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Opinion: Beating aftermath shows hypocrisy
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Initial reports about the recent Fort Stewart soldiers’ outburst of homeland insecurity led both gay and civil rights observers to assume we had a hate crime in our midst.

Now, in addition to being a homosexual who is homeless, the beating victim is revealed to be a fugitive from Florida. We’re assured his criminal past will have no bearing on any case pending here.


Is it me or has the regional attention this case received caused the crew at Metro to engage in warpspeed spin control not seen since the Jennifer Ross show?

Consider the very salient fact that the men who administered the beating are fresh from Mr. Bush’s War. Picture the embarrassment it would cause if some the boys came home and did the Baghdad Boogie on a homeless citizen.

(And if the victim is gay, why were these gents buying him drinks, according to police reports? Was this scenario an instance of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy being violated off-duty?)

While I’m the first to admit not understanding the gay lifestyle, I do understand how low some homophobes will stoop in order to ambush someone who is gay. There’s a segment of the straight population, of all races, who relish the chance to prove their manhood by attacking gay citizens.

If lifestyle played no role in this case, it still served as a wake-up call to the general populace that there’s an ugly contingent out there looking to lynch people because of their sexual orientation.

Since the hate crime angle is being played down, we can either accept the party line being baited for us or continue the previous line of inquiry supporting legal enhancements against these acts in the form of the current hate crime bill.

Predictably, the Savannah Morning News nixed passage of the bill, but they can be counted on to wave the banner of Neanderthal conservatism whenever possible.

Oddly, this topic calls to mind the words of the late patriarch of libertarianism, Barry Goldwater, who opined that a person’s value extended lightyears beyond whether or not he was straight.

Still, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a Clinton-era policy that may reveal more about issues within the ranks than what some will admit.

Our mandate and money underwrote what these five employees of the public did, and fair-minded observers should step out of their comfort zones to demand this goon squad be punished for use of force wildly in excess of the provocation.

I’ve often wondered when we’d see an upsurge in violence among military returnees from Iraq who must now fit their hair-trigger conditioning back into the confines of the stateside world.

Their rabid response to an alleged theft speaks volumes about the need for anger management counseling before combat troops are allowed back into society.

Why would five men feel the need to beat someone to a pulp in public when they could have simply held him for the police? Superior numbers would surely have prevailed.

After seeing a booking photo of the victim, especially after years of confrontational security work, I’m sure these soldiers went overboard, and in so doing broke the law with glee.

As an African-American, I grew up in and practice the hyper-masculine ethic of black men of my generation. We speak our minds and don’t back down from big institutions’ attempts to belittle us.

Had the victim allegedly stolen a black man’s wallet and was beaten and stomped by five African-Americans, the five would be facing the most severe penalties available. All I’m asking is the same harshness for these soldiers.

The same restraint they’re supposed to use in the field needs to be quadrupled when they are home. That may be a bit much to ask in George Bush’s America, but ask it we must.

Progressives, liberals and decent people as a whole need to unite around this issue, and particularly call for the passage of Georgia Senate Bill 347, which increases penalties for hate crimes.

As the spin continues, we may never know the truth behind this incident, but we do know that hate crimes deserve severe sanctions.

Those too conservative to step forward against latter-day lynch mobs are too conservative to have their position on public safety preserved.

Conservatism in defense of a mob is no virtue.