This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
October 6th, 2009
I’ve just finished reading the complaint of a young gay man who was cited for doing a cartwheel in Grand Central Station and then beaten unconscious for complaining about it.
Of course this is his side of the story and there may be circumstances which differ from his recollection and report. But I’ve been cautious a number of times this year over assuming too much about police brutality, only to find that it was every bit as bad as originally reported.
Which has me thinking: what’s going on?
Are these just a string of independent and unrelated actions of which gay people are the victim of overly aggressive officers, or is there currently a trend of police brutality?
I grew up in a small town where you waved “hello” if you saw a police officer. They waved back. The police were your friend, there to protect you and serve you and, occasionally, nudge you back to being a good citizen and neighbor.
And it was this attitude that I brought with me to “the big city”. I thought that we all participate in the policing of our community and that officers were our allies against crime.
But I currently live in a city where you get off the street if you see an officer ahead, where you do not call the police unless you absolutely have to, and where any interaction at all with police is to be avoided. It is rare to hear anyone talk about their experience with the LAPD which was not hostile, in which the victim was not made to feel like a suspect, or in which they did not leave the interaction with the impression that the officer viewed them with contempt and was just daring them to be anything but submissive and obsequious.
I recently had a minor interaction with an LAPD squad car who, it appeared to me, pulled me and a friend over because I treated them like they were any other car while merging in traffic. Although there was nothing for which I could be hauled in or ticketed, the officers were aggressive, hostile, and intrusive. And while it was not their business where we was going (to the grocery store), I was afraid not to answer when they demanded to know. I sat there meekly taking it and keeping a smile on my face.
And although my instinct runs to support of law and order, I knew that this was just bullying. We were the enemy, the “perps”, the faggots, and we were being put in our place.
My complaint is minor. It cost me a few minutes of my life. Some who meet with the police don’t live to tell about it.
This is not to say that there aren’t wonderful officers. The sheriffs office that operates out of West Hollywood seeks to keep peace, protect residents, and serve the community. Interactions with that office tend to be friendly, efficient, and purposeful.
(What made the interaction more disconcerting was that the LAPD pulled us over in West Hollywood, where they don’t have jurisdiction.)
But the West Hollywood Sheriff’s department seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. The more I hear of law enforcement and their interaction with gay citizens – or, often, any citizens – the more I am becoming concerned that police enforcement in general is more about force and compliance and oppression and, frankly, brutality than it is about public service or civic order.
And that is very sad. I hope I’m mistaken.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.