In trying to beat back a growing wave of support for federal hate crime legislation, the right wing was up to its most dastardly and divisive old tricks. On April 17, they had scheduled a media conference at the National Press Club pairing so-called "ex-gays" with anti-gay black ministers. Their goal was to drive a wedge between the African American and GLBT communities by cynically sending the repulsive and incorrect message that homosexuality is unnatural and changeable, while race is immutable and genetic.
It turns out, however, that their science is as bad as their political acumen. The event had to be cancelled at the last minute, following the murderous rampage at Virginia Tech. Although the motive is still under investigation, a pro-hate conference became a liability with the worst killing spree in American history dominating the news. The ghoulish images that saturated television coverage had people calling for more law enforcement protection, at a time when our opponents were calling for less.
On the other side of Washington, the Human Rights Campaign deftly organized and deployed 220 supportive clergy members from all 50 states, on the day the U.S. House's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security heard testimony on the hate crime bill. (On April 12, the "Matthew Shepard Act" hate crime bill was introduced in the Senate.)
On the Hill, the subcommittee heard testimony from a strong line-up of bipartisan witnesses including Utah's Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff; George Washington University Law School Dean Frederick Lawrence; hate crime victim David Ritcheson of Harris County, Texas; and Jack McDevitt, associate dean at Northeastern University.
The most powerful witness was Ritcheson, 18, who was pulverized by skinheads last April and sodomized with the plastic pole of a patio umbrella while his two assailants yelled anti-Hispanic slurs. He required thirty surgeries before he was on the mend.
"My name is David Ritcheson and I appear before you as a survivor of one of the most despicable and shocking acts of hate violence this country has seen in a decade," Ritcheson told the House panel, according to The Associated Press.
In order to counter such powerful stories, groups like the Family Research Council have resorted to outright lies. For example, they oppose protections against hate crimes based on gender identity and sexual orientation claiming that people should not be prosecuted for their "thoughts."
Tellingly, they have not lobbied very hard to repeal hate crime laws based on religion that have been on the books since 1969. The only thought crime here, is that their transparent anti-gay bias is, quite frankly, thoughtless and criminal.
The hypocrisy deepens when one considers that right wing groups (rightfully) support American intervention when Christians are brutalized overseas. If the federal government can sanction foreign governments for religion-based hate crimes, why does FRC have a problem with the FBI investigating hate crimes against gay people in the states?
While the right wing does not openly advocate hate violence, they have a dirty little secret. Their leaders know that the threat of anti-gay brutality helps keep many homosexuals in the closet, thus limiting the GLBT community's political power. An oppressive climate of fear serves as a useful tool in the religious right's mean-spirited culture war. This is why they so adamantly oppose GLBT-inclusive anti-bullying measures in public schools.
Federal hate crime laws do not regulate thought, as the right disingenuously claims. What it does, however, is allow the FBI and Justice Department to investigate bias crimes. It also gives local law enforcement the financial aid and technical resources it needs to solve these offenses, which tear at the social fabric of entire communities.
Of course, I fully expect President George W. Bush to veto this legislation once it passes the House and the Senate. Hopes that Bush might do the right thing, rather than the right wing thing, faded years ago, along with the misnomer of "compassionate conservatism." However, the massacre in Blacksburg has focused the nation's attention on the need to stop pointless violence. This macabre event greatly raises the stakes for an unpopular president who will pay a political price for vetoing this popular and bipartisan legislation.
This president will not lift a finger to help gays and lesbians, period. He has nothing to lose anymore. He is not running for any office; he has already lost most of his party's support over Iraq, although only now is this lack of support beginning to show itself publicly; there is no hope that his approval ratings will rise significantly before he leaves office. So why should he give a damn what the public thinks anymore? Since his re-election, he hasn't respected the will of the people on any issue, and with nothing to gain or lose, he will be quite content to just carry on with his discriminatory practices.
Every day we get new reports of gays and lesbians being murdered in cold blood in Iraq, with this so called nascent government closing its eyes to the bloodshed. And yet our president has not once spoken out against such brutality. We have many homosexual men and women fighting in Iraq, and yet our president ignores the fact that this Iraqi government, for all intents and purposes, supports the cold blooded murder of gay people.
Bush is a sociopath who has no conscience whatsoever, and the sooner he gets his ass out of office the better off our country and the entire world will be.
posted by zasu, at
4/18/2007 1:57 AM
WBWhile the right wing does not openly advocate hate violence, they have a dirty little secret. Their leaders know that the threat of anti-gay brutality helps keep many homosexuals in the closet, thus limiting the GLBT community's political power. An oppressive climate of fear serves as a useful tool in the religious right's mean-spirited culture war. This is why they so adamantly oppose GLBT-inclusive anti-bullying measures in public schools.
Wayne, I agree with the thrust of your column, and it was gratifying that the right-wing attempt to pit gays against African Americans was derailed in at least this one instance following the Virginia Tech shootings.
Problematic in my view is your opinion that the US has a right to intervene to protect the lives of "Christians" in other lands. Any pretext for intervention is sufficient for a government which does the bidding of US based global corporations who couldn't care less about anything but the bottom line.
posted by Bob Schwartz, at
4/18/2007 9:27 AM
I don't know how these 'christians' can sleep at night!? As much as I 'hate' them, I would never want any of them (or their children) to be physically or psychologically abused. If there is a life after death, they have PLENTY to answer for!! B. Queer
posted by Anonymous, at
4/18/2007 9:28 AM
If the homosexuals and drag queens were not so flamboyant, they would not get bashed. If you people would just hide and keep your perverse proklivitees to yourselves, you would have nothing to worry about.
The closet protects you from harm, you see. So, go back in there and stop wearing dresses and holding hands in public. Act like MEN.
Buddy dear, you misspelled 'proclivities'; why am I not surprised? If being a "MAN" means being a troglidyte like you, I'd rather be a classy, educated, sophisticated gay MAN who can spell!
posted by Anonymous, at
4/18/2007 1:13 PM
The closet doesn't protect anyone from harm. First, the victims of the closet are the closeted themselves. They risk the psychological costs of trying to supress who they are, their reputations, credibility, livelihoods, and even personal safety by being in the closet. Look at the Ted Haggards of the world. Haggard lost his ministry, his job, and his credibility by being a closet case. It came out in the open and the consequences were not pleasant. Next, the victims are family members and people around them. How many closeted men put their wives at risk for STD's because they're secretly sleeping around with other guys? If these people are public figures, their closetness only encourages silence and efffectively keep gays and lesbians in the closet. The loud, homophobic closet cases do the most harm here.
Besen has a point. The closet is the right's way to silence the GLBT community, and by actively opposing or doing nothing to stop hate crimes, they have a means to shove all of us back into the closet and lock the door.
It Paines me as a gay man to hear that I should not hold hands in public,Humans are Humans,True Love knows No gender,true there in some large cities some (Some) Not all of the gay community may be a little too out there but being out of the closet does'nt always mean being flamboyant to show who one is,I guess me personaly, I like to say I'm out of the closet but sometimes because of reading comments like yours I have a little paranoia in public regarding my safey when I know I should'nt. You fail to understand what it's like, you can hold hands with a female while knowing no one says anything,try walking a mile in our shoes, it may just open your eyes.
posted by Anonymous, at
4/18/2007 6:39 PM
In my state, if someone touches me first, I can defend myself.
In other words, I invite anyone who hates gays to come and place a finger on me.
posted by Corey, at
4/19/2007 8:55 AM
Buddy, I'll make you a deal: I'll hide myself in the closet like a good little fag if you and all of the hateful fundamnetalist so-called Christians give up the megachurches and start meeting in secret underground bunkers. The fact that some gays are flamboyant is no more problematic then the fact that some Christians are fantaical, deluded, hate-mongering fascists. You see, stereotypes work both ways.
The harder you force into the closet, the more vocal we're going to get.
Let's face it, Buddy M's comments echo the overall sentiments of the majority of heterosexual people in this society, even among some socalled liberal democrats, though they want say it to your face. People like Buddy assume the air of sexual superiority and moral authority just because they are the majority, or could it be he's one of us? I find it odd that he's found this website to spew his venom. People like him hate us because they know that slowly but surely, we are winning our rights as insurmountable as that may seem at times to many of us. It is clear that heterosexuals are the ones who are insecure about their own orientation if you ask me. Maybe they envy us, and I believe many do for whatever reason, but lets not kid ourselves, deep down, they all wish we would disappear when we make their lives uncomfortable forcing them to deal with the truth about themselves. Any true heterosexual comfortable with his or her sexuality would not mouth off antigay epithets at us or admonish us to "behave" in public as Buddy and his ilk would have us do or better yet, feel threatened by our presence and influence in political life. Maybe it is they who have deeply rooted issues rather than us. Their antigay behavior is very questionable at best.
Lets just face it and understand the battle. It is certainly about America treating our LGBT citizens with full equality under the law, and respect as we want to be treated. But Bush wants the support of the American Taliban wannabee Christian fundamentalists who would turn this country into a Christian Saudi Arabia. Why does he want that support - so he and his super-rich buddies can get richer off the blood of our soldiers in Iraq, as his corporate pals steal their oil, but fortunately its not working out that way. The right to lifers, the same crowd who support Bush's Iraq catastrophe, are the worst people, their lives always based on hatred of someone to quell their own fears of whom they often are. In the past it was slavery, then Jim Crow virtual slavery, now it is hatred of gays. Their right wing religions - a total perversion of the meaning of Jesus' life on earth, practices mental abuse on them from an early age,(and lots of physical also) so they are loaded with anxieties that prevent them from understanding how they have been brainwashed. Why do the religions do that - to perpetuate their power and money into the future.
We should all support, personally and financially, our LGBT citizens quest for equality. The destruction and total disgrace of the Bush regime is America's #1 need, for if left unchecked, there will be nothing to save. America will be ruled by an extremist Christian version of the Taliban, and Bush will have set the stage for the end of civilization as he and his pals validate the concept of a clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam.
I've also got to comment on the Iraq oil biz. In the early 50's, western oil companies were stealing Iran's oil, giving them 20% of the market price of oil, even though their costs of production were pennies per barrel. Mossadegh, the Iranian premier, nationalized their oil to fix this atrocity. The CIA created a coup, and installed the Shah back into Iran. The Shah became a tyrant, Khomeni and their religious extremists - same mentality type of people took over. So we had a religious madman take over. And it continues to this day. This is what Bush is setting up Iraq to become, but meanwhile the super-rich will get richer. It is as simple as that. Of course, the iraq catastrophe has moved the problem from being a 20-30 year out issue to the current destabilization of one of the worlds most volatile regions anyway. All in the name of religious extremist Christians, who are little different then their Islamic Brethren.
Who are you to decide who can hold hands, etc,etc. What you seem to forget is that the people who you support would bash you in the head for kissing your girlfriend or wife in public, once they gain total power.
And of course she would be forced to cover her hair with a Hijab, or perhaps wear formless clothes that hide her bodyshape, covering her from top of head to toe, and looking out through a veil. Oh that I could tell her what you stand for. She'd probably have your organ on the mantelpiece in a bottle of formaldehyde. But don't worry, you could take treatments and become a transgendered woman.
"The fact that some gays are flamboyant is no more problematic then the fact that some Christians are fantaical, deluded, hate-mongering fascists. You see, stereotypes work both ways."
I'm glad to see someone understands that not all Christians are bad.
posted by Anonymous, at
4/23/2007 11:06 PM
Buddy M is a fake person for the sake of confrontation and false stereotypes being perpetuated.
posted by Anonymous, at
4/24/2007 7:44 AM
Regarding hate crimes laws, check out http://www.ValuesUSA.net/hatealert.html -- it's just vile. Apparently the Right and guys like Guy Adams and Peter Lab just don't get it. Rick, LeftWingWarrior, Chitown.
posted by LeftWingWarrior, at
4/29/2007 1:58 PM
what happened with david ritcheson was teriible. But i am friends with the people who did it to him. The reason they attacked him wasnt because he kissed a white girl (and you go search for this the people that did say that said publicly that they were paid to say that) what happened is that david stole a large amount of coccaine from a dealer that was at the party when he was questioned by the drug he blamed david tuck and keith turner. Then the drug dealer went after him. so what they did was just retaliation.
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