Tag Archive | covering the news

Weekend Update 4/7/2019: Sword-wielding hate crime suspect arrested

And now time for another post where I comment on news that either broke after I created this week’s Friday Five or there has been new developments in a story that I’ve previously written about. So, last week I linked to the story of a guy in a red Make American Great Again hat yelling homophobic slurs are people going into a skating rink in San Francisco who eventually allegedly attacked one of those people with a sword.

There’s been an arrest: Attempted Murder Charge In SF MAGA/Sword Attack. Police found the guy because they had a fingerprint from a beer bottle left at the scene, and someone found a bloody sword wrapped in a shirt which matched the description of the alleged perpetrator’s clothes as described by some of the witnesses. And the sword a fingerprint that matched the print on the bottle.

The stories I’ve read thus far don’t say whether the perpetrator’s fingerprints were already in the system, though The Blaze reports that the alleged perp was arrested for unlawful entry into a vehicle in Multnomah County, Oregon, in October 2012 and during that crime he threatened the owner of the vehicle with a knife. In any case, the guy doesn’t appear to be very bright because he got into an argument with his court-appointed defense attorney during the arraignment. I’ll get to that in a minute.

We now have a lot more information on the crime. Some of the eyewitnesses at the time had mentioned a pirate costume along with the red hat, while others had described a red flannel shirt over otherwise unremarkable clothes. Apparently he was wearing the sword on his back, and some witnesses had seen that and assumed it was a costume piece, and not an actual, you know, sword.

Also, while the victim wasn’t named last week, and was described as being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the victim’s name has since been released, and the injury is described as “partially severed hand” and “gruesome.” The victim has admitted that he attempted to knock the guy’s hat off his head, and then he thought that the perpetrator knocked his arm away with an umbrella or a nightstick, and didn’t realize what had actually happened right away.

I mentioned that alleged perpetrator got into an argument with his defense attorney during the hearing. The perp is insisting that they have no evidence to tie him to the crime and that he was at home minding his own business at the time. The defense attorney, on the other hand, was trying to argue in court that his client should not be held over for trial, and that the case be diverted to arbitration because the attack with the sword was essentially self-defense after the other guy knocked his hat off. That’s when the perp started yelling at his attorney:

“You just basically implied that I did it,” Bergland said as prosecutors argued for him to be held in jail without bail. “Why are you telling me to be quiet?” Bergland then said to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt. “I can defend myself.”’

I think the attorney recognizes that his client has all the evidence against him. Multiple eyewitnesses, his fingerprints at the scene and one the weapon used in the assault are just the parts we know about. The stories last week mentioned that the police were in the process of obtaining video footage from neighborhood security cameras, for instance. And I bet that were hair fibers left on the hat, and possibly on the bloody shirt that the sword was wrapped in. We presume that he discarded the shirt with the sword because there was blood on it, but looking at the photos in last week’s story of the huge splash on blood on the sidewalk, I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the other clothes the alleged perpetrator was wearing that night that he didn’t dispose of got a bit of blood on them.

If the evidence against him is even worse than what we know, the defense attorney may be correct that the best defense that is available to his client is to spin for the self-defense angle. His client is being held on $1 million bail, so I don’t think he’s going to avoid a trial without a plea deal.


Let’s go from a hate crime that had lots of witnesses and other evidence, to one lacking all of those things (not to mention credibility): Chicago to Sue Jussie Smollett After Deadline to Pay $130,000 Investigation Reimbursement Passes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, once we knew the details of Smollett’s report of an alleged crime it seemed very fishy. Why would Trump-supporting homophobic racists recognize an out gay actor who plays a supporting character on a prime time soap opera-type show that is all about a family of african-american musicians? They just aren’t in the same demographic as the show’s audience, right?

Smollett has since been given deferred prosecution and let go, and he seems to be really leaning hard into the lie that this exonerates him of all charges that the report was a hoax. And let me be clear: deferred prosecution, particularly when the Deputy District Attorney who did so explicitly said that this doesn’t exonerate him, is neither vindication nor exoneration. I suspect that the District Attorney’s office made this call because pursuing the case wasn’t going to result in significant jail time. I also suspect that the two brothers who say they were hired by Smollett to stage the crime may not come across very good in the witness stand if it came to that.

I also think that good attorneys on Smollett’s side could get a lot of mileage by talking about cases (and there have been some in Chicago) where white people have falsely reported crimes but they were never prosecuted.

Not that I think Smollett should get off scott free, here, but I can see reasons that not pursuing the charges might make sense. As another story noted, during the few weeks between the time that Smollett was charged for filing a false report and the day the charges were dropped, about 2900 other criminal cases where handled by the same prosecutor’s office. The sheer volume of crime cases in the county are often cited as the reason that they have been deferring prosecutions and seeking other kinds of diversion for a lot of non-violent crimes during the last few years. At least the District Attorney’s office is supporting calls for an independent investigation into their handling of the case.

Since it is also alleged that Smollett is behind the threatening letter that was mailed to the TV show before the alleged hoax attack, and since the FBI is looking into that letter, I suspect that Smollett is going to be standing in front of a judge again in the not-so-distant future.

The part that I’m still most angry about is that this case is being used by folks on the right to claim that all hate crime reports are fake. It’s exactly what many, many people were posting as comments on the reports about the sword-attack I mentioned above. Even though there is a lot of evidence that that crime did happen.

Weekend Update 3/31/2019: Bullies need an audience

Cowardly lion looking affronted. “Bullies be like... when they get caught.”There were two stories that I watched unfolding on Twitter. It’s not often that a conversation crosses my social media and then turns up as headlines the next couple of days. I thought about just saving the links for next Friday Five, but as I was reading one of the articles about one story, I realized that the two sets of events illustrate an aspect of bullying and hate that I’ve written about more than a few times. I also decided that I wanted to publish this before April 1st, so no one will think any of this is a joke.

I’m going to start with the most disturbing one: San Francisco Police Search For Sword-Wielding Man in MAGA Hat Who Cut Victim. Now this is a reported hate crime, and mindful that people will try to claim this is fake, I want to point out that there were multiple witnesses to the guy being in the stupid red hat, yelling homophobic slurs at the people going into the roller rink, and at least once he followed a group up to the door while yelling, but stopped without going inside.

One of the first stories posted on a San Francisco news site tried to make the guy who attacked someone with a sword out to be the victim, because at least one witness said that the guy who got stabbed first knocked the red hat off. Other witnesses were unclear as to what how the guy’s hat came off his head. At least one person described what happened before the sword came out as a scuffle. I’m not as familiar with California law as Washington state, so I don’t know if knocking the hat off (if that’s what happened) counts as assault. And if police find the asshole I’m sure he’s going to claim the other guy attacked him first.

But I’m confident the hat wearing guy was an asshole, because of the multiple witnesses to his hanging outside a skating rink that was hosting a gay-friendly event shouting homophobic slurs. And he brought a damn sword with him. That seems pre-meditated. He meant, at the least, to be a threatening presence. I hope they find him and throw the book at him.

The second story is a little different. I think most of the headlines have the story slightly wrong, but let’s start with the ending: Conservative commentator fired for attacking gay journalist online. So Denise McAllister, who has written for The Federalist and the Daily Wire and a few other of the conservative hate sites that pretend to be news has not had a great week. A few days ago she posted a link to an article from “ILoveMyFreedom.Org” that was critical of Meghan McCain (daughter of the late Senator John McCain and current member of the cast of The View). McAllister’s accompanying derogatory comments generated a lot of backlash, but things really took off when McCain replied with the statement, “You were at my wedding, Denise.”

The phrase quickly became a meme, as hundred of people started attaching it to various unrelated pictures. McCain apparently thought that all of these memes were people taking her side, apparently not quite getting the jokes of the meme.

Anyway, on Friday night McAllister overshared on twitter, saying that she had tried to talk to her husband while he was watching a basketball game, and he replied “Woman you know better than this, the game is on” and she agreed that he was right, she was wrong. And then the oversharing part was how at the commercial she brought him a beer to apologize and she described the kiss and, well, the whole thing was very Stepford Wives. And all in a single tweet.

This is, by the way, a good example of why I wish tweets were still only 140, because you wouldn’t quite be able to encapsulate thousands of years of toxic masculinity/misogyny and the willingness of some women to defend their own abuse in a single message.

Anyway, an out gay journalist named Yashar Ali quoted McAllister’s tweet with the comment, “Oh, Denise.” And this sent McAllister into a raging tweetstorm.

Those two words, “Oh, Denise” were, in her opinion, a vicious attack—not just on McAllister, but on masculinity and men’s freedom and I don’t know what all. There was a lot. The tamest comment she made was an assertion that gay men have no right to comment on heterosexual relationships, before she got to the kicker:

“Oh so sad. @yasher is lost. He doesn't know his purpose as a man. He doesn't know his purpose as a human being. He doesn't know his purpose as an individual. So he wallows and tried to find himself in another man's asshole. Sad.” and “I think @yashar has a crush on me. Maybe I'm making him doubt his love of penis.”

“Oh so sad. @yasher is lost. He doesn’t know his purpose as a man. He doesn’t know his purpose as a human being. He doesn’t know his purpose as an individual. So he wallows and tried to find himself in another man’s asshole. Sad.” and “I think @yashar has a crush on me. Maybe I’m making him doubt his love of penis.”

The only thing that Ali had said after “Oh, Denise” was to observe, “I guess Denise is not happy that I’m worried about how her husband treats her.” Now, I realize that other people were commenting on her first tweet, pointing out that maybe she shouldn’t be so happy about how her husband was treating. But Yashar’s two comments were pretty mild. Once McAllister had gone to both an anal sex and penis reference, a bunch of other people—including other journalists and conservatives—took a screenshot of the two tweets and started contacting the official twitter accounts of the websites/magazines that she listed in her twitter bio as being places where she writes. And yes, two of those sites later issued statements that she no longer works for them, and specifically referenced the homophobic nature of the tweets in the screenshot.

She has deleted most of the rest of her tweetstorm—where she characterized people’s reactions as trying to burn her at the stake, and other crazy things. But by then the damage was done.

There is so much to unpack in all of this. Ali’s initial response was not an attack, it was pity. Pity for a person who is not only perpetuates the disrespect she gets from her husband, but actually rewards it and feels the need to go brag about it to the world. When you broadcast stuff like that, it is perfectly legitimate for other people to comment. The response that a gay man can’t comment on heterosexual relationships is pretty rich, given how many times McAllister has written about homosexual relationships. If a heterosexual homophobe can write homophobic editorials critiquing queer people and how they live their lives, then all us queers can state opinions about things the homophobe brags about in their own relationship.

While we’re on the topic of homophobic editorials: the publications that have fired McAllister have published dozens, nay, hundreds of articles, opinion pieces, and so forth that were just as homophobic as those two tweets that they now claim are unacceptable. If being homophobic and stating so publicly disqualifies someone for working at The Federalist, then they all need to fire each other right now. McAllister’s tweets were slightly (and only slightly) more crudely stated than the usual lying hatred toward gays that The Federalist and The Daily Wire publish all the time. Several other conservative pundits and journalists had weighed in on the sheer disproportionality of McAllister’s response to “Oh, Denise,” but given the sorts of things they have all written about queer people, what they are really upset about his how blunt she was.

I don’t believe that those tweets are the reason she was fired. That fact that Meaghan McCain’s husband is the founder and editor of The Federalist almost certainly has more to do with her firing than a couple of homophobic tweets. The weird dust-up with McCain had almost certainly already put her on the shitlist at several places.

And one is tempted to say, “Oh, Denise” in a rather pitying voice. But she doesn’t deserve our pity any more than the MAGA-hat wearing guy who attacked someone with a sword. Because they are both doing the same thing. You don’t go to a gay-friendly public event, wearing one of those stupid red hats, and yelling slurs at people unless you want attention. You want people to know you hate the gays. Similarly, you don’t post stories about how your husband yelled at you and sent you to fetch him a beer to earn forgiveness for the offense of talking to him while he’s watching a basketball game unless you want people to know that you hate the libtards who expect men to treat women with respect.

And you comment on a gay man’s sex life in crude terms because you want everyone to know that you hate the gays.

But make no mistake, the conservative pundits and sites that publish things about “the militant homosexual agenda,” and defending so-called gay conversion therapy, and insist that equal rights for queer people is an assault on religion, and repeat lies about the health of queer people also hate the gays. They run those headlines because they want everyone to know that they hate the gays. The only difference between them and people like McAllister of the sword-wielding guy is that the misdirect with code words. Instead of coming at us with a sword, they take away our right to healthcare and employment. Instead of blatant references to anal sex, they talk about health. But it’s still attacking us. They just try to hide their rage and hate with polite words and a smirk.

Ali’s final comment was, in stark contrast to McAllister’s raging, both eloquent and refined: “I was bullied for being Iranian as a kid. But I never felt ashamed of my ethnicity. I came out on 8/17/2001 & while it hasn’t always been easy, I have always been proud of who I am. I’m Iranian, gay, and Catholic. Perhaps an odd combo, but I wouldn’t change who I am for the world.”

Words, Pictures, and Thoughts

Once again, I’ve gathered a lot more images as possible illustrations of blog posts than I have managed to use. Here’s a few that need to be shared:

“When you boss's income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it's time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“When your boss’s income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it’s time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain't nobody asking for that. “Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering? “Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil's advocates.” —Quinn Murphy

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain’t nobody asking for that.
“Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering?
“Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil’s advocates.”
—Quinn Murphy

As one friend likes to point out, everyone who claims to be brutally honesty seems much more interested in the brutality than the honesty.

“Trump Evangelicals: 'The President's sex life is between him and God. It's not our business.' “Thenwhis is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people's pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

“Trump Evangelicals: ‘The President’s sex life is between him and God. It’s not our business.’
“Then why is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people’s pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

I become more and more convinced that no one who claims to be advocating for morality understands what morals actually are.

“Trump in West Virginia: 'In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so 'oh, that's a conspiracy theory.' Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.' This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It's not. George W. Bush's Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.”

“Trump in West Virginia: ‘In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so ‘oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.’
This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It’s not. George W. Bush’s Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.” —Brian Klaas

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.” A news still of Trump on the balcony of the White House with a person in an Easter Bunny costume while the President was shooting off his mouth with more nonsense. “My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.”

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which one is the President.”

I saw another person sharing the video to the President’s weird Easter comments and they noted, “My new hero is the cameraman who kept the bunny in the shot the entire time.”

Weekend Update: Is 2017 over yet?

“A 70 year old man who watches six hours of cable TV a day, plays golf, and is always in Florida is a retiree, not a President.”

“A 70 year old man who watches six hours of cable TV a day, plays golf, and is always in Florida is a retiree, not a President.”

End of the year round-ups on news sites and such have never been my favorite thing; and this year I find myself even less interested than usual. There have been a number of times this year that made me think 2017 was trying to steal the “Worst Year of My Lifetime” trophy from 2016. And I realize that some of those round-up stories can remind us that some good things happened this year, as well as the bad. Regardless, this post is not going to be a sum-up of the year. It’s just a few things that I came across after finishing this week’s Friday Five along with some commentary and background information.

First up, a little good news: New York City: Felony Crime Rate Hits Record Low. One of the on-going American myths is the mistaken notion that crime is on the rise, that there is far more crime happening today than there was when we were younger or in the good old days, or whatever. But that is simply not true. At all. Don’t believe me? Take it away Brennan Center for Justice:

Even despite recent increases, rates of murder and violent crime remain at historic low points, almost 50 percent below their early-1990s peaks.
 A preliminary analysis of 2017 crime rates in the nation’s 30 largest cities projects that the overall crime rate and the violent crime rate will decline to the second-lowest levels since 1990.

They have a lot of statistics and analysis (and nifty animated graphs!) on their site. It is true that in 2015 and 2016 several cities saw a dramatic increase in murder rates. However, the murder rate continued downward everywhere else. In 2015 the violent crime rate went down 2.6 percent compared to the previous year, and some people would say that a 2.6 percent change isn’t very significant (in fact, certain conservative politicians argued exactly that), but the fact that it was the 14th year in a row that the national violent crime rate went down is much more significant.

Also, they are projecting that the cities which had dramatic increases in 2015 and 2016 are all seeing declines this year, some quite large (Detroit looks to be seeing a 24% decrease!).


In news that is harder to classify: Trump Deported Fewer Mexican Nationals In 2017 Than Obama Did In 2016. This is a bit surprising given some of the crazy lengths that the Trump administration has gone to rounding up suspected undocumented immigrants. Part of me wants to make the cynical observation that the racist jerks can’t even pull off their racist policies right. I really haven’t found anyone analyzing this story in a way that we can evaluate why the deportation numbers (not just to Mexico) are so far down. Maybe because in their zeal that keep rounding up people who actually are here legally, then losing the legal fight to deport them anyway?


Let’s end with something funny. The Daily Show did an end of the year special, and this skit (don’t be like the idiots commenting on Youtube: it’s a parody of both the music industry, political songs, and much, much more) is definitely worth your time. Watch it all the way to the end! Song for Women 2017 (feat. DJ Mansplain) – The Daily Show:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

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