Lake. Just don't go to the lake while the event is being held -- "problem" solved. As for "the sanctity of the home," who said Gay Games spectators or athletes want anything to do with your home? Was this a vote on, "Should gay rowers spend the night at the Spencer residence?" Trust me, they'll steer clear of your ilk, just like blacks avoid the KKK. If you're worried about your kids and grandkids (and the family dog), just lock them in the basement while the Sodomites corrupt someone else's youth.

Secondly, and this may cause Mr. Spencer to shudder, you already watch gay athletes all the time. You may not know it, but they are out there. They were at the Olympics (and not just the figure skaters). They are in baseball, basketball, football, maybe even (cringe) NASCAR. Yet you probably allow your kids to watch sports on TV. And their family values haven't been corrupted, at least as far as homosexuality goes (beer commercials, on the other hand, probably are detrimental to family values).

Another resident was worried that more than the expected 200-300 people would show up, possibly overwhelming the city's resources. At first blush this seems like a reasonable concern, but think about it. Most of the Gay Games events are in Chicago. Rowing has limited appeal, and fans would have to drive 50 miles to get to Crystal Lake. How many people are going to do that? Even if the Gay Games organizers are wrong and 100 percent more people show up, that's still only 600 people. Crystal Lake isn't Mayberry -- it has a population over 40,000. Surely the city could handle a crowd the size of a company picnic.

Again, it was a split vote, and I am not indicting all Crystal Lake residents as homophobic morons. But the Scott Spencers need to be called out as the bastards they are. As Rev. Dan Larson said at the meeting last night, "Everyone has a right to row their boat."

UPDATE 03/08/2006: The Crystal Lake Park District board voted last night to approve the rowing event after Board President Jerry Sullivan, who was on vacation last week, cast the deciding vote in favor. I thought it was strange that the board voted on such a contentious issue with one member absent in the first place. Alas, the bastardly side of Crystal Lake was still evident:
We're going to welcome the opportunity," said Rev. Joel Anderson, of Harvest Bible Chapel in Crystal Lake, before the meeting. He said gay athletes who come to Crystal Lake might be greeted by people from his 900-member congregation and from other churches with messages about their belief that homosexuality is immoral.
Why can't people just "live and let live?" They would be much better off ignoring the event altogether. Anderson went on to hint that something ugly might happen when the Gay Games are held. At this point I think that's likely. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot more people than anticipated show up both to support and protest the event (much to the chagrin of people like my anonymous commenter who fear that their "quiet lakeside village" will be spoiled by the crowd). In the meantime, expect more raucous debate when the Crystal Lake City Council takes up the matter, followed by the Lakewood Village Board.


Anonymous said...

Surely the city could handle a crowd the size of a company picnic.

The lake is too crowded already. I don't want another 100 or 300 or 600 gay, straight, or anybody else on the lake.

Anonymous said...

You said...
"Just don't go to the lake while the event is being held."

Why would I want my elected officials to approve things that would result in restrictions on the use of the resources that my taxes fund?

Are the Gay Games planning on PAYING for the use of the lake? Will I see any of that money? I'm the one making the sacrifice of not using the lake while they are using it, right?

Maybe some of the contestants wouldn't mind if I have a picnic in their back yard. They just have to make sure they're not using it during my picnic.

David Johnsen said...

Anonymous said...
"Are the Gay Games planning on PAYING for the use of the lake?"

Why should they? Usually it's the opposite -- cities pay to attract athletic events. Why? Because people who compete and spectate spend money in those cities. They buy gas, meals, sunscreen, etc., and like any tourists, they are adding money to the local economy (as opposed to the recycling of money that locals do).

"Will I see any of that money?"

Yes. The government will collect more revenue in the form of sales taxes, which in turn benefit you, whether you like gays or not.

"Maybe some of the contestants wouldn't mind if I have a picnic in their back yard."

If you want to have a picnic in a contestant's back yard, and he could sell you hotdogs and hamburgers, then he probably would be happy to let you have your picnic.

People opposing this event are failing to see that opportunity because they are blinded by their prejudices.

Anonymous said...

You missed my point.
Crystal Lake is a quiet little lake. The more people that come here, the more it gets spoiled.

The amount of money I might see from the sales tax collected by the participants will in no way come close to making up for the inconvenience they will cause.

People who live in neighborhoods near places like Wrigley Field and the United Center like lots of crowds around their house. People who live in Crystal Lake like their quiet lakeside village. When we want crowds, we go into Chicago.

And from now on, I would like to make it clear that I don't care one bit if this is Gay games, Fraternity games, Republican games, White games, or whatever. I want to keep my quiet neighborhood quiet.

David Johnsen said...

I didn't miss your point; I didn't buy it.

First of all, that "quiet lakeside village" line is just realtor-speak. I've been to Crystal Lake many times, and it has its share of suburban noise and sprawl. A city of 40,000+ isn't a "village" anymore and shouldn't be so provincial.

If you are really concerned about preserving your "quiet lakeside village," then you are fighting the wrong battle. Fight the real estate developers who are homogenizing your landscape, turning farmers' fields into subdivisions and strip malls. The Gay Games will come and go quickly, but the farmland will never come back. (Having grown up in the Fox River Valley myself, I have plenty of experience with this issue.)

This is a small event (not a Cubs game, for goodness sake) lasting a short period of time (I don't know specifically, but how many gay rowers could there be?). The bottom line is that the Gay Games rowing competition would have very little real effect on the lives of Crystal Lake residents. Heck, I'm sure at least ten times more outsiders pass through your "quiet" town going to and from work every day than would attend the rowing event. Why not set up roadblocks on US 14?

The people of Crystal Lake have attracted far more negative attention by fighting this than if they had quietly let the Gay Games hold their event. Get over it and let them row.