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yay, horrible nightmares of being chased by a serial murderer police…

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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mucha mosaic
yay, horrible nightmares of being chased by a serial murderer police captain. Lots of blood, lots of straightrazors, lots of huge men in blond wigs and beige dresses.
All in a parking structure.
Oh, and I was also an overweight middle-aged black man.

This may, however, be why my foot has been killing me in the mornings- jogging in your sleep is never comfortable.

Oh, and:

October 12, 1998

Six years ago today, Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual.

What will you do to end the silence?

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  • You know what? I really don't think I like this focus on, 'Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual'.

    Because you know what? He wasn't, not really. He was murdered because some people are very, very ignorant, and in a way, I think that's more important to focus on. The problem is, it's a lot more difficult to change. Laws won't necessarily change anyone's perceptions. Laws won't make people much less ignorant. Changing perception will make law change much easier, although ironically, it will likely be easier to change laws first and then use it as a base to change perceptions.

    Still. Something about the whole, 'he was murdered for being homosexual' rings uncomfortably to me. These sorts of people who murdered him, I bet they would have done it for other reasons given the chance. Any flimsy excuse would do. That just happened to be the excuse grabbed upon in that particular situation.
  • I disagree with you entirely.

    But it's probably not worth it to argue, especially as I have no idea who you are, even.

    • By all means, go ahead and argue. I won't take offense; I'd be interested in other people's opinions.

      I guess the way I see it is, how many people do you see attacked by your typical dumb fuck person for all sorts of things? For being gay. For being a prettyboy. For hitting on their girlfriend. For spilling their beer. For no goddamn reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time when these people were bruising for a fight.

      Something needs to be done about the sort of people, the sort of mentality, that would do this sort of shit. I think that would be more effecient that just trying to divert their attention from one particular target (although that's not really so much what I see with Matthew, he's more been elevated to a poster child for gay rights in general). Remove the people/mentality who would do this sort of thing, fullstop, and you will reduce the amount of homosexuals being attacked-- as well as the amount of people being attacked in general. Fighting the problem, not the symptom.
      • Have you been to middle America before?
        • Nope. I'm not even American. Of course, depending precisely what you are intending to imply with that, ignorant people and cultures that pander to an ignorant majority are everywhere (although I'll admit, America is something of a world-wide poster child for Stupid Shit).

          Note where I say that changing laws is usually easier than changing perceptions. I understand that it's likely near impossible to ever change that sort of ignorant culture. But that is still while I find the, 'murdered for being homosexual' bugs me a little, because I think it is, to some degree, misdirection that focuses away from the bigger problem.

          Still, whatever it takes to do what can be done, you know?
          • You are making a point that the impulse to harm or kill someone is omnipresent, and may express itself in a variety of ways.

            One thing you fail to mention is that there are societal statements which designate certain people as being appropriate targets.

            It's very rare to find a straight, white football-playing jock beaten up because he's a straight, white football-playing jock. It's sadly all too common to find a man beaten and left to die because he's gay. Or another man (a football player!) stabbed with an ice pick because he's black. Or a woman beaten to death because she's transgendered.

            Combatting the violence in the abstract fails to account for the fact that (a) people are chosen a targets because of particular qualities about them, and (b) these attacks don't only cause harm to the people directly attacked, but also to the community which shares those targetted characteristics.

            • Which is actually basically what I'm trying to say. That perceptions need to be changed. 'Matthew was killed because he was gay' is a very simplistic statement. This makes it a good catch-phrase, and catch-phrases are good in protests and attempting to change perceptions. But I do not like the simplistic focus of this particular catch-phrase, although all my own justifying has done me the disservice of giving the perception this bothers me more than it really does.

              The thing about simplistic catch-phrases is they're necessary. Much easier to tout, 'Matthew was killed because he was gay' than, 'Matthew and many other people were killed because we live in a society that promotes violence and discrimination against minority factions considered against society norms'.

              But still, I think what makes this phrase instinctively irk me is that it places the homosexuality as the focus, and can be percieved to place the blame on his homosexuality. 'I fell over because I tripped on the curb' 'George Bush is a bad president because he's an idiot' 'Alcohol is bad for you because it is a poison' 'Matthew was killed because he was gay'. Now, the thing about this catch-phrase is that if you're a relatively smart person, you will comprehend the deeper meaning-- which is, Matthew did not deserve to die because he was gay, which makes the situation an atrocious one. But the people who think that are, by and large, in my opinion not the people who really need to be targeted (except to get them more active in protesting these things).

              It is the people who would see that simplistic phrase and think, "Damn right he was, now let's string up the rest of the faggots too," that need to be targeted, because the focus should not be on his homosexuality. It should be on how society treats those who are different.

              I am not very good at expressing my thoughts eloquently or especially clearly, unfortunately. I do hope this kinda gets across what I'm getting at, though.
              • I disagree. The statement "Matthew was killed because he was gay" brings the point home clearly to the people we really need to reach, middle America who denies that there's any problem that needs addressing.

                The fag-haters are going to kill fags no matter what we do. They are disease that needs to be excised from civilized society. But we won't change their minds with our LJ posts.

                The people who will change their minds are the huge mushy middle. They need to realize what is going on, and that it can happen to their sons, daughters, friends, co-workers. They need to be mobilized against the forces of hate.

                • Full agreement. I merely do not think that particular phrase will do it, and that particular phrase irks me.

                  We're all on the same team here, just a difference of opinions about the best way to go about it. But as long as something is bring done and things are getting achieved (even something as minor as a show of support among those already behind it), I'm all for it. Even that catch-phrase. :)
                  • Hmmn. What about putting it this way:

                    Matthew was killed because he was homosexual. Gwen was killed because she was transsexual. Billy was killed because he was black.

                    See, one thing I like about the approach that's taken to Shepard's death is that it's emphatically humanizing. Matthew Shepard's not just some kid out in the middle of nowhere that nobody knows about- he was a real person, and that's what makes it come home to people. We should be looking for other victims of hate crimes to put alongside him, in my view.
  • So if he'd been a straight guy, he would have been beaten senseless and tied to a fence to die?
    I think you're making a somewhat erroneous assumption.
    • Are you honestly telling me you have never ever read about something like this happening to a straight person? You've never read of brutal attacks or murders happening by a group of dipshit thugs to a straight person?

      I don't personally know the people who attacked Matthew. Perhaps they were otherwise upstanding citizens who would never have attacked a person except for the fact he was gay. But you know what? I bet they were just fucking morons who decided that being homosexual was a crime bad enough to beat someone to death for.

      Which is the problem. Not that Matthew was gay. That people think that anything like that is a reason to beat a person for. I'm not trying to belittle the guy's death here. Or the death of any other homosexual. It was appalling, straight up. But I still think the focus is wrong, when you take into account the amount of non-homosexuals who are killed in situations like this as well.

      Look, this probably wasn't the ideal medium to bring it up, ranting away in someone's comments section who obviously has their own strong feelings on the issue. So sorry about that.
      • we're on much the same page, really.

        I agree that the problem is not that Matthew was gay but that society regularly lets people qualify as not criminally insane for finding that a reason for harassing someone- or beating them- or murdering them. The problem that needs to be addressed is not that Matthew Shepard got murdered, but that we don't seem to have learned anything from that.
        • It's About the Empathy

          What scares me is how many people never even heard of him. This issue is complex. I absolutely believe that we need to change society so that everybody knows it's not okay to hate someone for being different. (Believe me, I work at this on a small scale just aboout every day I go to work.) The thing is, that we do need symbols of what hate does in the meantime. We need to put a face on the people who are brutally murdered for the most stupid of reasons.

          This is why it's important to learn about the families of the homeless women killed on I-5 a few years ago, we need to remind people that the victims are human, real people we might have known or loved before their lives fell apart and some idiots killed them for kicks. Otherwise people tend to think, "Oh. it was just some homeless woman who doesn't matter."

          This is why we highlight the lives of individual Holocaust victims and murdered civil rights activists. Because we want our students to think of people of other colors and/or backgrounds as human beings.

          It is easy to hurt, enslave, torture, kill, etc. people who have been dehumanized. It is much harder for ordinary people to do this to someone we know or care about. The hope is that people will remember the ones they've come to know when it comes to be their choice to do evil or do the decent thing.

          This is why Matthew Shepard's life and death are important. Because he was easy to like. Because middle Americans could imagine he was their own son, and it made them pause and think a bit.

          No it's not enough. It's horrible that he died. It's horrible the Billy Bob Gaither, and the brave transexual Navaho kid, and all those others died. I would rather that each and everyone lived full lives. But each time we make ordinary people notice that it was a real person with a family that loved him/her who died, we spark the seeds of empathy.

          It's empathy that prevents violence, and to teach empathy for people from other groups, you have to make members of that group real to the haters. You also have to convince society at large that hating and violence against other people is always wrong. Symbols help us caring that message. It's not perfect, but I haven't thought of a better way yet.
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