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According to GOP sages like Pat Robertson, Dennis Hastert, and Newt Gingrich, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, indelibly tainted by her home district, has set about supplanting what the GOP is pleased to call family values with San Francisco values. The process will, they warn, be completed by the election of President Obama this year, an event they claim will leave the nation awash in sin.

Of course these are men who know sin.  Robertson is the religious entrepreneur and Republican insider who believes the destruction of the World Trade Center was God’s way of punishing New York for being a latter day Sodom.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the architect of the Republican revolution that seized Congress in 1994 and kept it in thrall until recently.  Forced to resign his office in disgrace because of ethical lapses, Gingrich is such a believer in the institution of marriage that he’s had three, most recently with the secretary with whom he’d been having an affair while married to wife number two, then hospitalized for cancer.  Dennis Hastert, Pelosi’s immediate predecessor as Speaker, has been hiding at home in Illinois lately.  For years he turned a blind eye to GOP congressman Mark Foley’s predations among underage Congressional pages. Mr. Hastert enriched himself by millions of dollars while serving as Speaker, but not on his salary.  Perhaps these paragons have good reason to fear San Francisco values.

San Francisco has plenty of god-fearing citizens.  The problem for people like Robertson and Gingrich is that we fear a variety of gods.  Of course we have Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Confucians, Buddhists, and adherents of Shinto.  But we’ve also got Swedenborgians, as well as followers of the ancient Egyptian god Set.  Unitarians are well-represented, also Pagans, Wiccans, and Satanists.  We even have a group of men called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who appear at public events dressed in nuns’ habits.  Despite this profusion of faiths, there’s no sectarian strife here.  Our largest Jewish temple goes so far as to host joint events with the local Episcopalian cathedral.  San Francisco’s attitude to religious difference might be summed up as "whatever floats your boat."  That must be anathema for Pat Robertson and other purveyors of fire and brimstone.

Speaking of whom, San Franciscans don’t view homosexuality, or any kind of sexuality for that matter, as in any way objectionable.  The reverend Ted Haggard, had he preached here instead of in Colorado Springs, would never have been ruined for being outed as a closeted gay man.  He wouldn’t have needed a closet in the first place.  Had he set up shop in the Castro, he’d have had as many dates as he liked.  No need, in other words, for prostitutes.  As for the crystal meth he so enjoyed, that is illegal here, but then, it’s very bad for one’s health.  San Franciscans value good health.  The reverend could have patronized our medical marijuana shops, and smoked that more salubrious drug instead.

Like our fellows around the country, we like sports.  Our local football and baseball teams are well-supported, and our children participate in youth leagues of all kinds.  We have an annual marathon, just like many other cities.  We also have a cross-town footrace called the Bay to Breakers, in which many participants dress up in elaborate costumes, running as knights in armor or caterpillars.  Many wear nothing at all.

We value our fine collection of art museums.  A WWII submarine is anchored at a local pier as a floating military museum.  We also have a museum of tattoo art.  San Franciscans are as addicted to the TV as the rest of the country, though we watch a tiny fraction of the cable porn, per capita, that is watched by the residents of Utah County, Utah, which leads the nation in that department.  Utah county also happens to be the nation’s most Republican district.  We also love our symphony, opera, and ballet, all of the highest order.  We have a first class repertory theater, and experimental theatrical groups of every variety.  Our Mitchell Brothers theater is of the type that visitors from Utah County, Utah would especially enjoy.

San Franciscans like to dine out.  Our restaurants are many and varied, reflecting the fact that representatives of every ethnic group and region of the world live, reasonably harmoniously, in our city.  We also eat in, and our farmer’s market for local produce is one of the nation’s finest.  We like the outdoors.  Biking and hiking are popular, as is skiing in our nearby mountains, or surfing off our pristine beaches.  Our parks are extensive and numerous.  Our local universities gave birth to the computer and biotechnology industries. The region’s economy is a dynamic incubator for the enterprising.  Unlike the home towns of Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Robertson, we pay more in federal taxes than we receive in federal largesse.

Many of us raise children here,  and they thrive on the intelligence, tolerance, and liberality that define the city.  San Francisco values may indeed be coming soon to a neighborhood near you -- if you're lucky.

Originally posted to jcnossiter on Sat May 31, 2008 at 02:36 PM PDT.

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