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The High Price of Hate and Ignorance

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Forget “Queer Eye” and “The L Word”: It’s still dangerous to be gay or to be perceived mistakenly as being gay — even if you’re a little kid. The Tampa Bay Tribune reports that a Florida man was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the killing of his toddler son. This father, to be fair, probably did not intend for his 3-year-old to die. But fearing the boy might be gay, he decided to make the toddler a “man” by teaching him to box — and by beating him to a pulp.

Ronnie Paris would shake, wet himself and vomit as his father forced him into a box and repeatedly slapped him on the head in an effort to prevent him from being gay, the child’s mother, Nysheerah Paris, told the court Monday.

The boy was 3 years old when he died from swelling on both sides of the brain on January 28. …

“He was trying to teach him how to fight,” the boy’s aunt, Shanita Powell, told the court. “He was concerned that the child might be gay.”

“He didn’t want him to be a sissy,” Shelton Bostic, the defendant’s Bible-study friend, testified.

Yeah, the reportedly religious Ronnie Paris Jr. was determined his kid would not turn into a sissy — so much so that he pummelled the child to the point where little Ronnie Antonio suffered swelling of the brain, broken bones, and three bruises between his scalp and skull.

What was the mother’s role in this?

It wasn’t until Feb. 1, four days after little Ronnie was taken off life support, that Nysheerah Paris told police of the alleged abuse. She is charged with felony child neglect and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

She testified that she witnessed Ronnie Paris Jr. being rough with the child several times, including once when he “slammed” the baby against a wall because the child was vomiting.

But she said she didn’t take the baby to the hospital immediately after the incidents.

“I just didn’t want my baby to get tooken away from me,” she said. “I thought he was going to make it.”

Kenn Littman, an assistant public defender, asked Nysheerah Paris why she never reported the alleged abuse.

“You thought that the cops were gonna put this on you if you didn’t say anything?” Littman asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Let’s hope that Nysheerah Paris is found guilty and gets the maximum sentence. Too bad she wasn’t charged as an accessory to her spouse’s hideous crime.

If there is any comfort to be found from this harrowing story, it comes from knowing that the toddler did know some love and care during his all too short life. Previous abuse led to the boy being placed temporarily into foster care and into a far kinder situation. What a shame the child did not stay there…

A life is a terrible thing to waste — particularly when religious intolerance and irrational fear are the cause. Indeed, what a waste.

A tip o’ the baseball cap to Ex-Gay Watch for passing on the sad news.

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About NR Davis

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Horrifying story, but I have to ask if the gay aspect is really all that relevant. Wouldn’t an abusive, likely psychotic parent like this have been just as liable to beat the child for some other ostensible reason if the gay issue hadn’t popped into his head. It’s not like you can actually tell a 3 year old’s probable sexual preference, so the whole thing was in the father’s head anyway. He could have just as easily burned him alive for being possessed by devils the way a mother did to a baby in San Antonio some years ago.

    Dave

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Don’t cops always cite motive and opporunity as being important parts of solving a crime? The fact that Ronnie Paris Jr. was trying to toughen up his toddler son to keep him from being a “sissy” strikes me as being quite relevant. Knowing why a grown man would want to teach A THREE-YEAR-OLD KID to box and to beat the boy in the head would be central to explaining how such an unspeakably hideous crime occurred. Just saying he was a bad, stupid psycho-dad isn’t explanation enough. In this case, apparently, Mr. Paris was afraid that his boy wasn’t “masculine” enough. And note that his defense was not an insanity defense — it was “gay panic.” Thankfully, the jury didn’t buy it.

    Sadly, many anti-GLBT people will take any route necessary to prevent their child from growing up to be queer. Ex-gay ministries and so-called reparative therapists are known for encouraging teenage boys and men to take up “manly pursuits” such as contact sports to turn them into “heterosexual men.”

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    What the hell is ‘gay panic’? Is there anything in the world lower than a lawyer who would think up such a ludicrous defense?

    I agree that trying to force someone to be something they aren’t is unacceptable, but I think your starting point here may not really tie in effectively to your general premise. In the case you cite, it’s the abusiveness which stands out, not the reasons for it.

    Dave

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Hmmm… I revamped the opening. Hope it’s better. Thanks.

    And no, lawyers who use the “gay panic” defense are the lowest of the bottom feeders. In short, the “gay panic” defense is used for people charged with using violence against gay people and people they assume are gay. For example, “some guy hit on me, so I had to hurt him,” or “she looked like a gorgeous girl, but when we got into bed together, she had a penis, so I had to hurt her,” or “my boy preferred Barbie to baseball, so I had to hurt him.”

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Another definition, from Wikipedia:

    Gay Panic Defense is a term used to describe a legal defense against certain crimes. Specifically, when a person claims to have committed a violent crime, attack, assault or murder against a person of the same sex or gender because they allege that the person made romantic or sexual propositions, it is called “gay panic”. The defense is usually unsuccessful in winning acquittals, but it is often successful at reducing culpability and mitigating punishments.

    I would add to that “when homophobic and bigoted juries and judges fall for it.” And sometimes, sadly, they do. Come on, if a gay guy hits on you, just tell them no thanks and walk away. If your kid is gay and you can’t deal with it, the solution is not to treat the kid violently.

    The Gay.com article reports that a variation of the “gay panic” defense was used in Mr. Paris’ trial.

    And yes, the reason why is important — it is crucial that people know 1.) that this sick shit happens and 2.) that some people aren’t getting away with it. Anti-GLBT violence goes on all the time, but most instances are not widely reported. It matters both for information’s sake and so that the people see the high cost of hate and ignorance.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Come on, if a gay guy hits on you, just tell them no thanks and walk away. If your kid is gay and you can’t deal with it, the solution is not to treat the kid violently. < <

    The gay panic defense seems purely laughable to me. If violence is how you react to being propositioned by someone of the same sex you've got a lot more wrong with you than just homophobia.

    >>And yes, the reason why is important — it is crucial that people know 1.) that this sick shit happens and 2.) that some people aren’t getting away with it. Anti-GLBT violence goes on all the time, but most instances are not widely reported. It matters both for information’s sake and so that the people see the high cost of hate and ignorance.<<

    Sure, but wouldn’t a case of violence against an actual gay person make more sense as an example for what you want to demonstrate? In this case the guy wasn’t just anti-gay, he was a child abuser, regardless of the pretext. It seems to me that the child-abuse aspect eclipses the anti-gay aspect.

    Dave

  • godoggo

    They had a report on 60 minutes where some scientist hooked up some violent homophobes to sense when they were sexually aroused, then showed them film footage of straight and gay couples kissing. Well, you can guess the results.

  • Dawn

    I agree with both of you, I think a psychotic and ignorant parent such as these two would have led to abuse anyway, but I also think the “sissy” concern is a serious one.

    What I mean by that is, I know specific incidents of people who assess their young child as showing tendencies toward an “undesirable” sexual orientation and at the minimum make overt comments about it.

    Even in my own son I have made comments to him about “being a little man” and “toughen up”. I think from my perspective it’s out of frustration for him just being a baby, both literally and figuratively. But it’s still wrong and I have to catch myself and I always feel bad about it.

    Clearly, as a parent you want the least painful experience for your child as a path in life, but a caring parent will accept them for who they are, generally speaking.

    Very sad story Natalie, I am sorry your brain was burdened with the thought.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Thanks, Dawn, between this story and the one I will have later about a 16-year-old kid blogger tossed into an ex-gay ministry after (unwisely) coming out to his folks, it’s all a bit much to bear.

  • Nancy

    This just reinforces my belief that everyone should be sterilized at birth, and the procedure reversed only when they have proved they are intelligent & sane enough to have kids & take care of them properly. In addition to jail, people like these two should be forcibly sterilized to ensure they don’t do this to any other unfortunate product of their breeding. They’re not fit to be humans, let alone parents.

  • godoggo

    I think you should teach your kids to be tough, regardless of sex or orientation. This does not require beating them to death.