By Scott Tibbs, July 30, 2009
I was disappointed to read through the "hate incidents" report from the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and find that the hate incident I reported last October 6 was not included in this year's report. While a group of over 150 Christians were silently and peacefully holding a Life Chain to protest abortion, a van drove by. The passenger exposed his buttocks and "mooned" the group for the entire length of the Life Chain. This was clearly meant to offend, and clearly meant as a mockery of the Christian faith of those protesting.
This childish and uncivil act was both inappropriate and inexcusable. Whatever one may think about abortion and whether or to what extent abortion should be legal, there is absolutely no legitimate reason to expose yourself as a means of political protest. There were a number of small children at the Life Chain who should not have been subjected to indecent exposure by this individual. This was not meant to be a counter-protest that explained why "reproductive choice" is necessary. It was meant to harass and offend.
While I am disappointed by the omission, I am not surprised. The Bloomington Human Rights Commission defines a "hate incident" to include slurs as well as physical harm, which is why the report chronicles hate "incidents" rather than hate crimes. Omitting the indecent exposure designed to mock the faith of those holding a peaceful protest suggests that the BHRC only reports "hate incidents" that fit the commission's agenda.
I believe the "hate incidents" report is a waste of time. First, all incidents of physical violence are acts of hatred on some level, whether active or passive. Second, there is no need to classify verbal harassment or other such incidents along categories such as race, sex, national origin, "sexual orientation" or religion. A "safe and civil city" should equally condemn similar incidents with the same vigor. If the city of Bloomington is going to have a "hate incidents" report, however, it should classify all "hate incidents" equally. The 2008-2009 report failed to do that.