Yesterday, in addition to being Inauguration Day, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We suggested that people use the holiday to engage in public service.
Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. At one leading law school, someone used the three-day weekend to vandalize the office of an LGBT student group.
We’ll show you a photo of the hateful graffiti. Warning: it’s pretty extreme and explicit….
The vandalism took place in the office of the Lambda Law Students Association at Boston College Law School. Here is a photo of the graffiti (click to enlarge, if you actually want a closer look at the awfulness):
In terms of the “substance” of this message, I didn’t know the meaning of several of these terms (e.g., this one and this one). And I wasn’t quite sure what MILFs have to do with anything; does the vandal mistakenly think that “MILF” stands for “Man I’d Like to F**k” (assuming he’s male)?
As for style, I agreed with my colleague Staci Zaretsky: “Such superb penmanship for such filth!”
My other colleague, Elie Mystal, diagnosed this episode as part of a larger problem. Alluding to BC Law’s defense of an anti-gay-marriage professor back in 2009, Elie argued that “creating an environment of tolerance starts at the top and includes every hiring and admissions decision you make.”
I don’t know if I’d go as far as Elie. This graffiti is reprehensible, but I don’t think it means that BC Law is any worse than any other similarly situated institution on issues of diversity and tolerance. You can find a bad apple in pretty much every bunch.
This is not even the first case of anti-gay graffiti that we’ve heard about at a top law school. Back in 2011, for example, NYU Law School reported anti-LGBT graffiti in one of its buildings. And NYU Law — which is located in the West Village, has many gay students, and boasts several gay faculty members — is a pretty LGBT-friendly place.
UPDATE (4:40 PM): It’s not even clear that the perpetrator was a law student. A Lambda Law member shared this observation with us:
BC Law shares its campus with a number of freshman dorms. This isn’t the first time in the history of BCLS that freshmen have vandalized the law school. This seems to indicate a systemic issue that the undergraduate body has with racism and homophobia, as opposed to a reflection on the law school’s students or administration. I have never encountered anything but openness and acceptance at BCLS and refuse to believe that this recent incident was committed by a member of our community.
We reached out to Dean Vincent D. Rougeau for comment. Here’s what he wrote to us:
The cowardly act of vandalism that was discovered this morning is reprehensible and runs counter to everything we stand for as a law school. We are working closely with the Boston College and Newton Police in the hope of resolving the matter, which occurred over the weekend in an unlocked room in an unlocked building. I have attached a copy of letter that I have distributed to all members of the BC community.
We’ve reprinted Dean Rougeau’s letter to the BC community on the next page.
We reached out to Lambda Law for comment as well. Jason Triplett, co-chair of the group, provided us with this statement:
The BC Law community has been overwhelmingly supportive in the wake of this act. An act like this is shocking because EVERYONE at BC law, from fellow students to professors and the administration, has been so inclusive and supportive of our organization and the individuals in our group. Our group is taking this and turning it into a positive thing. We don’t want the person who did this to get attention for his or her negative act. We have asked the administration to not remove the hateful graffiti yet; instead, we are holding a meeting to solicit ideas about how we can turn this into a positive thing for BC Law and the LGBT members of Lambda Law.
Just as an example, one of the ideas we have already been given by one of our members is to use the words as a backdrop for a dedication to the gay rights movement… posting articles, pictures, and quotes on top of them that show our fight for equal rights from Stonewall to the President’s historic inclusion of gay rights in his inauguration speech yesterday… to show where we have come from and yet how far we still have to go.
This strikes me as a positive and empowered response. And it’s great to hear that the BC Law community has shown strong support for Lambda Law in response to this bigotry.
Our nation has made great strides in terms of LGBT rights over the past few years, but as incidents like this one show, much work remains to be done. Maine, the state that BC Law Professor Scott Fitzgibbon tried to swing against gay marriage, now has marriage equality. But as President Obama observed yesterday, “our journey is not complete.”
(You can read Dean Rougeau’s letter on the next page.)