January 07, 2010

The "Gay Panic" Defense Won't Go Away

From Change.org:

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stab you to death, but I was freaked out about your sexual orientation.

Sounds ridiculous, but the venerable "gay panic" defense is being tossed about surrounding a murder in Indiana, where an Indiana University professor was killed last week. That professor, Don Belton, was stabbed in his own kitchen six times with a ten-inch military knife. The assailant, Michael Griffin, is a 25-year-old ex-marine and Bloomington, Indiana resident.

The details of the case are murky. Journals from Belton's own home indicate that the two had some sort of relationship, dating back a few weeks. Griffin also apparently told police that he stabbed Belton because the professor wouldn't apologize for an unwanted sexual advance on Christmas Day. But the extent to which these two knew each other, and how they knew each other, hasn't really been fully disclosed just yet.

But that's not stopping some from speculating that "gay panic" led to Belton's murder. Take Ryan Smith over at CBS News, who writes, "Though his defense strategy is not yet clear, others with similar cases have pursued a 'gay panic' defense, hoping to persuade juries that they were rendered temporarily insane by the perceived romantic or sexual advances of the victim."

In 2010, one might think "gay panic" is as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "fighting for peace." After all, let's call "gay panic" what it really is -- an act by someone so self-loathing or insecure that they annihilate a person because they can't come to terms with their own issues. As a friend of mine put it, yeah, that may be panic. But defensible? Hardly.
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1 comment:

  1. an act by someone so self-loathing or insecure that they annihilate a person because they ca't come to terms with their own issues

    That applies also to gays as well.