I was firing up my Wii the other night, and noticed the story on my Wii News Channel. Normally I don’t get my information from my Wii (or think with my… never mind) but I was interested in this particular story, so I clicked on it. For the most part it was a rehashing of the basic facts of the case, but their conclusion kind of pissed me off. I don’t have access to it any more, so I can’t put the exact wording, but it was something like this:
“Incidents such as these demonstrate the dangers lurking in the Internet and social networking sites.”…The fuck?
That likes saying “Bananas are dangerous because the can be used to plug up the tailpipes of cars!” That’s an absolutely absurd conclusion to draw form this story! The Internet, and social networking sites are TOOLS. Now ANY tool can be misused for ill purpose. Duh. Obvious. Hardly a newsworthy story here. What it SHOULD show us are the dangers of homophobia. The dangers of ignorance. The dangers of intolerance and bigotry. It SHOULD show us what a lousy job we’re doing instilling our children with moral values such as respecting other people’s privacy. And this is absolutely all about this student being gay, because if he was with a girl, this wouldn’t have happened. But GOD FORBID we put out a news story that is remotely supportive of treating homosexuals like HUMAN BEINGS. That might buy into the radical GAY AGENDA. (…to be treated like human beings. What nut jobs, huh?)
Who’d have thought that my Wii was Conservatively biased?
Speaking of which… what’s with THIS douchbag? How much sympathy? The guys DEAD, asshole! Less than you deserve apparently, should your life be turned upside down, your privacy invaded, your trust violated, and your private affairs used as comedic fodder for those around you, and around the world. Hey, here’s an experiment… Let’s beat this guy to death, and see how much sympathy that generates! Hey… then at least we’d know, right?
Now, having said all that and establishing where I stand on the issue overall, I want to put out a question that I think and hope will generate some thoughtful debate:
Was this a HATE CRIME?
Personally, I’d have no problem with these two being changed with anything up to involuntary manslaughter, because their actions did, absolutely, lead to this man’s death. Unintentionally, yes. I’ll buy that. But there was, at a minimum, a tort being committed, if not a crime: Invasion of privacy. So, in my mind, I can see throwing some rather severe penalties at these two, because their behavior was absolutely unacceptable. No question.
But was it a hate crime?
Believe it or not, and while I may be accused of splitting hairs here, I say, “No.”
My reasoning, is that I think of hate crimes in a very specific way. They have everything to do with the MOTIVES behind a crime, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with hate specifically. That and I don’t think these two really HATED this guy, or gays in general. As little sympathy as I give them legally, this WAS really just a [despicable] college prank gone fantastically, horribly wrong. The MOTIVATION that I need to see to consider something a hate crime is this: Are they trying to send a message to the rest of the [whatever] community?
If they had set his car on fire? Slashed his tires? Beat him to a pulp, while wearing hoods? (Etc, etc…) THAT’S a hate crime, because it’s meant to send a message, a threat, to the rest of the community. And as much as I despise these two, I just don’t see that here. It may be a minor point, but I think it’s an important question; especially if we expect “hate crime” to carry the kind of weight that “terrorism” (essentially the same crime) carries when someone on the Right makes that claim.
Personally? I see this as a crime of IGNORANCE. And I think it shows how much better of a job we need to do to teach people (children) not only tolerance, but a basic respect for boundaries! If these same two had put a web-cam in the girl’s bathroom, there would be people calling for rape charges. But instead they spy on a gay student, and there’s a debate as to whether or not there’s even a crime here. And my Wii seems to think that the danger lies in the Internet and Social Networking!
That sickens me. Because there is no doubt in my mind that if this student were not gay, (1) he wouldn’t have been harassed like this, and (2) if he was, the public would clearly be putting the spotlight of guilt on the other two students, not piddling about, debating whether of not there’s been a crime committed.
But please let me know your thoughts. Especially on whether or not this is a HATE CRIME. Because I had heard that allegation raised, and I really wasn't quite sure what I really thought about it. So I'm interested to hear your all's thoughts about it.