Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-Gay Racism Hits New Low; Pastor Lynches President Obama In Effigy For Supporting Gay Equality

Racism and homophobic bigotry on display in a Florida church’s front yard.

Gainesville, Florida – President Barack Obama hangs in effigy from a gallows with a gay flag in his hand in the front yard of a Florida church in a blatant grab for publicity–but Pastor Terry Jones is flirting with incitement to violence against blacks and gay people. The Smoking Gun blog says that the Obama effigy is also holding a baby doll in its other hand.  A trailer emblazoned with the motto, “Obama is Killing America” sits facing the road in front of the Dove World Outreach Center.  In an interview with Huffington Post, Jones said that the flag was to protest the President’s support for LGBTQ people, and the doll symbolized Mr. Obama’s position “on abortion.” As USA Today reported, Jones came to international attention for his “Burn a Koran” campaign in 2010 and 2011 which inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., imperiled the lives of American service members stationed around the world, and ignited Islamic protests against this nation throughout the world.  After Jones oversaw the burning of the Muslim holy book in 2011, three days of riots broke out in Afghanistan, with over 21 homicides including seven dead United Nations workers. Now, seeking the glory days of his past buffoonery, Jones is making a visual statement he says is protected by the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Disavowing the obvious threat implied in the gallows installation, Jones says he only wishes President Obama to “die politically” for what he is “doing to America.”  While some constitutional scholars may agree, taking a cue from the 2011 legal victory of Westboro Baptist Church protecting the Topeka, Kansas church’s protests at military service members’ funerals, Jones is hypocritically cloaking his violent symbology in freedom of speech language. Local Floridians are not buying his diversionary tactics, however. WCJB TV-20  interviewed Gainesville neighbor Mary Mamatsios who said of the controversial pastor,  “He’s just over the edge and he has nothing better to do. He’s a total screwball.”  This view is widely held throughout the Sunshine State.

The extreme violence portrayed by Jones’s church by including a gallows and a hangman’s noose disturbs the peace of African Americans and LGBTQ folk alike.  Symbols matter, and the incitement to violence conjured up in the collective consciousness of the black community by the threat of lynching and the noose threatens to cross the legal line.  The U.S. Secret Service is not only aware of the controversial installation in the Dove Center’s yard, but are actively investigating Jones and the church for threatening the life and wellbeing of the President, according to the Broward Palm Beach New Times.  As Dr. James Cone, pioneer Black theologian, shows in his award-winning book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Books, 2011), nooses and lynching haunt the Black community due to the extermination by lynching of black men throughout the South during the “Strange Fruit” period of the 20th century. Stephen G.Ray Jr. of the Christian Century Magazine says Cone’s book “is a theological meditation on a dimension of the lethal oppression experienced by African Americans that has been formative for both the faith and civic posture of the black community for a very long time.” 

But the LGBTQ community also has legitimate concerns about security and safety, too.  The suffering of blacks and gay people as marginalized communities runs on parallel tracks in this latest controversy.  Since the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by the President in October 2009, murders of LGBTQ people have risen sharply, this year reaching the highest number of hate crime homicides every seen in the USA. Gays and blacks are targeted by people who believe queer executions are justified by the Bible and the authority of church leadership. Like the African American fear of what a noose represents, the hanging of an effigy holding a rainbow flag in its hand conveys what bigots like Jones surely have in mind for LGBTQ people.

A parable: When a dog owner neglects to secure the pet pen, allowing a snapping dog to run free in the neighborhood, who is to blame if the dog digs up the rose beds, urinates on someone’s shoes and socks, kills two pet cats, and mauls a little girl?  The dog? No!  It was in the dog’s nature and conditioning to bite and tear.  The person who unleashed a dog he knew was likely to bite on the other hand sets up the condition by which injury and death may occur–and the dog owner is legally responsible for the damage his pet causes to life, limb and property. When demagogues like Jones and his more practiced homophobe, Rev. Fred Phelps, breathe out their hatred of LGBTQ people, they are also potentially inciting “whosoever will” to violence against gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people. The incitement to commit a bias crime is a crime of violence in its own right, as Rev. Dr. Mel White has pointed out time and again–and it has to be stopped.

June 9, 2012 - Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay bashing, GLAAD, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, U.S. Secret Service | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Irreligious and conservative christian Fundies at their finest and they wonder why people laugh at them?! Pray for them as Christ would, and hope they just fade away quicker!
    DarthEVaderCheney, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

    Comment by dakotahgeo | June 10, 2012 | Reply

  2. These days you can\’t espouse any hate speech on a plane, train or public transportation. The president has already been set. Why don\’t we protect the places where our children go everyday? Is it because we survived it? Do we not owe our children? Times change–we no longer say nigger in conversation because we are matured as a people. Let\’s do this for LGBT people as well–especially our students in schools.

    There needs to be federal anti-bullying laws that protect \”all\” students. We need to make ourselves and our children accountable for tolerating crimes of bullying. There needs to be law that reaches out to help and protect our children. There needs to be a set of laws and policies that confront this problem in the classroom, if not in the courts.

    Comment by Ccbc Packard | June 11, 2012 | Reply

  3. [...] pastor hangs effigy of Obama with pride flag by noose  Queer News Catholic bishops in Uganda call for revival of “kill gays” legislation [...]

    Pingback by Periodical Political Post *109 « milkboys – The Boys Blog | June 12, 2012 | Reply

  4. [...] pastor hangs effigy of Obama with pride flag by noose This entry was posted in Orobas Forneus. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with [...]

    Pingback by Other News | June 14, 2012 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,703 other followers

%d bloggers like this: