Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Gay panic" is not a defense.

In this long overdue post, I once again break my online silence by being stirred to words.  For those of you that are reading this, if any of you aren't aware, a 15 year old boy named Larry King was shot in school by one of his classmates, Brandon McInerny, for being gay.  While prosecutors are trying to show McInerny for what he really is--a violent, homophobic, white supremacist--the defense claims that McInerny was merely pushed too far by the unwanted advances of King.  It is the typical "gay panic defense" which has come to the aide of many gay bashers and murderers over the years.

The fact that the "gay panic defense" is even an admissible play in a court of law, the fact that lawyers will use it, judges will permit it, and jurors will consider it implies that it is acceptable to murder a homosexual for hitting on you if you are heterosexual.  Granted, there are many judges that will not permit such a defense.  For instance, Judge Voigt barred the defense counsel from using the gay panic defense in the murder of Matthew Shepard, instead allowing them the option of "temporary insanity."  This implies that when a homosexual hits on a heterosexual it can make them legally crazy enough to justify homicide.  Either way, the end result is the same--an unwanted advance by a homosexual towards a heterosexual deserves death.

Consider for a moment, if the same standard were applies to all cases of unwanted advances.  There would hardly be a living soul left on this planet, because who hasn't been turned down or turned someone down--for whatever reason--at least once?  This reminds me of a story, two stories, but they are really the same story.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who fell madly in love with me.  Out of no intentional disrespect to the girl, I must emphasize the madness.  She stalked me, chased me, obsessed over me beyond the levels of appropriate comfort.  It wouldn't be another couple years before I made my grand exodus from the closet, but suffice to say I was window shopping by that point.  Did I murder this girl?  Heavens no.  I was, ultimately, very unkind to her in my final rejection after all manner of niceties had failed.  Should she be reading this now, consider this my formal apology, as I don't feel I ever did say sorry for being quite so harsh.  (We did, however, have a friendship after all was said and done.)  Suffice to say, however, I did not kill her.

My senior year, when my flame burned perhaps its brightest ever, a freshmen girl laid eyes upon me and also fell madly in love with me.  I must again emphasize the madness as it was much like before.  There were the mysterious notes appearing a variety of unusual places, the groups of friends talking to me on her behalf, and so on.  This time, however, as I thought everyone within a good shouting distance was well versed in the knowledge of my homosexuality, the madness seemed a bit more mad.  This girl received a very nice letter from me which explained the situation, but there was also a touch of cruelty.  She, and the situation, were lampooned by our school improv team.  I did feel somewhat bad afterwards, and would hereby apologize, but apparently she knew the score from the get go and thought she was going to change me and I must interject maybe I wasn't born a gay, but I was certainly born again gay when I saw Miss Carol Channing live on stage for the very first time as a young child and there is nothing that the therapist my parents sent me to, heaps of denial, self-destructive behavior, or even some hyper-sexual teen tramp could do to change that.  Despite all that, I did not kill her. 

Would I have been justified in killing these girls?  Could I argue that the forceful attempts to persuade me to play for the "right team" that therefore called my sexuality, my identity into question were enough to drive me into a justifiable, homicidal rage? Is a homosexuality identity something to sacred that it warrants violent defense from unwanted heterosexuals?  Or am I to understand the homosexual identity is something so terrible and the heterosexual identity so sacred that for the former to threaten the latter is a capital offense?

If the most flamboyant, homosexual boy walks up to the most masculine, heterosexual boy and plants a big kiss on his cheek or grabs his ass, it is clearly sexual harassment--much if the roles were a boy and a girl, a girl and a girl, a girl and a boy, or even two gay boys--but murder should never be a legally permissible response, and as long as it is, US Society condones and encourages the murder of homosexuals for making unwanted advances towards heterosexuals.

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