Newt In A Tea Cup











When I’m at home I tend to hole up in my room with my computer and enjoy the role of serial lurker. Socialising with my parents whilst they watch CSI and it’s numerous tedious clone-shows every single night isn’t exactly my thing. As a result when I’m told my mother “wants to speak to me” it tends to be along the lines of “You need to clean up this mess” and…. no, just “you need to clean up this mess.” Oh, and last night we had “your aunt is about six months pregnant with her fifth child” which was unusual in of itself because last time I didn’t find out she was expecting until after the birth. And if my sister is reading this, no, I’m not joking and let me guess; the parental units forgot to inform you as well?

Tonight she called me over have a what I just read in the papers discussions. It was a talk of the “guy in our town convicted to 14 years in jail for rape and he used to work in your school” variety. “Do you know this guy- he taught was a black belt karate teacher in your high school’s sport centre? The rapes took place between 2004 and 2006- you left high school in 2005… The girl is two years younger at sixteen, she’d be what… 13 when it started… and you’d have been starting your GCSEs.”

No, I don’t know who it was. Yes, I’m happy he’s in jail and I’m so glad the entire courtroom is said to have gone into a standing ovation when he was sentenced. Look, it’s obscene he claimed the girls family planted used condoms with DNA evidence around his house. I know they didn’t buy it this time but you wouldn’t believe what you can get away with… Oh, my god not only did he threaten this guy who overheard him boasting about it but he forced people to watch him doing the crime?

I’m going to go to bed now and pray that all rapists can be put behind bars this Christmas.

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{November 21, 2007}   Miss… Landmine?

Is a beauty competition ever feminist? That’s a valid question. Well, here’s a bit of subversion.

It’s Miss Landmine!

Not only are all the women survivors of a landmine explosion but they clearly wouldn’t be even considered as beauty pageant candidates even without the accidents. One candidate is heavily pregnant. Most have several children. Most aren’t the “ideal” weight. Few of them have jobs and those that do are working for, what is obviously, a pittance. Note the number of them that cite “anything” as their dream job. That’s quite humbling and a rather important statement on our privilege.

Kudos to them all.

The most interesting and moving thing I found was the description. First of the clothes with their prices, then the jewellery and then the mine; it’s country of origin, type and method of detonation.

This raises a few questions in my mind about the nature of conflict and femininity. All of these women have to raise a family and provide; in fact it’s only the privilege of the rich to not work regardless of gender. All these women are trying to eke out an existence and rock this world best they can. War and the effects thereof affect everyone in a community. Front lines are entire cities and countries so it’s rather silly to view it as a soldiers matter only. It seems to me that war affects everyone in it’s path for years afterwards and it’s unjust how much the lucky few dictate the fates of others by their carelessness.

What’s the point of saying women should be protected (by a patriarch of course and all kinds of chivalry) when the shit gets dumped on them anyway? We talk about a women’s power as being her looks but what good is that against a landmine? More than that, what does this say about the bestial nature of conflict that all nations engage in again and again like a heroin addict promising it’ll be the last hit for good this time? Our world is absolutely ravaged and pockmarked by this violence.

The problem with conflict is that, despite all seemingly valid justifications, it’s never the people making the justifications that deal with the consequences.

Just some thoughts.



{October 10, 2007}   Same thing, Different time

Turns out that Jenna has started a trend of people chucking nooses here and there, every which way kind of like decorative Christmas baubles and tinsel. Of course, racism doesn’t really happen any more these days. It’s just a piece of string. And a cross is just a funky piece of woodwork, the vitruvian man is just a few chicken scratches and those white lines in the road are spilt paint and nothing more.

Shock at noose found on NY campus

Students at Columbia University were shocked by the incident
A black professor at Columbia University in New York has found a hangman’s noose left on her door.

Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Gee, ya think?

I don’t like the way this article paints an incomplete picture of the events of Jenna. There is a cynicism that there must be some kind of excuse for this. The full story is hidden with just enough revealed so you can tell something upset people but it doesn’t quite correspond to the reaction. The reality is rather different but also rather predictable.

The idea of nooses being hung on the doors of professors and in institutes of learnings harks back to the early days of integration. It’s hard to see how this would be out of place 100 or 50 years ago.

Haven’t we, as cultures, moved onwards?

That’s seriously depressing.

Columbia University has not identified the professor who found the noose on Tuesday, but students say she teaches a class on racial justice.

That sounds like classic silencing techniques. And very familiar.

How does anyone break a cycle like this?



{September 6, 2007}   My Rwanda

I find it quite hard to write sometimes, mostly because when I write to this blog it tends to be fuelled by a cocktail of anger and sadness. Desperation, I think. The truth is that I need to keep busy and at that point I’m naturally optimistic and happy. But when I’m not busy and my mind sinks back onto itself I end up feeling incredibly down. It’s predictable like clockwork; vacations are the worst. Those days I can’t face people so I spend what feels like hours fighting back tears and hoping no one notices. If it weren’t for the absolutely amazing friendships I’ve made throughout high school and the last two years of college I don’t know where the hell I’d be.

The other day my sister and her youth group were giving a talk about their experience in Zambia. After I overheard a mother berating her boy for not really saying about all that they learned and focussing on the Victoria Falls and Safari instead. I took pity on him because I know how hard it is to talk about that stuff when it’s so fresh – especially in front of people who you don’t think will understand.

So I talked to her about my own experience in Rwanda in 2005 and how much I’ve changed since then.

It was getting up to sing for our hosts that gave me the seeds of courage to become a confidant woman. I didn’t notice that for ages, but some of the things I’m happy doing now I could have NEVER done then.

Rwanda made me politically aware of social justice in a way I’ve never been before. The difficult questions of racism where thrown in our faces in a seriously uncomfortable way – the way people would gawk at my skin and act so honoured to see me was horrible.

And I told her how my predominant feeling was anger.

And this bit is completely messed up- I was angry at the poor people.

Because they had nothing and were happy to see us. Because they had nothing and still sat down and thanked us personally for the work of every Aid Agency in the country. Help is from white people and aren’t we white people too? Because they gave us food and hospitality when I would have said piss off in their place.

Because they smiled.

How dare they? They are dying! Living in squalor! The children have no parents and no clothes and no food! They have had a genocide for Christ’s sakes! Don’t they know what that means?!

That was wrong of me and yet my intentions were right.

When faced with those atrocities anger is appropriate.

Children are dying. Children are dying. Repeat that phrase with every inflection until you know everything it means.

The children are dying.

For all our wonders and technology and every single damn thing we have ever achieved the children are still dying.

Who is guilty? This is a crime. Someone must be at fault. Who? That’s something that I really don’t think any of us can answer properly. Yes, the big corporations don’t help but there are so many strands of culpability it is impossible to fix or blame one single thing. The closest I had to visualise this problem was what was in front of me. I was angry at the Rwandans because I was going through so many different experiences and shocks that all I was certain of was the smile on their faces which never flickered no matter how threadbare their clothes.

I felt like I was arriving empty handed and yet they were begging to receive 10 pence for a meal.

The anger festered a lot and I’ve been having to deal with it since. The important thing is that you focus the anger. I’m only responsible for me. It’s wrong of me to be upset at them for taking what they can from life. I don’t like that they think they have been blessed by a white presence; it is seriously problematic. But they have so little that means something – what’s the situation? Do I take that away? What is ethical here?

But where does the anger go?

I want to talk about something else. Most people know Rwanda for it’s holocaust. The HIV/AIDS infection rate is so high because of the mass rapes during the attacks. There were very, very few men that we saw, a fair amount of women and absolute legions of children under 14. Think about the reason why.

Under the insistence of our hosts we went to what was supposed to be a school before it became a memorial. Outside a man talked to us, but not really… His eyes were rimmed permanently red, his voice was quiet and his demeanour was like he was living in a reality transposed unto ours. But what really drew the gaze was the smooth, bullet sized indent on his forehead.

When the killings started the people had been maliciously told the school was a centre of protection in the hands of the French so 65000 flocked there. The water and electricity was purposefully cut off. They fought against the Tutsis with stones. It was a massacre.

He told us of how he fled through the rainforest, across the vertiginous hills and into the next country with that bleeding head wound. But only after hiding in the bushes and seeing his wife shot. The children were all buried alive around the school.

Today it’s quiet. Walk down the path beside the green grass where it’s kept even and no one comes. To your right there is an elevated mound and a flag flies above it. The solemnity and grief clocks the air and worms into your lungs so every breath you take is a prayer. God, no. God, why? No, no, not this. Please, God, please. Answer me. Where were you, God? Why? Why?

Behind the modern building there are some twenty odd typical African classrooms. The walls are bare, cracking a bit and the floor is grey slate. You walk down where children would have learnt to change the world; where they would be reading and playing and growing to help the country become something amazing. You’d visited a few classrooms the day before and had been amazed at their aptitude. The lessons are trilingual, the pupils had been apt and eager, well dressed with the girls in the blue uniform and the boys in brown. Here there is no one.

But first you smell something strong. When you look in the classroom what you see is a frozen moment of time.

The body’s have been dug back up and are thrown onto low tables. They are preserved in lime- bleached white, still wearing their clothes and some of them still have their hair. Every wound is visible. The position of the body has not been altered and the facial expressions are agony. The mouths are open, contorted in their last screams of pain that no one hears now or listened to then. They are still trying to scream.

The first classroom is full of only children. And so is the second. And the third.

You can’t step in the room but look from the door. You feel sick from the smell. They show you a pile of tattered clothes and shoes.

When you walk back out you understand what he meant when he said 40 000 people were buried under that mound with the flag on it. You imagine their stretching arms reaching, up, up but beat back with dirt thrown on them by caterpillar trucks.

Right then you understand something. And you feel the anger it brings.

Every single one of those contorted, smothered people loved, was loved, dreamed for tomorrow (do you know how precious being able to dream is?). They thought about things- Oh, my God, they imagined and reasoned and that blows your mind away. They had ambitions and families and they laughed. Do you remember that? Stretch your mouth open, get that rolling wave of sound rise from your throat and watch your eyes crinkle in the mirror. Isn’t that absolutely incredible? They liked things, saw beauty and created beauty in so many different ways. There is nothing so earth-shattering as seeing what a miracle this life is. You see that if there ever was an image of God it is right there in front of you. Think about what that means; what it really means when all the mundane is revealed to be something so astounding that we could not do anything but marvel about it if we truly understood it. People aren’t just people. They are everything they experience and more.

And someone decided to take that away – because they felt like it.

My anger made me a pacifist from that moment. Nothing and no one has the right to take someone and violently murder everything that they are and had and could be. It’s absolutely vile that it can even be considered.

When you leave the memorial at Murambi a group of children run up to you, hands out for money or a touch of your elusive pale skin. They’ve most probably worn the same shirt without changing it for years and now it’s a brown colour with stains and rips decorating it. Their feet are bare and they have no one to supervise them. Most must be orphans of war or aids. After a while death is all the same thing. In a few years time the malnutrition or the malaria will have killed a handful of them. If they survive to adulthood they’ll be old before their time and live in the drudgery of poverty with no options of escape or relief – not from the dirty muddy water which will surely infect their families or from the growing debt gnawing at the last portion of food. The girls will give birth in the dark alone when they are much too young and watch their children die or die themselves.

You know this.

They are still smiling.

Murambi Memorial Pictures. Not safe for anyone. But then, it wasn’t for them either, was it?



{July 8, 2007}   Cost of Justice

A while back I blogged about two year old Casey Leigh Mullen who was raped and murdered by her uncle 21-year old Michael Mullen. A few days ago I got a bunch of hits looking specifically for the little girl. It turns out her uncle has just been convicted to at least 35 years in jail. Nothing seems quite enough when considering what he did but this is technically a life sentence; it seems to be all we can hope for in this world at least and it means that he’s away from the public for a long, long time. And isn’t it weird to think that a rapist was convicted? Seems rather out of the ordinary until you consider he also murdered.

But there is more. It seems that this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this.

A man jailed for life for the rape and murder of his two-year-old niece was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl four years ago, it has emerged.

reads the strapline of the BBC News article

This raises several questions. The articles continues saying that the attack occured on the school playing field- no question about age there. No, the defence that got Michael Mullen off in 2003 was that the twelve year old girl had consented. Now, if the court system actually took rape cases seriously this would have been laughed out of court. The age of consent exists for a reason. Under 16 means unable to give consent and twelve is definitely under – unless my math teacher was a pathological liar which wouldn’t surprise me. I always mistrusted those people…

Anyway his defence was illegal.

The fact the courts are willing to capitulate to an illegal defence is worrying to say the least.

Yes, the age of consent is not without problems but twelve is clearly not able to fully understand and consent. This is a law for their own protection. We can argue about a fifteen and sixteen year old who are in a relationship but seventeen (which was Mullens age at the time) and twelve is not acceptable no matter the particulars. That is why the law is there in the first place.

Furthermore

“The CPS keeps cases under constant review, and immediately before the trial, new evidence came to light which seriously undermined the prosecution case against the defendant.

“The new evidence highlighted inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence such as to remove a realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction for the original offence.

“The CPS consulted with the police and prosecuting counsel and discussed the new evidence with the complainant, following which the decision was taken to offer no evidence, a decision fully endorsed by the trial judge.”

This is all pretty vague and convoluted but, from my understanding from what I heard on the news, it appears there were inconsistencies in the girls account and they decided to drop the case. My honest response is “duh!”

Putting a twelve year old at the centre of a police investigation is hella scary for them. Place them on the stand and make them go to a court of law- that’s the stuff of nightmares! Especially if you are standing against someone who is older and has proven himself vicious and evil to you. Now, add the fact that this is a twelve year old who has just gone through the trauma of rape, and is being asked to describe and relive it- in excruciating detail – to a room full of adults intent on proving her a whore and who arguing that the event which ruined her life was her own fault. I wouldn’t want to go through that! This is ultimately traumatic for the most mature adults- but a twelve year old?

No pressure there then.

That and unless sex ed has changed dramatically since I went through the system she probably doesn’t even have the lexis to describe everything. And if she does? Case dismissed; the girl is a hussy.

Furthermore reactions to rape itself are complex- the court desperately needs to implement specialists who explain this. Inconsistencies in recalling rape is expected when you consider it. We understand that if someone is in a car crash certain sequences of events or details may be sketchy; even if they are unharmed.

But this still leaves us with the question of what course of action to take with young girls who are raped.

Taking them in front of a court, especially the way things are now, is not likely to get a result and will only further traumatise them. Maybe the right call was made for this girl when the case was dropped. You can’t expect her to push against an entire culture and system when she has more than anyone should ever have on her shoulders. It could possibly be the nail in her coffin and I understand that this is considered in the lead up to going on with the case or not.

Except that this leaves men like Michael Mullens to do it again and again until they finally do something so damaging and inexcusable (even to a twisted corrupt system) that there is a corpse left as hard evidence to condemn them; pain that can be dissected, scream frozen on blue lips- only that counts.

But how many more? This is not an acceptable cost that we, as a society, can bear. This is a cancerous tumour that wraps itself into the very heart of our communities. We can’t keep paying with our children, with all of our girls and women. It’s hard to enjoy justice when you know it comes in through the back-door of a wake, wearing black and the best it does is lay flowers at the grave. I’m glad it’s there… I just wish we weren’t there in the first place.

And then my visceral response is at what point does the innocent, blameless abused two year old transform into the scheming, untrustworthy whore? So far it seems to be at ten. Why is it so hard for us to believe when a girl says something is wrong? Why are we rebuffed so much? Why is the onus on us above and beyond those who destroy us? Why does it take a death before we are taken seriously?

I just don’t know…

Interestingly

Mullen, who pleaded guilty yesterday at Leeds Crown Court, had a picture on his mobile phone of Casey, naked from the waist down. He had also stored sadistic images of other children on his computer.

The judge said: “Police investigations have shown that you had used your computer to download indecent images of children and images of sexual abuse of children. It’s clear that these offences were aggravated by strong paedophilic urges.”

No, I am not blaming this on the porn. It seems he had these vile “urges” before he sought out the porn and consequently was attracted to it. However it certainly didn’t help.



{June 27, 2007}   “Sudden Heat”?!

Apparently “a sudden heat” is the explanation for the following. Bookshop from livejournal says it best so I’ll just copy it. It’s long but it’s also very, very important to read:

_______

Bloomington, Indiana, is a hotbed of liberalism surrounded by rural struggles and conservative values in the Southeastern region of Indiana, two hours north of Louisville. If you are a gay man or woman, it is a Midwestern Mecca: Bloomington is one of the most gay-friendly cities, statistically, culturally, and economically, in the entire country. A city full of progressives, it prides itself on its pursuit of equality.

In Bloomington in 1999, a man named Won-Joon Yoon was ruthlessly gunned down outside the Korean United Methodist Church by a white supremacist in a horrific shooting spree that began in Chicago and ended with a total of 2 men dead and 9 others wounded, all from minority groups.

After that, black and white signs reading “Bloomington United in Diversity” on one side and “No hate! Not in our yards, Not in Our Town, Anywhere!” on the other went up all over the city like flags of mourning.

Yoon’s death spurred a subsequent push by Bloomington and minority groups across the state to enact hate crime legislation in the state of Indiana –

– legislation which has never been passed.

Opponents of Indiana’s proposed hate crime legislation wrote, “This bill represents an attempt to give special protection to homosexuals and cross dressers by stating that a crime against them is to be treated with more severity than a crime against a senior citizen, a child or a pregnant mom..”

As of 2007, Indiana remains one of only five states in the country with no laws whatsoever against hate crimes.

________

________

90 minutes southeast of Bloomington there is a town called Crothersville, almost literally a four-way stop with its own Stop-In Liquor store. Crothersville, as tiny as it is, made the national news two years ago after a ten-year-old girl was kidnapped, sexually assualted, and murdered. Everyone in Crothersville will tell you that everyone in Crothersville knows everyone else.

On the afternoon of April 12, 2007, a man named Aaron Hall (nicknamed “Shorty” because of his slight build and miniscule stature – he barely topped 5’4″ and weighed around 100 pounds) met some fellow Crothersville natives, coming back from their Stop-In at the liquor store. 19-year-old Garrett Gray,18-year-old Coleman King, and 21-year-old Jamie Hendricks picked Hall up and went back to Gray’s house, where they proceeded to drink and hang out.

From every indication from sparse news reports and word of mouth, it began as a verbal insult, maybe to Gray’s dead mother, maybe to King’s heterosexuality, maybe to nothing at all.

The ‘why’ will probably never be fully known to us. Whatever the details, Hall said the wrong thing. And sparked in Gray and King what the official Initial Hearing report termed a “sudden heat.”

A “sudden heat” which would last throughout the next 24 hours.

Note: The following descriptions are graphic and disturbing, and may not be appropriate for sensitive readers.

# As King held Hall down while Gray punched him and struck him around his eyes repeatedly

# As King and Gray ruthlessly beat Hall, with fists and with the heels of their boots, hitting him over and over and over again, over 75 times with a boot alone.

# As the two of them took turns jumping on his battered body

# As they pulled his limp body down a wooden staircase, dragging him by the feet so that his head “bounced down all of the steps,” in their own words

# As they propped up Hall between them, held out a camera phone, took a picture of the two of them with their arms around Hall’s broken body, and proudly texted a photo of Hall’s bloody and swollen face to their friend, James Hodge, where he worked, in order to show off their handiwork

# As Jamie Hendricks called Hodge back around 6:45 pm and declared, “They’re beating the hell out of that guy,” while Hodge listened to Hall’s screams and the sound of King and Gray literally pummeling him to death

# Which they did for “several hours,” spattering Hall’s blood throughout the kitchen, on the outside deck, the railing, the stairs, and in the living room.

# As they piled his body into the back of Gray’s pickup truck (spilling more blood) and continued to beat him while Hendricks drove them to the murder scene, a tiny field row off a deserted backwoods state road

# As Gray, still beating Hall, asked him if he wanted to die tonight. Hall, barely able to talk at that point, still managed to reply: no.

# As Gray and King, ignoring Hall’s request to live, dumped him in the ditch beside the lane and proceeded to beat him still further.

# As they left him there lying in the ditch, by this time completely naked, only to return with a shotgun later at Gray’s insistence that “they had to kill him or they would go to jail.”

# As Gray shot into the darkness – but by this time, Hall, still alive, had crawled out of the ditch despite his naked body, despite his bruises, his broken nose and his shattered ribs. Hall had crawled into the field, where they left him there a second time.

# As Hendricks and Hodges returned the next day, April 13th, to the spectacle roadside attraction (and because Hodge wanted to steal Hall’s coat) to find Hall dead in the field.

# As they all proceeded to wrap Hall’s body in blue tarpaulin and hide it in Garrett Gray’s garage, where it was found after James Hodge, perhaps realizing that turning stooge was his only way to avoid being listed as an assistant, reported the crime and the suspects to the police, who turned themselves in.

All in all, the “sudden heat” lasted just under ten days.

Shorty Hall’s body was discovered on April 22, 2007, six days shy of his birthday.

He would have been 36.

On April 24th, 2007, twelve days after his death and two days after his naked, mutilated body was found wrapped in tarp in the Gray’s garage, Gray, Hendricks, and King were formally charged. Hendricks was charged as an accomplice and allowed to post bail. Hodge was not charged at all.

No word on whether he got to keep Aaron Hall’s coat.

The official cause of Aaron C. Hall’s death remains unknown.

Garrett Gray’s father is the Deputy Coroner of Crothersville. He has not made a statement about how he managed to miss the bloodstains all over his house in the ten days leading up to his son’s arrest.

Shorty’s obituary in the Jackson County Banner is heartbreakingly simple: He was a roofer. He loved mushroom hunting. He left behind a family who loved him, who left multiple tributes for him on myspace. His own myspace page states, “I’d like to meet the one I’ve always been looking 4..”

What he met was a brutal, horrific death.

Hall’s death is made, astonishingly, even more horrific, because of two factors:

1) Apart from sparse articles in four local papers – The Jackson County Banner (bi-weekly), the Crothersville Times (weekly), the Seymour Tribune (daily), and the Bloomington Alternative (bi-weekly), no Indiana press at all has covered this case. Despite the brutality and the length of time during which the killing occurred, and despite the many unanswered questions about why the murder happened and how ten days managed to pass before the body was found, despite the disturbing similarities to the brutal, internationally publicized deaths of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shephard, there has been no press.

Which is why, a full two months later, you and I are only just now hearing about the murder of Aaron Hall.

2) During the ten-day lapse between the murder and the discovery of the body, the three suspects had plenty of time to come up with their only defense against their blatant and shocking brutality.

Their defense?

Hall was gay.

Nevermind that on the streets of Crothersville, where I went tonight, everyone understands that Hall wasn’t gay, a statement echoed by his family. The defendants’ motivation for beating a man to death for hours and hours, then driving him out into a pasture and beathing him some more, is “gay panic”. He came on to them, so they killed him.

Why hasn’t there been any press? The blogosphere seems to think that apparently, the lack of convincing support to justify Hall’s sexuality means that this cannot be construed as a hate crime. And I guess it’s not as snappy that way, or something.

So. Just another backwoods run-of-the-mill six-hour-long beating-a-man-to-death, then. Right.

________

At one point the Bloomington Alternative, who finally picked up this story in June and brought it to the attention of the blog world, and thus to me, calls Crothersville “stereotypically backwards, economically miserable and socially stunted.”

But the Crothersville residents I talked to tonight (only one of whom would go on the record) have a very wry understanding of the much larger context at work here. “It doesn’t matter whether he’s gay,” one teenager, a friend of King’s, told me in the Back Lot, a hangout for teens in nearby Scottsburg. “Nobody deserves to have that happen to them.” He spat on the pavement, then added, “Except child molesters.”

Hate crimes in Indiana are not recognized by the law for what they are.

But there is no escaping the devastating implications of Aaron Hall’s death for gay men and women across the country.

Either Aaron Hall was brutally beaten to death because he was gay, or else his murderers are attempting to exhort a sick sympathy from homophobic jury members by portraying beating a man to death as a natural response to homosexuality. Keep in mind that the “gay panic defense” has worked before. Keep in mind that with everyone I spoke to in Crothersville tonight commented on their complete lack of knowledge, the way that the case had been totally hushed up. One woman thanked me for giving her updates she hadn’t heard. “I wonder what reason they’ll actually give for what happened,” she mused.

What reason, indeed.

___________

___________

The first I heard of Aaron Hall’s death was on Sunday night, from a friend. I needed a full day’s worth of research just to figure out what had happened, so few and far between were the news reports.

The Indianapolis Star won’t print this story. The Herald-Times won’t print this story. The Associated Press won’t print this story.

What did Matthew Shepard, what did Brandon Teena die for, what did Won-Joon Yoon die for, if a hate crime of this magnitude can be so completely suppressed that the general public knows nothing about it for two months?

What did Aaron Hall die for? And what will his murderers learn from their trial?

Will they learn that Indiana is a state where you can get away with murder, as long as you murder the right person in the right extenuating circumstances?

Will they hear the outrage that no one seems to feel? Will they take away the knowledge that even if they can tear the heart out of Crothersville without so much as a ripple of protest, they cannot and they will not silence the gay community, or make gay men and women into unwitting partners in their hideous murder?

Tell everyone you know about Aaron Hall. Tell everyone. Tell them that he was beaten over 75 times and left to die in a field like Matthew Shephard and the press has done nothing. Email your local paper and ask them why they aren’t reporting the Aaron Hall story. Talk to everyone you know.

And remember him. Remember him, and speak out against hate.

No hate.

Not in our towns.

Not anywhere.

ETA:
Links:
The Wikipedia Article on Aaron C. Hall lists this as “a current event.”
If you’re on Facebook, please consider joining Justice for Aaron Hall. Help spread the word.
Digg this post; or Digg the Dailykos mention that brought widespread attention to this issue.
As of June 20, this has been metafiltered.
sinaddict receives a response from her local ABC affiliate: ” ‘A story like this would be covered by the local Indiana TV station. You can google and find out who that is. KOMO is a local station, so we cover news in and around the Seattle/Everett/Tacoma area.’ Funny how they’ll still spend ten minutes reporting on bombings in Iraq, the pregnant woman who went missing, the boy in Utah who was mauled by a bear, and any number of other national stories.”
6/22 – article in The Washington Blade on the murder.

YouTube video on Aaron Hall’s killing. Hate Crime and “Gay Panic” Defense by GypsyWatch

Questions:

Why are you, the OP, talking about hate crime legislation when this wasn’t a hate crime?
two reasons.

A) the defendants are using a defense which involves assuming that somehow the murder was *more justifiable* if the victim was gay. At the very least, hate crime legislation would make it impossible for them to use this as a permissable defense. The fact that there is no hate crime law on the Indiana books means that there is nothing keeping Garrett Gray and Coleman King from saying “he hit on me so I killed him” at their trials, regardless of whether or not it’s true.

B) criminal law is based on intent. Under a hate crime law, “I killed them because they were gay/straight/white/black/female/other minority” would incur a more severe punishment than another type of intent.

Maybe this killing wasn’t a hate crime – we just don’t know – but arguably a hate crime law would act as a deterrant, not only for real acts of rage and hate (crimes of passion directed at minorities, as it were) – but for anyone who might even think, before the fact, “I could get away with it if I said you hit on me, cause everyone around here’d be on my side.”

See also textualdeviance‘s eloquent comment on the subject.

Why do you care?

Because like so many other people who live in Indiana, I hadn’t heard a *thing* about it, and when I did, I was horrified and outraged that I hadn’t.

Can I link to this post? Yes. Absolutely. You might also consider linking to the original Bloomington Alternative article.

Thank you for your comments.

One last thing: How can I help?
Write your newspapers. Write your representatives.(Here are some tips on how to write an effective letter on both fronts.) Watch the HRC video on the Matthew Shepard Act and then go to the HRC to show your support for the passage of this landmark hate crimes bill.

# As of 6/23/07 I will be posting any new information I have about this case on my journal under the tag aaron hall. please feel free to use LJ tag tracking to follow updates. tanah‘s journal is also an excellent space to watch. She is blogging about this issue for the Bloomington Alternative.

Unfortunately the “What you can do” section is very american-centrist. Yes, this is tied to the place wherein the events took place, but the roots which lead to this- those spread across the world.

Original source. Pretty Verbatim except for a few pictures.



{March 27, 2007}   What were you thinking?

It’s amazing all the static, white noise that presses against our ears, envelops our head in cotton so we can’t hear anything clearly any more. Do we sometimes feel that everything we know might be wrong? Of course. But worse than that is the strength of other people’s simultaneous voices; real and imagined. We write scripts to save time, thinking, help us slip along in peace. The answers don’t matter but the adherence to the script does – “Good morning” “Nice weather today” “How are you” “I like your top” “How are your family doing?” “Did you see her outfit?” “How’s work going?” “What do you expect?” “That’s life” “Be safe” ”
Be safe”
“Be safe”
“Should have known better”

Watch this video at Christi Nielsen. This is the fear, the void. This is what we all hear at some point. Sometimes less, sometimes more. But it’s there. And it’s not going away.



Uncle charged with infant’s rape and murder

Wednesday February 14, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The uncle of two-year-old Casey Leigh Mullen was charged today with her rape and murder.

Michael Patrick Mullen, 21, was arrested after the toddler was found in a pool of blood at her home in Gipton, Leeds, on Sunday night. He will appear before magistrates in Leeds tomorrow.

“Police have now charged a 21-year-old male with murder and rape and he has been detained to appear at Leeds magistrates court tomorrow,” a West Yorkshire police spokesman said.

A post-mortem examination revealed the two-year-old died from “compression of the neck”, police confirmed earlier.

Casey was discovered by her mother, Samantha Canham, 21, at their home at around 9.30pm on Sunday.

The child lived in a rented house with her older brother Darren, aged three, her mother and her 20-year-old father, David Mullen.

Two other men who had been arrested in connection with the murder, aged 19 and 20, were released without charge yesterday.

It is understood Casey’s parents had moved into the house around eight months ago. Neighbours said they called Casey “Smiley” because she was such a friendly and happy child.

Try to tell me she was asking for it, that little Lolita- go on!

What people don’t realise about rape is that it isn’t fair. I know that sounds stupid but it’s true. We like to believe we live in a just world. That’s why we think that rape victims must have somehow asked for it – because it means that if someone asks for it, we can somehow not ask for it and be safe. Well, we’re not safe. We never are. Not from the second you are born. The second a girl is born she becomes a target for the simple fact of having a cunt and that is all. It’s not fair.

People don’t realise that when talking about child porn, it isn’t always “provocative”, early-matured teenagers. There is plenty of porn out there showing eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two and younger children being raped, abused, violated, beating and destroyed. Watching those horrors should be illegal and subject to imprisonment by itself. It is accomplice to rape, accomplice to the murder of this wonderful little girl. I’ll bet you anything that the uncle, a seemingly nice guy, was one of the millions who watches child porn.

Her uncle. These are the men bringing up and killing the hearts, minds and bodies of our children.

You can tell a society by how it treats it’s least empowered members. We enjoy watching our children raped.

There is no fair world. There is no security and no justice in this world. Not for any woman whether two or on her death bed. It is only in death that there is any semblance of peace, release from the vigilance and fear we face daily.

On a completely personal level I somewhat envy Casey. She’ll never grow up, true. But she’ll no longer be afraid the way I am. You see, child rape is so common the only uncommon thing about this is that she was murdered. And that statement is what is truly remarkable.

I’m a Christian feminist and I centre my views around the belief that all are made in God’s image and granted free will and autonomy. To deny that to the least of these, is to deny the holy imprint of God in them. I do not wish to force these beliefs on anyone.

I believe in an afterlife and I believe that Casey’s troubles are over. She’s been removed from this crap world before she’s ever understood it and in a way that’s a twisted blessing. Her family’s troubles are just beginning however and I pray for them.

So, Dear Smiley Casey,

I don’t know you, but I know plenty of little girls just like you and for what it’s worth I love you. I love the fact that you have brought so much happiness to those who love you, and I love you because I believe you to be made in God’s image.

I’m so sorry that you’ve suffered so much. I’m sorry that you’ll never experience so much. I’m sorry that you died abused, confused and scared. I’m sorry that one who claimed to love you clearly didn’t. I’m crying for you and longing to help create a world where no one will go through what you did.

Dear, dear Casey,

Happy Valentine’s Day.



It appears that liposuction as risen by 90% in the UK in the last year. The rate for men has stayed completely stable (gendered pressure anyone?).

Far be it from me to throw a blanket condemnation but shouldn’t that be a really, really bad thing? I mean for all our sanitised pictures it’s still causing grievous bodily harm to our bodies; going under a knife!

Think about that expression- “Going under the knife”. “Knife”- blood, pain, violence, destruction. “Going under”- depressive, drowning, accepting, sacrifice. There is no connotation of pleasure or self-self-fulfilment in that descriptive sentence unless your idea of a good time is sacrificing virgins like they used to in the stone age.

And to be honest I’m not sure we’ve stopped that. One only has to look at the disturbing virgin fetish in today’s pornography which is often linked with violence. Not mainstream enough? Not acceptable by the elite? I could argue that, but okay, let’s look at some other things once practised by everyone who was anyone:

– footbinding.
– corsets (they used to be so tight as to make women bleed under the arms and a thousand other horrors)
– FGM (still happening)
– Putting mercury (or was it arsenic?) on your face

I’m sure there are plenty more I’ve missed – feel free to add them.

I believe that cosmetic surgery is our modern form of foot binding and tightlacing.

In fact I’ve been meaning to write on that before. Nothing ever changes. Those barbaric practices have only been swapped around; a whalebone for a needle as it were. And, if I am correct, women are implicit in each one. Also known as Stockholm Syndrome.

There are some corsets out there that exist for health reasons and that does apply to some motives for surgical procedures, but the point that the majority who used them did so to incredible detriment and suffering on their part for the visual pleasure of someone else. After all:

“However, it is important to note that liposuction and tummy tucks are not a treatment for weight management or obesity: they are body contouring procedures for patients near or already at their ideal body weight.”

This is aesthetic surgery. Werther it is enterprise in the spirit of wanting to have more confidence, loosing baby fat, fitting anything it all seems to come down to looks. But not the way women look – women have looked pudgy (and dare I question if many going through this even are?) throughout all of peoplekind’s history. This is about the way men have decreed they want women to look and women have had no choice but follow through in the indoctrination.

Submission is, in part, taking pleasure in someone else’s happiness.

That so many women want to please people who would like them to mutilate and hurt themselves, tells me that the only way for the patriarchy to sustain itself is through forced and coerced masochism.

Growing up in France I heard this all the time – “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle” (“You have to suffer to be beautiful”).

Beauty and pain are almost seen as one and the same sometimes.

It is the mantra of a degenerate people bound on everyday oppression, the Stockholm Syndrome of women promising themselves that maybe, just maybe, if they do this they will be worth something. I think there has been some serious neglect and twisted brainwashing to make someone think a knife is a good and welcome option.

And look! It is the woman who must suffer, the woman who must present her body willingly on the altar of the surgeon, naked and eyes downcast. She is the one who must say “Yes, I am inadequate” and promise to do anything, pay anything, suffer anything so that He thinks she’s worth his time.

Ideas of beauty are also based on what aspects we elevate. It appears we elevate women’s capability to keep smiling pretty though her body is slowly being replaced with plastic. We elevate women who look like Barbies. Women who don’t have inner confidence. Women who follow the status quo size rack.

Women who’s only voice is their body.

Thoughts?

Source- http://lifestyle.uk.msn.com/beauty/article.aspx?cp-documentid=2698852



One of the first things that keeps coming up in every single discussion of domestic violence or sexual violence is that “Not every man rapes” and “people who do that are a minority that makes the rest of us look bad” or words to that effect. The response is of course “duh!”

We know that not every single man rapes. Of course we know that.

But pointing it out is as useful as telling a Jew living through WW2 that not every German is a Nazi.
(Forgive me for bringing up Nazis but I’m having problems thinking of another analogy.)

The man who does not rape doesn’t negate the threat possed by the one who does.

Gendered assault seems to be one of the main ways women are represented in the papers so we are constantly forced to see and, yet the statement implies we shouldn’t complain or remark on it. It’s seen as misfortunate but normal. Yet we all know that the vast majority of those types of crimes go unreported. World wide between three quarters and half of the female population will face domestic violence.

When the numbers and likelyhood of being affected is that big does it really matter if there are still men out there who aren’t perpetrators?

Does the battered, dying victim care that not all men are violent? Surely the only one who it matters about is the one who did that to her.

If a woman is walking home and it’s dark and a man is behind her, does it matter if that specific man has never commited a rape? She doesn’t know his police and moral record. What she does know is that there are men out there who do rape and because she is female she will never stop being a potential victim.

Because if one single man commits a rape or gender motivated crime, every man becomes a potential threat to every woman.

Contrary to stereotypes, rapists and abusers do not have a special look and uniform and the stakes are too high to ignore. We know that the likelyhood of being raped by another woman is minimal and ridiculous.

The common link in all the attacks is that they are commited by men (even raped men are usually attacked by heterosexual men supporting that rape is about power not sex).

Therefore the fear and distrust of men is completely legitimate. And the fact that not all men are guilty does not matter until none are guilty.

We don’t care one jot about the men who don’t hate women – do you think that deserves a prize? It’s a ridiculous disclaimer that does absolutely nothing to solve the problem. Do we start every discussion on HIV/AIDs by saying “Not everyone in Africa is positive” as if that’s a distinction that needs making? No? Then why do we do it when talking about sexism?

This isn’t a call to hate men. It’s actually a call to respect women and go to the roots of the problems they face in this world. In fact to focus the issue on the woes of men’s image by association is an insult and slap in the face to those who have been victims of those crimes.

This is a call to stop patronising and ignoring the real systematic way in which women are hurt and suffer for comforts sake.

Put it this way – as long as women have a legitimate and ingrained fear of the male half of the human race, then neither will be able to enjoy as meaningful relationships as they could have. I do not want my girl friends to be afraid of what their boyfriend will do in an argument, scared of someone on the street because of gender. I hate that and I know it isn’t fair but as things are it is legitimate. Men and women live side by side and it stands to reason that if one group suffers so does the other.

So if you claim that not all men rape, what are you doing about the multitude that do?



et cetera