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  • « Opening the door a tad on Craig | Main | 'There is no such thing as a hate crime in Alabama' »

    September 15, 2007

    The reporter responds…

    Posted by: Chris

    Photo_20 Alabama TV news reporter Debbie Williams has responded to my post about her story on the third guilty plea in the Scotty Joe Weaver murder.  In response to my accusation that she "straight-washed" the crime by failing to report it was an anti-gay hate crime, she wrote:

    I am very well aware of our lawmakers' failure to pass any kind of meaningful hate crime legislation for the gay, lesbian and transgender community.  It is a story and a cause I have covered for more years than I'd like to count. 

    The hate crime aspect of the case was mentioned in the story.  It was not mentioned at all during the Kelsay hearing and was only mentioned during testimony of Gaines, the first defendant to plead guilty. 

    Unless I misread her tone, it sounds as if Debbie isn't hostile toward gay people but chose not to report the anti-gay motivation in the case simply because the prosecutors didn't mention it and it's not actually a crime in Alabama.  I wonder if she allows prosecutors and legislators decide what she can and cannot report in other contexts as well.

    Weaverscotty Let's not play with semantics here.  If she feels uncomfortable calling this a hate crime, then she could certainly have reported on the anti-gay motivation that those very same prosecutors have said from the start was responsible for this incredible brutal murder.

    That hate motivation was not, in fact, mentioned in the story.  I replayed the video multiple times to confirm that.  It's not surprising prosecutors didn't mention it in the Kelsay case.  Since there's no hate crime law, it wouldn't increase her punishment.  And judging from the way prosecutors describe the case, they were afraid it would evoke sympathy — for the perpetrators:

    Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb says despite having a different lifestyle from some people, Weaver certainly didn't deserve having his life taken. "He had a different lifestyle that some people maybe would not agree with, but when people take his life, people he was trying to help, I think it's very hard to understand."

    There was an angle to be reported here, an angle that was central to the story and put this crime in a larger social and political context.  Debbie Williams, who can be contacted by email, should have reported it.

    For a complete news summary about anti-gay hate crimes, click or bookmark: http://gaynewswatch.com/hatecrimes



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    1. dimitri on Sep 15, 2007 2:22:15 AM:

      I remember when this crime happened. I happened to be in Mobile shortly after the murder. It was printed in the local gay paper and many in the gay community were appalled by the lack of reporting, but none of them sounded surprised. For some reason or other this story stuck with me for the longest time. I would periodically try to locate more information on the internet, but it was futile. As horrible as this story is, luckily there was some closure.

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