July 21st, 2006

reverse bashing????

In response to the
in the previous post...

I hate these kinds of articles. Yes, racism and bigotry are unacceptable, from anyone. But this smacks of discourses about "reverse racism" towards white people. And I hate it when queers use "like race arugments," so I am going to do my best to talk about the structure of the work of phobia in general and the ways in which racisms and homophobias overlap and support each other.

I don't believe in reverse racism, and I don't believe in reverse homophobia or heterophobia or whatever.

People accept these ideas of reverse-whatever only because of a culturally pervasive refusal to recognize, understand, or dismantle institutional and dominant/hegemonic phobias and oppression. When racism and homophobia become defined only as interpersonal communication or violence (slurs yelled in public, an isolated bashing), then, simplistically, once the oppressed group gains some cultural capital/power, stories of reverse racism/phobia emerge.

What is missing from this analysis is the way in which racism and homophobia (and phobias in general, I think) are a constitutional part of the fabric of mainstream/dominant culture. Slurs from a passerby on the street are only the tip of the proverbial large, mostly underwater iceberg.

Slurs towards queers, people of color-- indeed, queer people of color -- echo beyond interpersonal interactions. They reverberate in the context of a racist, hetero-dominant society and carry the punch of hundreds of years of slavery, poverty, prison, violence, and oppression.

There is no such context, no such institutional or dominant cultural discourse that maligns and oppresses heterosexuals.

To equate queer bashings, the very real, lived, historical and present violence and experience of queer people with a some straight people being offended because they were called "breeders"... ??? That makes me livid beyond belief.

This kind of discourse is not innocuous. Whether or not the actions that are being complained about are right or wrong, the framing of the events in this manner is extremely dangerous to any real work against phobia and phobic violence in any society.

CNN: Prosecutors fight 'gay panic' defenses... sort of.

Prosecutors fight 'gay panic' defenses

This CNN article is a bit of a mixed bag...

Lawmakers in California and New York are considering bills to deter the common courtroom strategy of making a victim's sexual orientation central to a criminal defense.

Both measures would require judges to remind jurors that bias toward the victim cannot influence their deliberations.

California's bill also would instruct juries that gay panic defenses are inconsistent with state laws protecting gays, lesbians and transgenders from discrimination.

Not a bad thing.  But then...

It was prompted by the murder of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager who was beaten and strangled in 2002 after two men with whom she'd had anal sex learned she was biologically male. [...]

"Gwen being transgender was not a provocative act. It's who she was," said Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Chris Lamiero.

"However, I would not further ignore the reality that Gwen made some decisions in her relation with these defendants that were impossible to defend," he added. "I don't think most jurors are going to think it's OK to engage someone in sexual activity knowing they assume you have one sexual anatomy when you don't."

Two defense lawyers who used their clients' rage at discovering the truth about Araujo as part of their defense agreed that the issue is too complicated to be legislated.

I don't understand how conceding that as a mitigating factor is any different than conceding 'gay panic' as a defense?