Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More than a few incidents

Some people say hate crime laws can't be effective because it's really only people who are mentally imbalanced that commit the most heinous hate crimes, and obviously you can't stop them. Well, maybe we need to broaden our horizons.

Two ugly attacks on gay men, one fatal, have occurred in Fort Lauderdale in the last week.

Melbourne Brunner, the man I posted about yesterday who was brutally beaten after a late night meal outside a gay-friendly diner on Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Blvd, thinks homophobic Mayor Jim Naugle bears some of the responsibility.

Naugle has been publicly demonizing gays for months. In July, Naugle proposed installing a timed, $250,000 robotic toilet in Fort Lauderdale public restrooms. Naugle, who claims he uses the word "homosexuals" to describe gay men rather than "gay" because gay people "are unhappy," has said that an added plus to having the toilets is that they would keep gay people from using the facilities. Last August, Naugle stood with right-wing religious leaders and held a news conference where the Rev. O'Neal Dozier said "We want the homosexual community to know that we love them and that God loves them also. But God hates the act of homosexuality."

Should it be any surprise that a city who's mayor has received national attention for his blatant homophobia, encouraging it in city policy, would also be a city where there's a hate-crimes eruption against glbt people? It's not a surprise at all: the hatred bubbling at the surface finally spilled over, with all the people riled up by a community disparaging gay people. Maybe we can't stop all murders from people who are unhinged, but there are certainly thousands of other hate crimes that happen every year that could be stopped - people who are beaten up and bullied for being gay, people who have their property targeted and vandalized and, yes, even people who are murdered for being gay, such as when an act of bullying goes wrong.

These are all crimes that are meant to target an entire community. A hate crimes law could help reduce all of them, as it has in the past for other minority and targeted communities that enjoy hate crimes protection. No minority or community should be targeted for a crime simply because they're a member of that community, and when it happens, those who commit the crime need to serve a time that's reflective of the fear they tried to instill on the entire community that they targeted.

9 comments:

joe said...

But what is still not addressed is how come politicians say that hate crimes legislation will help STOP hate crimes? They don't! It's a completely reactionary response.

If a person is willing to beat someone to a pulp over them being gay, then adding a couple more years onto what is already going to be a fun stint in jail isn't going to stop them.

Sharoney said...

Joe, it's about sending a message to other would-be thugs that they won't get away with beating gay people to a pulp even if a yahoo like Naugle implies that it's OK.

In that sense, yes, it's about stopping hate crimes, and it's the same reasoning that Repugs use when they say capital punishment will "stop" other kinds of crimes.

laurel said...

joe is right. we should reassure people that it's ok to terrorize whole communities. and we shouldn't punish anyone for that *separate* crime of terrorism. some crimes should just go unpunished.

Ryan Adams said...

Joe, I really think I did address it. There are a lot of people who would think twice about spray painting "fag" on a gay person's house if it meant that they'd be in prison for a year or two, instead of just get a couple days and a fine. Also, it would create a national dialogue that would have people talking about the discrimination that goes on, which in and of itself could help reduce hate crimes directed toward glbt people.

joe said...

to Ryan: Nonviolent hate crimes, okay, maybe, but you haven't mentioned those til this instant. I'll cede that point that nonviolent ones would be affected, but I honestly don't think violent ones would be.

To sharoney: I'm anti-death penalty, and always have been.

To laurel: *yawn*

laurel said...

To Sleepy Joe: i love it when you completely capitulate. now we all know that you know that my sarcasm was right on target.

joe said...

Actually, I was implying your sarcasm was getting old and I was tiring of it. Right on target as always, laurel.

laurel said...

joe capitulates again by not addressing the points of logic head-on. my weekend is starting out well. :)

Anonymous said...

2 years for spray painting, c'mon we can't get the judges to keep level 3 sex offenders in jail.

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