OK people, so here’s what I don’t get about the whole South Salt Lake “kidnapping” thing. Have you ever seen DJ Bell? He’s the size of an Egg McMuffin! Despite what I’ve read in the media, I find it hard to believe that he leapt over a fence, crept into a house full of partying Polynesians, and carried off two children under his arms like Cruella De Vil stealing Dalmatian puppies. And it seems to get more bizarro and confusing every time the media gets involved, so now I don’t know whom to believe. The timeline changes; the location of the children changes; the number of witnesses changes, and apparently a family of Samoans have somehow, according to rumor, become not just Tongans, but Tongan Crip gang members. That’s a pretty impressive trick. And therein lays the main problem, petals. Over a month after the tragic events, no one in a credible position of authority has publicly gone on record, leaving a huge void of facts that can only be filled by speculation, finger-pointing and good old fashioned gossip. That’s not reassuring or helping anyone.
What the South Salt Lake Police Department and the County Attorneys office clearly don’t understand is that a crime of violence like this is not just about DJ Bell and Dan Fair. It booms and resonates throughout the gay and lesbian community and reinforces our worst fears and perceptions. Pictures of bruised and bloodied gay men inflame our fears of hate crimes and our own potential victimization. The no-contact order placed on DJ Bell and the apparently one-sided investigation by SSLPD reinforces our distrust of law enforcement. While the prosecutors’ cavalier dismissal of assault changes against the assailants (without any explanation to the public), feeds into our fears of a politically motivated prosecutor biased against gay Utahns. And don’t even get me started about the hate-filled blogs and venomous comments posted on KSL.com, or the Deseret News and Salt Lake Trib’s Web sites. They were unbelievable! The net result of all of these negatives is that the gay community can feel vulnerable, targeted, outraged and powerless. I believe this defenselessness is why some of our community are so quick to use the “nuclear option” and call the event a hate crime Unfortunately, the words “hate crimes” are so politically loaded, they automatically wind up the media and the gay-haters, and cause public safety agencies to go into full-blown denial and defensive mode. Ironically, I of all people am suggesting we need to use the term judiciously and sparingly, and only after we know all of the facts.
Now petals, I am not the person to argue what is and what isn’t a hate crime. Primarily because my legal expertise comes from watching every episode of Scooby Doo ever made, and a few seasons of Murder, She Wrote. But … I do know this. Eventually, everyone will get their day in court and hopefully (with all of us watching and paying attention) the process will be fair and impartial. Until then, we need to ratchet down the rhetoric, slow the flow of gossip, and get the hell out of the way. God It’s so weird being the voice of reason, especially considering I lip synch!
Anyway cherubs, for my part, I am hosting a benefit night of Third Friday Bingo at First Baptist Church (777 S 1300 E) on Friday Aug. 15 (at 7:00 p.m.) to raise funds for Dan Fair’s medical expenses and legal costs (we should have a better idea of DJ’s situation after his preliminary hearing on Aug. 21, and we will cross that bridge later). Hope to see you (and your check books) there. Bye, kittens!