One of the themes coming from the defense last week in the Prop 8 trial was fear of LGBT people. Four of the six defense witnesses have backed out saying that they were afraid for their lives if their testimony was taped. (None have agreed to testify now that the court decided not to broadcast the testimony.) One of the Defendant-Intervenors attempted to withdraw for the same reason.
In both cases, defense attorneys have cited youtube comments and verbal reaction to Prop 8’s passage as evidence of impending doom. And in both cases, I cite my tiny violin.
It’s not that I want violence to happen against our opponents. On the contrary, I think our case is better served if they’re left alone. It’s just that the Violent Homosexuals charge is so commonly played, and with no real evidence to back it up.
But hey, it’s not like LGBT people have anything to be afraid of, right?
Unfortunately we know better, and not just from ancient or even recent history. I came across both of these stories Friday morning, even as Prop 8 attorneys were painting us as attackers. The first is from Chelmsford, Massachusetts:
Chelmsford police say they have identified a 15-year-old boy as the person who posted a threatening message on the social networking site Facebook.com.
“At this time, it appears to be the senseless act by an individual who failed to recognized the serious consequences that may result from such a post,” said Deputy Police Chief Scott Ubele in an e-mail.
The page, which has since been taken down, is titled â€œkill all gay people yea,â€ and has Chelmsford High School students listed as guests. The event was listed as a group trip on Jan. 19 from 6:55 a.m. â€“ 9:55 a.m. and lists â€œdo you hate people that are gay and have a green car?â€ as a host.
Note that this was obviously aimed at a specific person. While you think about that one, let’s look at this comic strip from Notre Dame University’s The Observer:
By the way, the original punchline was ‘AIDS’, but the editors thought that was going too far. Beating with a baseball bat is hilarious, though.
To be fair, both cases have resulted in real consequences. At Chelmsford High School, the administration acted quickly, the police were involved, and Guidance staff were made available to those students who were threatened.
At Notre Dame, the paper gave an (mealy-mouthed, hey-look-over-there) apology, the paper discontinued “The Mobile Party” by Colin Hofman, Jay Wade and Lauren Rosemeyer, and Managing Editor Kara King, who approved the comic strip, has resigned. (For some reason the Editors think this means she has “courage”.)
But in both cases, the damage is done.
Making sure people are fired or punished for this crap should not be an end unto itself. It should be a means of getting the Straight Majority to finally understand that attacks like these have consequences, even when the attacks are “just” words.