Also, Friday is the 30th anniversary of the White Night riots which occurred after Dan White's voluntary manslaughter verdict in his trial after he shot and killed Harvey Milk.
The gay community is sort of in an emotional quandary, and with states like Iowa allowing marriage (that is not a slight to Iowa), if their state does not, Californians will feel left at the alter. So let's see what happens tomorrow. (There's also that emotionally charged event, the announcement of the next American Idol, tonight, and the gay community will certainly feel cheated if Adam does not win, because as talented as Kris might be, Adam beats him handily.)
Gays with guns. The gay community in Bessemer is in a quandary, too. All of the gay people I know in Bessemer are peaceful folks. But every gay person I have spoken to about the subject has said they are getting or have gotten a gun.
The chief of police spoke to the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association last night about public safety after receiving a "well written letter" from the group regarding a recent crime and the police response to it, and we appreciate the chief taking the time to meet with us. During this crime, a gay person was abducted from his home, threatened to be burned in his car, taunted at gunpoint, and told by the abductors that they didn't want "whites or faggots" in the area. He escaped when the thugs stopped at a gas station. The thugs have not been caught.
The point was brought up that prior to September 11, 2001, if someone were kidnapped from their home or abducted off the street, the term "terrorism" was often used in describing the crime. The question was then asked if an abduction was still viewed as an act of terror, in view of the events of 9-11.
The chief said "no." I understand his explanation, but I disagree with it. He said that if the intent was to instill fear in the community, or a certain group in the community, then it would be an act of terrorism. But since he has heard no other threats to the gay community (or white community) and no other incidents have taken place, it was not an act of terrorism. He said the threat was made to intimidate the victim, but there was no indication that there would be followup crimes toward others. I understand what he means, because if the victim had not survived, the threat would have never been known.
Here is where I disagree. The threat was made and reported. Even if we had never heard about it, it shows that the attitude is out there. The thugs are out there, and their like minded friends are out there. The gay community is under threat.
Let's compare it to terrorism as it is viewed today. 9-11 occurred. We quickly learned that Al-Qaeda was responsible. We didn't have to wait until another terrorist attack before we began efforts to combat the terrorist attitudes that turned out to be more widespread than we initially thought. Now that is over simplified, I know, but its just an example.
Now, terrorism is often thought of in these broad terms. But "lone wolf" terrorism is also recognized. Timothy McVeigh is the prime example, but Eric Rudolph (who was anti-gay) is also included in that category. While the Bessemer thugs have not (yet) staged anything of the magnitude of those lone wolves, their attitude is the same: rid the area of people they don't like. And the knowledge that there are people out there with such feelings who are not afraid to act on them is what makes this an act of terror.
So, we don't have to wait until another gay person is abducted or killed to realize that we are under threat. And that, to some, is terror.