Matthew Shepard Act in RTD

Today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, guest columnists Dyana Mason (executive director of Equality Virginia) and Rick Sincere (president of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, and also an EV member) present pro and con arguments, respectively, regarding the Matthew Shepard Act currently before the Senate.

Here is the Rick Sincere column. He makes some philosophical arguments that will be familiar to regular readers of our comments. The Dyana Mason column is excerpted below. Because I happen to think she’s right, that’s why.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
July 7, 2007
By Dyana Mason

In 2000 a man walked into a gay bar in Roanoke and opened fire, wounding six people and killing one. He was angry for the lifelong teasing he had received because of his last name, Gay.

In 2002, two men attacked students entering a meeting of a gay student organization at Virginia Commonwealth University because, as reported by the Richmond Police chief, they had a dislike for “individuals who engage in alternative lifestyles . . . .”

In 2005, an 18-year old man was attacked and savagely beaten at a party in Suffolk because he was gay.

In 2006, a young man leaving a bar in Richmond was beaten, nearly to death, by assailants using anti-gay slurs.

These are just four examples of hate violence based on the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation in Virginia. But there have been many, many more instances of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Virginians. Most of them never make it into the daily papers, and many are never reported to the police or counted by the FBI in their hate crimes statistics.

A hate crime is not like any other crime. While a random act of violence against any individual is always a tragic event, violent crimes based on prejudice have a much stronger impact because they have the power to terrorize an entire community. When victims are targeted because of who they are, the intention is to “send a message” to others in that same group, intimidating and disenfranchising entire communities.


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10 Responses to Matthew Shepard Act in RTD

  1. Jack says:

    OK, I’m going to get one of my pet peeves off my chest here — the misuse of the word “tragic.”

    A tragedy is caused by one’s own faults, as in MacBeth and Othello. If you really think that a crime is a tragedy, then you are blaming the victim. Find another word — horrible, evil, despicable, etc., but “tragic” has specific implications, let’s not lose them by misusing it.

    As for the proposed Hate Crimes Bill, we have already discussed it at length here.

    To reiterate, it seems that such acts are already covered under “domestic terrorism,” assuming that the GLBT community is considered “a civilian population,” so the new bill is redundant.

  2. Rick Sincere says:

    Thanks for the link, but one minor correction: I am not a member of the Equality Virginia board. (If I am, nobody bothered to tell me about it.) I have worked with EV in the past on a number of issues. (I arranged for the Rasmussen poll on Virginia’s crimes against nature statute in 2001 or 2002, for instance.) And, of course, EV and I were on the same side last year in the campaign against the Marshall-Newman amendment.

  3. David says:

    Rick, I’m so sorry – I meant to say EV member. Thanks for catching that, I’ve made the correction.

  4. Jack says:

    Sorry, David, but you don’t have anywhere to comment on your July 4th parade. Congratulations, but what was the category? AGE 15+, or 15+ PEOPLE?

    BTW, looks like you won in Maryland: Tolerance Wins in Maryland

    No real surprise, considering the political makeup of Montgomery County, but I do think it deserves a post, since you posted on the subject before.

  5. David says:

    Thank you, Jack, very kind of you. I assumed it meant over age 15, but now that you mention it, it’s not really clear. There’s a new post up, comment away.

    Teach the Facts did indeed win in Maryland, and I just haven’t blogged it yet. Don’t I get a day of rest?

  6. Jack says:

    “No rest for the wicked, and the righteous don’t need any.” 🙂

  7. Jack says:

    Anyone know how to make that little devil happy face?

    Let’s see if this works: >:)