Image of a wall mural in clarion alley san francisco, the dogs are barking Violence, Sexism, Exclusion, Fear

Turn or Burn, When Hate Becomes Normal

‘Turn or burn’ is a reference to the 16th Century practice of the burning heretics and homosexuals alive.

First posted Jun 17, 2016

Political ideologues know what’s going on inside of angry men like Dan White, and they know how to use it.

A homophobic Meme showing Donald Trump saying, Get in Faggot, We're Making America Great Again
Homophobic Meme found on Twitter

Dan White grew up a world of normalized homophobia.

Queers were criminals in the eyes of the law, abominations to the Judeo-Christian God, and described as clinically deviant by psychiatry.

White’s political leaders and ministers told him his honor as a man was under attack; they said perverts like Harvey Milk were a threat to everything decent God-fearing men like Dan White revered.

Dan White was a straight man.

Dan White was a Viet Nam Vet.

Dan White was a devout Catholic.

Religious and political leaders on the right raged that fags like Harvey Milk and liberals like George Moscone deserved death.

Political leaders who use hate speech to ‘fire up’ their base know that some of those people will act on what they hear.

They want violence and plausible deniability.

Screenshot from NBC News

Dan White had reason to think he’d be seen as a hero when he gunned down Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1978.

Herb Cain, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote after the trial about the police department’s support for White, and their “dislike of homosexuals.”

As a former police officer, White knew he could use some form of the ‘Gay Panic’ defense and get a reduced sentence.

 Historically, in US courts, use of the gay panic defense has not typically resulted in the acquittal of the defendant; instead, the defendant was usually found guilty, but on lesser charges, or judges and juries may have cited homosexual solicitation as a mitigating factor, resulting in reduced culpability and sentences. Wikipedia

That’s what happened.

White’s defense attorney’s argued diminished mental capacity.

On May 21, 1979, a jury found Dan White guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced him to five years in prison; he earned paroled in 1984.

“A middle-class jury, not a bunch of kooks by any stretch, had decided one can kill, twice, complete with coup de grace, and get away with it.” Herb Caen, People Magazine, 1985

Dan White killed himself in 1985.

“Nobody knows what’s going on inside of me,” Dan White once said, but he was wrong.

Right-wing ideologues know what’s going on inside of depressed and angry white men like Dan White, and they know how to use it.

A meme that depicts a permit to hunt democrata and liberals
Liberal Hunting Permit found on a right-wing website in 2016

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2016-2020 all rights reserved

Memes found on the internet used for educational purposes
Header Image, (c) Rob Goldstein 2020







48 thoughts on “Turn or Burn, When Hate Becomes Normal

  1. This was a difficult article to read, not because it was so well written it because it was. The shameful behavior you describe is truly an inconvenient truth but one we must acknowledge. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fab post Rob! Thoughts and prayers to Dan White and those of his ilk. Sorry, I couldn’t watch the Scarborough video because I cannot tolerate a millimeter of a second listening to Shitler’s voice. Just sayin’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. One day I’ll wake up and the media will have stopped enabling trump and the GOP will stop conspiring with trump and our racist minority will have slithered back under its rock where it belongs. Until that day, the resistance persists. :).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hate may never be the normal, Robert.
    We need to remember, that no matter which book, religious or not, we all are reading, we still will understand that book in different ways. Humans wrote the rules for all the religions, after each their interpretation of the very old written.
    Many of the “old wise” people, who were able to read and write, were also the very dominant people in their societies. So of course they interpreted the rules for their own best. Wish more people would understand that.
    You may never let hate dominate Robert, even if you could have great reasons to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Then I will agree with you, Robert. There are no reason to criminalize homosexuality at all. We are all different with different ways to live and no one is better than the others.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed Irene. We must learn to stop ourselves from making laws that hurt people and limit their mobility and choices in life. Thank you for the conversation, Irene. Clarity is important.


  4. OMG I LOVE this I really LOVE this. BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT and SO clever! Just superb! I hope this is widely distributed it says it all. So clever R.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too was thinking “but.” I was raised in the Bible belt…hearing the so-called “preachers” talking about “whores and queers.” Even at a tender age, I didn’t believe anything they said….I was taught that everybody was equal and “judge not lest you be judged.” Who was I to criticize somebodys’ color, or religion or sexual preference?
    I am uneducated in the proverbial sense but having a degree doesn’t mean anything if you are blind to morality, goodness and compassion.
    Am I mentally disturbed? Of course. How could anybody have endured the life I have had and not be disturbed? (You of all people know the effects of brutality) but does that give somebody the incentive or the right to arbitrarily blow somebody away because their lifestyle happens to conflict with their beliefs or “religion?”
    Do I excuse him or his actions? Not really. Do I understand how he felt when he came back from Vietnam? I couldn’t possible understand but I saw first hand how those young men were treated….and I HATED it.
    I was as religious as anybody could possibly be, until a few years ago. Religious beliefs are not an excuse for hatred.
    You’re a better man than I am. I do not forgive these senseless “acts of violence and hatred.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laurel, I don’t forgive Dan White. I feel badly for the way his life turned out. All of us are born innocent and all of us are products of our environments. If Dan White had not been raised in a twisted world that taught him to hate people for being different Milk and Moscone might still be alive. If Omar Mateen had been raised in a country that didn’t place gun ownership over the safety of our citizens he an 53 other people might be alive today. And if it turns out that he was also suffering from untreated Bi-Polar illness we can also thank the hateful way our country treats it’s mentally ill citizens.

      Our communities have lived under the thumb of a political party composed of bigots and willfully ignorant ideologues. They are just as responsible for this as the shooter.

      I feel badly for all of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Because those people are in constant contact with God via shapchat and know first hand what goes on. While i believe in God, i don’t believe in the methods various churches are using. Shaming. Isolating. Ostracizing. Twisting the Bible. ”Honor your parents” . And yet no motherfucker will ever tell you that this advice is meant for loving people living in kind christian families. I refuse to believe God wants me to honor that thing that walks around in human skin pretending to be a mother while trying to destroy me in every way possible. This psycho was homophobic clearly and using religion as an excuse for the fact he didn’t dare to be gay (because it takes balls to come out).
    Sorry for venting under your blog, but the amount of junk information that flooded my brain over this massacre those days is unbelievable.


    1. By all means vent. The only thing more revolting than a man who thinks murdering people is more moral than playing pee-pees with another man are the religious and political hypocrites who taught him to hate himself.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I remember watching the movie and thinking why? The pictures of biblical references on hate spewing signs is disturbing. The bible or any religious text should not be used to divide and demonize. That is not in keeping with the Golden Rule or its similar versions in other religious texts (at least as I was taught).

    Although the Jim Crow era was different, it did have similarities. The bible was used by some ministers to divide, just as it is here. My post of a few days uses this theme, “Bigotry in our Leaders is not the answer,” and that includes religious leaders as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a child in Charleston, South Carolina I asked a neighbor lady why Black people were slaves and this was her answer:

      “When Cain slewed Able God put a mark on him. That mark was black skin. Then Cain was banished from the Garden ( yes, she referred to Eden) and Cain went into the land of Nod and married. But there weren’t no women except Eve so Cain married a ape and that is how we got Black people. God intended for Blacks to be slaves so when we made them slaves we was doing God’s will — and not keeping them slaves is contrary to God’s will and is a sin and that’s why we have to keep them in their place.”

      There is nothing like having the opportunities in your life defined by semi-literates who don’t understand history or religion. To quote the arrogantly idiotic Sara Palin, my neighbor lady was a special kind of stupid.

      Did you know that the Premise for the porn film ‘Deep Throat‘ is based on what was once a widely believed Southern misconception that Gay men have a clitoris in their throats?

      Truth is stranger than badly acted porn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How lucky you are…I can visualize the woman who told me the story of Cain and his ape bride as if she were sitting in front of me. Later when I saw Cabaret the scene of the ape as the Jewish bride reminded me of her and I understood the ape as a general racist metaphor.


      2. Rob, depending whether I feel it is worth the effort, I might ask of someone who said that, “Do you really believe that or your just saying that?” It causes some reflection.

        When a young man working for Ben Carson noted on the phone how everyone was out to get Dr. Carson and they don’t want him running, I asked him something similar. ” I said, thank you for being involved, but may I ask you a question? After a yes, I said “Do you really believe what you just told me? I said Dr. Carson is a fine man and fabulous surgeon, but he is very unqualified to run for President. No one is out to get him. So, if you don’t mind, I will pass on your request for money.”

        I hope I made him think. Maybe not. I think the ape lady may have not been worth the effort. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Keith, I rarely discuss the fact that I was raised in a housing project in Charleston. This was during the worst of the early effort to desegregate the city. Shortly after this, the federal government mandated the Project be desegregated and the whites moved out. When I see Trump’s followers I see people who are very much like the people in that housing project. They were frustrated, alcoholic, and more impoverished than they thought was right for ‘whites’ and they absolutely needed Blacks to stay in their place because without that they were at the bottom and that was untenable for them. There was a brief moment of hope for these people when Lyndon Johnson passed the Great Society. Their children had access to schools, higher education and healthcare but they voted it all down after desegregation. It is tragic to think that a generation of people chose poverty, ignorance and early death for their children and grandchildren because they believed that in the ‘natural’ order of things they deserved an place of honor simply because they were white.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, perspective matters…I am proof that federally subsidized higher education works. You and would not have this conversation had I not had access to federally funded schools and community colleges. I have used that access to do what citizens are supposed to do: I participate in the life of my nation and community and as I continue to learn I reach out to those behind me so they will know that they are more than a ‘station’ in the service of another person’s privilege. We are human beings. Civilization is not civilized if it does not mitigate life’s adversities for everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Rob, you are indeed. You blend head and heart together well. You are curious and don’t mind sharing your opinion in a non-threatening manner and are open to the same. Keep building your sphere of influence as you have a voice worth listening to. I look forward to future dialogue. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You have so much more compassion than most (certainly more than I). What you have written so eloquently is true, and yet…I kept saying silently to your words ‘but.’ Yes, he would deserve our pity had he not acted savagely. Yes, he was raised in a homophobic society supported by so-called religious teachings. Yes, he was confused and questioned his own manhood. And so on. BUT, the signature of our very humanity, I think, is that we search, examine, and observe and base our actions on reason and compassion rather than old ideas crammed into our tiny brains. Hatred of any sort IS indeed a mental illness. The cure is simple, easy, and available to all–education. Thank you for a thoughtful (and thought-filled) dialogue.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your comment and this is what I want. I love it when we can comment and challenge each other in a collaborative and constructive way. Thank you for your visit to my blog…:)

      Liked by 2 people

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