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Life out here By Bret Kofford: Stoned and stoned again

March 14, 2001

I told the young man that his thoughts would bring a cascade of venom upon him.

That was when he had written a longer version of what we ended up printing as a shorter letter to the editor a couple weeks ago in the Press.

I told him that people would write in and attack him personally. They did. I told him they would go after him, and after the newspaper, from the pulpit. They did. I told him they would question his sexual preference, both in this newspaper and elsewhere. They did. I told him they would call him names. They did, although we edited out the nastier, libelous ones.

The young man, an 18-year-old senior at Central Union High School in El Centro, wrote a letter to the editor in which he took on some local pastors and congregations for preaching what he perceived as an agenda against homosexuals. He said such attacks were corrupting the "good and pure word" of Jesus Christ.


Some people have minded their manners in response, stating that they thought the young man was misguided in his letter, that if he reread the Bible he would come to different conclusions. Others have decided the door had been opened to kick in the head of one more person with queer thoughts.

I know the young man's parents and I know him, although I don't know him well. He seems to be a smart, fun-loving, in-tune, happy young guy. He is heterosexual, by the way. At Central he is an honor student, a standout on the school's county champion mock trial team, a fine public speaker and a popular and spirited kid.

He is, from all appearances, a son most people would love to have.

He also is the same young man being slapped around daily in our letters to the editor, for simply stating an unpopular, some might say religiously unsound, opinion, and stating it stridently.

When I told him before his opinion was published what his writing would elicit, the young guy said, "Bring it on." He said he was ready. I told him, having experienced such onslaughts, that he might not realize the depth of anger he would face. He said, "Bring it on."

On it came.

It is our job here at the Press to publish opinions of people from the community, even unpopular ones. Heck, no one publishes more unpopular opinions more than yours truly.

In fact, here's one for you: I have been wondering, after reading all the recent letters to the editor condemning homosexuality, if AIDS is God's punishment of homosexuals, are heart and vascular disease, bad knees, chronic carpenter's crack and early death God's punishment for gluttony? Just askin', because I'm portly and gluttonous maximus myself and feeling some of the symptoms, so I need to know if I am suffering God's wrath.

The truth is there is sin everywhere, but it seems that many in this community are fixated on homosexuality well beyond other sins. Maybe it is because they are repulsed by it. Maybe it is because they are baffled by it. Maybe it is because they are fascinated by it.

There are many sins out there beyond homosexuality on which we could focus, the ridding of which could make our world and community better; coveting, lust, divorce, sloth, infidelity are just a few. This is tax season, so many of us are or soon will be guilty of much, including lying and greed and not giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's, all of which are behaviors the Bible condemns.

We all commit many sins, too many sins. I know I do.

Are some sins worse than others? Aside from killing, which would probably be the consensus No. 1 sin in the weekly AP Top 25 Pastors' Poll, should we be focusing on some sins and not others, and particularly looking away from the ones we commit on a daily basis? Should we be looking in the mirror before we look at others?

I talked to the young man this week and he said he was fine, despite the onslaught. Whether you like what he had to say or not, he is a bold and strong young person for taking a stand and not wavering in the incredible heat.

Because he is surviving doesn't mean what has been done to him is right.

For strongly asking that people stop throwing stones, the same thing someone important pleaded with people to stop doing, a fine young man in our community has been stoned and stoned again.

That is something we need to think about.

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