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Let us spray 

Wouldn't you know it? It's like I'm a reverse psychological master or something. Last week, I talked about how crummy vandalism is shocking all of you who always thought I was the tip-top of the bad boys. The rebel without a cause. The Shredder in a black leather jacket, leaning on a convertible, flicking away a cigarette, and running my hands through my perfect, wavy hair. They make movies about people like me. Cool movies.

I am all that and more but I have a hard time with vandalism. Not graffiti, mind you. Vandalism. If you don't know the difference, I can't help you. I'm too busy shopping for a motorcycle that I'm going to ride without wearing a helmet.

In case you couldn't bring yourself to besmirch your perfect image of me by reading my column last week, I'll sum up: Angry locals have been taking their ire out on campaign signs most notably incumbent Atascadero mayor Tom O'Malley's Irish-themed propaganda. Sure, you don't know where he's going to fall in terms of Wal-Mart and such (or at least he's not telling at the moment), but I chided whoever wielded the paint can as an opponent of free speech. Who knows? Maybe he'll surprise us all and denounce the store as Satan. Never judge a candidate until he's elected, as my dad always used to say.

Well, no sooner were the words out of my mouth and into my keyboard and onto the page and into your greedy little hands, when somebody goes and spray paints all over a church. And then another one.

They spray-painted the sort of words that you wouldn't usually hear on a Sunday morning, if you catch my drift. The sort of words that would make a reverend blush. You wouldn't even hear them at a mid-week Bible study, unless somebody dropped a thick King James on their toe and thought nobody was listening.

Just because I wrote about vandalism and then some vandals went and vandalized a church, don't blame this on me and that's certainly not reverse psychology. I really don't want you to blame it on me. I don't even think you can blame it on me. I was nowhere near any religious institution this last week. Or the week before. Or the week before that. Or, well, you get the picture.

I didn't sell those hoodlums the paint. I don't even know who they are. I did steal some money out of a collection plate a couple of months ago, though. I just had to get that off of my chest. I feel better after I make confession.

The biggest brouhaha in this whole public art show is that since Calvary Baptist Church in San Luis Obispo and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Los Osos got new paint jobs, the word "hate crime" has been bandied about.

I know that "hate crime" is actually two words, but I have to give you a chance at a cheap shot at me every now and then. It's all part of the service here. That, and my super-cool wavy hair.

And since the word "hate crime" has been thrown into the mix, other people probably people who can count words much better than I can have been rolling their eyes. Roll, roll, roll.

"Hate crime?" they ask with a smug smirk. "Those two words don't even apply in this case. How can it be a crime of hate?"

The premise here, some Christians and so-called Christians have been pointing out in the last few days, is that it's okay to hate Christians and, I guess, so-called Christians. And for some reason, they're all upset about that.

Christians, critics of Christians will point out, don't always act very Christian like. They've used their religion as an excuse for genocide over the years, blah, blah, blah. We've heard the argument before. Onward Christian soldiers, and all that. And it's true. A lot of people have done a lot of horrible things in the name of God.

But, ultimately, hate doesn't justify hate. Gandhi or someone made a big deal about that and he wasn't a Christian either, right? Plus, most of the people seeing all that sprayed vitriol aren't the ones who marched in the Crusades. A few of the blue-haired ladies might have, but I'll give you dimes to dollars that the bulk of them have never even picked up a sword.

Plus, a lot of people have done a lot of horrible things in the names of other powers, and spray painting stuff on their meeting places would get you a swift slap on the wrist from the American Civil Liberties Union at least.

This doesn't mean that I think hypocrites don't deserve it. They do. But not like that.

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