Why Perez Hilton Disgusts Me

I stopped reading Perez on any sort of regular basis around two years ago, when my own personal failures were publicized on the cover of the GW Hatchet under the headline, “Nude scene causes student theatre strife.” I continued to check it occasionally, especially during the Summer of Celebrity Deaths, but after being burned, I generally shied away from reading about the private scandals of others. When I wanted gossip, I wanted to know who was starring in what and who was wearing what, not who was getting divorced and losing custody of their children and getting caught with drugs. I ignored Perez, and turned to more intelligent blogs, like those of New York Magazine.

But this week saw the death of Brittany Murphy, and Perez Hilton’s reaction to her untimely passing truly offended me. The headline was vile enough: “Brittany Murphy DIES! Did drugs lead to her demise????” For God’s sake, Perez, the girl died a few hours ago. Is now really the time to accuse her of drug abuse or foul play? I understand that it is your “job” to report about these things. But a mere “Brittany Murphy Dies at 32” would have been more than sufficient and much less disgusting. Not to mention the fact that this post was filed under “Drugs,” as if Perez could have already known that drugs were involved when the autopsy results won’t be out for weeks.

But the following thoughts from Perez bothered me the most: “Absolutely devastating. Especially because this comes as no surprise! We, and those who knew Brittany personally, saw this coming. That does not make this any less horrible.” At first this seemed, although slightly inappropriate, like it was at least coming from a positive place. Until I decided to go back and see what Perez had to say about his dear friend Brittany before she passed away. The blog posts about her are as follows:

Brittany’s Looking Loopy! (Accusing her of being “hopped up” on pills)

She’s Probably Lying! Brittany Murphy Denies Being Fired (With the word “crazy” scrawled across her photo)

Quote of the Day (Perez refers to Brittany’s desire to be a mom as “an awful idea”)

They’re Gonna Procreate! (“We love pills” scrawled across Brittany and her husband’s photo)

Thank You, Santa (Predicts that Brittany’s husband got her “Provigil, Vicodin, Valium, Methodone, and more!”

The rest are just as unflattering, referring to the pair as “Kook and Crook,” calling Brittany “pussy-lipped,” emphasizing Brittany’s alleged craziness and the couple’s alleged pill addictions, and highlighting Brittany’s career failures. Those character assassinations (lunatic, has-been, and addict) are in literally every single post tagged to Brittany.

So, congratulations, Perez. I’m so glad this is how you treat girls for whom you believe death is imminent. You mocked her for her alleged addiction for years, and then patted yourself on the back for predicting her demise. You never once provided proof that Brittany had a drug problem, but used her career failures as proof that she was nothing more than a drug-addled lunatic. I’m sure your way of saving her was to ridicule her for wanting to have a family. How kind of you to see her death coming, and still continue to exaggerate all of her flaws and personal problems for all the world to see. Thank you, Perez Hilton. You are a fucking American hero.

LGBT Rights: Hate Crimes and Transgender Law

(Originally posted by me in the GW Discourse blog.)

Ever since Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998 because of his homosexuality, LGBT rights groups have worked towards passing a federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. 2009 saw the passage of this groundbreaking piece of legislation, named for Shepard and James Byrd, an African-American man who was murdered in 2005 because of his race. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the federal government to provide money and resources to states that are not equipped to adequately prosecute hate crimes. It also allows the Department of Justice and the FBI to take over hate crimes investigations if states refuse to prosecute these crimes. Sexual orientation and gender identity (in addition to many other classes, such as race and gender) are both protected by this act.

This was a long-awaited achievement for the LGBT community, but there are problems that this law does not solve. First of all, states still need to be influenced to strengthen their own hate crimes legislation. Regardless of federal law, police officers in states with weak enforcement of state hate crime laws may refuse to report incidents as hate crimes due to their own prejudices, thereby minimizing the punishment that the attacker could receive.

Furthermore, even though gender identity is included in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the transgender community still does not have adequate protection, particularly in prisons. When trans-women (persons born male who have transitioned, via hormones, surgery, or both, to female) are placed into male prison facilities, they are obviously at high risk for sexual assault and other types of attacks because of their female appearance. Modern prison systems struggle with how to deal with the trans issue. The government is uncomfortable with recognizing transgendered persons as their “new” gender, as it complicates their normative view of gender as dichotomous and unchanging. But today, trans-women with female genitalia are still legally allowed to be placed in cells with male convicted rapists, and other felons with a history of sexual assault. Some prisons “solve” this problem by isolating trans prisoners, but this is just a different kind of discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Until the prison systems accept transgender persons as the gender they choose to present as, the transgender community will continue to suffer.

But the question still remains: Where should prisons place people who are still in the process of transitioning from one gender to another? If a person has breast implants, female hormones, and male genitalia, should they be placed in a male or female facility, or isolated from their peers? How can we better protect them, and the rest of the transgender community, from vicious hate crimes?

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