Thursday, October 30, 2014

It Was A Hate Crime

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen, or at least heard about, that airport incident, where an apparently drunken white man attacked a black man, while calling him a n****r over and over again. The whole episode was caught on a cellphone camera—as is everything these days—and was posted to YouTube where it went viral.

The attacker was tackled by bystanders in the airport, and taken down while screaming about “f*****g n****r” and was subsequently arrested and charged with a Hate Crime.

Except it didn’t happen that way, though maybe if it did …

At the Dallas airport that day McCleish Christmas Benham was drunk, very drunk; when a gate agent asked him if he’d had any alcohol, Benham cursed at her, saying, “Yes, 100 drinks.” A man standing nearby heard the exchange and told Benham to calm down, that the police were on their way, and that’s when Benham turned his rage on that young man.

He was asked again to relax, and when another passenger asked why he was so angry, Benham pointed to the first young man and said, "This faggot right here."

Then Benham kicked the man in the groin, punched him in the eye, and hit him on the head before he was tackled by five onlookers and an airport police officer. While he was being taken to the ground, he continued to yell, "Queers! That's what I'm upset about."

Now, while this sickens me, and while I wonder why it took so long for airport security to respond, because the minute you take too long taking your shoes off at TSA you’re surrounded by security, I am stunned to learn that Benham will only face charges of simple assault and public intoxication; each carries a maximum fine of $500 and no jail time. 

But there doesn’t seem to be any move to charge him with a Hate Crime, though, to be fair, local police have not yet indicated whether they will file hate-crime charges against Benham; if they did, Benham could be charged with a Class-B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.

In addition he might also face separate charges under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, though it seems that hate crime charges can be difficult to prove when an assailant is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Okay, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if that drunk man had punched and kicked the other man because he was a belligerent drunk, that’s hateful; but when he punches, kicks, and hits, while calling the man a “queer” and a “faggot” that’s Hate.

I mean, if that first part of the story were true if he’d called a black passenger a “n****r” and attacked him, we’d know right away it’s a Hate Crime; there’d be no discussion. But since this was, perhaps, because we don’t even know, a gay victim, well, we can’t be sure it was Hate.

I’m here to say it was Hate; it is Hate; and it will be Hate. And when a lawyer, when asked about hate crimes laws says that would be difficult to prove because Benham was drunk, well, then you’ve just given people their out: get drunk, attack a queer, and it won’t be considered hate because you’re intoxicated.

Now that’s hateful.

5 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

Here's hoping they throw the proverbial book at him.

♫Musique♫ said...

They need to throw the book at him

Helen Lashbrook said...

I don't understand the reticence; these cases seem hate crimes to me; but then what do I know? After all, I'm not a lawyer, just someone with common sense, which the law doesn't seem to use as a measure, although jurors, when first used in the reign of Henry II, were expected to use common sense when adjudicating on their peers.

anne marie in philly said...

it was h8, pure and simple. period.

Biki Honko said...

Could the fact that as of now, hes only getting a slap on the wrist, be due that this happened in Texas?