Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Petite But Ornery Girls Gone Buck Wild

In case you missed the story on Saturday, the New York Daily News reported (in language that has already gained email-forwarded notoriety) that "A gang of petite but ornery lesbians pummeled and stabbed a DVD bootlegger in the West Village early yesterday after he tried to pick up one of the women - and then spat on her when she rebuffed his advances, police and witnesses said."

(someone at the NYDN named this image file LESBIAN2.jpg, by the way)
That coverage of the 2 a.m. beatdown (featuring the quasi-racist hed "Girls gone wilding" and the lesbo-sensationalist deck "Lesbians locked up in W. Village beating") was, believe it or not, more fair and balanced than the NYT coverage, which failed to even mention that the women (and independent witnesses) claimed the man was commiting a hate crime against them, or even that they were openly lesbian and had just argued with him about it.

The Times headline indicates its bias immediately; "Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger."
It all began harmlessly, the victim, a 28-year-old man from Queens said, with a comment he made to a woman who walked past him early yesterday on a Manhattan sidewalk.

But things quickly escalated into an ugly and ultimately violent confrontation that led to the man, Dwayne Buckle, being stabbed in his abdomen with a steak knife, and to the arrests of seven women, ranging in age from 18 to 31 who are accused in the attack, the police said.
While the Times stopped short of branding these women Aileen Wuornos lesbian killers on the loose (and black!), the subtext was not subtle. In fact, there were no subtleties to the Times coverage at all. A complicated situation was reduced to an innocent man attacked by hysterical women.

The NYT ended its piece with the line "“It’s not a crime to say hello to a human being,” Mr. Buckle said. “Now, I think I’ll know which girls not to talk to.”" You're damn right you will. As musician and queer activist Reginald Lamar remarked when I told him about it, "I applaud those women. As someone who faces daily street harassment, I hope that maybe a few of those motherfuckers will think twice now. I think it's just beautiful."

Lesbian blogger Alana Post was more circumspect. "I kind of feel like this is a good example of why that doesn't work. Because in general all it does is give fodder to stories that are written to make the disenfranchised party involved look awful, the bigot look like the victim, etc. Fueling increased hatred from bigots in general, who can look to the news for justification."

At least the NYDN, despite its sensationalistic reportage, gave the women a voice:
"He called us [homophobic slur] and he said he was going to f- us all," one of the women said hours later as cops led the seven suspects out of the 6th Precinct stationhouse.

"He spit on us and threw a cigarette," another woman said. "This is a hate crime."
As my friend Caroline (who has vowed to write love letters to the women when they inevitably get sent to lockdown) remarked,

I wonder what the homophobic slur was. Muffdiver? Clammhuffer? Lickalottapus? Bulldagger?

I definitely support girl gangs kicking the shit out of shitty dudes. And especially whipping them with belts.

I'm still processing how intensely fucked up the media coverage of these black lesbians defending themselves has been (especially in the context of a recent uptick of anti-gay violence in New York, with a couple high-profile violent bashings). And I've read some fucked up reactions online, too.

So much of the story is so cinematic ("Foxfire!" as Caroline said). Here is Patreece's (severely tricked out) Myspace page, and here's Terrain's.




When Buckle hit on Johnson, she explained that she wasn't interested in men. Apparently offended, he spat on her, witnesses said....

"He made the mistake of spitting at one of them. They beat him up bad with belts, kicked and punched him," said Diego Rodriguez, 60...

"She's my girl, and no one spits on my girl!" one of the women yelled during the bloody beatdown.

19 Comments:

  • At 2:05 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I draw the line at stabbing them. Stabbing people who say bigoted things or even spit at you is no go.

    Also, your first link is broken.

     
  • At 3:13 AM, Blogger Emma B said…

    excellent reportage, solomon, especially on the My Space pages.
    xo

     
  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Right, but it's not really a question of approving of stabbing someone. It's a question of at least trying to report the nuances of a complicated situation in which no one is completely innocent or guilty.

    And then there's the question of sensationalizing the sexual and racial aspects of the story, which is par for the course for the tabloids, but supposedly not the business the NY Times is in (so it's ironic that the Times got it so much more wrong than the NYDN).

    There are such strong parallels to Aileen Wuornos. I've never seen Monster, but I've seen the documentaries about her, and the distorted media portrayal was heartbreaking, because she really truly believed the truth would out, and it never did. Instead it was one last gross injustice.

    And Emma, yeah, thanks, I fell a little bit in love with Terrain after reading her Myspace page. Didn't you?

     
  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I just now noticed that both the Times and Daily News called Wayne Buckle, the beatee, an "independent filmmaker" rather than a "DVD bootlegger." Much the way one might use "horticulturalist" to describe one's "pot dealer."

     
  • At 4:51 PM, Blogger Emma B said…

    Yeah, Terrain's too fucking cute!
    I hope she gets a fair trial.
    "Independent Filmmaker" would be hilarious if it weren't so wrong. Although, I do like to think of myself as a "Singer/Songwriter" instead of just plain "Tonedeaf"

     
  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    from Neda Cole (via email):

    I totally agree with you. I was disgusted at the bias in the reporting. You’d think in 2006 in a big city you’d get a less obviously racist and homophobic take from a “legitimate” newspaper. I don’t know why you’d think because clearly the world is going to shit and any movement towards tolerance on any level has been almost totally reversed but I reserve the right to be disgusted. I almost a little bit agree with Antid Oto that it would be easier to be sympathetic if they had stopped at beating him with belts and left the steak knife at home in the kitchen drawer but I agree with you too that that’s beside the point.

    You know in Dubai if a man harrasses a woman in a public place all she has to do is alert any security guard/policeman/ person in uniform and he gets his photo printed the next day in the national newspaper with details of his behaviour? Name and shame.. Love it.. Totally undemocratic but really rewarding when you meet a creep in the mall, and means lesbians don’t have to carry steak knives to defend their honour.

     
  • At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This jerk is obviously scum, but you are totally out to lunch on this. Since when has "defending (your) honour" ever worked to the advantage of women or queers? "Honour"is a concept most often invoked as your brother kills you for sleeping with someone he doesn't want you to sleep with. There are disgusting pigs all over the place. Beating them up and stabbing them does not establish the nobility of your character or your cause; it makes you worse than the bigoted asshole who insulted you to begin with.

     
  • At 2:56 PM, Blogger "Right"&"Wrong" said…

    I COMPLETELY commend all of you! Fuck the news & societies ignorant interpretation of the 'incident'. I constantly 'fantasize' about snapping & beating the shit out of some piece of shit harassing straight man who thinks he owns the streets. & in all reality - he does. The laws protect his constant harassing & perpetute his sexual advances & violence. The media's response does not suprise me, but it does infuriate the hell out of me! Also, the response by some people to the reaction of the 7 'perpetuating' harassers is comptlete bullshit! People can only be pushed so far! If we don't defend our selves- no one will. It took the Black Panthers to rise up & take a stance for society to know that racial equality was a matter of immediate urgency. It took Stonewall. It took Hezbollah (& please don't simply 'top-level' read that statement. I am not in any way condoning violence or what is going on in the middle east, my sole analogy is that when people are continuously backed into a corner, they are going to fight back. Its innate in every living organism. It is NO ONE'S right to judge that outcome of the people being constantly attacked It IS EVERYONE'S humaine obligation to fight to bring to the forefront the 'root' causes the 'buried issues' which perpetuate people having to take matters into their own hands & fight back - be it violently or peacefully) . It took the student uprisings in South Africa for the world to give a damn. If wommin, queers, trans, ag's, black & brown people, & so on, don't stick up for themselves, then we will have all become complacent & we will all have nothing.

    This article has actually ruined my entire day at work because I got into such a huge fight with my coworker over the 'right' or 'wrongness' of the beating & stabbing. Please, somebody tell me the 'right' way to respond when i am backed into a corner - which one of you is god out there that knows a 'right' answer. If you do, you need to check yourself! & if your in the routine of judging, I damn well hope you are also on the streets & in the courts & writing in the papers & on tv & doing everything you can do to change the situation, cuz if your not - keep your damn judgments to yourself!

    I am having so much trouble not being redundant on here & screaming in my head. I just don't understand how other people can judge the 'appropriate reaction' of people being oppressed, of people being harassed - daily. They can't. I'm so fucking sick of judging the 'others' responses. That mother fucking asshole guy should be at the forefront of the conversation. We should be writing to the newspapers that printed the article, we should be using this as a spark to once again raise the urgency of getting cat-callers & harassers off the streets, we should be standing in complete solidarity with these 7 to say, 'we are fucking sick of this shit' & strengthen our coalition to fight back against 'them' & not 'with each other'. I stand behind any womon, women, aggressives, trans, dyke, lesbian, queer, butch, femme, whatever who has to defend themselves. It is not my place to question their actions, it is my place to be apart of creating an open, inclusive, safe space fore all of us, for everyone. You know, this world really is set up so brilliantly. All peoples who are oppressed are so ready to hate on each other, we will never have a sustainable solution.

    Sorry to preach. I don't know if i got out everything I am thinking or wanted to bring up - or if i came out correctly. It is just so frustrating to not even be able to have your own 'community' (as though it exists in the material) behind you.

    Why should this situation have turned into one of the 7 assaulted or physically injured instead of him? They fought back...& rightly so.

     
  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger "Right"&"Wrong" said…

    I just sent this email to the NY Times & NY Daily News

    To Whom It May Concern (i.e. Cara Buckly and Kate Hammer and the NYT editors):

    The article, "Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger" once again shows the incompetent, ignorant, and blatantly poor journalism of the New York Times. The title says it all, "I am a bias and ignorant journalist who think women deserve being degraded - and they should love it". Cat-Calling, sexual harassment, racism, bigotry, and the complete degredation of women and queer people is NOT o.k., and is NOT a 'flattering' form of communication. This article holds no weight to the truth of what happened that night nor to the historic and extremely present circumstances in which time and time again, women have to put up with being harassed on the streets. Women have the right and the human instinct to fight back just like any one else when they are consistently forced into a corner by society, media, 'cat-caller's', and so-called journalist such as yourselves.

    I wonder what would happen if one of your daughters, your wife, or you -Cara and Kate were sexually harassed on the streets every night for being who you are. I wonder have you felt that fear? Have you felt that intimidation? Have you felt that rape? Have you felt that frustration and rage? I wonder how the article would have gone if Mr. Buckle would have sexually assaulted one of the queer, black women. I do wonder if it would have ever entered your paper. I wonder why we should constantly wait for it go that far and not fight for ourselves. We do not hold a place in the media to defend us. We do not hold a place in society to stand in solidarity with us. Maybe what we women, what we queers, what we women of color need to do is be raped by the 'admirer' on the street, be raped by 'our media', be raped by 'our fellow women' who play into societies strategic demise of placing us all against one another. "Seven black queer women sexually assaulted in the West Village". Would that have been an easier article to have printed? Personally, I do not think you would have printed it. But maybe then, at least you would not made Mr. Buckle the innocent.

    Not only did you fail as Women, but you failed as journalists. You did not get the whole story. You did not ask appropriate questions. You sided with the lyncher. But he was not your lyncher. He was not your rapist. Do you think that makes it o.k.? And since when is a dvd bootlegger an 'independent filmmaker'?

    I wonder if you follow hate crimes in New York City. I wonder if you follow hate crimes committed against queer women of color. I wonder if you know the feeling of being harassed, threatened, abused, degraded, and defenseless. How do you feel you can commit such heinous acts of wrongful judgement as a reporter? How do you feel you can commit such heinous acts of wrongful judgement as a woman?

    I urge you to reprint this article. To sincerely, unbiasedly interview the 7 queer women you so easily disregarded as voiceless. I urge you to do the job you were hired to do and approach new stories objectively & skeptically. Dig deep and uncover the real story. Right now, you have a horrendous piece of 'degrading women is o.k.' garbage. I urge you to not limit yourself to a tabloid-style reporting level.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is truly shameful.

    Blair

     
  • At 12:50 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Hey Blair, sorry to ruin your day.

    Good letter to the editor. I completely agree that this had to be understood in the context of defending themselves from his assault (spitting is a physical assault in New York City). I'm no lawyer, but I do suspect that the stabbing went beyond the bounds of what's considered self defense. However, that has to be understood in the context of constant, vicious, violent street harassment and gay bashing.

    And as I wrote before, It's a question of at least trying to report the nuances of a complicated situation in which no one is completely innocent or guilty.

     
  • At 12:56 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    To anonymous who writes that "Beating them up and stabbing them does not establish the nobility of your character or your cause; it makes you worse than the bigoted asshole who insulted you to begin with."

    I have to ask why it makes you "worse" than the bigoted asshole? It seems to at most make you no better than him. Do we victims of harassment have a greater obligation to be polite and turn the other cheek or something? To the contrary, I'd say it's more justifiable, since it's in self defense (at least in this type of situation, when the asshole spit on them).

    Although no, I probably would not "condone" the stabbing, whatever "condone" means in this case. All I was saying is that the stabbing should have been discussed more responsibly and fairly, as something that happened in the context of self defense.

    I was just mugged, and I felt so much better that I fought back, as opposed to the last time when I didn't.

     
  • At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I AM THE MAN THAT GOT STABBED. I JUST GOT OUT THE HOSPITAL, AND I JUST PASSED THIS SITE, AND I AM DISGUSTED. I AM ONLY GIVING YOU GUYS A BRIEF STATEMENT, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT WORTH MY TIME. FIRST OFF, THESE WILD PEOPLE STABBED A INNOCENT MAN, AND I AM NOT A BOOTLEGGER, WHICH IS AN ILLEGAL TRADE, BUT A PROFESSIONAL FILMMAKER, AND I AM NOT PART OF A STREET GANG. THE FACT THAT YOU ARE SLANDERING MY NAME AND DO NOT KNOW ALL OF THE FACTS IS BLASPHEMOUS.
    THESE PEOPLE ARE IN JAIL BECAUSE OF A SAVAGE ACT. TO GET THE RECORD STRAIGHT, I SAID "HELLO, HOW ARE YOU DOING" TO ONE OF THE GIRLS, THEN HER FAT FRIEND STARTED TO VERBALLY ASSAULT ME, AND THEN HER OTHER FRIENDS CAME AND STARTED TO VERBALLY ASSAULT ME. ONE OF THE GIRLS THEN SPAT ON ME, SO I SPAT BACK, AND THEN THEY ALL JUMPED ME AND STABBEB ME, THEY WERE STILL JUMPING ME EVEN AFTER I GOT STABBED.
    THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING AND MY STORY WILL PREVAIL, THIS VIOLENT ACT IS COMPLETELY UNPROVOKED AND IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES AHEAD, WHERE ANGER AND ANIMOSITY PREVAILS.

    FOR THE RECORD, MY MYSPACE PAGE IS
    www.myspace.com/dwaynebucklefilm

    and my other websites are
    www.TheMinorityMovie.Com
    www.360soundandvision.com
    and you can look my credentials up on IMDB.com

    PEACE- YOU HATE-MONGERS - THE TRUTH WILL PREVAIL

     
  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Well, it will all come out in court.

    The Daily News cited witnesses who corroborated the women's story rather than Mr. Buckle's, but who really knows. I wasn't there.

    I was probably premature in taking the side of the women, but then again the NYT coverage was so biased that it was hard not to react against that.

    At the very least the NYT should have interviewed the women. That's what this post is really about.

     
  • At 5:37 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Since I was the one who made the "bootlegger" comment I'll also explain: that's how the Daily News described you when it first ran the pictures. The unexplained change--without correction, so far as I could tell--seemed fishy. But since you do appear to be a filmmaker after all, I apologize.

     
  • At 2:28 PM, Anonymous "Right"&"Wrong" said…

    I have NO apologies to make to mr. buckle. He still can't understand the situation in an historical & daily perspective of wimmin & queer people being consistently assulted, harrassed & incorrectly portrayed all over. Maybe mr. buckle, you just shouldn't try to pick up a girl on the street...or in your words..'just saying hello'. I don't walk down the street to be harrassed & then worry about offending my harrasser with my action or reaction. We're not here for you. Leave us alone you hate monger!

     
  • At 2:45 PM, Anonymous "Right"&"Wrong" said…

    ALSO, just because you are an independent filmmaker '& like to read deep stuff' doesn't make you a more credible cat caller.

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    My personal favorite line in his Myspace profile was "I like to read deep stuff, like the Bible."

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Mr.Right said…

    To right & wrong-
    Just because nobody catcalls you, don't hold it against all the other women, who might enjoy the attention. First off, Mr Buckle, explained he said "hi, how are you doing" which is not a cat call, but a friendly gesture, similar to the one I used at meeting my girlfriend of 4 years. Its funny, but I see young lesbian women catcall other women, sometimes harder and more blatently than I see men do it, so what do you say about them? Face it, these are the new times, and this whole incident is not a good thing for the progressive movement for gay rights. It seems more and more each day,that straight people might need rights defending themselves from the gays.

     
  • At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    well, mr. right, i'm not convinced that buckle's version of events is accurate. that's his side, but that's only one side. i wasn't there, of course, but the daily news cited a bunch of witnesses who backed up the story of the lesbians (that buckle spat on them before they spat on him, that he was talking shit to them, etc.).

    somehow i doubt that he got stabbed merely for saying hey how you doin. but who knows, maybe he's an innocent victim. but not according to everyone else who was at the scene. (but i don't want to convict him in the court of public opinion, since this isn't a courtroom and we don't know all the facts)

     

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