Back in the fall I attended a wedding. This is the entry from my own journal:
Friday night at the rehearsal dinner one of the bridesmaids and I ended up chatting with the older brother of the flower girl. He likes a lot of the same kinds of movies as I do, was looking forward to dancing at the wedding, fairly articulate kid or maybe ten or eleven years. Later that night I brought the groom back to the hotel that all the non-locals were staying at, and the boy's mother asked our help; the girl had managed to get the boy stuck in the closet. I unstuck the door, and the boy and girl, both teary-eyed, were able to settle down for the night.
Wedding itself was wonderful but the reception started out kind of weak. I requested "It's Raining Men" because I like it and I knew the women would dance which would, at some point, get the men to dance. I think there actually was another guy on the floor for that song.
Maybe three hours later I was sitting down, resting for a bit, when I found a fist driving itself into my gut. I looked up to find the father of the boy I had befriended the night prior, drunk and angry, fist still clenched. I was shocked, but not terribly hurt. He said to me, "Don't you ever look at my kid like that again!" and stumbled off. I composed myself and got up to rejoin a friendly crowd.
The rest of the reception was ruined for me - I had been attacked, labeled a pedophile, and gay-bashed! I didn't mention it to anyone and the two bridesmaids who asked about it (the bride's mother had witnessed the attack and they had heard secondhand about it) I simply informed I wasn't doing to dwell on it. But dwell I did. My stomach was tight for at least two days. I don't feel like I can express my rage to my friends because the accusation was so despicable that I have an unreasoning fear that someone might wonder if this asshole wasn't right. It's like the question, "Are you still beating your wife?" You can't defend against the accusation of committing a thought crime, and even trying to makes you look guilty. So here I am, with this anger and helplessness and feeling of violation just sitting here on me.
I am obviously a very naive person, and have learned that for all the progress the world has made, I cannot always be comfortable in my own skin without being wary. The fact that this fear and apprehension is a good idea just fills me with rage! I am still stunned that this happened, and even now the details are growing muddy in my mind, leaving me only with the horror.
So I've thought about that incident off and on since. I was certainly the victim of a crime - likely a misdemeanor, I'm told, for the level of the assault. And I was victimized because a drunken sot decided he knew what I was thinking, and that he should punish me for the thoughts he imagined I have.
I did not press charges. Had I done so, I likely could have gotten him in more trouble were it prosecuted as a hate crime. But should it have been? Even though his words could be used as evidence that he was biased, how is that different than his judgment of me for his perception of my actions? Shouldn't he be punished for what he did, not why he did it? If he had applied that principle, he never would have attacked me, since I never acted inappropriately.
I'm searching for the proper place to draw the line in the sand.