My pointâ€”and I have oneâ€”is that there is a connection between murder and love in the current highly charged culture war going on in California around the issue of marriage equality. Ellen almost makes the point.
Today the CA Supreme Court will hear a landmark case that seeks to bring marriage equality to millions of the stateâ€™s LGBT citizens. On February 12, 2008, 15 year-old Larry King of Oxnard, CA was murdered by a fellow eighth grader, Brandon, whom he asked to be his Valentine. My argument seems like a leap, but stay with me.
Millions of Ellenâ€™s fans watched her thoughtful commentary on Larryâ€™s murder, and over 137,000 have caught it on YouTube. Her arguments prompted over 840 viewers to write a comment on the YouTube site and 14 others to post video responses. Thousands then watch those videos. Well, you get it, the multiplier effect. When Ellen speaks, millions of fans listen and studio audiences go wild. A very good thing.
Ellen talks about the seeds of violence against gay people: punch lines in comedy monologues, gay jokes, verbal and physical abuse that can escalate into murder. I call it The Violence Escalator (see below). Very important information. Had she taken note of the current anti-gay marriage climate that is being whipped up in CA, folks might have made one more important connection. Climates of hate breed violence.
Today in Californiaâ€™s highest court, the Alliance Defense Fund and their ilk will argue that gay people are not worthy of marriage equality. For months, paid signature-gatherers funded by anti-marriage equality groups such as the Colorado-based Focus on the Family and the Virginia-based National Organization for Marriage have been all over California spreading the word of hate against gay people. In shopping centers, outside movie theatres, near coffee shops, the public is learning that they can stand up for prejudice and hate by signing the ballot petition for the November 2008 election to put marriage equality discrimination into the California constitution.
While Iâ€™m grateful to Ellen for what she did say, I wish that she had made that last connection: bigots are actively stirring up hate in California. In a climate of hate, innocent kids like Larry get murdered because they think that they are as free to love as everyone else. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Violence EscalatorViolence starts small but can escalate steadily and rapidly. Here are some of the steps:Â
STEP 1 Jokes that disparage classes of people (i.e. women, lesbians, people of color)
STEP 2 Slurs that demean (i.e. â€œfag,â€ â€œbitch,â€ â€œgookâ€)
STEP 3 Threats and blackmail
STEP 4 Bullying that becomes physical
STEP 5 Psychological threats and bullying
STEP 6 Physical violence
STEP 7 Murder