Ugandan Gay Activist David Kato Murdered: Is 'Rolling Stone' to Blame?

Jeanne Sager

gay pride flagWho saw this coming? David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights activist whose name and photo were published in one of the country's newspapers under the headline "Hang Them," was murdered this week. He was beaten on the head and left to die.

But oh, ho, it's not the newspaper's fault, silly! They didn't ask anyone to beat Kato to death. In fact, Giles Muhame, editor of the paper, is still out defending Rolling Stone (the paper's name, not the American mag):

There has been a lot of crime, it may not be because he is gay. We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them. We said they should be hanged, not stoned or attacked.

Welcome to another round in the "hatemongering does not equal culpability" game. I'm your host, ready to walk you through this.

Based on Muhame's backpedaling, the paper is not going to take responsibility for outing a gay rights activist in the highly homophobic country of Uganda. Specifically, Rolling Stone is standing behind its call for Kato to be hung ... because that's not how he was murdered. See the logic there? If someone bashed his head in, we weren't at fault. We never told you to hit him on the head to kill him.

Muhame doesn't want blood on his hands. Who can blame him? No one wants to say they were the one who pulled the trigger or slammed the lethal injection into someone's arm. And yet, here in America, we have people who claim an air of civility to their violent tendencies. It's perfectly OK to support the death penalty. But being the person standing in that room with needle in hand? Why, gosh, I'd never do that. That's just too icky for words.

And what of the gun enthusiasts who scream "right to bear arms," but start whistling and sticking their fingers in their ears when groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence release hard statistics showing licensed gun dealers in America "lost" an average of 56 guns every day over the last three years. A country girl, I won't argue against the good, honest gun owners who have both reason for their ownership and responsibility with their actions. But acknowledging them means also acknowledging the 62,134 firearms that left gun dealers’ inventory without a record of being legally sold between 2008 and 2010. There's a direct correlation between one and the other that can't be ignored.

We would like to put on gloves, to have a barrier between our decisions and their effects on the world. Shuck the gloves, and the blood goes with them. We can walk off, clean, safe, scot-free. But the science of life doesn't allow for that. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The support of violence begets violence.

The staff at Rolling Stone may not be punishable in a court of law for the murder of David Kato, but by publishing his name and photo, by parading him out as an enemy of Ugandan ideals and suggesting the appropriate method of "dealing with him" was death, they brought on his murder. There isn't a pair of gloves in this world big enough to shield the Muhames of the world from the blood spatter.


Image via Elsie esq./Flickr

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