Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter November, 1999

Dear Friends,

"Than October adds the gale,
 Rain and slush and rain and hail.
 Dark November brings the fog,
 Should not do it to a dog."
-- Michael Flanders

October and November seem meant for memorials. As the days draw in and the first breath of winter touches us (where it touches us), it somehow seems natural to recall both the individuals we have lost, and then ponder the larger importance of those losses. There were a great many memorials to one victim of hate this October, and through him to a great many others who, in a great many ways, suffered solely for being something different that somebody wished them to be.  In the end, we do begin to understand the larger issues through what they do to individuals. Understanding and remembering them, they lead us on to those larger meanings.

Passing from October to November, it seems right that we are passing from a particular remembrance to a general one. Pre-Christians begin it with a formal commemoration of the seasonal chage, when the spirits of all varieties join in observing. The Christian community baptized this observance with All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). This century has given us another, Remembrance or Armistice Day, when we are called on to remember all those who fought and died in the wars of this bloodiest of centuries. We may hope the remembrance will make a better century, both in our personal relations and our larger ones. October reminded us how much an individual's fate and actions can matter: November reminds us that the price of not doing better can be demanded of any of us.

PlanetOut counted 350 memorials to Matthew Shepard and other victims of hate and violence this past month. Almost certainly there were a great many more. Time will tell whether this becomes an annual event. His death has an obvious resonance for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual community. But one reason why it seems to have struck such a universal chord is that Matthew seemed to embody so many other things, both in his talents and in his frailties, that he symbolized all the other rreasons why the absence of love and kindness can hurt anybody for any reason. He does lead us on to James Byrd, Bill Clayton, the Columbine students, Jason Smith, Billy Jack Gaither, Nirmal Singh Gill, Charlotte Wetzel and a great many more.

In a sense one forced memorial continues. The trial of Araon McKinney necessarily reminds of us that tragedy. Perhaps if this were a Shakespearean tragedy, this trial would be Act IV. For the duration, we have a link on our website (remember its new address: stophate2000.org) to the Advoctae's coverage, which, without disrespect to anybody else, seems to us to have  the deepest coverage of the trial.

This particular site began with the idea of trying to organize a hike against hate and violence of all forms, including the hate of neglect and omission. As it stands, it seems to have led to three separate efforts, each of which made quite an impact when it happened. The first occurred last summer, and was organized and led by Margot Wetzel for the Charlotte Wetzel. We told you about the private effort this site's founder, Lee Thompson, made last September, in memory of the disabled of all varieties.

The third took place as scheduled between September 9 and 12, under the auspices of the BEAR foundation. Jerry Switzer organized the hike and led it from Fort Collins to Laramie, and then to the now famous fence east of Laramie. Jerry, two other humans and 150+ teddy bears made it the whole 72 miles: five other people participated for a substantial part of the hike, and a great many more went from Laramie to the fence on October 12. It attracted enormous public attention and support, and was nationally reported. As an artistic and educational statement, it, like the other two, fulfilled all expectations. Since the hike, Jerry has been in very great demand as a speaker on the issues behind the strike in several states...and no doubt he will continue to be.

We will be hearing more of the bears. Each has the name of a victim or group of victims. They will have a home base at the community museum in Thermopolis, WY and take field trips to schools and community groups to tell the story of the person or group they're named after. So you will be able to visit them. we think (but we're not sure) that Matthew the Hiking Bear will be there permanently.

Last month, we mentioned that Eric Williams has put together an internet birthday card for Matthew, which will be sent to his family on 1 December. He's hoping for several hundred signatures and had 47 at last count. The URL for the card itself is:

(http://www.goodnet.com/~ewillia/dec01.shtml) but if you have trouble getting to it directly, try: (http://www.goodnet.com/~ewillia/index..shtml).

Also (blush) sorry about the loss of the message board. It wasn't intended, but our webmaster, David Lehning, found several technical difficulties with it when we had to handle some hate messages. there wer a lot of good postings lost, and we apologize to any of you who put them up. So we look back at an active month - and year - and look forward to one which is hardly well-defined. We will find a way to carry on the vision which Lee conceived, Jerry (and Erin) brought to fruition, and which we are trying to nurse. So we remember those we've lost, and go now to the larger issues behind the losses, in the hope there will many fewre to come. This is a work that(alas) won't likely have a complete end.


The Stop Hate 2000 e-Team

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