The Mangawhai Hate Crime: Social justice and the art of car maintenance

It’s been a funny week.

It started with a call from Lee, my mechanic. My routine service-and-WOF had discoverd a pricey set of faults to fix. As it happens I have inherited a small bequest from a relative who passed on last year, which more or less exactly matched the amount needed. This is how the universe works it seems.

Tuesday I got an email from the victim of a hate crime in a small town not too far from where I live. (You can read my email and their response below)

It seems someone identified two people living a life together and running a business as targets for arson, sundry vandalism and menacing behaviour. The business is bulb-based and so works around an annual cycle that has now been disrupted. Effectively these people have cut off the couple’s livelihood for a year, as well as depriving them of their safety and security.

So what caused this hate? They are of the same gender. Truly this dumbfounded and outraged me.

I remember being a teenager when the homosexual law reform bill was being debated. I recall being appalled at the obscene descriptions given by those in opposition, and my family. We were liberal-ish, but not particularly radical and that was the point. Middle New Zealand was ready for a change, and the failure of the petition and success of the bill reflected that. That bill was enacted a quarter of century ago.

Today I spent remembering the things I wanted to spend my windfall on and feeling foul. I’d pondered spending the remainder on taking Sally out for a nice dinner (it’s our anniversary soon) but what won out was this:

I’ve decided to donate what’s left (with a small top up from Sal) to Juliet Leigh and Lindsay Curnow so that their business, Blooming Bulbs can bulblike nestle underground for a while and regrow in a year’s time in spite of the actions of a few idiots. I’ll forget the nicest dinner, but I suspect not this. I’ll get something special to remember my grandmother by.

If you’ve got a little spare floating around, why not do the same. Donations can either be made direct to their account: ASB 12 3064 0216613 00 (please ensure you refer to Blooming Bulbs when you transfer) or via the Gay Auckland Business Association charitable trust.

Emails:

Hi

I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of these, so please don’t feel an obligation to respond.

Please remember – this is not who we are as kiwis. These are ignorant animals. We resolved the fight they are trying to fight decades ago when I was still a child and this country made it legal to love who you wished to.

Kia kaha.

Sean Murgatroyd (Helensville)

_________________________

Hello,
It takes courage to email or phone complete strangers & we are very touched.
We have been quite overwhelmed by the kindness of our families, friends, and people from both the gay community & from our locals up here.
Absolute strangers have been knocking on our door bringing cakes & flowers!
Blokes here have offered to mow our lawns & to help remove the revolting burnt-out  “carcass” of the Packing Shed.

I would usually find the media attention we are getting most unwelcome, but we have been told that it is important to create awareness, as the culprit is likely to “brag” in the bar or such & if people know about what has happened they are more likely to report someone who they hear speaking ” out of turn”.

We appeared on  Monday night’s “Close Up” programme & I feel we did it for other gay & lesbian folk & for prejudice awareness generally, as well as for ourselves. I guess it is also important that regular nice people realise that this sort of thing can still happen in what appear to be very safe communities. I am answering around 500 emails today! Wonderful & humbling.

The fire has left us in “the proverbial”  and we will not be opening our business this year, and will have to catch our breath before we can look at our future plans.

Again, thank you most sincerely for the message of support..

Warmest regards

Lindsay Curnow
Mangawhai Heads

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About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Personal including infoculture, book reviews: http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Music: http://seanfishmusic.wordpress.com/ Last.fm band page: http://www.last.fm/music/Seanfish @seanfish

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