Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Social Commentary: Community Rights Verses Individual Rights.

Walking down a street in downtown Oakland I am suddenly assaulted with the unmistakable odor of sun baked urine wafting my way. I am offended at the brutality of homelessness, panhandlers and litter on the streets. "Homelessness is not a law enforcement issue, but a mental health issue," No, according to a New York City court you have a RIGHT to live on the street draped in rags conditioned with your vomit, urine and feces! Let's hear it for Human Rights!

"I can't help being gay, its in my genes". Okay, but does that mean I have to watch you have sex on the street when I'm forced to be in the area for some other reason?

"We need money". True, but I resent as a person with multiple disabilities, having to run a gauntlet in public places. Is it fair that while I'm trying to carry a walker down a flight of stairs, packs of smelly, rude and tactless people try to shake me down for the change I won't willingly share?

I've heard that there are two sides to our RIGHTS. Along with each individual's RIGHT, comes an equal RESPONSIBILITY to the group surrounding us.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with my free speech proclamation of "Fire, run for your lives!" shouted in a crowded theater. Thankfully, our courts have come down on the side of common sense. That act is illegal.

As a Christian, I have the right to leap up on a bus bench and start screaming out a sermon in downtown Oakland. I've seen many different religious and other proponents of all sorts of things engage in this behavior, unhindered. As I pass by, on my way somewhere, I get to "drop in" on their presentation. There is no real problem with this. I find it irritating, but as long as I'm not detained from continuing down the street, who cares?

However, while waiting for a bus, I don't appreciate being man-handled by over-eager proponents of anything. I can't leave and this is to their "selling" advantage. Man, I hate it! Since I am religious, I've found a good way to confuse my religious attackers. Ask them to tell you how they found their faith. I enjoy watching the confusion. It makes my "no thank you" delivered later less confrontational. But, am I not an adult capable of seeking out whatever you think my soul needs?

Churches by the hundreds are listed in the phone book. I've found more then one organization using this less obnoxious method. Oh, I forgot, sellers of whatever assume I'm too stupid to know what is good for me. Geez, now it makes more sense.

Not only do I have Rights, as an individual, I have responsibilities to the community in which I live. In my apartment building I may have a right to play a radio, or my electronic keyboard. But I don't have the right to play these things loud enough for my neighbors to hear my radio through my closed door and theirs. My responsibility to my fellow apartment dwellers is to live in such a way as to not disturb their peace with my noise. I play instruments and several entertainment devices without causing any problems. My secret: headphones!

I post this rant because of an issue brought up on another blog. The Folsom Street Fair in SF. A small gathering of some 400,000 folks coming together to practice public sex and various forms of debauchery in a South of Market (Street) neighborhood. Because our popular media is pro-gay-rights, this curious exhibition was ignored. The gay press and some religious organizations were the only evidence of this event. Yeah, you have a right to be whatever you want to be, but do I have to be forced to "watch"?

Worst thing that ever happened to our community was when the gays decided it was time to leave their closets. Popping onto our radar by proclaiming the right to copulate in the street. Yes, I know most gays (supposedly) don't do that, but ever attend the Gay Freedom Day Parade. My goodness! (I was on my way to an Opera one year and got a real education).

Yeah, I'm old-fashioned and some would even claim fascist, but I'm so tired of being forced into being more "open minded", or "tolerant". Toleration is like what we did with Russia during the Cold War. They had a right to exist and if they left us alone, we left them alone. Our tolerance by no means implied our consent to, or agreement with their morality. This is how I feel about adultery, homosexuality, bestiality and other "sins". I know it goes on, but don't ask me to bless you for it when you force me to take a stand. I care for the person and hate to see the hell they will stir up in their lives via sin, but I refuse to bless the behavior.

This has been a rant I've held inside for years. I'm sure comments will flood in telling me, six ways from Sunday, why I'm wrong. Have at it.

I want to scream: Bring back common standards of public decency!

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