Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter October 5, 2001

Dear Friends,

The events of September 11 are still working themselves out. Nearly every emotion we could imagine we have experienced. We can not know any better how matters will develop from here. We can only hope (and pray) that the world's leaders will be guided by wisdom, both in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and in doing it without harming the innocent. or, as wars will go, harming as few as possible. Although we must regret that there have been attacks not only Arabs, and not only Muslims, but also anybody who looks remotely Asian, yet there are some signs of hope that we may have learned a little in the 60 years since Pearl Harbor. So far, these reactions haven't gone as far as they did against people of Japanese descent. So far.

Sometimes it can seem that these things are so overwhelming that we lose the ability to act. As we tried to explain in our September newsletter, written within an hour of the second tower collapse of the World Trade Center, that is a feeling we must try to resist. All our actions, both good and bad, have their effect. As that terrible day must remind us, they can have world-wide effect. And sometimes very small things can matter a lot. David has posted a story from the Topeka Capital-Journal of September 14, regarding a brave young man by name of Jared. We don't know his last name. His bravery wasn't of the physical variety. It was highly unlikely that he would be beaten up. It was a rarer and more precious thing. Moral courage is much harder. Topekans who have tried to make a stand against the many hates of Fred Phelps have been terrorized by that individual for a long time, admittedly by means which are normally legal. His action drew a number of souls to join him, and many more to show their support. these things can matter.

This reminds us of events in Billings, Montana at the end of 1999. As Hanukkah came around, some malefactors began vandalizing houses in which it was clear that Jewish festival was being celebrated. Most of the residents of Billings responded by posting Stars of David. That put an end to the attacks.

And, in return, the record of the King and people of Denmark during the Second World War comes to mind. It took the Germans about 30 minutes to conquer the country. Immediately upon Denmark's surrender, the anti-Jewish laws came into force, requiring all Jews, among other things, to wear a yellow Star of David. King Christian X and his family promptly put the yellow star on, and so did nearly everybody in Denmark. The Danes found a way to save their Jewish compatriots: only about 50 were lost. So we see how moral courage can matter a lot. Arguably it matters a lot more than physical courage.

The greater events of September have led to another story being forgotten. That was the sad death of Jake Robel, the six-year-old boy dragged to his death when his mother's car was highjacked. The trail of his killer has been taking place, and one of our number had been attending it for as long as she could. The details only get worse, the more is known. At the time of this writing, the highjacker has been found guilty, and the separate penalty phase of the trial has begun.

It has not been easy to find recent news about Jake. There is a memorial website, which also promotes some legal changes which, it is hoped, would do a little to prevent such things again. Anyway, Jake's father thinks so. Those proposals became law in Missouri (Jake's state) on June 1. You can access this website through one maintained by Matthew Wilson at:

Matt's site has several links to memorials for victims of hate and violence, including some which have been too easily forgotten. It would be no surprise that he also has one to Matthew Shepard, whose death three years ago this month led to the existence of this site.

At the time of writing, we have been informed of three memorials of that event. There certainly will be others, even if they no longer draw quite the same publicity they used to. That's not because memory has gone away, but, as we humans usually do, we find ways to live with our losses less dramatically as we learn to live with them. The universal themes of Matthew's short life and terrible death are something we've talked about quite a lot here, and we will try not to repeat them. But they run to much greater implications than sexual orientation. hate can be turned in any direction very quickly. The past few weeks surely have told us that.

We had already noted the third annual prayer vigil for all victims of hate and violence which will take place in St. Louis. However, we have fuller details and contact information. Although sponsored by the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis, it has always been thoroughly ecumenical in nature. It will take place from 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10 to 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, at the Singleton Chapel of St. John's United Methodist Church at 5000 Washington Place, St. Louis. Further information can be had from Becky Drefs at 314-361-2221, or John Todd at

We have also been informed of another third anniversary memorial to Matthew, sponsored by the GLBT club at North West Missouri State University at Maryville, Missouri (2 hours north of Kansas City). This will start at 8 p.m., also on Wednesday, October 10. It will consist of a candlelight vigil on the campus, followed by an open forum discussing hate. The campus bell will sound 21 times in memory of each of Matthew's years of life. The contact is: Precious Tillman at 660-562-5136 or

Angela Ayala has posted an announcement on our message board of a similar memorial to be held at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. All are asked to meet in the Trition Inn at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 19. For more details, Angela can be reached at:

Finally, we should say that one event expected for this month will not happen until some time in November. This would be the movie "The Matthew Shepard Story" which NBC has been producing in collaboration with the Shepard family. Once we get a definite date and time, we'll be sure to let you know about it.

The Stop Hate 2000 e-Team

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