Hate Crimes In America

.. the road (http://www.ncf.carleton.ca:12345/freeport/sigs/li fe/gay/out/menu). After years of extensive testing it was voted that homosexuality was in fact not a disorder, but a natural condition that may even be in place from birth onwards (http://www.ncf.carleton.ca:12345/freeport/sigs/li fe/gay/out/menu). Today many people still disagree with this fact. Arguments are pitted against this defense with the idea that homosexuality appears unnatural, a lot of people say that physically, Its just all wrong.

People were made a certain way, and people fit together certain ways and that is just how it is. Gays and lesbians are often shrugged off as a victim because many people feel that there is a decision involved with it, a choice to be gay. Frankly, that is like asking to be hunted. If it were a choice between being normal and being unnatural you would think that most people would choose to be normal, if for nothing more than their well being. It is not a choice.

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When it comes to hate crimes against homosexuals it is generally a different group of people. There are hate groups, which frown upon homosexuality just as much as they frown upon different races. Where it gets tricky is that gays are not born with a stamp on their head reading, Hello, my name is and Im gay. This makes it somewhat more difficult to distinguish people who are gay from people who seem gay. Homosexuals are often referred to as the invisible minority because of their ability to blend.

There are some exceptions, as seen with the classic flamer. A flamer is a person who is positively bursting with gay pride, they go to the marches, they are not afraid of public displays of affection. The first symbol you see when you think flamer is of the stereotypical gay male with make up and nail polish, wearing outlandish and far too feminine clothes for his own good. That would strike most people as being in monstrously obnoxious, it is loud and in your face. There are not many heterosexuals who walk around with straight pride patches sewn to their clothes or bags.

So, the idea of a flamer is a very negative image for gay people. Even people who are gay find flamers to be offensive to an extent, it is one thing to be proud and it is another thing entirely to be egotistical about it. This derogatory view of homosexuals sets up a social stigma. If you are gay, your queerno pun intended. Youre supposed to stick out in the crowd, and always be making romantic passes at people where they are never, ever wanted.

Some men feel threatened, perhaps just for their masculinitys sake, and can become hostile when there is a miscommunication between himself and a homosexual. Sometimes there are a few short, heated words and then its over, both parties a little wiser. In other cases things can fall drastically out of hand. Almost everyone has heard of Matthew Shepard. Not more than a few years ago his death sparked the topic of hate crimes to blazing flames and pushed the gay rights movement back into full swing.

On October 6th, 1998 Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson killed Matthew Shepard (Hammer, p. 40-41). On that night McKinney and Henderson found Shepard at a bar, the Fireside Lounge in downtown Laramie, Wyoming. They lured him into their truck, and drove off (Hammer, p. 40-41).

After having driven for some time McKinney allegedly said, Were not gay and youre going to get jacked. He proceeded to rob Shepard of $20 and hit him repeatedly with a .357-caliber magnum pistol before taking him to a fence line on the eastern edge of town (Hammer, p. 40-41). Henderson tied Shepard to a post and McKinney beat him again (Hammer, p. 40-41). Shepard remained tied to the fence, unconscious, for 18 hours in subfreezing temperatures before a mountain biker discovered him (Hammer, p.

40-41). He died five days later (Hammer, p. 40-41). In his trial, McKinney claimed, what was later dubbed, the gay panic defense. He stated that a set of emotions from an early experience with a homosexual molestation as a child had been triggered by Shepards flirtatious actions (Hammer, p.

40-41). When his emotional flood gate collapsed he went into a rage and beat Shepard senseless. Yes, his memories of a childhood assault do matter, but if this could be an excuse for man slaughter then why not for everyone? Could women kill their dates if they tried to go too far? Could not someone making unwanted advances be beaten, just because? Most people would not agree, and neither did the judge. McKinney did end up being convicted and having to serve time in prison; the trial is currently being appealed. Matthew Shepard became a variety of martyr for gay rights activists all over the country, dragging the issue out over and over again in an effort to emphasize the seriousness of hate crimes. Episodes similar to the Shepard case have been seen before, numerous times in fact. Why was this one more highly publicized? Perhaps it was just the timing, people were looking for ways to advocate laws against hate crimes and for gay rights.

Other gays have died, been assaulted, had their homes vandalized, and been harassed in many ways without much in the way of media frenzy. Occasionally it is over looked that there are other sides to the laws regarding sexual orientation. Not only are gay men attacked, but lesbians and trans-gendered peoples. What threat do lesbians serve against heterosexuals? None really, but there are still people who believe that different is wrong, and they feel that its a direct insult on them, and people like them, when someone just has to be different. Most attacks against lesbians occur from group assaults. More often than not, a publicly gay couple will be singled out, followed and then trapped by a group of young men, and occasionally there are women as well.

In these instances the most common form of crime would be physical assault and rape, whether it be forced sex with a male and a female victim or with another female of the opposing group (http://www.fbi.gov/vcr.htm). Incidents like those are what make being a homosexual, or even a bisexual for that matter, a very difficult thing to deal with. Many people have no ability to come to terms with their feelings simply out of fear alone. Since the mid 1900s there has been an increasing amount of acceptance of homosexuality. There are organizations that worry about whether gays are actually stable as people. Reports are published stating that gays are always from broken homes, that they carry more diseases than a heterosexual does, that they target children and molest them, and that a children should never be raised in a same sex marriage (http://www.frc.org/net/index.html).

None of it is founded, or proven, but these organizations defend the idea of family valueseven if they do not attack single parent homes, or divorce (http://www.frc.org/net/index.html). In small town atmospheres where rumors can fly, and opinions do not vary much, there is a very high risk of attack. Normally, in larger cities, the risk is decreased due to the general size and variety of people living in the city. It is not always heterosexuals that commit hate crimes of sexual orientation. In the definition of sexual orientation, the implied meaning is of all possible combinations, including heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender. The trans-gender section is something that can confuse people, and is looked down upon, in some cases, by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Trans-gendered would refer to transsexuals, having had some type of body altering surgery, or, transvestites, dressing and modifying ones appearance enough to be somewhat of a gender bender.

These people can truly become outcasts. The idea of wanting to be, or act, so much like the opposite sex that you would change the way you look or the way youre built, is not welcome in many places. Some would think that homosexuals would welcome this because they are looking for the same type of acceptance. Although this can be accepted, there are times when it is looked at as being a traitor. Not all homosexuals think this way about the trans-gendered; very few would find anything wrong with it. The idea is not a war of hetero Vs.

homo, but some view it this way and anyone who tries to stand on the line can be shot down. In the category of sexually oriented hate crimes, it is homosexuals and lesbians that take the worst beating but there are other sides to the story that should be acknowledged. The lack of acceptance from one side to another is unsettling. People are fickle. One day something is completely intolerable, and the next day someone raises their hand and asks, Why? Sometimes there are answers, they do not always make sense and then the other people start to worry. Lines are drawn, sides are picked, and there we stand man verses man, woman verses woman..human verses human.

Everyone knows that they are right, and the other is simply mislead, or ignorant. Somehow we must be better, they are different from us and they must beno, they are mistaken. It is this point that has plagued man for centuries, and every new century we find ourselves a little wiser after all the hurt. Wars are fought over religions, and human rights, and things that should not be taken for granted, but usually are. In one year, 1995, there were a total of 7,144 acts of hatred committed by a human being against another human being.

In reality, there were more than that. Not everyone speaks out when it happens; not everyone reports it. They sit, it scars them forever, and theyre afraid to tell anyone. The fear can come from shame, or spite, or self-loathing. As a people we need to understand that life, and people, are precious.

Everyoneyou, me, the next door neighbors, the man you never met who lives half way around the worldeven if he wo not give you the time of dayare all important. Differences make us unique; they build character. How exciting would life be if everyone lived in the three bedroom home, with 2.5 kids, a dog, a cat and a green lawn to mow on Sundays? Insanity would break out, followed by housewives attacking people with their hedge clippers and children trying to put kitties into the microwavesjust for a change of pace. As a race we seem enlightened, but what we need to work on is the appreciation of diversity in people. Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY Biskup, Michael D. ed. And Charles P.

Cozic ed. Youth Violence. California: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1992 Gaynor, Elisabeth Ellis, Anthony Esler, and Burton F. Beers. Prentice Hall World History: Connections to Today. New Jersey: Simon & Schuster Education Group, 1997. Hammer, Joshua.

The Gay Panic Defense. Newsweek 8 November 1999: 40-41 Almanac of World Facts. Newsweek. 1997 New American Bible. National Conference of Catholic Bishops / United States Catholic Conference. Genesis 1-14, 1991 ed. http://www.civilrights.org/kef/hate/, Cause for Concern, Hate Crimes in America http://sociology.ucdavis.edu/classes/grattetHate Crimes Class Site/Hate Groups.html, The Historical Roots of Contemporary Hate Groups by Regan Love http://www.fbi.gov/vcr.htm, Hate Crime Statistics `95 http://www.frc.org/net/index.html, Hope for Homosexuality: Straight Talk from the Family Research Council http://www.frc.org/culture/cu99el.html, Culture Facts: May 5, 1999 http://www.kkk.com, The Official Website of the Ku Klux Klan http://www.ncf.carleton.ca:12345/freeport/sigs/lif e/gay/out/menu, Lesbian and Gay Youth Coming Out Ethics and Morals.