This is part horrifying news story, part I can’t stand how many people are missing the obvious!
Earlier this month, an openly gay woman from the Richmond area, outside San Francisco, was found naked and brutally beaten and repeatedly raped after being jumped by four men who made comments indicating they knew of her sexual orientation. The four men, ranging in age from teens to about 30, approached the 28-year-old woman after she got out of her car, which had a rainbow sticker on it.
Richmond police Lieutenant Mark Gagan said, “The level of trauma, physical and emotional, that this victim has suffered is extreme. It just pushes it beyond fathomable.”
The attack, which lasted 45 minutes, apparently began as the woman was crossing the street after getting out of her car. One of the men approached her, struck her with a blunt object and ordered her to take off her clothes. He sexually assaulted her, with the help of the other three men.
When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building. She was raped again, both inside the car and the building. The rapists then took her wallet and her car. Police found the car two days later where it had been abandoned
The woman was able to summon help from a nearby resident, and was taken to the hospital from there. The woman said she does not know the rapists, but law enforcement is hoping that someone in the community does because one of them had the nickname “Blue” and another was called “Pato.”
Richmond police are offering a $10,000 award for information leading to the arrest of the attackers and rapists, and they have characterized the assault as a hate crime. Although Lt. Gagan would not say why it is being classified as a hate crime, he noted that, in addition to the rainbow sticker on her car, the victim lives openly with her female partner.
Richmond, known for its high crime rate, is in the East Bay. Once an exclusively and heavily industrial waterfront area, the last decade has seen Richmond attempt a mix of industry and neighborhoods. City officials have sought to attract families and homeowners with waterfront and water view housing and condo developments at prices far lower than other Bay Areas cities with comparable views.
According to FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation have increased nationwide. There were 1,415 such crimes in 2006 and 1,460 in 2007, both times making up about 16 percent of the total. Additionally, Gay Rights Advocates maintain that the crimes against GLBT citizens are underreported, often out of fear of further retaliation from assailants, and, anecdotally, the Advocates say, such hate crimes have increased lately.
What does this have to do with President-Elect Obama inviting homophobe Rick Warren to give the Invocation at his Inauguration? A lot more than almost anyone in public office is willing to admit. When the man offering a prayer for our nation’s leader has said the kinds of hateful things he has said about the GLBT community, and when this man has opted for photo ops with stars and regular people in the GLBT community rather than have the cajones to call a press conference and publicly apologize for his remarks, then how can we, as a nation, ever look to our leaders for hope, for protection, for courage and guidance? We cannot. We must do all that for ourselves.
In yesterday’s Huffington Post, Melissa Etheridge wrote a compelling article about her recent encounter with Rick Warren. In more than a couple ways, her article was not unlike that of Andrew Sullivan’s a few days earlier, in that Etheridge has concluded that the GLBT community must first win hearts before it can win over minds. I’d love to agree with her. But I do not. She explained that Warren told her he never meant the things he said about homosexuals being pedophiles and perverts.
Really? Why does he tell Etheridge and not the entire GLBT community? Because he’s a duplicitous guy, that’s why. Who better to break the ice for him than a GLBT and Rock and Roll icon? The Warren who publicly spoke from the pulpit and in front of the camera on why he supported Proposition 8, now has the woman who can’t get married in her own state making nice with one of the big guys who made it happen? I have a suggestion, and really, I think it’s a very fair one. Since Melissa Etheridge and Barack Obama and, yes, even Andrew Sullivan are so damned certain of the innate goodness of Warren, then have your people call his people and set up an Apology Press Conference.
I understand the “reach across the aisle to one’s adversaries” approach to living. I think that in many situations in life, it can work wonderfully. But see, we’ve been reaching across that aisle for decades. Hate speech is hate speech.
The oldest Hollywood movie theme in the books is the intrinsically good-hearted bigot! We have seen that story, over and over, and it always ends the same, in Hollywood and elsewhere: The bigot has to see the error of his ways, he has to make public amends and then we will be generous enough of spirit to at least get off his case, if not embrace him warmly next we meet.
It’s really, really easy Rick. And you are so taking the hard way, the transparent squeaking it out of it way, the get the girl to say it for you way, the pose with your arm around a gay guy in a WeHo AIDS thrift shop way.
Do you need the address of CNN or MSNBC? Do you not think Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper would take your call to set up the public interview wherein you could make your apology? Do you think Michaelangelo Signorile talks his guts out everyday on Sirrius OutQ trying to defend us, even against ourselves, sometimes, because down deep he knows you’re really a nice bigot?
Do you think the woman who got raped in Richmond, California in a hate-crime perpetuated by “Blue” and “Pato” should understand if she should discover they are swell guys with sweet families who just have this nasty streak of bigotry that rears its ugly, deadly head every once in a while?
Is there some redeeming quality about the verbal rape of hate speech, the kind you are seen spewing in YouTube videos all over the internet, that makes you think yours is a lesser kind of hate?
If so, then you tell her.
As for the rest of us, I assure you, we’ve been thrown under the bus so many times, it’s almost comfortable. We can fight from there. We can love from there. We can help one another from there. We can speak from there, write from there and design you a new, and may I say, badly needed, wardrobe from there.
We can live from under there, Rick. You’re the bus driver, Rick. It is not we who need to reach across the aisle; it’s you who needs to get a new sled. ‘Cause we’re going to be the sludge in your engine, the broken gear in your transmission and the flagrantly flipped out micro chip of your navigation system. You may need a thicker seat cushion.
Ms Etheridge concluded her article with this: “They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.”
That was beautifully said, poetically phrased, and lyrical even. Melissa Etheridge has a very good heart, among many other great qualities and huge talent.
The answer is still, and must remain, No. But Melissa? You tell him. (Bold face endearingly provided by The Daily Horse)