No Big Thing. Right.

Following up on 'Liss' post.

When Shaker BGK sent me this article about the letters sent to 11 gay bars, I was struck by the first paragraph, and the last (seems to be a thing for me lately):

The article starts out:
"Eleven gay bars in Seattle were sent letters Tuesday threatening ricin attacks — in what some are describing as a hate crime." (emp mine)
and it ends:
"Stranger editorial director Dan Savage said he didn't take the threat too seriously: "I get a death threat a day with Savage Love," he said, referring to a sex column he writes.

Savage said the letters didn't contain any religious references, making him wonder whether the author was an embittered gay person. He said that if the threat were designed to ruin business for gay bars, it may backfire. Staffers from The Stranger made a point of visiting gay bars Tuesday night to show their support, he said, and others may be inspired to do the same."
WTF? "What some are calling a hate crime"?!?!?!?

See, it doesn't matter who sent the letters -- this is terrorism, pure and simple -- and it is terrorism targeted at a specific oppressed population, which is, by definition, a fucking hate crime.

And hey, Dan Savage -- good for you for dealing with your fear in the face of death threat letters sent to The Stranger, but you know, when the police and the FBI are taking it seriously, you might want to join in and get off your pleasure cruise down that river in Egypt.

Because even if the author of the letter doesn't follow through on the threat, the threat itself is still an issue, in my mind -- it's designed to stimulate fear in an already-threatened population, and as I cruised around the blogosphere looking at responses from queers, I noticed that I had that uh-oh feeling again:
"Like most gay people, I've been getting death threats since grade school, so bring it on."
"They collected the letter and that's about it. I don't think it's anything to worry about it." Roland admitted to being unnerved by the letter at first. "But after the initial 'what?', it's like whatever."
Which is sad, to me. We're so used to being despised. We're accustomed to watching our backs and being vigilant.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand it --we almost have to make it "no big thing", because if we responded to every potential threat against us, that's just about all we'd do every day.

I've been in the majority of those 11 bars, at one point or another, and in some sense, the author of the letter has been effective, no matter what happens next -- because the next time I walk through the door of one of them, I'll think of that letter -- it will be one more piece of vigilance I carry with me, when my armor is already feeling a bit weighty.

I was trying to imagine, though, what the response would have been if the same letter were received by, say, eleven churches of a specific denomination. I'm guessing the members of that community would not be saying things like: "Well, we get a death threat a day", or "well, whatever", and I'm guessing that next Sunday, there would be a strong police presence in the neighborhood of each of those churches.

I think it's important for queers to maintain their mental health in terms of this stuff -- these are the ways we cope sometimes -- by calming ourselves and going on with our lives, even in the face of threats and malice -- but I also think it's important for us to remember that, in a just society, those threats and that malice would not be an accepted reality, but rather, a very rare experience.

It's important that we remember this, lest we become like a battered spouse who just gets "used to it", because we all know where that goes.

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