By MARC MCDONALD
A lot of us have been shocked and appalled by John Hagee's hate speech against gays. But the worst aspect of this hate speech is that it is precisely the sort of provocation that encourages violence against gay people.
Last week, Hagee made comments linking Hurricane Katrina to a planned gay pride parade in New Orleans.
You don't have to be a genius to figure out the dangers in making such reckless, idiotic remarks. This is the sort of thing that encourages small-minded bigots who suffered devastation during Katrina to go out and beat up gay people for bringing God's wrath down upon the Gulf Coast.
I have no evidence of any such attacks specifically prompted by hate speech remarks (at least any more evidence than Hagee has to back up his idiotic assertion that Katrina was somehow divinely tied to a gay parade). But evidence is often lacking in hate crimes, in any case. After all, the Community United Against Violence, a San Francisco advocacy group, has noted that many gay-bashing hate crimes actually "go unreported, and many are mishandled by police."
And the fact is, anti-gay hate crimes have become a very real problem in today's America. And it's a problem that certainly isn't helped by bigots like Hagee blaming terrible natural disasters on gays.
As the Gay.com online community site has pointed out, hate crimes against gays are on the rise in America. The site quotes the FBI as reporting that "hate crimes against gays made up 16 percent of total documented hate crimes across the U.S. in 2006, up from 14 percent in 2005."