Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Apropos of nothing premeditated

I was looking over a few of the "FAQ" docs over at the Focus on the Family website, where I ran across the following statement within Dr. James Dobson's answer to the musical question "Why can't Focus be more inclusive of gay people?":

A dear friend of mine, Bob Vernon, former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, was driven from office because of his faith. No charges were ever brought against him. The pressure was political, resulting solely from his fundamental beliefs. He is but one of thousands of people being discriminated against today because of their Christian beliefs.

I'm not a big expert on discrimination against Christians, because where I live (America), you can't hock a loogie without (unintentionally, embarrassingly) hitting a Christian who's dictating what the laws are going to be, what's going to be taught in school, who's going to hold public office, and what the freaking greeters at Wal-Mart are going to say to shoppers in December. So I'm not familiar with Bob Vernon.

And oh, what the heck does his Passion have to do with teh Gay?

So I google his name (with LAPD). Apparently he's a very famous guy, and I should know about him, because I do watch TV. Some weird quantum effect, or the work of the Devil, I suppose.

Anyway, the first hit is a link to a book he wrote, called L.A. Justice. The "About the Author" section informs me:

Robert (Bob) Vernon retired from the LAPD after 37 years on the Force. The son of a 20-year LAPD officer, Bob rose through the ranks from rookie street cop to second in command of one of the world's most respected police departments.

Help! I'm bein' repressed!

Umm, nothing here about gays, or being driven from anything, or even the Plight of Christians in America.

The second link takes me to a fascinating but dubious conspiracy site that contains what purports to be a transcript of a Public Access TV interview with one Fred Celeni, who claims to have been a "federal intelligence agent" working for the office of Congressman John Dingell. Truth OUT, baby:

FRED CELENI: It's kind of a strange story. And I'll tell you why.

One day, we were sitting at the Hamburger Hamlet. (And this is =before= the riot. This is back about January of 1992.) And Bob Vernon, every time we would meet, he would make us pray. He was a devout Christian and a deacon in his church. And we had to hold hands, and we had to pray. (Not that I have a problem with it; I was an old Catholic altar boy. I thought it was kind of strange, though, to do it in the Hamburger Hamlet.) And in the course of doing this praying... We finished praying, and he says to me, "What do you think about 'jungle bunnies' being with our white women?"

And I paused for a moment. I thought to myself, "Bunnies?" (Because I'm thinking about what we're doing, and this guy's off in the briar patch.) And he lost me for a second. Then it hit me, what he meant. I said, "Well, if the woman and the man meet, and they want to be together, I guess that's their business." I don't think it's any of =my= business.

And he said, "Well that's not the kind of attitude you should have. God means monkeys to stay in trees with monkeys; and God means white women to stay with white men."

INTERVIEWER: And this is who, saying this?

FRED CELENI: This was Robert Vernon.

Now this is the kind of dish I can sink my diabolical anti-Christian fangs into, and I am all over believing every word, but I just can't get past that bit about Celini being "lost" by the term 'jungle bunnies'. LA cops don't hold hands in the Hamburger Hamlet with five-year-olds or Canadians, so this guy's story is just shot. Plus there's no Christian-hating, and no gays (unless maybe Hamburger Hamlet is a Gay Burger Joint. Los Angeles, you know. A kazillion nasty stories in the Naked City. Really good ones, some a them. But I digress...).

I have to dig deeper.

Hits 3 and 4 are repeat info, but hit 5 points to Charisma Magazine (+Christian Life) which reports:

Bob Vernon served 38 years with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). An outspoken Christian, he retired in 1992 as director of operations responsible for 10,000 employees.

He earned the respect of his peers through gutsy policing. Early in his career he refused to engage in everyday macho street-talk by screaming the F-word at suspects. Vernon worked with a new partner who criticized his refusal to curse as dangerous.

"I'm a follower of Jesus," Vernon explained. "He wouldn't want me to talk that way."

Vernon then challenged his partner to observe his performance for a while. After two months his partner admitted: "You do get the guys out of the car without a problem."

Vernon currently provides ethics training to police departments in 21 countries and uses that platform to share the gospel.

This would appear to be a Christian (ergo authoritative) source that says that Vernon had the respect of his peers. (by the way, it also indicates that Vernon pioneered the theory that screaming the word "fuck" is not always required to dislodge perps from their getaway cars. Innovative police work, that. No wonder he rose in the ranks.)

After literally minutes of painstaking research, I was beginning to despair of ever getting to the root of this story, but at last, at Google hit #20, I hit pay dirt. This is from a piece called LAPD's first openly gay and lesbian officers greet their community:

As we entered the conference room, Chief Gates was just finishing a briefing from Assistant Chief Bob Vernon, the department's second in command, and an arch-conservative, fundamentalist Christian known throughout the agency as the leader of the "God Squad". An Elder in his church, Vernon had taken a lot of heat when some audio recordings of sermons he'd delivered to his congregation started making the rounds. In them he quoted Bible passages to justify using boat oars to discipline (beat) a child or spouse who would not "submit" to the man of the house. His views on homosexuality were equally archaic.

I'll admit that my soul did a little dance when Gates asked Vernon to remain for our meeting, because I knew that he would rather take a bullet to the brain than breathe the same air as open, proud gays and lesbians. Even if we achieved nothing on our issues, at least we'd get to watch Bob Vernon squirm.

Mark and Art took seats at Chief Gates' end of the conference table with Commander Taylor. Sandy and I sat opposite each other next to Vernon at the other end. Vernon seemed to focus his attention on the wall of picture windows along the north wall of the room, fidgeting a bit as he tried to avoid eye contact with any of us.

Mark began the meeting with his customary ego massage, assuring the Chief that we appreciated the difficulty of his job, how hard it must be to police such a diverse population, yada yada yada. Then he shifted to what we perceived to be the department's selective enforcement of lewd conduct laws in the local parks and bars. Gates appeared to be listening intently, as though it were the first time he'd heard these complaints. Vernon continued to stare pensively out the windows.

Amid Gates' assertion that gays weren't specifically targeted in vice operations, I adjusted myself in my chair, and my boot accidentally brushed the tip of Chief Vernon's shoe. He froze, but looked as though he'd just taken a bite of something really nasty, and stared with lock-jawed defiance out the window. I forced myself to stifle the giggle surging to my throat.

From that point on, whenever I would voice an opinion, I would either preface or punctuate it with an "accidental" brush of the Assistant Chief's hand or foot with my own. The memory of his reaction is still one of my life's guilty pleasures.

My attention was diverted from torturing Vernon back to the discussion when I heard Mark request permission for openly gay and lesbian officers, in uniform, to distribute LAPD recruitment materials at our upcoming GLBT Pride Festival. Expecting an outright refusal, I steeled myself for the upcoming debate, but was stunned into silence when I heard the Chief quietly give his okay. Mark was so taken aback that he repeated the request, stressing the "in uniform" part, to which the Chief replied, "Yes, in uniform."

Mark, who always wore his feelings on his sleeve, tried his best to restrain his excitement. I waited for the other shoe to drop, feeling that we were being set up for a big fall. I figured that the only reason the Chief gave his approval was that he either didn't think there were gay and lesbian members of the department, or was betting that no one would be willing to state so publicly. Still, he had given the okay, so it was up to us to follow through.

We practically floated out of Parker Center after the meeting...

Well there's your smoking gun.

There's your Gays openly torturing Vernon, with the tacit approval of the Chief. Practically floating about it, too.

I just knew Dobson couldn't have been stretching the truth, him being a sanctimonetized Christian and all.

Whew, that's a load off.

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