Waymon Hudson

Stop asking for it…

Filed By Waymon Hudson | February 18, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, Lawrence King, media, Sanesha Stewart

Look at the recent coverage of hate crimes against the LGBT community (when there is any coverage) and one theme is clear:

We are asking for it.

With the senseless death of 15 year-old Lawrence King, the phrase “a personality dispute between the boys” seems to be the easy way to explain the shooting. The same is true in the stabbing death of Sanesha Stewart, a transgender woman in the Bronx. All stories talk about her “fooling” the man she was with, driving him to kill her. It seems just being gay or transgender is an accepted reason to be killed.

Or in other words: when we live openly, we are asking for it.

All one has to do is listen to the rhetoric continually aimed at our community. Phrases like “as long as they don’t throw it in my face” or “I don’t care what they do in the privacy of their home as long as I don’t have to see it” all play into this idea that when we live at all openly, we deserve what comes our way.

The constant dehumanization of our community only makes it easier for our society to write off murders and violence against LGBT people as understandable and acceptable. When being LGBT is used as the sole reason for being killed, and the idea that it is an acceptable reason is pushed by the media and police, the message comes through loud and clear to our community.

These hate crimes are meant as lessons telling our community to go back into the closet and live in fear. They are meant to marginalize our lives and make hating us okay.

This violence is meant to tell us to stop asking for it.

Cross-posted on the Homo Politico

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Hate crimes keep happening, in part, because the subhuman thugs who commit them do not get severely punished for them, both as an example to others, and also to get the 'rabid dogs" permanently off the streets.

For instance, the murderers of Gwen Araujo got all of 6 years. 6 years? They should have been facing
death sentences, or life without parole.

I hope the kid who committed the murder in Oxnard, CA, gets tried as an adult for capital murder and is locked up for life, or sentenced to death. The fact that the victim is transgender should mean automatically that the crime meets the standards for premeditated murder.

Is it so radical to throw people in jail for homicide longer than they'd go for selling drugs?

I agree that stiffer sentences for hate crimes are necessary. Hate crimes affect many more people than just the single victim and the punishment should reflect that.

The problem, however, is that LGBT-based hate crimes are seen on some level in our society as something that is understandable and are often blamed on the victim being too "out" or in your face. How can we expect harsher sentences when the crimes itself isn't viewed as that bad because it was against an LGBT person?

Again, it makes it seem like we are “asking for it” by being ourselves...

and now you know why I keep a shotgun...

The 911 response time where I live after 10 pm averages 3 to 4 hours (I suspect because of our religion and trans status).......

When society breaks it's compact with you, you need to take back responsibility to safeguard yourself.

Look at how long it took our society/culture to awaken and realize that the pervasive belief of a lot of (straight) guys out there: that if a woman wore something sexually provocative that she was somehow "asking" to be raped, is in fact, morally wrong. Not giving society a pass or excusing anyone's behavior, but it IS going to take some time for society as a whole to become more "enlightened" about this.

It's all about just how "different" someone is percieved to be from the norm, as to whether someone will see that person as a threat that they need to lash-out at (damn, my grammar is terrible today) more than specifically about gender roles or sexuality, per se.

MauraHennessey | February 18, 2008 5:55 PM

First of all, society has not gotten past the "she was asking for it" with rape victims as exemplified by an O'Reilly Factor on a rape/murder victim.

Secondly, every time that we go through an election cycle where Republcans play the "gay" card the incidence of hate crimes increases. There are victims in the Right Wing's "Culture War" and they are all on our side.

I am tired of our people dying, our sisters, our brothers but most of all, our children.

I want our leadership to point at those preaching the hatred that lowers the bar of violence and makes this all possible and say "Enough! You are killing us ans we have had enough" followed by large scale protests. Lobbying and dinners are not saving lives.

Blaming the victim is nothing new. I don't know how far back it goes, but there were books written on how it was white people's burden to colonize and exploit the world, blaming rape victims is common as mentioned above, and was used famously against gay men to explain why no one was doing anything about AIDS.

I do worry about some of this fear-mongering and where it leads....

pathetic. they can go up to canada and kiss what is left of my d*ck. i have had enough of this shit. i am old, and white and the statistical likelihood of me being a victim is small - but this shit really crawls under my skin. i feel like it is me every time i hear about it. you talk about protests, and marches? i am for it. i will be there. stonewall shouldn't be the last riot while lives are still being lost. we are human - HUMAN - and we have a right to live our lives in peace. agenda my ass.

I share Waymon's outrage, but I caution us to think long and hard about a "law and order" approach to bias crime prevention. It's an incredibly difficult issue, and I'm not sure where I stand, ultimately, and was going to post about it a few days ago but did a little research to see if any other contributors had first.

Jessica Hoffman, in fact, had posted about it, and I found her thoughts quite useful. For some "let's not support the prison-industrial complex as a reaction to bias crimes," check it out:

Beyond Violence: On School Shootings, Domestic Abuse, Hate Crimes

Granted, the tactic is not anything new, nor is it gone completely, but at least in, shall we say, "polite society" it is now at least understood to be wrong to blame a (female/heterosexual) rape victim for how she was dressed and say "she was asking for it". (They might still gosip and trash her reputation and still feel superior because THEY would never stoop so low, but at least they won't openly say that she deserved to get raped over it.)

And, there is also the side of the coin where there is a valid point to not thinking the answer is simply to throw more people into a broken justice system for longer periods of time, but I do see that as a separate issue. There's also the argument that the right-wing likes to use that a crime is a crime and to elevate the status of any given crime just because of who it happened to is essentially discriminating against others who had the same crime happen to them (but didn't happen to be members of the particular protected class).

I agree that the prison system is badly broken, and that doing nothing more than addressing the punitive side of the issue is the same thing the right-wingers do about everything they don't like: put 'em away where us "decent" folk don't have to be bothered with 'em.

But, that's not at all why I support hate-crime laws. It's not to keep people in prison longer, it's not even to make the perpetrators themselves think twice about committing the crime in the first place (since the thought processes of those people are so far gone that the enhanced penalty is probably not a deterrent). The reason, and I believe the primary good that it does, is for the message that it sends to society as a whole. It helps us reach that point where "polite" society will accept that this is wrong. When we put it into law, there can be no denying it: to commit violence against someone because of their sexuality is NOT condoned. We're not only NOT sweeping it the rug because you beat-up a queer, we're actually putting you away LONGER because of it. Kind of makes it hard for anyone to really think they have the moral high-ground for beating-up a queer when the rest of society is saying differently by making it part of the law. Even beyond hate-crimes themselves, it subtly tends to force people to re-evaluate their attitudes towards LGBTQs in general if society is going to the trouble to protect them and say that beating them up is wrong.

That's the real value of hate-crime laws, IMHO.

The problem, however, is that LGBT-based hate crimes are seen on some level in our society as something that is understandable and are often blamed on the victim being too "out" or in your face.

Amen, Waymon. It's the reason I have a bumper sticker that says, "I don't mind if you're straight as long as you act gay in public."

Dustin - thanks for pointing out Jessica's piece. It's gotten thousands of views from across the web as folks come to read her thoughts on moving beyond the prison industrial system.

I see a lot of well-directed anger in these comments. That's a good thing.

Some of us are starting to shake free of our lethargic apathy.

I just saw of the murder of another trans woman recently in the Bronx.

That's 4 persons who died violently in the last month.

It simply has to end.