Recently Savannah had its own example of what at first seemed to be a "hate crime," until, as Paul Harvey would say, we got "the rest of the story." As you read this timeline, please understand that in no way do I advocate the beating of this man. But it is also wrong to twist the truth. Here is the timeline:
Sunday, March 5, 2006: Five soldiers from nearby Fort Stewart severely beat David Bennett, 37, in the wee hours of Sunday morning outside Blaine's, a Savannah gay bar, according to police reports.
Tuesday, March 7: The Savannah Morning News reports the story of beating, and quotes gay and lesbian advocates on the need for hate-crime legislation. Senate Bill 347 is cited, which enhances penalties for defendants found to have chosen their victims based on "race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation."
Wednesday, March 8: The Savannah Morning News reports, "Savannah attack cited in Senate." Chuck Bowen, the executive director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay advocacy organization, read from the police report about David Bennett's beating, to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the hate crime legislation. The committee approved the bill by an 8-3 vote. "The (beating) was an opportunity to send a message that bigotry is not welcomed in this state," Bowen said. Notice the word "opportunity." As we will see, this was more of an "opportunity" than a real event.
Thursday, March 9: The Savannah Morning News writes an editorial, "Equal Justice," saying that "the problem with hate-crime laws is that they undermine the concept of equal justice," because it creates "two sets of rules, one which favors certain groups over others." The editorial closes by saying that the soldiers should be prosecuted "for their violent acts, not their ugly beliefs." Amen! And now watch the story unravel:
Friday, March 10: The Savannah Morning News reports "Beating victim arrested." It seems that Mr. Bennett has been thrown in jail along with the fives guys who beat him, because there are outstanding warrants for his arrest in Florida, Virginia and South Carolina. Police say that the arrest of Bennett is because he stole a soldier's wallet, and had nothing to do with the fact that he was at a gay bar that night. Hmm. So the so-called "victim" may actually be a criminal, and while there is no excuse for the soldiers beating him, the soldiers may actually be the victims of a theft.
Saturday, March 11: The Savannah Morning News reports "Charges against soldiers dismissed." The article says that Mr. Bennett told police he did not wish to prosecute the soldiers who beat him. The article goes on to report that the soldiers met Bennett at another bar that Saturday night, called McDonough's. At the bar, they bought him drinks. Sometime during the night, Bennett allegedly stole one of the soldiers wallets. The soldiers then chased Bennett down the street to the front door of Blaine's, the gay bar. Outside Blaine's, the men beat up Bennett. During an interview with one of the intoxicated soldiers, one of them told police he beat up the "f----t." Oh, so that's what happened. A drunk soldier uses a slur against homosexuals, and when "hate speech" is used, a "hate crime" is assumed. Georgia Equality complains that the police are turning "a blind eye" toward what they still call a hate crime, saying the police are sending a message that it is "open season on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Georgians." So the gay agenda marches on, ignoring the facts of this case.
It seems to me what we have here is an open season on the truth, not open season on gays. The guy was beaten by a bunch of punch-drunk angry soldiers because the guy was a thief (with outstanding warrants in three states) who stole a soldier's wallet. Should the soldiers have been drinking? No. Should they have beaten this guy? No. But does it make it a hate crime that some drunk soldiers beat up a guy who stole a wallet? Of course not!
Maybe Georgia Equality would like to sponsor an amendment to the hate-crime bill that they advocated with this erroneous story. Perhaps they would like to also make it a crime to steal from soldiers. You know, add extra penalties for stealing from America's heroes, that would be stiffer than penalties from stealing from ordinary civilians. I can hear Georgia Equality saying, "That wouldn't be right, because stealing is equally bad no matter who you steal from, soldier or civilian." Right! And beating a man is equally a crime, whether he is gay of straight, thief or honest, soldier or civilian. A crime is a crime. Classifying them as "hate crimes" shows inequality, not equality. This incident in Savannah is a prime example.