Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Local Case -- and a Media Example

The top news story for the past two weeks here in Dallas has been the case concerning local restaranteur Oscar Sanchez -- who was kidnapped from his home in Oak Cliff (the southern side of Dallas) and later murdered when he tried to escape.

This is a horrible crime that has generated the usual -- stunned statements from the former co-workers of one of the accused, a high profile funeral, and recriminations about crime in Oak Cliff. However, what's different? This has a sexual subplot.

As it turns out, Edgar Acevedo and Jose Felix, the suspects, are roommates. In addition, Acevedo has a history of what could be termed
"flamboyant behavior". To cap things off, Felix's lawyer is now insinuating that Sanchez (the victim) and Acevedo had a relationship -- in a "if you know what I mean, hint hint, wink wink" fashion -- which is being vehemently denied by Sanchez's family and acquaintances.

The first thought I get out of this is to give kudos to the Dallas Morning News for accurate and balanced reporting. They have done a very nice job of handling an issue which was more or less public knowledge (Acevedo's behavior) while not allowing it to overwhelm the rest of the story -- or worse, using it to titillate (I was waiting for the headline, "Crazed Drag Queen Kills Local Family Man"). The Dallas Voice also deserves credit for stepping up and confronting the issue -- and a good job of checking its sources to add to the story.

The second thought was that I want John Read to shut the hell up. Read is a local attorney who is famous (or infamous) for taking high-profile cases, such as the Johnny Hernandez case, where a police officer was caught on tape soliciting a hit man to kill Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, and the "hatchet murders" of David Martin Long. In addition, he or his son (news reports refer to "John Read" or "John Read II") is currently the defense attorney for Tom Coleman, the lawman infamous for his perjured testimony in the Tulia drug convictions.

My beefs with Read are, in order:

-- Whether Sanchez and Acevedo were romantically involved or not, that is no reason for murder. It's also no reason to paint Acevedo as some kind of crazed maniac with sexual issues to make your client look less guilty.

-- Going to a gay bar, as Sanchez allegedly did, does not make one gay - or I have a lot of straight friends who have suddenly converted.

-- The reason you are doing this is because you know that a case tried against a minority suspect in Dallas County is likely to have a majority-minority jury -- and your hope is that you can swing the jury by appealing to the very significant antigay sentiment among Dallas's black and Hispanic community. In short, you intend to get Felix off by painting this as a jealous lover killing the husband who was cheating on his beautiful family, amplified by the fact that he was cheating with a man -- so Felix is a helpless party in killing someone who deserved it anyway.

The final thought I get out of this is an interesting one. Clearly, Acevedo was engaging in some sort of "trans" behavior -- however, the question is, which one? From a philosophical basis, I am loath to call either of them "gay" in the sense that, if the one was a transgender individual, does that really count as "gay"? Sure, they hung out in gay bars, but could that be because that would be where their behavior was less noticeable?

(editorial comment --The Hidden Door is not where I would go if I were a drag queen -- it's a better hunting ground for bear)

I'll keep all y'all posted on how this plays out. Right now, my activist side is not seeing any major issues popping up out of this, although I will be keeping a close eye on John Read's ongoing statements and monitoring any particular upswings in antigay activity in the Latino community.

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