Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Texas Gay Man Beaten and Burned Speaks Out (and I Ask Questions about U.S. Catholic Bishops)

Yesterday, I wrote

[D]emonization of a vulnerable minority is always, throughout history, a precursor to enacting social violence against the minority designated as demonic.  The rhetorical violence of demonization leads to the real violence of social oppression, discrimination, exclusion from participation in social structures, and, often, outright physical brutality and violent assault.

And on the same day, Thomas Roberts at MSNBC interviewed* Burke Burnett of Reno, Texas, about what happened when three men at a Halloween party set on him with a broken beer bottle, and burned and beat him.  Because he's gay.  Burnett ended up with 30 stitches for stab wounds on his back and arms, along with severe burns and bruises.  He was fortunate in that a group of women at the party intervened and stopped his attackers from doing more damage to him.

And I wonder as I watch this clip if Daniel Avila happened to see it.

Or how about you, Archbishop Dolan?  And Bishop Lori?  Lori, who recently testified in Congress about the bishops' commitment to human rights in general but continued resistance to the human rights of gay and lesbian citizens . . . . Lori, who's said to be in line for a fabulous new post in Baltimore, and who whipped up a homophobic frenzy in Connecticut in the spring of 2009, which issued (predictably) in death threats against the openly gay legislators whom Lori (and Charles Chaput, his accomplice [and see also here] in Denver who now occupies the prestigious see of Philadelphia) targeted with their homophobic crusade . . . .   

The link above pointing to information about death threats against openly gay Connecticut legislators Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor after Lori and Chaput targeted them discusses only one such threat, which was made by radio talking head Hal Turner.  Another death threat against McDonald and Lawlor was made by Timothy Kane, son of a Catholic deacon.

And so I repeat: are you watching, Archbishop Dolan?  And Archbishop Chaput?  And Bishop Lori?  Are you listening?  Do you recognize the clear connection many of us see between your homophobic words and your homophobic actions and the violence that these words and actions trigger?

And I also repeat: just as Chaput has been rewarded for playing the magisterium's political games adroitly, Lori appears to to be poised to be rewarded, too.  So that a whole string of the most important--the most politically influential--and significant Catholic sees on the east coast of the U.S. will now be occupied by some of the most outspoken and mean homophobes in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, from New York (Dolan) to Philadelphia (Chaput) to D.C. (Wuerl) to Baltimore (Lori?).

I wonder what message Pope Benedict intends to send with these appointments.  And what their real political motivation is (on this, see Frank Cocozzelli's incisive analysis of the Chaput appointment).

And whether Pope Benedict himself is listening and watching as folks like Burke Burnett describe what happens when leaders of a major religious group use demonizing rhetoric to talk about those who are gay.

*The link will open a video of the interview, which may take a moment or two to load.

No comments: