Thursday, September 06, 2012

Fearful asymmetry

Four Marines --who had just been in the same Long Beach gay bar as their victim-- beat another man unconscious. The bartender came out to help him.

His boyfriend stood by and watched, unmoving.

Shameful and sad. All of it. It is the utterly dishonorable* habit of men in groups to attack a weaker man. But the boyfriend's paralysis is fearful.

I hope to God I never find myself in any situation like that. And if I do, that I do not shame myself by inaction.

Despite my affection for the Chad Allen film series about gay private eye Donald Strachey, there is one scene that has always bothered me.

In the presence of his ex-seminarian do-gooder boyfriend Tim, --whom he has just rescued--Strachey is fighting with some gangsters and losing, his life imminently at risk. Tim finds a gun but cannot bring himself to use it. Can't even fire a warning shot into the air. Yet Don not only excuses him, but validates his cowardice.

Both Tim's paralysis and Don's excuse for it don't wash.

Fearful asymmetry.

*Men in groups are hunters by nature. This kind of behavior has a primal evolutionary root.  But these are cases where Katherine Hepburn's retort to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, when he pleads that "it's just human nature", is very true:

Nature, Mr. Allnut,
is what we are put in this world to rise above


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