Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hate crime or not? A Savannah case study

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.
Summary
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.

13 comments:

Mark Weaver said...

I once heard a preacher give this simple definition of "truth"; "The way things are". Apparently some folks have no regard at all for how things really are. They seem more interested in using a set of facts to support their position even if they have to twist the truth until it breaks. It seems to me that Chuck Bowen needs to read your Blog. mw

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I'm so offended by this, I don't know where to start!

First, there is a very real problem with people targetting blacks. gays, Jews, whomever. How could someone employ such a ruse to start an arguement that doesn't make any sense.

All the things that fall under hate crimes are ALREADY CRIMES!! If I rob a shop, they don't care why I did it. I'm going to be charged with robbery and that's the end of it. Why on Earth should it be different for any other crime, especially violent crimes?

Yes, it's horrible that people would act in such a way, or be taught to think in such a way that they could harm people, especially for the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation, but they do. To impose greater punishment for their intentions rather than their actions is attempting to legislate morality and far too close to Orwell for me.

And why disagree with the beating? (This part is a bit on the edge, and overstated from my actual feelings) We spank our children to let them know they were wrong. Granted we don't generally get sauced before doing it, but this man was a theif, and it seems he wasn't learning to act right, I say beat the hell out of him and maybe he'll think next time.

Argggggggggggggg!! Time for me to stop thinking about this...

Brother Bob said...

Trudy, as a Christian, I cannot condone the beating, even if the thief deserved it, but I think you understand the main point I am trying to make.
I, too, am offended when people use a lie to justify their arguments. That is what the gay rights group in Georgia did in this case.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I got your point. I was just too annoyed to stick to one point. :) And I agree with you there. I have a great (sometimes to the point of being irrational) distaste for people who lie about such things. There are people who really have these battles, and in the end it's not the fights you've dreamed of, but those you've really fought. For someone to fabricate a situation that legitimately harms people, and shames others, is disgusting!

But as for the beating. I don't really think it was the best thing to do, but I don't see how people could object to it on a moral basis. A good number of people (Especially people in GA) spank their children. Are we to believe that our children deserve less respect than a theif?

And, I'm sort of surprised at the idea of Christianity being the reasoning behind not agreeing. The Christian God is described as wrathful, and vengeful (among other things, of course). Which part of that suggests that beating a theif would upset him?

Brother Bob said...

Trudy,
I believe you misunderstand the Bible's teaching on God. Yes, God is a God of justice as well as love, but God is not a "vengeful" God. It's interesting you bring this up, because I'm working on a sermon for this Sunday on "How Could a Loving God Destroy People?" To give a very short summary of my sermon, God does not desire that anybody should perish. Ezekiel 33:11: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they should turn from their ways and live....” 2 Peter 3:9: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” But God cannot ignore sin, because He is holy and just. That is why God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. It satisfies God's holiness, for sin is paid for, and God paid for it Himself.
So anybody who suffers the wrath of God does so because they have refused God's offer of forgiveness. C.S. Lewis said it well, when he said there are only two kind of people: those who tell God "Thy will be done" and follow Christ and go to Heaven, and those whom God tells with tears in His eyes, "Thy will be done," because they have refused God's offer of forgiveness, and thus they themselves choose Hell.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I will comment on that soon. I have to read more because I question my interpretation now. I've always found the Christian God to be silly and selfish they way he's described (funny, that I would be so pedantic and still automatically use 'he' when referring to God) (It's also funny that I would type that whole thing out instead of just changing it)

Brother Bob said...

The Bible says that during the time of Noah, before God sent a flood, God’s heart was grieved that man was totally wicked all of the time. (Genesis 6:6). The Bible says that God did not desire to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and would have spared the cities if He could have only found 10 righteous people there (Genesis 18:32). Before God allowed Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, God sent messengers to them time and time again, warning them over and over, because God had pity on them (2 Chronicles 36:15-17). Jesus wept over Jerusalem, knowing that because they would reject Him they would be destroyed (Luke 19:41-44).
But the good news is that whenever somebody repented, God spared them. Remember that Joshua didn't destroy everybody in Jericho, but spared a prostitute named Rahab because she feared God (Joshua 6:17). Jonah preached destruction on Nineveh, but because they repented, God spared the city (Jonah 3:10). God desires to forgive. He is not a vengeful God, He is patient, but His patience cannot last forever.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

Why not? Why can his patience not last forever? The whole 70 x 7 thing.....

I'm not attempting to start an arguement, only asking a question.

Brother Bob said...

His patience does not last forever because of His justice. If mankind refuses to repent, then there must be judgment.
For example, if God never judged Adolf Hitler for the atrocity of killing 6 million Jews, if God's patience with Hitler went on forever without justice, we would cry out against God. But when there is no repentance, there must be judgment.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I firmly agree with the idea of justice taking a stand, trust me, but I'm still confused as to how exactly that fits.

If we are made to be in the image of God, why is it that our patience is to be unlimited while there is a point at which his is expected to give way to justice? And where exactly is that point?

Brother Bob said...

Who said that our patience is to be unlimited?

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

It was my understanding that the bible said that, or very strongly implied it.

It's been awhile...loads to comment on!!!

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

It was my understanding that the bible said that, or very strongly implied it.

It's been awhile...loads to comment on!!!