‘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.
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.
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.
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.
(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2016-2020 all rights reserved
Memes found on the internet used for educational purposes
Header Image, (c) Rob Goldstein 2020