Discussion Thread: Hate Crime Legislation for Homosexuals

While I’m re-writing this stuff on holding, this sorta jumped out at me today:


Would a blog like this ever be considered a “hate crime”?  Overreaction, you say?  Possibly.  But consider the common t-shirt slogan: “Hate is not a family value.”  You and I are both aware that disagreement with one’s chosen lifestyle is not “hatred.”  It is disagreement; sometimes contentious, sometimes overly vocal, often heated, but not hatred.  Hatred is what happened to Matthew Shepard.  Hatred is what happens to thousands of nameless gay men and women who suffer beatings and worse, yet never report them because they fear that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Hatred is what happened to a little guy I knew at work.  Gayer than a Prada handbag, he was just a little guy with a mild case of mental retardation.  Maybe 100 lbs., soaking wet.  Smoked like a chimney.  I wondered at times just how gay he really was; I know a lot of guys who hung around gay bars mostly for the companionship.  But gay he was and gay he was identified by four guys who happened along him coming out of a gay bar on Capitol Hill one Saturday night.  They beat him so severely that the doctors in the emergency room had to find a bicycle helmet for the crushed pieces of his skull to be held together while they knitted.  He died not long after he returned to work and I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow it was related to his injuries.  I’d never felt so much rage and sorrow and shame and violent fury as the day I witnessed the horrible aftermath of that event.

Not until something like it happened to me.

I don’t enjoy talking about this.  It still brings up nightmares and right now, with the pressures of the whole disability/poverty/weight/unemployment issues in my life, I’m trying to minimize any unnecessary stress.  It was in my past and I try to keep it there.  I think it was probably ironic that my size actually saved my life.  I thiink they thought that since I was so large, I was probably not able to react fast enough.  But I’d been training at a gym and what I didn’t have in speed I more than made up for in fight.  Still, blows were landed and other than a bruised kidney, cuts and lacerations, and a bruise on my back that took more than a year to fully disappear, I was fortunate.  But such stories, even as personal as mine and other friends I know who have been through this, gets lost in what passes for discourse in Christian circles these days.  One’s witness gets lost in regurgitated right-wing talking points, sometimes bearing only a passing resemblance to the truth, and the talk of support for compassionate, supportive legislation gets tossed aside in favor of fear over what this might mean for Christians and their ability to “speak out against” homosexuality.

I confess I’m a double-minded man here.

Part of me understands the concern and I fear what overreactions might mean for Christians; the possibility for such protections to lean straight over into repression of speech is undeniably high.  Disagreement becomes hatred in the blink of a t-shirt slogan and it’s not like evenhandedness is a trait of most gay activists.  I think there would be lawsuits filed against churches and religious political groups within the hour of such laws being passed.

But on the other hand, I wonder.

I wonder that maybe if such legislation existed, it would make Christians think twice about how they approached “speaking out against” homosexuality.  I have witnessed such foolish, idiotic statements coming from people who feel a stronger need to “speak out against” homosexuality than they do sharing the heart of Christ with gay people.  (Even sadder, I’ve witnessed this at my church and sometimes, yes, from the pulpit.)  It’s no freaking wonder why it’s so difficult to share a realistic picture of Christ with gay people. All they’ve seen from the church is a judgmental, wrathful God as reflected by his foolish people.  (Witness the insanity of the godhatesfags.com website and the near-psychotic Westboro Baptist Church picketing.)  How to explain to them that it is possible to change, to control one’s orientation with God’s help?  How do you show them that Jesus cares about them deeply, compassionately, and longs to heal areas they don’t know have been wounded?  How do you show them a God who heals when all that’s preached these days is callous and indifferent to the needs of that population?  How do you get past all the worst aspects of Christian intolerance forever in display in the mainstream media to try and show a loving, balanced God that is just, righteous, a hater of sin and rebellion, yet loving, compassionate, joyously faithful and impossibly long on mercy?  (Answer: one person, one blog entry, one prayer, one stand at a time.)

I would think that if such legislation had needed protections of religious speech to protect against the inevitable politically correct lawsuits, we could build a consensus set of laws that would serve as a stark warning to those who would ambush men and women in the middle of the night for no other reason than to inject fear and terror for being who they are.  But knowing the extreme religious right as I do, I’m certain that someone somewhere would protest against even that level of evenhandedness, thereby giving tacit approval to continued beatings and murder as “judgment” for living that kind of lifestyle.

I suspect a Savior that was crucified for promoting a different kind of lifestyle with his radical, politically incorrect opinions of the day might have something to say about that.



~ by WriterRand on May 18, 2007.

3 Responses to “Discussion Thread: Hate Crime Legislation for Homosexuals”

  1. This is a great post. I can understand where you’re coming from. I’ve never been beaten up for being gay, but I have been threatened and harrassed from time to time (mostly when I was younger), which is never any fun. I’m sad to hear that that did happen to you though, and to your friend. It’s a horrible thing to happen to anyone.

  2. It’s one of those things that remains an intellectual exercise for most people…until it happens to them. Then you get a good, wide-screen 70mm Dolby view of just how insufficient the justice system is in addressing this issue. I confess I was one of those people for the longest time. Then I got jumped.

    As a Christian, I fully recognize that the potential for such legislation is ginormous. It’s already happening to Catholic adoption agencies who are faced with shutting down rather than being forced to violate their religious beliefs in order to be “fair.” How long until preachers are prohibited from speaking their mind on homosexuality? They’re already prohibited in this state from endorsing political candidates during elections.

    Then again, especially in churches, the anti-gay attitudes can move from the logical to the ridiculous. I remember being part of an argument that gays didn’t need protections against discrimination in employment because it would affect churches. After all, we might actually BE FORCED TO EMPLOY THEM IN OUR BOOKSTORES AND IN OUR CAFES AND OTHER AREAS WHERE THEY HAVE TO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE VISITNG OUR CHURCH! whereon I replied, “What makes you think you don’t already?” Not a lot of guff after that.

    When I mentioned hate crime legislation the last time in a church argument, the4 response was that we already have legislation in this state to punish hate crimes and gays are part of that. Uh-huh. Then why does this violence continue here in Seattle and why are gays so freaking reluctant to testify to these crimes? Why is calling the police in this city not the smartest thing to do? I’ve seen so few of the cases I know about actually brought to criminal trial. Usually the perp gets a slap on the wrist and is released. That the churches do not consider this a valid response for having a more mature discussion in this area mystifies me. How do you show people love and compoassion when you won’t even reach down to help someone who is suffering and feels powerless? Even in my church, I am often ashamed at the legalistic, compassion-less responses in this area.

  3. Not getting any help from the church. I’m going through that currently, and have been for a little over half a year now. I told my preacher I was gay last October and that I was having some serious issues with that, and basically he chose to avoid me and not help me at all with any of those issues. Granted he limitedly tried once in his own way, which didn’t by any means help at all. I’ll agree with you. Where’s the compassion and help we’re always told about? Where is it when you legitimately need it?

    I’ve actually tittered on the edge somewhat on my thinking about this sort of hate crimes. I honestly think that if the laws we already have would just be enforced that would (mostly) take care of the problem. However, that isn’t happening, so what do we do? Then again, if this sort of laws were in place, I do think it would be taken severe advantage of to punish those who disagree with homosexuality. So, what do you do?

    “God please help us!”

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