Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gay Bashing: Far from Over

Things are better.

I remember when, as I was first coming out or not long after, Q Patrol (a LGBT-oriented "Guardian Angels" type group was founded in Seattle). And when it faded into history.

Things are better.

I remember reading of the common place violence, institutional and individual (and the widespread systematic and personalized discrimination and harassment) my predecessors in the LGBT community suffered to a far greater degree than I or any of my successors (who have had it yet better than I) have had to tolerate.

Things are better.

I am blessed with history to instruct me. Courtesy of those gone before, I am allowed to remember by proxy the burgeoning LGBT culture and openness of pre-Nazi Germany. I am allowed to understand that every shred of progress we have made stands on a foundation made of sand and hope, and every victory for freedom and individuality is potentially transitory - subject to the winds of economics, social whimsy, and fear. The battle never ends.

Things are better.

I am, unless I wish to distance myself from reality far more thoroughly than either Neville Chamberlain or Nancy Pelosi, forced to admit that things are far from perfect. That gay bashing still takes place, and that crosses still burn. And that cops, regardless of any special nobility or unique lack thereof, are merely human - that barring miraculous events, they get to show up with a mop, a notebook, and investigative tools...but can't make murder or assault somehow "un-happen"; that even hopes of prevention are wildly optimistic.

We are each responsible for making the choices necessary to guard our own safety, based on our own personal ethos, priorities, and in accordance with local legal conditions. Once we've made those choices, we need to take responsibility for them and at least admit them to ourselves - and allow others to make their own, similar, choices.

My own fundamental guide in such matters is the notion that it is, under any normal circumstances, morally wrong to initiate the aggressive use of force against another person. That it is sufficiently wrong as to justify the application of the defensive use of force up to and including lethal force. Others mileage may vary. I also observe that very few principals stand in isolation.

I could wish that more members of the LGBT community seriously re-examine the prevalent views regarding self-defense and the tools thereof in the community. Being vulnerable hasn't, in my opinion, proven a really winning strategy for us - and it seems unreasonable to assume demanding others become vulnerable to the little inequalities of nature and numbers will improve the safety of either thus or those we would strip of extant civil rights.

Yet, things are better.

I write this after local hair dresser and pillar of the local Filipino community Danny Vega has died, subsequent to being beaten into a coma by three young assailants yet to be apprehended.

Most believe that Vega, as a visibly identifiable gay man, was assaulted in the course of a hate crime - a gay bashing. One that, now, includes his murder - his death from injuries his assailants inflicted.

Things are better. But they still sometimes suck. And this is certainly one of those times. Much remains to be done.

My condolences to the family and Mr. Vega's friends and admirers.

To the rest of the community? As individuals, examine how you think about your safety. Look at how well your assumptions stand up to reality. And consider learning some form of self-defense - something that will let you have a fighting chance versus 3:1 odds...even if you're 5'2", or with medically fouled-up body strength, or with asthma such that "run away, run away" isn't a valid option.

Not only does each LGBT person that becomes a "hard" or "dangerous" target (i.e., bad things are fairly likely to immediately and violently happen to those that attempt assault upon them) have a better chance of going home with roughly the same number of pieces they showed up with in the event of proposed mischief - but each time an assault on an LGBT person fails, disastrously, for the assailant(s) it works to shatter the meme that we are a populace safe to assault.

When, after all, was the last time you heard of a bunch of bigots gathering together to beat the crud out of a Blood, a Crip, a Hells Angel, or a uniformed cop? Bigotry rests on a foundation of cowardice, and is seldom eager to tangle with targets that - at a physical and effective level - fight back, and fight back in ways that may exact a terrible price from the assailant.

Things are better. We need to work to make them better yet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The targets, they hang so low...

In regards to this article that I stumbled across and left the comment below


First, as shown in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales ( ), neither Bellingham PD nor any other PD/LELinkO have any specific duty to protect and serve.

Second, if we're going to enforce the law...let's enforce the law. At the same time this alleged bozo (I, too, am curious about *actual* violation of statute or ordinance - or, likely, lack thereof) is subject to potential arrest (assuming one can make probable cause, etc)so, too, are the protesters unlawfully occupying property in violation of local ordinance.

Waving a *protest this* sign is not, and should not, be a get out of jail/trouble/harsh words free card.

To advocate otherwise is simply intellectual cowardice and a betrayal of the principles of protest - a willingness to take the legal consequences for your actions is fundamental to peaceful protest.

It is possible to protest *within* the law. If you are going to go outside the law, be ready to accept the consequences - they await you. Don't whine, you made a *choice* - with predictable results.

If you take it to the next level, and get violent about your protest du jour, don't be surprised if folks return the Col. Jeff Cooper once said regarding an interview on the subject "...asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."

Similarly, if you break the law...and you have somehow garnered political allies (or a group of politically powerful that find your misbehavior useful) that coerce an ethical police department into not performing their sworn duty...don't be terribly surprised if you get treated to a white mutiny - an absolute lack of any initiative to aid or assist you, and then only if directly ordered, and finally, then performing the absolute minimum to fulfill the *precise* letter of the order (at best. There are so MANY ways to misinterpret an order with just a bit of imagination).

So. Have fun out there reaping what you sow.