Show me a rose

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 3.01.33 PMOne of my favorite authors is Greensburg-based mystery writer K.C. Constantine. In one of his early books, hard-drinking defense attorney Myron Valcanas shows up at the state police barracks to represent one of his clients.

As his stumbles through the door, Valcanas tips his hat to the female police dispatchers. I don’t have the exact wording handy, and I’ll have to paraphrase, but his greeting is something along the lines of, “Ladies, it is so nice to see you roses amid these thorns.”

Then Valcanas looks at the state troopers. “Gentlemen,” he says, “it’s so nice to see that there are still thorns.”

When Pittsburgh’s City-County Building flew a rainbow flag this week, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was a rose. The Tribune-Review found a thorn. (Well, of course it was the Trib. Remember: “Get it RIGHT!”)

The headline says “some see red,” but in reality, the paper didn’t find “some,” it found one — one! — lady who got a thorn in her bonnet, and naturally, she doesn’t even live in the city. “This is outrageous,” Mary Ann Burkhart of Bethel Park told the newspaper. “What’s the message here?”

(Oh, I don’t know, Mary Ann. Maybe that everyone deserves equal protection and rights under the law? That’s kind of a good message, I think.)

“Lesbians, gays and transsexuals are honored … under a flag that many people have died for?” she says. “I’m crying for my country.” (Aw. I’ll send you some tissues, Mary Ann.)

As City Paper‘s Blogh points out, “Some of the people who fought and died under that flag were gay. The flag doesn’t just belong to you. Deal with it.” Damned skippy.

Ravenstahl’s office says they received “a few” calls, not all of which were complaints. Which means most Pittsburghers walked past and found it completely unremarkable.

Those Pittsburghers are roses, and as “Mo” Valcanas knew, a few thorns (like Mary Ann) make roses all the more enjoyable.


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