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Posts for August, 2011

Iowa Teen Beaten To Death By Anti-Gay Attackers

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2011

A nineteen-year-old youth died Sunday afternoon following an attack and severe beating early Friday morning. Marcellus Richard Andrews was officially pronounced dead after life support was removed at an Iowa City Hospital.

According to friends, it all began when Andrews was at a friend’s house late Thursday night:

She said the problems started at about 12:45 a.m. Friday when she and Tudia Simpson, her cousin, went for a walk down the street. Andrews opted to stay behind, waiting on the enclosed porch, she said.

The two women hadn’t made it as far as Adams Street a block away when they heard yelling back at the house. They ran back and found a truck stopped in the street, and the occupants were taunting Andrews, calling him “faggot” and “Mercedes,” a feminization of his first name, Simpson said.

The arguing and name calling continued, said Simpson, who admitted throwing the first punch, striking a girl.

“She kept saying it, and I hit her,” Simpson said.

At one point in the ensuing melee, Andrews fell to the ground. Simpson tried to help him up but another male kicked him in the face. She tried to help him back up again after the fight ended, but he wasn’t able to get up. Another girl called 911. When paramedics arrived, they found Andrews with severe head trauma and had him flown to Iowa City for treatment.

Police are investigating. No arrests have been made.

LA Times joins “gay panic” smear of Lawrence King

Timothy Kincaid

July 5th, 2011

Brian McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

From the beginning, reporters covering the murder of Lawrence King have had difficulty in finding the right tone and delivery. Few stories are more challenging than that of a 14 year old boy shooting his schoolmate in the back of the head at point blank range in the middle of his classroom.

Two young lives have been destroyed. Lawrence King is dead, and Brandon McInerney will spend much of his life behind bars. And reporters have sought to make that point rather than just tell the tale of a murderer and his victim. Sadly, this effort has evolved in some media from telling both stories to a cover-up of the facts and a retelling in which King was the culprit and McInerney an innocent who defended himself in the only way he knew how.

I will concede that it is difficult for a reporter to tell the victim’s side of the story. While defense lawyers invariable seek to influence public opinion (and a jury pool) with press conferences full of alternative possibilities, prosecutors are generally more circumspect. And while Ventura County senior deputy district attorney Maeve Fox did finally release information about McInerney to counter the defense’s fairy tale, it is not her job to defend King’s reputation.

That role is often filled by family of the victim. But Lawrence King’s adoptive parents were estranged and more interested in trying to find a way to make a buck off of King’s murder. They had no interest in defending the reputation of the weird kid who had “never bonded with them” and whom had been shipped off to a youth facility. Which leaves no one – no one at all – speaking for Lawrence.

But that is no excuse for shoddy journalism, deceptive reporting, and homophobic insinuation.

Perhaps the worst example was the hit piece on Lawrence King penned by Ramin Setoodah, a celebrity interviewer, for Newsweek. Setoodeh’s piece was the first to characterizate King as a bully and sexual aggressor who tormented Brandon McInerney. Parroting McInerney’s attorneys, Setoodeh laid out the gay panic defense, tossing in stereotypes and insinuations and “a lesbian vice principal with a political agenda.”

But while Newsweek’s article was unforgivable, one expects that hard news media will avoid such tactics. So it is even more disturbing to see the LA Times join in on the character assassination of Lawrence King.

But today’s article by Catherine Saillant about the start of the trial does just that. It seeks to minimize Brandon McInerney’s crime by diminishing the value of the life of his victim. Saillant does not see one child shooting another in the back of the head in his classroom but rather a sexual abuse victim acting in self defense against a sexual aggressor, a tormentor, a homosexual menace.

I don’t claim that Saillant has an anti-gay bias. Her use of the somewhat ominous phrase “young homosexuals on school campuses” instead of “gay youth” may be accidental or out of ignorance. For all I know, she is an ardent supporter of equality.

But her article is a textbook example of journalistic gay panic: the presumption that heterosexuals are entitled to live a life free of gay people, and that a gay person acknowledging their own existence is such a threat to heterosexuals that it justifies murder (or, at least, is a mitigating circumstance).

In the presumptions of journalistic gay panic, it is relevant to their murder whether a child was or was not effeminate or sometimes wore “women’s accessories”. In the presumptions of journalistic gay panic, the flirtations of a girl to a boy are very very different from the flirtations of a boy to a boy.

Take this paragraph from the article:

Fellow students say the two had clashed for days over King’s expressing his attraction to McInerney. King, who was living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home, had recently gone to school wearing eye makeup and women’s accessories.

The first sentence is a false presentation of the issue. “Fellow students” may have said just about anything, but based on the fuller coverage we know that King had been picked on by McInerny for a long time, long before the “flirting” began, and this eventually became his way of fighting back. But Saillant presents this as though it was out of the blue. She sets up King as the unprovoked aggressor.

And this cannot be chalked up to a lack of information. In a February 2009 Times article written by Saillant herself:

“Witnesses said King was usually not the aggressor. But after months of teasing by McInerney and other male students who called him “faggot,” he had began to retort, according to prosecutors.”

But it is in the second sentence that Saillant steps from being a reporter of a one-sided version of the story to active manipulator. Here she introduces an irrelevant comment to tie two separate ideas together. She’s reporting (not repeating what “fellow students” say) that King went to school in makeup. And – without any reason to mention it – she also says he was “living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home.”

Tying the two unrelated comments into a single sentence, Saillant has achieved the presentation of King who was so out of control with his crazy cross-dressing that he couldn’t even get along with his parents.

But the worst was just previous:

…provoked by King’s repeated sexual advances.

Screech… slam on the brakes.

Ask yourself – outside of this case, just in conversation – when you hear the term “repeated sexual advances”, what do you think of? Is is, oh say, “Will you be my valentine?”

Or is it perhaps an advance that is sexual in nature and repeated?

And again, this is not unfamiliar territory to Saillant. From that 2009 article:

In her statement of facts, Fox contends that King and McInerney had an acrimonious relationship for months prior to the shooting. They sparred with “typical 8th grade, back-and-forth insults; some sexual, some not,” she wrote.

But today, those “back and forth insults, some sexual, some not,” have become one-way “repeated sexual advances”. If Saillant is going to just parrot the accusations of McInerney’s defense, she has an obligation to inform that King’s “advances” consisted of flirting, at most, and did not consist of acts of adult sexual aggression. On the other hand, King’s “death” consisted of death.

This is not journalistic balance. This is advocacy for the defense’s gay panic strategy.

And look at how McInerney is discussed:

The defense could face a challenge in portraying McInerney as a naive youth. At the time of the shooting, he looked young and sweet-faced. In court recently, the defendant was a tall, lanky young man dressed in crisp Oxford shirts and khaki pants.

Salliant doesn’t talk about the difficulty of his defense having to deal with Nazi materials, racist symbols, or McInerney’s long history of terrorizing King. No, no, it’s his current age that is a problem.

I don’t know Saillant’s motivations. It may be that she is among those who think 14 is too young to be tried for murder. Maybe she wants to look at “all the circumstances” and see McInerney as “a victim too”. Perhaps wants to “present both sides”.

And the easiest way to do that – as McInerney is a pretty nasty neo-Nazi with white supremacist connections who ran in a pack of bullies – is to paint King as some sort of monster, a horrifying gay drag queen monster – worse even than McInerney. Besides, who is going to complain?

Generally character assassination of the victim is left to the defense team. But it seems to me that Saillant, has joined the cause.

Now, there is a legitimate case to be made that McInerney was too young and immature to be fully cognizant of the consequences of his actions. But it is unethical and immoral to take the shortcut of bashing King to exonerate McInerney.

Lawrence King Trial Set to Begin Today

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2011

Brandon McInerney (left), Lawrence King (right)

It’s been three years since Brandon McInerney walked into an Oxnard classroom, pulled a .22-caliber handgun out of his backpack and shot Lawrence King point blank in the head. From the very beginning, McInerney’s lawyer has trotted out the “gay panic” defense, saying that McInerney was furious that King was flirting with him. Today, McInerney’s trial is set to begin finally, and the defense will make “gay panic” the centerpiece of their case:

McInerney’s lawyers, Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson, say their client doesn’t deny the killing. But they argue it was voluntary manslaughter because the adolescent was provoked by King’s repeated sexual advances.

Fellow students say the two had clashed for days over King’s expressing his attraction to McInerney. King, who was living in a children’s shelter because of problems at home, had recently gone to school wearing eye makeup and women’s accessories.

McInerney was humiliated by King’s advances, his attorneys said. He came from a violent home and decided to end his misery in a way that made sense to him — with a gun. He shot King “in the heat of passion caused by the intense emotional state between these two boys at school,” Bramson said last week outside the courthouse, where jury selection was underway.

McInerney is being tried for murder with a hate crime enhancement. His defense team argue that McInerney’s age (he was fourteen at the time of the murder) should be a factor:

The defense will stress McInerney’s age at the time of the crime, and may summon a psychologist to talk about the maturity and critical-thinking abilities of a 14-year-old. In essence, they will argue that McInerney didn’t have the maturity to deal with King’s schoolyard taunts.

“Age will explain his behavior and his response,” Wippert said. “How a 14-year-old reacts is different than how an older person would react.”

Gay Soldiers Attacked, Fear Coming Forward Because of DADT

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2011

Two gay Ft. Carson soldiers south of Colorado Springs were beaten Saturday at a fast food restaurant while their attackers shouted anti-gay and racial slurs. Police are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime, but the two soldiers have to remain anonymous because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has not yet been officially dismantled.

This attack comes almost exactly twelve years after Pfc Barry Winchell was murdered because he was gay. That murder occurred in July, 1999, and highlighted the physical dangers that LGBT servicemembers are exposed to under DADT. After twelve years and with DADT’s promised imminent demise, some things still haven’t changed. The soldiers, who remain unidentified in KRDO’s story, say that most people in their unit know that they are gay. But, says one, “I don’t need people higher up knowing. I still have to protect myself as far as on the military side.” One of the soldiers is being treated for facial fractures and his jaw has been wired shut. The other had been repeatedly kicked in the head and ribs, and he said his right eye had swollen closed. With injuries like those, it will be impossible for them to hide now.

Transgender Customer Beaten at Baltimore McDonald’s As Employees Watch

Jim Burroway

April 22nd, 2011

A McDonald’s employee captured the melee on his cell phone, but offered not assistance. Warning: the video is extremely violent:

In the first part of the video, someone who appears to be a security guard appears to try to break the fight up, but he doesn’t appear to render aide to the victim. Later, when the victim is assaulted again, there is not security guard in sight. One older lady appears to be trying to intervene, but in one pan-away, McDonald’s employees are seen looking on and laughing. Toward the end of the video, one of the assailants lands a severe blow to the victim’s head, and she appears to have a seizure. You can then here a man tell the assailants to run because the police are coming as the victim continues to convulse wildly on the floor.

The assault began when the victim tried to use the restroom. Maryland has seen a significant rise in anti-trans rhetoric in the recently failed attempt to pass an anti-discrimination bill in the state legislature. Opponents of the measure stoked bigotry over the bill by warning of “men” in women’s restrooms and referring to it as “the bathroom bill.”

The victim, whose name is not yet available, was identified as transgender by the man who video’ed the event and posted about it on his Facebook page.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the attack occurred on April 18. Two women were arrested. A 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile, and charges are pending against an 18-year-old woman. The victim, whose identity has not yet been released, is reported to be in fair condition at Franklin Square Hospital Center.

McDonald’s has issued a statement:

“We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees in our restaurants. We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter.”

Threatening Phone Calls to Prop 8 Plaintiffs Made Public

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2011
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“Marriage is between one man and one woman only. That’s the way God arranged it, set it up. Two people of the same sex cannot procreate. And no, getting yourself artificially inseminated is not procreation in God’s eyes…”

…Marriage is between one man and one woman only. God set it up that way, and that’s the way its going to be. And anybody who’s living in a homosexual or lesbian relationship shall burn in the depths of hell for all eternity.

Well, you have to hand it to Gergory Guisti, he and Robert George’s philosophical arguments are very well aligned indeed, even if Guisti’s manner is a bit more direct. Guisti even brought out Romans 1:26-29 — twice. Angry dude, although, to be fair, he did promise to throw Prop 8 plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier a party if they leave the state of California.

The Advocate reports that Perry and Stier were subjected to more than a dozen angry voice mails during the trial from Guisti. The 49-year-old San Francisco resident used an unlisted cell phone with a Newport News, VA area code. He’s now in jail on a 21-month sentence for having made at least 48 calls in February and March, 2010, to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Guisti’s threats to Pelosi were more explicit: “If you pass this freaking health care plan, don’t bother coming back to California, ’cause you ain’t gonna have a place to live.”

NC Gay Couple’s Home Destroyed By Arsonist

Jim Burroway

February 7th, 2011

Gay couple's home was destroyed by arson in Clayton, N.C.

Fire investigators in Clayton, N.C. are investigating a fire that was set last Saturday that destroyed the home of a gay couple who had been victims of anti-gay harassment for more than a year. The couple were out of town when the fire was set, and was reported by a neighbor.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home. A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.

…”I felt sick to my stomach. I felt so sorry for the two gentlemen. They lost everything,” the couple’s friend and neighbor said. “We do believe that this is a hate crime.”

The Red Cross is supplying the couple with food, clothes and contacts for insurance. Clayton is located about 15 miles southeast of Raleigh.

Scott Lively endorses anti-gay violence in Uganda

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2011

It is not by coincidence that the three organizations with which anti-gay activist Scott Lively is associated are all deemed by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be Hate Groups. Lively has earned that well-deserved designation. And his latest commentary is not an exception. (RyanSorba)

Having accused gays of orchestrating Hitler’s Nazi regime and being responsible for genocide in Rwanda, it certainly isn’t beyond him to take the opportunity of David Kato’s horrific murder to declare that it is “lavender Marxists” that are murdering Uganda.

Uganda is being murdered. The nation once called “The Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill, a lush and beautiful country as fertile as the Nile Delta.

It is the nation that retained its self-rule through centuries of African colonialism, the society that survived even the atrocities of the cannibal cultist Idi Amin, the culture that has been thriving in Christian revival for over a dozen years.

This great and honorable nation, alone in Africa to have all but conquered the scourge of AIDS through abstinence – and whose First Lady led a holy gathering of thousands of believers on the eve of the millennium, dedicating her homeland “to Jesus Christ for a thousand years” – this Uganda, a shining light in the Dark Continent, is being murdered.

But while this nonsensical rhetoric is troubling, even more so is Lively’s endorsement of anti-gay violence in Uganda:

It is as if the militant ranks of “Code Pink” were transported back to 1890s America to agitate for “sexual freedom.” Our great grandparents would not have countenanced this. There would have been violence, as there has now been in Uganda. [emphasis added]

Lively claims that it is the gays themselves, “agents provocateur”, who deliberately goad naive innocents to murder them so as to “poison the gullible against the Ugandans.” It’s all a George Soros sponsored plot.

So violence is justified. Murder is justified. Pogroms are justified. Such things aren’t evil, just “reactions” to the murderous gays.

There is indeed evil in Uganda today, but it is not the reaction of Christian and Moslem citizens to the rape of their culture. It is the pink-gloved hand of western powers that are cutting the throat of Africa’s most God-fearing country, and one of the world‘s most promising Christian democracies.

Mixed news on hate crimes

Timothy Kincaid

November 22nd, 2010

Hate crimes statistics is a difficult subject to correctly evaluate. Reporting by local agencies has, until recently, been voluntary and often subject to arbitrary interpretation, so year to year or location to location comparisons must be considered with the understanding that any specific anomaly in long term trending may not accurately reflect a real or significant shift in either social attitudes or behavior.

I think that it is evident and obvious that hate crimes are under-reported. Behaviors that mirror biases of individual officers are more likely to be treated as “no big deal”, and, as we have seen, even people who see themselves as supportive can dismiss hostility as “a natural reaction.” And, of course, most hate crimes are only known when the victim is willing to come forward and report a crime or file a complaint.

Reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation are probably complicated by a greater lack of recognition or by a greater hesitancy to come forward than other animus related crimes. However, with increased social acceptance for gay people, both institutional dismissiveness and fear of recognition have decreased which probably has resulted in a higher frequency of incidents being reported or tracked.

Okay, that’s enough caveats. Now the positive news.

The FBI has released the statistics on hate crimes reported during 2009, and fewer incidents were reported than previous years in nearly every category. (FBI)

While the number of law enforcement agencies submitting data to us increased—topping off at 14,222—the number of hate crime incidents reported for 2009 (6,604) was down from 2008. The number of reported victims (8,336) has also gone down. (“Victims,” in this case, can be individuals, businesses, institutions, and society as a whole.)

Sexual Orientation based crimes were significantly fewer than in prior years. Comparison to 2008 may not reflect a trend, as Proposition 8′s fear-based anti-gay campaign is believed to have generated an increased hostility towards gay people, but with 1,436 incidents, this is lower than both 2008 and 2007.

Hate crimes based on race, religion, and ethnicity were also lower than in the past two years. This is wonderful news.

However, there is also some disturbing news to be found among the data.

When considering just violent crimes (Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and simple assault), sexual orientation based crimes are up, both in incidents and in percentage of hate crimes. As in prior years, reported anti-gay hate crimes tended to include physical violence significantly more often than those of other reported demographics. This may reflect either a greater degree of animus, or it may demonstrate that reporting agencies are less likely to take non-violent hate crimes based on sexual orientation as serious or worth reporting.

Violent hate crimes based on sexual orientation went from 695 in 2008 to 725 in 2009. This reflects a slight increase in the percentage of violent hate crimes that are sexual orientation related as well as a slight increase in the percentage of sexual orientation hate crimes that were violent.

Additionally, the percentage of populations that are impacted should be considered when looking at hate crime statistics. Hate crimes, especially violent hate crimes, target individual members of the gay community to a greater extent than some other minority communities. (Jews are also disproportionately impacted, with damage and vandalism being the dominant hate crime).

For example, African Americans make up about 12.4% of the population and there were 819 reported cases of anti-black assaults. The GLB community, on the other hand, comprise maybe around 5.5% of the total population and suffered 712 reported cases of assault.

So while it is good news that the total hate crime incidences reported in 2009 – including those based on anti-gay animus – were down, it remains troubling that so many anti-gay hate crimes continue to be violent.

Middle School Student Takes a Stand Against Bullying

Jason Cianciotto

October 16th, 2010

An NBC affiliate in California covered this story about 7th grader Marco Melgoza, a victim of anti-gay bullying at his middle school in Madera, CA. Despite efforts made by school administrators to curb the bullying, Marco reports that it is still happening. It’s amazing to see youth standing up for themselves with the support of their parents.

Eleventh Man Arrested In “Wolf Pack” Attacks

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2010

The circle of suspects continue to widen in the vicious gang attacks against two 17-year-old gay youths and a 30-year-old gay man in the Bronx to weeks ago.  Luis Garcia, 26, who police say wrapped a chain around his fist and beat the 30-year-old man, is the eleventh arrested suspect in what’s being called the worst gay hate crime in New York City in memory. Garcia will be arraigned in Bronx Criminal Court today.

Tenth “Wolf Pack” Suspect Arrested As Victim Describes Ordeal

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2010

One of the seventeen-year-old victims of the vicious “Wolf Pack” attacks has spoken about his ordeal to New York reporters on Monday. He told reporters at ABC7:

They put me in the middle of the chair. They asked me “are you gay?” I was like “nah”, They was like “you did this?” I said “yea.” “You did this with the gay guy?” I was like “yea.” That’s when they started hitting me. Like beating me up. I was there for like an hour.

…They said, “You a faggot or something?” What’s wrong with you? You crazy?

Surprisingly, the gang members told the victim, who had been a recruit into the gang, not to take the assault personally. They told him that he could still remain a member of the gang.

Meanwhile, a tenth suspect, José Dominguez, 22, was arrested yesterday. He will face charges of assault, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated assault, all as hate crimes.

Carlsbad Elementary Gunman: “Kill Obama and kill all the little fags!”

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2010

Brendan Liam O'RourkeA lone gunman burst onto the playground at Kelly Elementary school in Carlsbad, California last Friday. Two girls were shot, but fortunately neither were seriously injured. Brendan Liam O’Rourke, 41, was restrained by witnesses as he fumbled to reload his pistol. He was arrested and charged with six counts of attempted murder.

The San Diego CBS affiliate covered the schools’ back-to-school rally today to begin the healing process for the shaken students, including the two girls who were wounded. CBS8 also interviewed Stephanie Durkee, a campus monitor who was instrumental in restraining O’Rourke. She told CBS8 what O’Rourke said as he entered the playground:

When he first came over the fence and was shooting the kids, he was screaming, “Kill Obama and kill all the little fags! Death to them!” That’s what he was saying as he was in amongst the kids shooting.

O’Rourke’s neighbor said that he used to repeat a slogan, “‘Christians Unite to Destroy.” The phrases “Christians” and “To Destroy” were found in his apartment bedroom. Of course, we’ve known that some pretty horrific rhetoric has been floating out there, and it has been becoming much louder very recently. But watch them feign surprise and shock — shock, I tell you! –  when someone takes their hysterical rantings to their “logical” conclusions.

Ninth Bronx Assault Suspect Arrested

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2010

The New York Daily News reports that the ninth suspect in the vicious “wolf pack” assault against three gay men in the Bronx has been arrested. Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, was captured by New York Police today and taken to the Bronx. Details of his arrest have not been released. He had been expected to turn himself in over the weekend, but reneged on the promise.

Bronx “Wolf Pack” Attackers Arraigned

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2010

Eight of nine suspects in last week’s brutal attack on three gay men in the Bronx were arraigned on Sunday morning in Bronx Criminal Court on several criminal charges, including gang assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment, all as hate crimes. As part of the hearing, more gruesome details of the attacks came to light:

After he had been punched, kicked and stripped of his clothes and jewelry, the 17-year-old man was given a choice: the bat or the pipe.

… Before the night was out, the victims would be tortured with burning cigarettes, box cutter blades, plunger handles and more, prosecutors charged. But first, the 17-year-old had to make his selection.

“I guess the bat,” he said.

The court-appointed lawyer for one of the defendants, seventeen-year-old Denis Peitars, said that his client agreed to testify before the grand jury. A ninth suspect, Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, is still at large.

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