Araujo murder exposes hate

    Some things never change. Some things seem to cross generations, decades, borders and societies. Things like instincts and ideals, beliefs and stereotypes. Things like hatred.

    Using the name Lida, Eddie Araujo of Newark, Calif., attended a party dressed as a woman. Being transgendered had been Araujo’s norm for years, despite the fact that it most certainly wasn’t the norm for others. Daisy Bernal, a friend of the victim, commented on the standard reaction to Araujo’s cross-dressing in an article in the Concord Monitor.

    “”People just didn’t like him,”” said Bernal. “”She gets mad when I used to call her Eddie. She would be like, ‘Shut up. Don’t call me that.’ After I called her that, she just said, ‘I’m a girl, I’m just a girl trapped in a guy’s body. God made me like that.'””

    But that wasn’t enough of a justification for people like Michael William Magidson, 27; Jaron Chase Nabors, 19; and Jose Antonio Merel, 24, all of Newark, N.J. The accused perpetrators had clashed with Araujo previously, and things peaked on Oct. 3, when Araujo was assaulted and killed upon the discovery of her male genitalia.

    The defendants allegedly beat her, gashed her head and then dragged her semiconscious body to the garage, where they tightened a rope around her neck until she seemed dead. Then they drove her body to a remote spot in the Sierra Nevada foothills and buried her in a shallow grave, where it was found two weeks later, according to a police affidavit.

    The term may be new, but the concept is as ancient as human kind — Araujo was the victim of a hate crime. Araujo was murdered because she was different, because she didn’t fit in, because she didn’t conform to a standard of behavior that we can accept as normal. And that’s always an excuse for discrimination.

    There is no justification for murder. There is no explanation that can alleviate the suffering of the victims of ignorant wrath.

    That ignorance is more prevalent than we think. Homophobia is everywhere. It’s running rampant and taking lives. It keeps kids in the closet, making them afraid to show who they are — afraid to admit that they are different from the rest of the world that simply refuses to understand or accept them.

    That refusal is costing lives. This isn’t the 18th century, and it’s not the rural South. It’s here and now, in California. The same discrimination that has been plaguing this country for ages is still present. It’s still causing pain.

    We’re supposed to have learned something about tolerance by now. We’re supposed to have learned how to accept people for who they are. We’re supposed to have learned enough about individual freedom that we would never violate someone else’s freedom simply because we don’t agree with his or her point of view.

    But we haven’t. We haven’t learned a damn thing. We still refuse to let people be who they are, to let people be free. We still label, stereotype and discriminate. Despite all our technological advances and economic success, despite the new inventions and the “”heightened”” standards of living, things are still the same. Hatred still lives. We haven’t changed a bit.

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