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

 

 

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The Dissection of Blame

No one gives us our rights. We must claim them, and once we have them we must remember that our opposition doesn’t vanish. He patiently waits for the day we drop our guard.

October 21, 1985

October 21, 1985

A famous assassin killed himself today

There were editorials of sorrow and sadness
in the San Francisco Chronicle.

                   He left a note. “I’m sorry.” he said.

Some guy at the bus stop said, “How ’bout that
Dan White?

And I said, Yeah, how ’bout that?”

Then we boarded the bus and I turned on my
music.

That’s how the other folks are riding this bus today…

Headphones on, blank faces, nodding to the music–

Pretending that they don’t care.

1985-2015

Rob Goldstein 2015