OPINION: Does Fighting Hate Crimes With Hate Speech Really Help?
Yes, I’m pleased that the three alleged gay-bashing suspects were finally arrested last week (although they are now out on bail). What they are accused of doing to the two gay men literally in my backyard is atrocious. I hope that, come their trial, they are convicted.
With that said, however, I’m super uncomfortable with the way my social-media feed looked this week in reaction to the capturing of the suspects.
It started early enough. As soon as pictures of Kathryn Knott started making their way around the web, I started to see posts on my Facebook feed that would make a bathroom stall blush. Things like, “I wanna find that bitch and shove a sharp pole up her cunt,” “That fucking bitch is gonna get her ass beat if she ever shows up to Philly again,” “Dumb bitch, go rot in hell.”
I don’t understand how that kind of talk makes the situation—as terrible as it is—any better. In fact, I’d argue, it makes the situation worse. Besides being utterly misogynistic (hey, weren’t there two guys arrested, too?), it exposes a darker side of our own anger: We’re fighting hate with hate.
To be totally frank, I sort of expected this type of reaction from the LGBT community once the assailants were arrested; it’s basic sociology. We want to see those who attacked our community be brought to justice. But there’s a big difference between looking for justice and wishing that one of the attackers had a “sharp pole up her cunt.”
This argument was somewhat pointed out in John Featherman’s recent article “LGBT Community Shows Hypocrisy,” and although I don’t agree with everything Mr. Featherman says in it, he does make a valid point about Philly’s LGBT community:
“We should treat all LGBT Americans equally. For me, that means equality in marriage and in the workplace. Equal rights—but not special rights. Those aren’t just my words, but they were the words of the gay-rights movement until recently.
But the uncompromising Philadelphia LGBT lobby—which penalizes its supporters if they are not 100 percent in lockstep with their vicious smear tactics—does not care about fairness.”
Is it a “smear tactic” to release the home addresses of the three assailants on the internet (go Google it if you really want to know)? Is it a “smear tactic” to essentially threaten the lives of the three arrested attackers online? Is it a “smear tactic” to suggest, as I saw on several posts, that the three alleged assailants shouldn’t have been released on bail (trust me, you’d want this right, too, if you were arrested)?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know people are furious, as they absolutely should be, and they do have the right to say whatever they want. However, just as my stomach turned when I heard about the Thursday-evening attack on the gay couple, my stomach turns every time I see and hear this kind of needless violent speech on social media.
And what exactly do we hope to achieve by calling Knott a “fucking bitch”?