Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Urine Attack at Harvard a Hoax? Piss Off!

Judge Judy says, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!"

Cambridge, Massachusetts – A Harvard dean is now claiming that the reported dousing of LGBT books in the Harvard University Lamont Library was an “accident” done by library staff who happened to have a bottle of urine in the stacks right where the LGBT and same-sex marriage books were shelved. The Advocate is covering the story for the LGBT press, and carried the “explanation” of the dean, Evelyn Hammonds.  Dean Hammonds, who had initially reported the serious nature of the situation, and stressed to the Harvard Crimson that the university takes anti-gay expressions with the utmost gravity, now says that an investigation has uncovered that a library worker (unnamed) discovered a bottle of what appeared to be urine on the shelf, and spilled it on the books accidentally. Officials are at pains to repeat that this was not a hate crime.  Harvard’s Marco Chan, co-chair of the campus Queer Students and Allies, has asked what is in our opinion the crucial question: what was a bottle of pee doing in the Lamont Library anyway?  To that question, we pose another: why did it take officials two weeks to determine that the staining of better than thirty books with urine, worth thousands of dollars, was simply an accident?  Further, how was it that the bottle of urine was strategically placed in the LGBT and same-sex marriage section of the library, when there were so many other places it could have been? Will the dean and the university authorities now claim that the location of the spillage was all an unfortunate coincidence?  And, further than that, what sort of shenanigans were going on with a bottle of pee that got it dumped on library shelves to begin with?  Who was the responsible party? Has someone come forward, and what have they told investigators that has made them “about face” on the hate crimes investigation after two whole weeks?  While admittedly the truth is often stranger than fiction, the details of this “accident” or hate crime have not been told in such a way as to make the claim of accidental urine spillage in the Lamont Library credible.  Harvard University has, like all bastions of higher education in the United States, a long history of heterosexism and homophobia, even persecution of gays and lesbians on campus, as books such as Harvard’s Secret Court by William Wright (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006) and The Crimson Letter: Harvard, Homosexuality, and the Shaping of American Culture by Douglass Shand-Tucci (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004) have shown. Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes has related the oppression of gay and lesbian students on campus at Harvard in more recent years in his gripping account of his own public coming out story in his best-seller The Good Book (HarperOne, 2002).  The current presence of bias-driven anti-LGBTQ elements on the Ivy League campus is clear to the Harvard University administration, and in covenant with their present student body, and given their culture-setting status in this country, it seems to us that more is owed to the American public and to the LGBTQ community than a lame claim that vandalizing queer books in an historic library was no more than an unfortunate accident.  As television personality Judge Judy Sheindlin says to incredible witnesses in her courtroom, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining!”  It is past time for Harvard officials to quit pissing around and tell the truth about this crime.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, book desecration, Harvard University, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Massachusetts, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvard Gay Books Soaked in Urine: Police Investigate Hate Crime

Cambridge, Massachusetts – Harvard University Police are investigating a urine-stained attack against the LGBT book collection held in the Harvard Lamont Library. Forty (40) books were found “doused in urine” the week of November 24, according to the New York Daily News.  The report became public on this past Friday. The books were all dealing with LGBT issues and same-sex marriage.  Because of the nature of the subject matter in the books, the Harvard Police Department (HUPD) is investigating the attack as a bias-related hate crime. HUPD spokesperson, Steven G. Catalano, told the Harvard Crimson, “The HUPD has zero tolerance for any bias-related incidents or crimes.” Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds also decried the crime to the Crimson, saying, “Harvard College will not tolerate acts of vandalism, especially those that appear to be motivated by hate or bias. [As] a community, we will continue to affirm our shared values of dignity and respect for everyone in our community.” According to sources at Harvard University, the books were worth thousands of dollars, and are damaged beyond repair.  Beth S. Brainerd, Harvard Library spokesperson, told the press that the books would have to be discarded. “Once the urine is poured, they can’t really fix [the books],” she said in a Crimson interview. Library staff reportedly found a bottle beside the ruined books on Level B of the historic Lamont Library, once filled with what appeared to urine. They threw the bottle and its contents away, believing it to be a health hazard. Harvard University LGBT leadership was quick to respond to the news of the desecration of the books. Senior at Harvard, Marco Chan, co-chair of Harvard College Queer Students and Allies, said to the Crimson, “I am very outraged. It is hard to conceive this as a coincidence when there are 40 books on the same subject. The message that this incident sent to me is that we need more resources not only for the LGBT community but also targeted towards other people.” The Lamont Library at Harvard was the first in the United States designed specifically for use by undergraduate students. Opened in 1949, the Lamont is a popular venue for study and research on the campus. The strike against the LGBT book collection is a serious incident in the struggle for human rights. Hate crimes against book collections in Germany presaged an intensification of violent Anti-Semitism, for example. Outrage by bias groups often targets books first, and then people. No reported leads exist as the Harvard University Police Department continues to investigate the book desecration.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, book desecration, Harvard University, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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