The above picture is a screencap of the headlines from the Journal Star about the hate crime in lincoln, taken July 29. Here’s an interview with the survivor from an Omaha station.
What jumps out at me above is the number of shares on facebook for the stories. Their “it possibly didn’t happen” story has the most facebook shares. I am not faulting them for reporting that police haven’t ruled out a hoax, but for the fact that they made what should have been a one sentence addendum to another story a lead story, with a headline that read to many as “Police say hate crime didn’t happen.” I’m not making this up, people have actually said, in hushed tones to each other, “Did you see the story in the Journal Star that said the hate crime was made up?” (My husband pointed out that this is why they teach reading comprehension in school.)
The way that the Journal Star handled the story established absolute falseness in some people’s minds, and sewed enough doubt in others that they could quietly ignore the story with a good conscience. It allows those that hate gay people an easy out while also giving people who think “that kind of stuff doesn’t happen here” an easy out.
This kind of stuff does happen here. We don’t like to look at it, but there is a lot of hate in Lincoln. We have (mostly) religious people, who enjoy protected status under the law from being fired or from housing discrimination, actively campaigning to deny others those same rights. We have little old ladies that have an active fear of “those people” (as was once phrased to me when a nice old lady found out I’d moved into a mostly non white neighborhood.) We’ve had a lot of hate fueled violence in Lincoln lately. And we have a seething undercurrent of hate, one that isn’t expressed much publicly anymore but can be overheard in bars, at parties, in accidentally shared facebook posts. We have a bunch of people who are bitter that the world is changing.
The world will keep changing for the better. Gay marriage is rapidly becoming the miscegenation of our generation. There are still a bunch of people who think interracial marriage is evil, but they’re generally considered a fringe. Gay marriage, and gay rights more generally, will be seen the same way in another decade or two (and, I hope, rights for all LGBT people). We’ll marvel at how people used to quote the bible to denounce gay marriage (as they did with interracial marriage) and shake our heads at the blindness of previous generations.
It is encouraging to me how much love I have seen in the aftermath. A *lot* of people have stood up and said “this is not OK.” I believe they outnumber the hate filled population, and it makes me happier for the future.