Compassion For The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!”

So, I want to take a moment to respond to the faux gay-bashing incident that swept me (and the gay media) by storm yesterday.

Yeah, I’m angry.

I think this may have set things back a bit as far as people taking the threat to LGBTQ people seriously in the state of Montana. When someone needs the help of the police because they have been a victim of  gay assault, will it be met with deep suspicion and possibly a sneer?

I’m also really worried about the kid who reported the whole thing.

I’m worried that this will ruin his life. I’m worried that this decision to report- however it was made- was possibly made under the influence. Bad decisions are made every day under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Montana is populated with an extraordinary amount of repeat DUI offenders. Our stats are not pretty. When Montana police respond to fights, domestic violence or robbery, they’re mostly alcohol related. Ask any cop. In a 2010 survey of  Montana State Prison inmates, 93% had alcohol related to their crime. 93 percent. So I’m worried that an all-too-common clouded decision-making process will become a reason for retribution.

Yeah, I’m worried that the community that so quickly rallied around him will turn just as quickly against him.

I want to argue for some understanding. We don’t know the circumstances. We don’t know the reasons. We don’t know the situation. We don’t know anything- except what the police reports and press releases have told us.

I think that the concern we all had for him can be turned in a new direction- toward trying to understand- and trying to forgive. Youthful indiscretion aside, mistakes are made- and so are apologies.

When his is made, I’m going to do my damnedest to accept it.

Because I’ve made mistakes of my own.

I also know that we’re going to need to remember the response that galvanized a bunch of people around the country into action. Because, someday, we’re going to need to rally around a victim of hate, a victim of injustice, a victim of violence- and I don’t want to have suspicion be the first voice that enters my head. I want compassion to be the first voice.

And I don’t want the memory of this or any incident to overcome compassion’s voice in my heart.


That’s my prayer.

10 comments on “Compassion For The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!”

  1. Agreed probably some truth in his story but he is afraid which is sad.


  2. Don Pogreba says:

    Very well said.


  3. […] still some facts that need to be verified.  Hope that happens soon. UPDATE: D. Gregory Smith at From Eternity to Here has a good take on this […]


  4. Sully says:

    I absolutely agree with you and I’m scared of these exact things it makes me think of Carla Grayson and Adrianne Neff and that’s what scares me the most….As a transman I’m afraid that people will see this as a pattern and that the real progress that queer folks in Montana have made and are making will be overshadowed by these incidents. Well written D Gregory Smith.


  5. Paul says:

    Well said indeed. I was shocked to hear it, relieved to find out it wasn’t true, and now pondering how this event fits into the bigger picture. Thanks for the post.


  6. […] Greg Smith, a blogger from Bozeman and an active member of Pride Foundation, wrote a brilliant blog last night about finding compassion for Joe.  I’m not even going to paraphrase him here because […]


  7. Greg, this served as a nice sort of “slap in the face” for me. Last night I was pretty consumed with anger towards this guy — I felt he made a mockery of hate crimes and toyed with people’s real, serious, deep-rooted feelings, thoughts and experiences. I still feel that way, but your good words help me look at it in a more compassionate manner. In fact, I did some pretty stupid, hateful, embarrassing and hurtful things under the influence (and even not under the influence) when I was Joseph’s age. Fortunately, compassionate people helped me, had faith in me, and helped me become a better person. i think Joseph not only owes the community an apology, but perhaps he should spend time around real victims of hate crime and do some work that can help advance awareness and equality. I hope he learns from this experiences and grows to be a great man. Thanks for the good “slap in the face.”


  8. Kerri says:

    Sorry but I do feel sympathy for the boy. I think he needs a good ass whooping


  9. Kerri says:

    That is do not,i must proof read before i hit send


  10. The Polish Wolf says:

    I agree, I suppose, with extending Christian compassion to everyone, and especially someone like this young man who probably has some kind of issues that he’s working through if he’s resorted to this.

    But I also think about it this way: what if he had gotten away with it, and the cops had pinned the ‘crime’ on some dumb kid passed out in the park who didn’t remember anything that night but seemed like the kind of jerk that might do a thing like that (as nearly happened in the Hi-Line “shooting”)? Then this kid would have ruined someone’s life and spread terror throughout the queer community, exactly like he accused some ignorant, drunk homophobe of having done – and yet no one (least of all me) seemed in the mood to grant any compassion to the hypothetical, in the end non-existent, gay basher in the story. Something that deserves reflection, I guess. There is a pretty compelling story dealing with hate crimes from the perspective of the criminal in Sherman Alexie’s War Dances. If you haven’t read it (I imagine you have), you should.


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