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Excuse Me?

To the Editor:

Something confuses about your “clarification” [Letters, July 1] of the recent gay bashing of Josh Banks on Lark Street [“Out of Sight, Not Really Out of Mind,” June 24]. Just what are you suggesting? That you caved in to pressure to soften your portrait of his deceased assailant as a bigot? Or that police (the very ones who reportedly acted so helpfully and responsibly) made false statements to the press regarding intent? And isn’t it almost a given that someone who would act that violently, and solitarily, against a stranger would have to be emotionally disturbed? Are you implying that homophobia and mental illness are mutually exclusive?

I daresay that very few hate crimes are “simple” matters, but what you hint at in your clarification directly contradicts the entire thrust of the story. Did or didn’t Bart Browne complain to the cops that gays think life is a big joke? If so, was that the result of incompetent questioning on the part of investigators, or indicative of a pernicious motive? I actually oppose enhanced penalties for “hate crimes,” on free-speech and equal-protection grounds, but feel it is both wrong to retract an allegation of bias if true, and wrong to falsely accuse the defendant of homophobia if none existed. So which wrong is right?

Carol Reid

Editors’ reply:

Our clarification did not contradict any of the facts we printed originally, but it did add information that we felt was essential for more accurately interpreting the situation. In fact, most people who gay-bash are not considered mentally ill, but have shown long-standing homophobia, so the fact that this case was the reverse casts a very different light on both the incident and what was portrayed by the prosecutors.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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