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Follow Up on Brett Vanasdlen

Timothy Kincaid

July 16th, 2009

brettvanasdlen.jpgDuring the attention given to the debate in Congress over the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Bill, I was reminded of the story of Brett Vanasdlen, the young man in Champaign, Illinois, who was charged with a hate crime in 2008.

We reported the story, but we didn’t fully follow up. Here’s where we left it:

  • Stephen Velasquez was walking with friends at 1:00 am. Another young man, Brett Vanasdlen, saw him and made a bigoted remark.
  • According to Velasquez, he responded, “How ignorant was that?” and kept walking. According to Vanasdlen, Velasquez grabbed him and started screaming, “What did you say” in his face.
  • In both stories, Vanasdlen threw Velasquez to the ground where he was knocked out, suffered head trauma, and was taken to the hospital.
  • Vanasdlen was arrested and charged with a hate crime.
  • Vanasdlen’s mother appealed to Anti-Semite Ted Pike and former KKK leader David Dukes for support and they ran her version of events on Dukes’ white supremacist website. Peter LaBarbera picked up the story from them (changing Pike to a “pro-family activist”) and sold it to conservative circles. The story spread as an example of how a conservative Christian “strapping, clean-cut, All-American looking young man” was victimized by a homosexual with brown skin through the use of hate crimes legislation.

White supremacists and anti-Semites throughout the country began including Vanasdlen as an example of the current indignities suffered by the “white race”. Anti-gay religious groups used it as an example of why gay people should not be protected by hate crimes.

Peter LaBarbera was probably most vocal about this story. And he was quite critical of the skepticism expressed by those of us who doubted Vanasdlen’s saintliness.

We’ll see how this story plays out as Tim, ExGayWatch, BTB, Pam and the rest of the “queer” spin machine so eagerly paint a false picture of young Brett as a violent “gay basher” to further their misguided crusade.

Peter pledged to one and all that “AFTAH will be following this case closely.”

So today I turned to LaBarbera’s site to see whatever happened to Brett Vanasdlen and his campaign to clear his name. But I found nothing. No mention at all of the outcome.

So what happened? Did the courts clear him? Did witnesses come forward to declare that the “strapping, clean-cut, All-American looking young man” had actually been the victim and brown homosexual Velasquez was the “the real aggressor“?

Well, no.

On September 9, 2008 Brett Vanasdlen pled guilty to battery and the hate crime charge was dropped.

Defendant ordered to pay restitution in the amount to be determined at a later date.
Sentence: 09/08/2008
Sentence: Fines and/or Cost/Penalties and Fees
Sentence: Court Supervision 24Mos Supervised Court Service
Sentence: Anti-Crime Assessment Fee
Sentence: Public Service 200Hrs Supervised Court Service
Sentence: Substance Abuse Treatment/Evaluation 60Days
Sentence: Partner Abuse Intervention Program 60Days
Sentence: Count(s) dismissed.

I guess it’s no wonder that LaBarbera kept silent about the resolution to this case. Martyrs are much less effective when they plead guilty.

Comments

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Lucrece
July 16th, 2009 | LINK

WoW, they dropped the hate crime charges? I really hope the Hate Crimes act will permit the feds to intervene in such shameless deals.

He got off incredibly easy. And mark my words, that bitch has no remorse about it. It’s just that next time he’ll make sure to have no witnesses around when he does his dirty work.

tavdy79
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

There’s one other question I’d like answered: How is Stephen Velasquez? If he suffered head trauma there could well have been long-term damage, and for his sake I really hope there wasn’t.

And 60 days drug/alcohol rehab and 60-days domestic abuse course? I’m used to the British system (I used to work for a drug rehab & violent crime Probation unit) where the minimum for drug rehab is 3 months and it’s rare to see less than 6, and domestic & sexual abuse courses take up to two years. 60 days looks like a joke to me. It’s not even a slap on the wrists!

Quo
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

According to the Americans for Truth website, the remark Vanasdlen made to Velasquez was, ““Look at those two guys holding hands”

(http://americansfortruth.com/news/illinois-teen-faces-three-years-jail-sentence-for-potentially-fraudulent-hate-crime.html#more-1915).

If that is correct, then I fail to see anything “bigoted” about the remark. Although not exactly polite, it was a perfectly understandable way for a normal heterosexual man to react to the sight of two men holding hands with each other. That’s certainly not something one sees every day, and it’s not surprising that someone would want to point out how out of the ordinary it was.

andrew
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

What he did was assault – you don’t need the hate crimes statute here. Just prosecute the bastard for assault and battery, then take everything he owns in civil court.

tavdy79
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Quo, since when did Americans for Truth ever actually tell the truth?

I’d far rather rely on official court records.

Christopher Waldrop
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Quo, even if the account you’re relying on is correct, does that mean Velasquez deserved to be beaten and left with a head injury for saying, “How ignorant is that”?

Perhaps you think so. After all, anti-gay prejudice is something a lot of people see every day. Do you think it’s so “ordinary” that anyone who points out ignorance and prejudice deserves whatever they get?

Ben in Oakland
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Quo hates himself so much that a guy getting beat up by a thug just seems like the proper thing to do.

It’s some kind of weird reverse projection thing, I think. Quo gets to be a homosexual condmening other homosexuals and watching them get beat up for doing something he would be doing if he didn’t hate himself so much.

All of the satisfaction, none of the pain.

Christopher Waldrop
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Even though I think you’re mostly correct, Ben, I can’t imagine he gets that much satisfaction. Certainly not all of it.

Timothy Kincaid
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Ben and Christopher,

Let’s avoid demeaning Quo or putting words in his mouth. There was nothing in his statement that suggested that he thinks that “a guy getting beat up by a thug just seems like the proper thing to do.”

Rather, he is simply relying on LaBarbera as his source. This certainly isn’t wise (I mean, c’mon, LaBarbera?) but let’s not extrapolate.

Incidentally, Quo,

“Velazquez says that Vanasdlen began shouting anti-gay abuse at him”, not casually saying, “Look at those two guys holding hands.”

The source for the “two guys holding hands” is Ted Pike, who writes a series of anti-Semetic rants at David Dukes’ white supremist website.

You may consider an anti-Jew activist to be a more credible source than the courts, but I do not.

Ben in Oakland
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

You’re right. I apologize to quo and to you.

Regan DuCasse
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Hi Quo,

AND Velasquez responded (at least by YOUR logic), in any normal way a person would in hearing a remark like that. And he should have been able to respond without being hit like he was.
Gay people should be able to respond to RUDENESS, or was Velasquez one of those UPPITY gay people who isn’t supposed to respond at all? You know, because heteros are NOT to be contradicted or criticized?

The point is, Velasquez is the one with the injuries. HE is the one who was defenseless against an assault like that, and HE didn’t return any violence in kind even in self defense and HE wasn’t the one who pled guilty in court.

Whenever we are talking about straight on gay violence, gay people rarely are in a place to defend themselves because they don’t always SURVIVE an attack like this.
Ask Sean Kennedy, or the Suzuchenay brothers.

And obviously gay people ALWAYS accessing DUE PROCESS of law in reaction to whatever degree of outrage, rather than taking up arms in vigilante revenge. Considering how gay people are on the low end of fair justice for their pain, how long do you think before some young person WILL take the law into his own hands because it’s failed him when it shouldn’t have?
It shouldn’t have to get to that point, and society at large is obligated to understand it’s role in fomenting or preventing it.

You might be playing devil’s advocate, but you’re not very smart about it, bro.

Ben in Oakland
July 17th, 2009 | LINK

Regan– bang on.

If you are ever going to be in the Bay Area, I would love to have the opportunity to meet you.

Quo
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy,

What evidence do you have that Vanasdlen’s remark was something other than “Look at those two guys holding hands”? And if that wasn’t the remark, what exactly was it?

Jason D
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

when a sentence starts off this way:

“According to the Americans for Truth website,..”

What follows is likely not the actual, complete truth. I’m not saying they’re incapable of reporting the facts — just that they don’t make doing so a priority.

This is, after all, an anti-gay group who’s soul purpose is to slander LGBT people.

Jason D
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

I wonder why quo is dismissing this:

“Velazquez says that Vanasdlen began shouting anti-gay abuse at him. According to Velasquez, he was so taken aback at this that he decided to ignore the abuse and go one his way. Then, Velasquez said, he was yanked backwards, after which he remembers little of what happened.”
That’s the evidence, the victim’s testimony. And considering that Vanasdlen plead guilty to battery, despite having at least one witness, he apparently doesn’t disagree enough to bother going to trial over it.

William
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

Well, Jason D, that sounds pretty bloody final to me, but perhaps it won’t to Quo – if not, God knows why.

Burr
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

This is idiotic. It doesn’t matter what was said. All that matter is one guy assaulted another guy and the injuries are all the proof that you need, plus the fact that he plead guilty.

Stop defending a guy who even knows that HE was in the wrong. My god, you are pathetic.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

Wbhat’s wrong with you Quo? Do you think that because he didn’t shout an anti-gay slur that this somehow excuses the violent assault on another person? You’re messed up.

Penguinsaur
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

I’ve seen plenty of people dumb enough to defend someone who was obviously guilty by refusing to acknowledge any of the evidence piled up against them, however seeing someone do it AFTER they’ve confessed is a new one.

Quo
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

Burr,

What I’m interested in here is simply whether BTB is reporting the incident accurately or not. BTB’s article claims bigoted remarks were made, but another source states that the remark was simply “Look at those two guys holding hands”, which doesn’t seem “bigoted” to me. No one has offered any evidence that other remarks were made, or explained what they were.

Where people keep getting the idea that I’m suggesting assaulting someone was OK, I have no idea.

Priya Lynn
July 18th, 2009 | LINK

Quo, that you’re more concerned with whether or not a slur was shouted than a person assaulted strongly suggests you think the assault was okay, or at least a lesser crime than mistating what was said. In any event, your priorites are obviously severely out of whack given that you think the assault is of lesser concern.

John Emr
July 19th, 2009 | LINK

Let’s try looking at this another way. A black man and an asian woman are walking together. Someone says, “Look at those two holding hands.” Appears to be provocative? Yes it does. I am an ultra liberal, and still it turns my head when ever I see an interracial couple, or a same sex couple holding hands, or being affectionate in public. But my inner monologue says, “Wow, these people don’t care what anyone thinks, they like each other, the hell with what anyone says or thinks”, whereas the kid who assaulted this man, was disturbed and threatened to the point that he had to physically assault the hand holder. Holding incidents like this up to the same light as interracial incidents, shows the true color of the motivation. Don’t tell me for a minute that they aren’t paralell in nature. Hate is hate, bigotry is bigotry. Quit trying to put lipstick on Sarah Palin.

Jason D
July 19th, 2009 | LINK

“What I’m interested in here is simply whether BTB is reporting the incident accurately or not.”

By all legitimate information available, they are. You cite a source that is not known for being reputable. The lies of that group are well documented.

Regardless, the defendant plead guilty. The matter is settled in that respect.

Christopher Waldrop
July 20th, 2009 | LINK

Quo, I did suggest that your comments made it sound as though you thought it was okay to assault someone. As Priya Lynn also mentioned, you seemed more concerned about whether “bigoted remarks” were actually made than you were about the assault itself. You seem to be putting more emphasis on blaming the victim, Velasquez, for holding hands with another man. While this may be a surprising thing to see, you haven’t addressed the fact that Vanasdlen committed an act of assault.

As for whether BTB is reporting this story accurately, are you sure that Americans for Truth was accurate in their reporting?

If you have some reason for assuming your source is accurate and some reason for assuming BTB is not, please share it.

Ben in Oakland
July 20th, 2009 | LINK

“If you have some reason for assuming your source is accurate and some reason for assuming BTB is not, please share it.”

The reason is obvious.

timothy kincaid
July 20th, 2009 | LINK

Quo,

My source is news reports of what Vesasquez said about the event. Your source is LaBarbra repeating what Ted Pike said based on his interview of Vanadslen’s mother.

You may choose to believe what you like.

Quo
July 20th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy,

Which news report? Could you provide a link?

Steve Smith
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

all in the name of a hatefilled interpretation of god.

By the same people who gave the world the hatred of the Jews, Jesus own people. And hitler used that hatred to gain election in germany. The rest is history. BTW, hiter was a catholic, who quite a few times in his book Mein Kampf, talks about God and Providence. (catholic church)

And by the same people who were the bedrock of slavery and creators of segregation. (white southern baptists and independent right wing christians)

The battle against religious terrorism begins here at home. 9/11 was a horendous act by the Islamic extremists who believe in the same God, but by a slightly different name. (Allah – Yehovah – Jehovah – yiyaw (hebrew name transliterated, never said, replaced by adonoi (our Lord). Christ – Czar, Kaiser, King, Cesar, etc – all the same word in different languages. but the real horrendous act is eg the 3000 gay kid people suicided to death EVERY YEAR by hate filled control freak religion. And all the other suffering these people create to propagate their Jesus agenda. For which Jesus is probably puking, and God will reward them as they really deserve.

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

Steve Smith,

You may want to consider that comments that prove Godwin’s Law tend to be given very little credence.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

Timothy, I’m not sure what part of Steve’s comment you feel deserves little credence, but it is certainly true that he did reference his Christianity a number of times in Mein Kampf:

http://nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

News-Gazette

Steven Velasquez, 20, of Urbana, said he was walking with friends near the University of Illinois campus over the weekend when they were accosted by a man who yelled slurs about their sexual orientation and pushed him.

“He said, ‘Get out of here,'” and used an epithet, Velasquez said. He said the man also yelled, “You don’t belong here,” and other slurs.

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

Godwin’s Law

Richard W. Fitch
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

It only takes a moment to realize how relevant Godwin’s Law is to the nature of cybergroups.

Jeff
July 23rd, 2009 | LINK

I went to HS with this guy. You can see the top of Minooka (IL) and our school colors on his shirt. He was a couple of years younger than me so I was never bothered by him. Crazy.

I also went to U of I and I remember when he did that because I had jusy come out and my parents tried to use violence against gays as a way to scare me back in.

I’m sure the actual story is a combo of both of their accounts. I’m sure VanAsdlen said a different word than “guys” in “Look at those two guys holding hands.” It probably rhymed with hags. That word was thrown around a lot in my small farm town. I was also one of the first guys in my HS (and one of the only ones) to come out (I came out in college).

Also the Velasco probably did respond with not only “What an ignorant thing to say” but also “What did you say!?” a bit angrily and honestly who wouldn’t.

Regardless there was most likely nothing there to provoke VanAsdlen to violence except for the fact he knew he could win.

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