Friday, January 30, 2009

Violence is Violence

More than 400 people marched in support of local resident Kristen Boyne following her recent brutal beating. Boyne is a lesbian, and the two men who beat her used that as an excuse for their inexcusable behavior.

I think it's great that so many people in Uptown - and beyond - showed up to make the statement that we should be able to walk Uptown's streets, regardless of time of day or sexual orientation. What bugs me is that constant talk about this as a hate crime. I have mixed feelings about hate crimes; isn't a crime a crime? There may be times when it is appropriate to label something a hate crime. Someone who was systematically terrorizing a particular group of people to make a point would fall into that category. A team of men who roam the streets looking for lesbians (actual or just perceived) could fit into that definition. But two men who brutally beat a woman because she was out on the street? Like I said in an earlier post, the anti-lesbian aspect of this is the least of my worries. Who's to say that they would have just as happily beaten any unfortunate person who crossed their path? It's not like those of us who aren't lesbians can just breath a big sigh of relief because we're off the hook and wouldn't be bothered by these kind of thugs. Violence is violence, and the kind of people who would do something like this aren't going to be models of citizenship in the non-homophobic parts of their lives.

Discriminating against someone based on their sexual identity, let alone beating them, is, of course, completely unacceptable. That's not the point. The point is that EVERYONE should be able to walk the streets at night without being mugged, raped, beaten, murdered, hit on the head, or harassed in any shape or form. That does appear to be the main point of the march, at least, but the hate crime aspect does at times overtake the more basic issue of safe streets for all.

Some other questions: I've read that Boyne herself called 911 (or possibly a friend who then called 911 on her behalf) from her cell phone after awaking post-attack. If this is true, then one of the most troubling parts of this whole situation is that someone could be beaten brutally on a busy street in an urban area without anyone noticing. That scares me more than anything. Random, violent crime can happen anywhere, and even if we can't prevent horrible things from happening we should at least be able to respond to it quickly. We owe it to the victims.

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