While Congress is even now arguing about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because of protections added for gays, lesbians, and immigrant women, a Nebraska woman endured horrific torture and attempted murder in her own home. The word “dyke” was carved into her flesh, among other words which have not yet been released. It is unknown how long her attackers confined and tortured her before setting fire to her home. Neighbors describe her as incredibly kind-the type of person who would mow other people’s lawns just to help out.
After the attack, the woman made her way to the home of a neighbor, Linda Rappl, who said she feared bad news about her husband, who is in hospice, when she heard someone knocking on her door before dawn Sunday.
What she saw instead was her 33-year-old neighbor, she said, naked and bleeding.
“I was in shock,” Rappl said. “She was naked, her hands were tied with zip ties. All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down.”
The woman was sobbing. Rappl, 68, brought her neighbor inside and wrapped her in a blanket before calling 911.
“She had cuts on her arms and legs but I didn’t want to humiliate her and stare,” she said.
It looked like she had endured torture, Rappl said.
The continued rhetoric against gays and the politicization of sexual orientation stokes the fire of hate. When church leaders and political figures continually rail against homosexuality as a scourge to society, it is no wonder that some people resort to violence. This time-tested manner of dividing Americans against each other is all too effective. By dehumanizing black people and propagating the myth of racial superiority over another race, slavery, lynchings and denial of civil rights was made acceptable. During World War II, the same treatment of Japanese Americans led to their incarceration in concentration camps, despite no evidence of treasonous behavior. Church doctrine placing women in a submissive role has led to all manner of misogynistic treatment of females.
The sustained propaganda of organized religion has convinced many Americans that gays are an abomination, a threat to traditional marriage, and a sign of moral degeneration. The violent elements of society are given a target to terrorize. Everyone is shocked when an incident such as this occurs, but it is simply the logical outcome of targeted discrimination against a portion of American society. When our politicians and moral leaders are bent on denying civil rights to gay Americans, it infers that they are less than human. Even though the Bill of Rights makes no distinction between race, class, or any other category of human, our denial of rights to homosexuals implies that we are better than the “other.”
Even if we “disagree” with homosexuality, it doesn’t mean that gay people are less worthy of civil protections from discrimination and abuse. “It grosses me out” is not an adequate defense for actively seeking to place human beings in a separate category. That illegal immigrant women have no avenue of escaping an abuser because of her status is an appalling disregard for human life and dignity.
When a brutal act of violence occurs, most of us feel pity for the victim. In the above case, the brutality of the crime caused the community to rally around the woman in support. When we witness human suffering first-hand, we are moved to compassion. The next step is to examine how we as a society have contributed to the problem. The fault for the crime lies with the men who committed the act, but the relentless attacks on homosexuality as some sort of deviance akin to bestiality and pedophilia gives such violent elements a convenient target. Often, the very people who express revulsion for gays are themselves suffering a form of self-hatred due to their own homosexual desires. What they despise within themselves causes them to lash out at others who may have found peace with their orientation, even as their persecutor endures internal conflict and the denial of his own nature. Such self-loathing is sad, because it arises from church, family, and government condemnation.
Though I can no longer call myself a Christian, largely because of the thinly-cloaked hatred that resides in many churches, I know that Jesus Christ of the Bible would not recognize the religion that rose up in his name. This “Christian nation” that places so much value on pious words disregards his revolutionary teachings. Rather than embracing the least of us, the poor and downtrodden, we actively seek to keep them in their places of subjugation. Our leaders have implemented a subclass of people less deserving of respect, not worthy of equal protection under the law.