Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blame the Victim

Gwen Araujo was a transgendered teenager. She went out with some boys, and they wound up getting quite intimate, which was all fine and well until the boys found out that Gwen was born biologically male. According to testimony in the first trial and then in the re-trial, the boys beat her up, then tied her up, and then strangled her to death.

One of the defense attorneys argued in his closing statement that Gwen had "provoked" her own murder by deceiving these poor innocent boys into thinking that she was a "real" girl. (She was a real girl, just with some mismatched body parts.)

Solely for the sake of argument, let's pretend that Gwen wasn't a real girl, and that it was her fault that she deceived her sexual partners in that regard. Does that deceit in any way mitigate the crime of killing her? When the TV news talking head tells me that they'll be right back with an important story after these exciting messages from our sponsors, and they come back to tell me about the nice firemen rescuing Mrs. Appelschmutzling's kitten from the neighbor's pomegranate tree, does that shameful deception mitigate my crime if I go down to the studio and go postal? Or is it only a deception that makes the killer feel like less of a muy macho hombre that can partially excuse the crime? The defense attorney also described the killing as a crime in "the heat of the moment," which sounds a bit odd, given that, according to testimony in the trial, the boys beat up Gwen, took her to the garage, then argued about whether or not to kill her, and then strangled her. That's not a timeline that sounds much like "heat of the moment" to me.

It's so nice to know that we can still blame the victim in an American court of law.

[Read more about the Gwen Araujo murder re-trial at]