American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps by Philip Weiss

By Philip Weiss

In 1975, a brand new crew of Peace Corps volunteers landed at the island country of Tonga. between them was once Deborah Gardner±a appealing twenty-three-year-old who, within the following 12 months, will be stabbed twenty-two occasions and left for useless inside of her hut.

Another volunteer became himself in to the Tongan police, and lots of of the opposite americans have been yes he had dedicated the crime. yet via the country division, he lower back domestic a loose guy. even if the tale was once stored quiet within the usa, Deb Gardner's dying and the outlandish aftermath took on mythical proportions in Tonga.

Now journalist Philip Weiss "shines sunlight at the evidence of this grotesque case with the fervor of an avenging angel" (Chicago Tribune), exposing a gripping story of affection, violence, and clashing beliefs. With bravura reporting and bright, novelistic prose, Weiss transforms a Polynesian legend right into a singular artifact of yankee historical past and a profoundly relocating human tale.

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If his guest appearances on national talk shows caused their ratings to drop, then he would hardly be asked back. Yet, he is. The culture of hate is part of a vicious cycle of hate and crime; it both reflects and affects the growth of hate crimes in the United States. As cause, the culture of hate provides support and encouragement to those who seek to express their personal version of bigotry in some form of criminal Hatred Is Hip 43 behavior. As suggested earlier, stereotypes serve an important but dangerous function: they justify hate crimes in the mind of the perpetrator by providing him with the essential dehumanized images of vulnerable individuals.

The fact that hate crime victims are interchangeable may help to focus the debate. With respect to race, any black family that moves into certain neighborhoods will likely be attacked. With respect to sexual orientation, any man thought to be gay who happens to walk down a particular street will in all likelihood be assaulted. Similarly, gender-motivated hate crimes should include those attacks in which the offender is looking for any woman. By this criterion, acquaintance rape and acts of domestic vio- 16 Chapter 1 lence, no matter how despicable, would be excluded from consideration as hate offenses.

Those women who complied may have been in high fashion, but they suffered weakness, shortness of breath, and back pain, sometimes severe enough to cause disability (and therefore greater dependency on men). Race has also served as a basis for infantilization. During slavery, the "Little Black Sambo" image depicted black American men as boys who lacked either the sophistication or the intelligence to fend for themselves-hence, the justification for what was popularly believed to be a "white man's burden": because some whites regarded blacks as inherently inferior, slavery was widely considered as absolutely essential for the survival of the black race.

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