City Council President and avowed homosexualist Charles Pugh made some good news this past week when he took a stand for commerce and tax collection in the City of Detroit by standing up to churchy calls for pasties and Shirley Temples at strip clubs. To control crime, you see.
Now, strip clubs are rarely (but sometimes) on my radar, and I can understand a person not wanting to have one perched on the corner of his or her residential street. But crime in these areas does not start at these strip clubs ... frankly, like good manners, it starts at home ... and Pugh rightly pointed out that they do have a right to exist. And then he landed a zinger on the Right Reverend Marvin Winans (of the Winans gospel dynasty) that went something like:
Winans - These club owners don't even live in the city!
Pugh - And where do you live?
Winans - *grimace* *scowl* Don't play that game! (actual answer: Bloomfield Hills.)
I am not a Pugh booster, nor am I a detractor. I've been cautiously optimistic that he won't embarrass us and will be an effective point-person on the City Council. I do not think his behavior indicates he is the sharpest knife in the drawer, as evidenced in his Black Friday rant on his Facebook fan page back in November.* Or really any of his Facebook posts. Or waiting a few days to report the damage to his city-owned car (or maybe that was smart, we'll never know.) Or the fact that he says JoAnne Watson is his favorite Councilwoman (again, possibly smart, keep your friends close etc).
[* For those who missed it: "Charles Pugh will NEVER call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday". I refuse. There are so many other things to call it "Friday Frenzy" "Super Friday" "Golden Friday", something!! The media should have thought a lil longer about that. Just a thought." Who wants to break it to him that the term Black Friday has been used since the mid-60s, when the media used completely different words to describe the African-American race?]
Either way, I felt kind of hopeful that he took a reasonable stand and didn't give in to the demands of the conservative religious community.
Some friends were visiting a while back and as we drove around the city they kept commenting on the number of churches. And it is true, no matter how decrepit a commercial strip may be, the Macadamia Jubilation Congregation probably has a storefront on it. The power of the pulpit is strong in Detroit. And no matter how poor the population, these churches seem to have no problem raking in the dough. And they are conveniently tax-exempt (and/or completely cash-based operations). So they may provide hope to the hopeless, I'm sure I don't know being as full of hope as I am, but they aren't really doing much to alleviate the real problems of the city.
So it is refreshing to see that, like the national religious conservatives, they have real problems on their agenda like putting post-its over nipples and keeping behavior lewd but sober, and not the smaller nuisances in their community like poverty, single- or no-parent homes, high school drop-outs, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse or the spread of HIV and other STDs.
And I mean, the Reverened may have a point that the strip club owners don't live in the city either, but at least their businesses pay taxes.
Most significantly for Mr. Council President (and the reason I bring this up on this blog), the Churches of Detroit fell all over themselves trying to out-ignore his homosexuality during the City Council race (por ejemplo). Now that he's in office and actually standing up to them, it will be interesting to see how quickly they do a 180 and start using the gay angle to attack him.