Like many, I was shocked to see video footage of a man crashing a heavy chair down on a couple’s head as they dined at a Chelsea eatery called Dallas BBQ. My immediate reaction was to describe the incident as a gay bashing. Witnesses at the scene claim the attacker yelled anti-gay epithets during the attack. Anytime I discussed the act of brutalization, I was careful to describe the scene as an “alleged hate crime” and the perpetrator as “presumably homophobic.”
A day or two after the footage leaked, a relatively unknown Brooklyn blogger named Waddie G., (nee Wade Grant, Jr.) penned an entry about the crime entitled “Gay Hate Crime or White Gay Privileged Media Manipulation on NYC’s Chair Throwing Fight?” I dug Waddie’s title because I grow increasingly critical of white privilege in media reports and the gay community. I decided to read the blogger’s take on the incident. He makes a few valid points, namely that 1) the news and various bloggers rushed to characterize the event as an anti-gay hate crime and 2) nobody was properly contextualizing the incident. For example, was the chair-flinger hit first? All too often, news outlets play into tropes of large, dark menacing bodies, while simultaneously depicting white people as frail, un-provoking, and victims.
Then the unfortunately named Waddie takes a left turn. First, he is careful to point out where the victim’s boyfriend works. “To what end,” I wonder. Next, he suggests that the attacker may not have been anti-gay because, according to two of Waddie’s un-named sources (Waddie is the next Snowden, y’all!), chair-thrower is (wait for it!) gay. Being gay, of course, doesn’t disqualify somebody from homophobia (e.g., Ted Haggard), let alone a homophobic attack. Third, Waddie repeatedly intimates that chair-mageddon was at least partially justified because the BOYFRIEND of the severely beaten man knocked over his attacker’s drink and was “arrogant” in doing so.
To be fair, Waddie (awful sobriquet) equivocates on the matter. In one paragraph, he claims he doesn’t condone violence, but, in several other moments, he acts as the attacker’s apologist, claiming he understands “having to fight by any means necessary to protect oneself.” Protect oneself from what? A spilled drink? Any means necessary? In the next paragraph, the dude flips again and says, “wrong is wrong.” Unless, of course, you are trying to protect the safety of your drink and respond to a perceived and second-hand account of arrogance. Then all bets are off. Then, by all means, throw a chair and “fight by any means necessary.” We’re talking about cocktails, people! Deadly force is warranted. But only if it’s top shelf.
The blogger’s most controversial act comes when he confesses that he KNOWS the identity of the attacker. He writes, “I am not going to SNITCH the guy out because I am on his side of self defense [sic].” (Please give Waddie a Peabody award for protecting his sources AND sentence construction.) He then chastises other bloggers “who sensationalized this incident into more than it was to protect the white gay hot head.” This, mind you, is all said without even a HINT of irony. Waddie is not a character in a John Waters movie. This guy is for REAL.
Today, various media outlets identified the chair-wielding man in the video. His name is Banya El-Amin. The guy has 18 prior arrests in cities all over the United States. His crimes include assault (shocker!), shoplifting, drug possession, credit card fraud, forgery, and possession of stolen property. We can only assume that each crime was a response to spilled Jack and Cokes. The NYPD describes El-Amin as a “career criminal.” His list of convictions date back to 1993.
13 days after reading Waddie’s blog entry and upon discovering new information about El-Amin, I decided to send the obscure blogger a tweet. My intention was genuine. I wanted to know his take on the news. I also wanted to hear more of what he had to say about snitching. The politics of snitching have always fascinated me. I understand why many people of color would hesitate to contact the police. One need only think of recent, historic, and horrific acts of police killing and brutalizing men of color to understand why it might be difficult for, say black men, to go to law enforcement with crime-related information. The term “snitching” is a charged term that speaks to significant race-related problems in the United States. I was earnestly curious!
Curious, yes. But, given Waddie’s blog, I didn’t expect much out of the Twitter exchange…and I wasn’t disappointed.
My favorite parts of his intellectually unimaginative reply:
- Based exclusively on the tweet I sent him, I am a “racist troll.” His baseless ad hominem attack is definitely easier than answering the two questions I posed.
- Apparently, I need to “be careful.” Big words from a man who will rely on “any means necessary” from “arrogant white men,” like ME.
- He also demonstrates that he has absolutely no understanding of slander. Waddie means libel, not slander. But even if slander and libel meant the same thing (which they don’t), what exactly am I libelous about in my initial tweet? Am I lying about Banay’s reported 18-count criminal record? Or am I lying about wanting to know more about the “politics of ‘snitching’”? Mind you, “snitching” was the word he used to describe his own complicity.
I encouraged Waddie (how many times do I have to type that inane name?) to lawyer up and sue me for SLANDER. Or maybe he should sue me for racist trolling. Evidently, when you ask earnest questions about an incendiary, fallacy-ridden blog entry, you’re trolling; but you’re a “victim” when somebody spills your drink and you beat him over the head with a chair.
I’ll keep you up-to-date on the lawsuit. I bet he’s got a TEAM of extraordinary attorneys!