Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Hate-crime/Murder You Don't Remember

Gay Flag[Shamelessly recycled from a few years ago.]

Matthew Shepard
and Laurence King you have heard of, (do you remember who they were?) but my guess is that you haven't heard of Ryan Keith Skipper. Or if you have, you don't remember him. Loved ones say young man's killing reflects difficult life gays face in Polk --
In the after-midnight darkness of March 14, 2007, the blood of 25-year-old Ryan Keith Skipper soaked into the soft dirt as his killers drove away in his new Chevy Aveo.
. . .
Skipper's car was found 12 miles from his body on a boat ramp to Lake Pansy in Winter Haven, abandoned and partially burned. The two young men later arrested in his murder were charged with committing a hate crime because they told witnesses Skipper was targeted for being a homosexual.
Targeted because of who he was.

Now since Florida is a death penalty state, I am not sure what more they can do besides seek the death penalty, but then given the SCOTUS take on the death penalty maybe the hate crime aspect is needed to put the case into the death-penalty category. (Not every murder can result in a death penalty case, it must be "special" in some way, according to my understanding of some SCOTUS ruling.)

The sheriff, Grady Judd, in this case libeled/slandered the dead man, accused him of being on drugs and cruising for anonymous sex. When it turned out he was wrong, he refused to apologize to anyone.
A Sheriff's Office spokesman later said there was no indication Skipper was involved in any illegal activity, but the sheriff has refused to meet with the family or respond to their requests for an apology.
Why should he feel bad about talking trash about a gay man after all? This is emblematic of the way police see gays and lesbians. They don't believe we deserve the same kind of respect, or justice, that the rest of the population gets. Is it getting better? Sure. Is there a long way to go? You bet.

The general feeling in that part of Florida is that as long as gays hide they are OK. Come out into the open, however, and you basically deserve whatever happens.
[R]esidents say gays are generally accepted in Polk County as long as they don't rub it in anyone's face.

"Just as long as you're hiding, you're OK. You learn that's what you have to do," said Kristy Alexander, a lesbian who lives in Polk County.

Skipper didn't hide well enough. His friends and roommates say Skipper was harassed for years leading up to his killing. On several occasions, he was called derogatory names, pelted with oranges and beaten up because he was gay.
The Right, the Republicans, love to claim that gays and lesbians want "special rights." That is bullshit, plain and simple. Living your life without being attacked for who you are isn't a special right. Being open about friends and loved ones, isn't a special right. How many of you have photos of your wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends at work, in your wallet, wherever. If a gay did that they would be "flaunting" their sexuality, but when a straight does it, it is just a celebration of life and love. Funny how the double standard works, isn't it? It isn't about special rights. It has never been about special rights. That is the line the Right uses to mask their bigotry. After all, who wouldn't be opposed to "special rights?"

The issue is tolerance. Acceptance would be nice, and I get that from a lot of people, but it would be nice if the rest of you, the ones who can't accept us, would tolerate us - that means don't attack us. Of course if you attack ME, you might get a bit of a surprise when you see my response.

There is documentary, Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper. When the culture warriors get wound up and claim that gays and lesbians are the source of all the problems with straight marriage, or with whatever they are going on about today, they breed an environment of hate, and violence. And the result? People are killed, and the police don't really seem to care.

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