First, a couple of thoughts as preface:
A) I'm not sure how I feel about categorizing certain criminal acts as "hate crime". Isn't a crime just a crime? Should it matter, in the eyes of the law, whether it was committed because the victim was a random target or a member of a hated group? I'm not sure...but maybe that's another conversation for another time.
B) I don't think every crime committed against a member of a protected minority group is a "hate crime". Most often, it's just personal. Or it's random. Playing the victim card excessively amounts to crying wolf.
That said, I'm troubled by this story about a gay couple who were beaten by their neighbors after allegedly kidnapping the neighbors' kids. Please at least skim it before continuing, if you haven't already seen it.
The news account, when combined with a very unflattering picture of the victim/suspect in which he looks like what most people think of when hearing the phrase "child molester", paints a rather unsympathetic picture of the gay couple who are the victims of this violence. It's easy to read this story and think, "DUH! You kidnap kids, you get the tar beaten out of you. Don't expect to come crying to anyone or spouting this hate crime victim crap."
I mean, look at the story: a nice family was having a party, when their neighbor sneaked over to their house and took their two children into his home without telling their parents. After the mother of one of the kids came to rescue them and took them home, relatives went over to the neighbor's house and beat him and his partner (claiming not to have known the kids were already back with their families).
As I read it, I thought, "Wait, this doesn't sound like the story I heard from a friend who knows this gay couple's circle of friends. If what I heard is just hearsay, and what's in the story are the facts, then I must admit this does change the story a bit."
Yet there are a few things that I find really disconcerting about this case:
A) IF the assailants didn't know the kids were with their family when they went over to beat the crap out of them, I can only come up with a few possible reasons for that:
1 - They were drunk out of their minds, and reason was not in the picture.
2 - They didn't give the victim even a chance to explain that he didn't have the kids anymore.
3 - They are all deaf and blind.
4 - It's true they didn't know the kids were home when they WENT over, but once they were there, they learned the kids weren't there, and they proceeded to beat the crap out of the victims anyway.
B) Why wasn't the alleged intoxication of the assailants brought into this news story?
C) Lesson hopefully learned: taking someone's kids into your home without parental permission is STUPID. REALLY, REALLY STUPID. Extremely, terribly bad judgment. Speaking objectively. Of course, when you read (and hear from friends) that the children looked distressed and were unable to sleep and very willingly and freely accepted an offer for a comfortable place to rest while their family was having (by all the hearsay I've heard) a noisy, drunken party, perhaps it was bad judgment but nothing nefarious. Maybe? Possible? And aren't we talking about neighbors, here, not strangers down the street? I realize we Americans aren't big on knowing our neighbors, but it's still different from some random passer-by ushering them into their car to take them home.
D) The story makes it sound like it's just settled and properly assumed that the guy did "kidnap" the kids. Granted, it looks really bad IF you don't trust the guy. But if you consider the possibility that his alternative was to tell their drunken, obnoxious relatives to grow up and take care of their own kids and possibly get the kids in trouble for making their parents look bad, maybe it doesn't seem as bad? A friend told me about this incident long before I heard it in the news. He's connected to the circle of friends who assert the victim is a kind man who would certainly not have questionable motives with the children. And the comments on this article show a lot of other voices coming to the defense of the victims. Where are the defenses of the family who committed the violent crime?
F) Not enough evidence to prosecute the assailants? What is there not enough evidence for? The news story says the assailants said they didn't know the kids weren't there when they went over there. Doesn't that pretty explicitly state they admit they did this? So they clearly committed the beatings. Is what makes it ineligible for prosecution the fact that this man took the kids without their parents' permission? And if this had been a 75-year-old man or a 35-year-old woman who took the kids in, would the situation be different? I'm inclined to think the lack of prosecution isn't about law but is mostly about preconceived notions, assumptions, and quite possibly terrible prejudice, not just because he's gay but because he's a male and he's not old and wrinkled.
G) I've also heard that this kind of retribution is pretty much indicative of Polynesian culture (in case you missed it in the news story--they don't mention it--the people who beat the guys up are Polynesian): you mess with the family, you pay the price. That's how disputes are settled in some cultures. So I can appreciate that this may very well have happened regardless of the couple's sexual orientation. Except that they probably wouldn't have beaten a man's wife and automatically assumed she was part of it, though you could possibly chalk that up to gender more than to orientation. But some accounts (keep in mind the accounts are probably from friends of the victims) say they yelled about beating up the faggots, not about beating up the child molesters or the kidnappers or the dirtbags.
So I'm bothered by this story. It may very well be that the victim is a pervert or otherwise untrustworthy man who had impure intentions in bringing the children to his house. It may be that there's a long history of tension between these neighbors, and this man has been pushing their buttons in numerous ways for years, and he finally broke the camel's back when he involved their children. Maybe. But I'm suspicious of the way this story was written and whether the police are handling it honestly. Why are we definitely pursuing charges regarding the alleged "kidnapping" in which no apparent harm was done but definitely not pursuing charges regarding the brutal beating? Is this one of those examples of useless, trashy "good ol' boy" culture in which the cop looks at the beaten child molester, shrugs, and says, "Hell, I woulda done the same thing," and that's somehow respected by the judgmental masses as the kind of justice we need more of? I'm not saying that's what it is. As I said, if the news story is more accurate than the story being circulated (unopposed, as far as I can tell) by friends of the victims, then all is probably as it should be. But unfortunately, it's hard for me to fully trust it is so.