Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Requiem for Halloween

In case you haven't heard, at last night's Halloween festivities in the Castro -- San Francisco's world-famous gay neighborhood -- the worst happened.

Note I said "worst"......not "unthinkable".

Ever since 2002, when four people were stabbed and the police responding were bombarded with bottles, anyone with half a brain cell in their head could have seen this coming (and several did). While the city has laudably stepped up enforcement and taken measures to prevent violence, over six hundred law enforcement officers, searches, confiscation of even costume parts that could be used as a weapon, and denying drunks entry didn't keep ten people from getting shot.

So what's the problem?

Well, for the first, take a look at this photo of the event; particularly, count the number of people you see in costume.

Not many. And that's the issue -- more people are coming for reasons other than to show off their costumes and enjoy Halloween. It's not necessarily a bad thing when it's just a few straight and other people who come out to enjoy the costumes and share in the spirit; however, what is becoming obvious is that it's rapidly become an excuse for a lot of people to get together, get drunk, and with their inhibitions lowered, start gangbanging. Worse, it's rapidly spilling over into the Saturday night informal celebrations that most gays have started frequenting instead -- as was made abundantly clear when about eight street toughs taunted my husband and I with calls of "faggot, faggot", said they would "kick our ass", and followed us for a block, flinging epithets.

Thirty-two years in the buckles of the Bible Belt, and I had to come to San Francisco to get gaybashed.

The second issue, though, is the fruitcake ideology that so many in the City push which makes its way into our governance system -- and, while it ostensibly seeks to reduce crime, actually encourages it.

For instance, the Halloween celebration has become a major, if not the main issue, in the race for the office of city supervisor, District 8, which represents the Castro. Current Supervisor Bevan Dufty has repeatedly pushed for heightened security, tightened venues, increased police presence, and measures taken to limit the amount of time people spend out in the street; he has also recommended that the event be moved out of the Castro, which is a mixed residential and light retail district, to Union Square or the Embarcadero, both of which are primarily commercial and used for large events.

His primary competitor, Alix Rosenthal, whose platform consists primarily of accusing Dufty of being too conservative, had this to say:

Tuesday's event will mark the one-week countdown to election day, and the issue of Halloween in the Castro has become a central issue in Dufty's re-election campaign. His main challenger, Alix Rosenthal, has said Dufty is slowly draining the fun out of the neighborhood.........

She said shutting the event down at 10:30 p.m. -- the time many partyers are arriving at the event -- will only anger people and encourage them to hang out in surrounding areas and perhaps cause trouble. Having just one entertainment stage will further compound the problem, she said.

"When people get bored is when they start gay bashing or committing acts of property damage," she said, noting that a parade or some other form of entertainment would keep people happily distracted.

With all due respect, distraction is something you do to toddlers. It stretches the bounds of credibility to believe that the reason teenagers and adults are committing acts of violence at these events are because they're not being entertained every second -- especially given San Francisco's history of assaults and homicides at events, parks, and community centers. Furthermore, San Francisco is a veritable embarras de richesse of nightlife, bars, clubs, theaters, porn shops, arcades, and options for people with nothing to do; why should taxpayers be required to shell out for more in order to prevent flying bullets or arson?

But that's the "progressive" mentality; it's not the fault of the perpetrators of violence, nor should they be punished. It wasn't the fault of those kids that they were gaybashing and threatening my husband and me; they were bored. It wasn't the fault of the thief that kicked down the door and broke into my husband's nephew's apartment last night and stole his wife's heirloom necklace; it was their fault for having nice things in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Everything will be peachy-keen if we just keep pumping more money into the supervisors' re-election slush funds community grant programs and put more restrictions on the police and things like security cameras to foster "good relationships" and "protect privacy".

And they wonder why more and more San Franciscans are starting to ironically refer to the City, channeling the late Herb Caen, as "Baghdad by the Bay".

But one thing's for certain; "Baghdad's" Halloween celebration is no longer welcome in our neighborhood.

No comments: