Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter December 5, 2001

Dear Friends,

World affairs continue on. Perhaps we are seeing the end of the beginning, but it would be a little optimistic to take it any further. When we wrote last September 11, within four hours of the first attack, our first observation was that in this world, all our actions influence somebody.. We're just too closely interlinked with each other. If there is an end of war soon in Afghanistan, there will be the business of building a peace. And that can be a long and difficult process. And it can't be said this recent trouble is something which was ever confined to that belabored country.

On other fronts, there was both good and bad news. The good news can seem pretty grim, but more of that later. It's good news all the same.

First, the bad news. We received word of two more murders of people basically for being what they were. Aaron Webster was killed in Vancouver, British Columbia, for being gay. It's quite a jolt there, as it's the first gay-bashing in the area which ended in death for quite some time. Gary Simpson has posted some news links about it on our bulletin board. The police still have to arrest anybody, but it isn't for lack of trying. The legal protections and the attitudes of the authorities closely resemble those of San Francisco.

Some, at least, entertain their doubts about this last point in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Juana Vega was shot dead on November 11. Pablo Parillo has been charged with her murder: he is the brother of a woman with whom Juana was allegedly having a lesbian relationship. The authorities have so far declined to charge him under Wisconsin's hate crime laws. Local gay rights organizations are upset about that. You could get their opinions by contacting:

ngltf@ngltf.org

Both deaths raise some ambiguities. The area in which Aaron was killed is a traditional hangout for anonymous casual sex encounters. Some of the local gay community asserted that doing that is absolutely essential to that identity and existence. Others have said it's both dangerous and irresponsible, and not at all representative of the gay community and certainly not an intrinsic necessity. Alas, it is true that for some young males, gay-bashing is something of rite of passage, and they do tend to look for places where this sort of activity is supposed to occur. In this sense, it may be true that the more accepting an area is, and more relaxed the gay community feels, the greater the danger of being attacked. As far as the highly unreliable statistics go, this seems to be so. And, since AIDS Awareness was on December 1, AIDS activists have also noted that there remains the ongoing issue not merely of AIDS, but lots of other sexually transmitted diseases.

With Juana, things are rather more cut and dried. But it will reawaken some fairly legitimate issues about hate laws. Like any other law, their effectiveness depends on a willingness to enforce them. In this one, it is added that the applicable laws don't add any greater penalty than that levied under the law Mr. Parillo is already charged with violating. The first part is the more crucial one: much of the force behind bias crimes comes from a perpetrator's belief he (or she!) can more easily get away with it. Either the victim will be less interested in pursuing charges, or the law won't bother, because, hey, they're a lesser group of people.

On this last point, an article we referred you to last month is still worth reading, and here's the link again:

http://www.findarticles.com/1252/20_125/534612/p1/article.jhtml

The good news is what didn't happen in New Bedford, Connecticut. A group of students did not bomb and shoot up their high school. This did not happen at any thousands of other schools either this last month (something which it's useful to recall), so it may not be clear why this is noteworthy. As it turns out, however, three or four students were planning to do exactly that. And, again, our actions affect everybody more than they think. One of the students involved in the planning realized a teacher who had gone out of her way to reach out to her, and make her feel like somebody important, was just as likely to be hurt or killed as anyone. So this student told the authorities. Actions have consequences! That teacher may have saved a lot of lives.

There are several things which have come up through our site which we'd like to remind you of.

Recently, we had an entry in our guest book by a person who asks that anybody who's suffered from a hate crime contact her with their story. have a look at it.

Also, dealing, with our latest entry. Thanks, Shaun. We didn't know we were that important. Flattery won't get you anywhere, though.

We did receive word from Matthew Callanan on our message board regarding a foundation he's working on, the Matthew Shepard Youth Foundation. We don't give any stamp of approval or disapproval to it, and we should state that it isn't connected to the Matthew Shepard Foundation run by Mrs. Shepard. However, it may well be worth investigating. Apart from the massage Matthew left on our board, his website can be found at:

http://www.msyf.com

A little bit of old business. December 1 would have been Matthew Shepard's 25th birthday. Eric Williams has been maintaining an e-card, which he sends to the Shepard family each year. The card itself is at:

http://home.earthlink.net/kxaani/dec01.shtml

but to sign it, you will likely have to send your message by e-mail to:

al_bronte@hotmail.com

For those of us living in the Northern hemisphere, December is the darkest of months, and so, naturally, various cultures have their own ways of asserting their hope for the return of light and hope. So whether, it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or whatever else you're observing, we wish you the best of it. And, for those who may be sunning themselves in the southern hemisphere, where the sun's at it's highest and brightest, forgive our cultural imperialism!

The Stop Hate 2000 e-Team


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