Today, just a bit of fun: Hemant Mehta's fun blog about an Atheist at Mardi Gras reminds me of a near-riot I witnessed there, caused by Christians. I saw this while I was living in New Orleans for a few years.
You all know about the fun debauchery on Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras: A crowd so thick you're shoulder-to-shoulder, everyone partying, loud music blasting from every door, a lot of fun and drunkenness everywhere. And topping it all off is the hedonistic bead-exchange: Guys carry around beautiful (but worthless) plastic necklaces of beads, and use these as "currency" to convince the young ladies (and the more mature ones, too!) to briefly flash their naked breasts for the men's enjoyment.
Above the restaurants are apartments and party rooms with balconies, and these are where the real prizes are to be found. A woman will come out (usually surrounded by her friends), and shake her goods, and the crowd surges forward and bargaining begins. Men from the crowd start holding up their biggest and best beads, the lady will either shake her head in disdain, or wave for them to be tossed up, and finally when the deal is sealed, she'll make a big show of slowly revealing herself.
When you mix a bunch of sign-carrying Christian proselytizers into this debauchery, it only raises the circus value of the whole thing. Nobody takes them seriously, it's just another amusing side of the raw desires that are turned loose on Fat Tuesday. Unless they get in the way...
On this one fateful night, I watched a typical "unveiling" developing on a balcony, with the big crowd below going crazy. The woman on the balcony really knew how to work the boys, but this was something extra special – she made it plain that she would drop her pants if a couple of the guys on the street would give up their biggest and brightest beads. The men were throwing her lots of nice beads, but she would shake her head in disdain, and point at the ones she wanted, then turn and half-lower her shorts, revealing a bit of her derriere. The crowd started to turn on the two men with the prize beads (all in good fun), urging them in no uncertain terms to yield up the goods. And finally they did, the big, beautiful beads flew up into her hands, she placed them around her neck, gave a big smile and slowly started to wriggle her shorts down over her hips. The crowd went crazy, flashbulbs were flashing, the men were hooting ...
And then the Christians, who'd been waiting on the sidelines for this very moment, came marching through, a dozen strong, with big signs, blocking everyone's views!
Well, let me tell you, those young Christian fools were lucky they got away with their lives. The crowd turned from loud partiers to genuinely dangerous. Luckily, it was so crowded nobody could really move far, and the New Orleans Police, on their horses, quickly made an appearance (those guys know crowd control), and the whole thing was over.