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|Pushing Congress to regulate content over anti-gay beating not the answer|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|February 21, 2012 13:26|
It was hard to watch, but I had to see it.
The video posted to WorldStarHipHop.com that showed Brandon White being assaulted outside of an Atlanta corner store drew views from around the world. As of today, it's been watched more than a million times.
Local activists are understandably angry at the anti-gay crime, but a new focus on pushing Congress to regulate websites like WorldStarHipHop.com is misplaced.
“I believe websites like World Star Hip Hop have a responsibility to report this type of activity to some type of law enforcement agency,” said Devin Barrington-Ward of Change Atlanta in a statement released today. Barrington Ward was an organizer for the Feb. 11 rally held at the scene of the video-taped attack.
“While we cannot infringe upon anyone’s first amendment rights, that does not mean that when criminal activity is posted to these websites that website owners like Mr. Q’Denat is not responsible for reporting this activity, especially if they are financially benefiting from violence and crime,” Barrington-Ward added.
"It's a free market. If they want to make money from violent and criminal activity, that's fine, but I think there's a responsibility there. If you see something, say something. No effort was made to encourage their users to report to authorities if they had information on it," Barrington-Ward said.
WorldStarHipHop.com was founded by Lee “Q” Q’Denat.
White told our Deputy Editor Dyana Bagby (in this week's cover story) that he would not have reported the crime if the video had not been posted online.
“That’s when the embarrassment kicked in,” White said. “I cried that day. I don’t cry for nobody. I cried because there were so many emotions. I was pissed, there was anger, there was embarrassment, there was sadness.”
The sad fact is that if the video had not been posted on the internet, no one but Brandon and the street thugs known as “Jack City” would ever have known the attack took place. Because of WorldStarHipHop.com, we were reminded what senseless brutality toward a defenseless young gay man looks like.
If we don't see things like the Brandon White attack, eventually we could become calloused toward the reasons for fighting against this kind of hatred and bigotry. If it's out of sight, it's easy to be out of mind for our allies and our law-makers.
Pushing Congress to “regulate” websites like WorldStarHipHop.com is not the answer to preventing these kinds of attacks.
Barrington-Ward and other activists have already done what needs to be done. They've drawn attention to the attack and organized a meaningful response in the form of a community rally outside of the corner store where White was beaten. There's even a state hate crimes bill that is slated to be introduced this year in the General Assembly this year thanks to Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) in response to the attack.
Georgia has no hate crimes protections and it wasn't a priority for our law-makers, or even local LGBT advocacy organizations, in the last few years -- not until Brandon White was attacked on video.
My hope is that everyone who watches the video has the same gut wrenching reaction as I did, but I know that's not the case just by reading the comments posted under the video. The community's reaction to the video is far more important than any proposed legislation that would require these websites to literally police their content, anyway.
That's just my two cents.
Top photo: State Rep. Rashad Taylor speaks a rally today on McDaniel Street in southwest Atlanta where a gay man was brutally beaten. Taylor said he will introduce a sate hate crimes bill. (by Dyana Bagby)
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