Chaz Housand, who recently graduated from UNC-Wilmington, was brutally beaten in the early morning hours of July 17. The attack happened in the downtown area of our drug-and-crime-infested little town. His friend Chet Saunders was also beaten badly. Since both are gay, they are wondering whether they have been the victims of a hate crime, which is not to be confused with a “love” crime.
Housand told the local paper that he has no idea whether anyone witnessed the beating. He also admitted that he has no idea whether anyone intervened. In fact, he says he doesn’t remember the incident and, therefore, can’t be certain about much of anything. He remembers walking out of the door of a bar and then waking up in a hospital. Since he knows nothing about the attack he asked the police what they know. As it turns out, they don’t know much about the attack either.
While neither Housand nor Saunders knows exactly what happened, both said they can think of no reason someone would attack them, other than their sexual orientation. I guess what they are saying is that they have easily discernible characteristics, which make them look “obviously gay.”
The local police, even after the arrests of three suspects, still don’t know the motive for the attack. And Chet Saunders hasn’t been of much help beyond pure speculation. In fact, he told the local paper he has “only scattered memories” of the night. In other words, these two gay fellows went out and got pretty loaded and can’t remember much. And now they want a little extra sympathy for being gay.
Generally, the story of two drunken people getting assaulted in downtown Wilmington isn’t very interesting. That’s why I initially wondered why the newspaper was covering it. And that’s why you’re wondering why I’m writing about it, too. But the mystery is solved when one reads just this one half-sentence from the local paper’s coverage of the story:
“New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said North Carolina law regarding hate crimes does not cover attacks motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, Chet Housand, the recent UNC-Wilmington graduate, was a member of various campus groups that lobbied for changes in North Carolina’s hate crimes legislation. Specifically, these groups were lobbying to add attacks motivated by sexual orientation to the list of possible hate crimes.
People like Chaz Housand and Chet Saunders do need something to protect them from their own stupidity. Saunders told the local paper “I never really expected something like this to happen.” Clearly, anyone who believes he can get so drunk that he forgets much of the night in, of all places, downtown Wilmington is suffering from severe intellectual hernia.
So, let me be clear about where I stand on this issue: We should not, especially in a time of deep budgetary crisis, use public funds to protect the drunk and stupid from their own drunkenness and stupidity.
To the extent that the drunk and stupid are given protection from their own poor decision-making it should come from private initiatives. And so I’ve come up with an initiative that will save the North Carolina taxpayers from having to waste precious resources passing new, or modifying old, hate crimes legislation.
But my plan will do more than just save money by allowing our legislators to spend their time dealing with real, not imagined, problems. It will also offer unprecedented protection to those gay citizens who prefer to drink excessively well into the early morning hours in high crime areas.
My new initiative, called “The Pink Berets,” is funded entirely by contributors to
1. Identifying Armed Allies. Several years ago our university identified various faculty and staff members who were willing to serve as GLBT (GILBERT) allies. These allies put stickers on their doors, which identified their offices as “safe spaces” for gays to come and talk about their gayness. I plan to work with PRIDE and other gay groups to identify “armed allies” who will be willing to pack heat in order to make our downtown bar areas “safe spaces” for GILBERTS.
2. Training Armed Allies. As a member of the New Hanover County Law Enforcement Officers Association, I will make arrangements for firearms safety training for all armed GILBERT allies. This will qualify them to obtain North Carolina concealed weapons permits.
3. Supplying Pink Berets. The president of one of the UNC campuses recently said that the kinds of people who log on to my website are the kinds of people who bomb abortion clinics. If that is true, then the kinds of people who log on to my website are also the kinds of people who would beat up homosexuals just because they are gay. Assuming this to be true, then once these GILBERT allies are packing (heat) it would make some sense to a) give them hot pink berets to wear and 2) assign them to escort drunken homosexuals home (or to a cab) after a night of “only scattered memories” in the Wilmington bar district. (Since I will post this column on my website, those who want to assault gays will know what the pink berets mean when they see them).
Until now, gays have been much more likely to be attacked even if their attackers were not aware of their sexual orientation. This is simply because gays are more likely to hang out in bars – places where they are not allowed to carry weapons in order to defend themselves.
Under my plan, gays will no longer be among our most vulnerable citizens. It is a plan that is far better than hate crimes legislation because it seeks to prevent crimes against gays not to elevate their severity after they have already taken place.
There will never be a shortage of people who choose lifestyles that make them more susceptible to violence than others. It isn’t the job of the government to protect these people. The job should be funded by responsible citizens in the private sector with the help of well-trained volunteers.