What’s going on with bizarre hate crimes lately? After that totally baffling cake incident, in which a bakery took the time to make an insulting cake for a lesbian couple, now there’s a case in Paris, Tennessee in which three guys walked into Healthy Thyme, a health food store, stole some cash and then beat up the owner, Joe Williams, and tried to burn the building down.
Again: what, what?
We’re struggling to comprehend the thinking here. Were these guys just looking for a store to rob and thought they’d throw in a little hate crime as well? Or were they looking for a fag to bash, and just happened to bring along arson equipment just in case? Did they decide, “let’s see how many crimes we can commit within a 60-second span, like some kind of felonious Supermarket Sweep“?
There are just so many incomprehensible details. The crime kind of defies belief; according to locals, this kind of violence is unusual in the small town. There’s the victim’s miraculous escape from his attackers, described as happening “somehow” in media reports. And also the Morton-Downey-Jr-style writing of “fag” on the victim’s forehead.
Then there’s this detail: apparently, a guy came into the store earlier that day to interrogate the owner about his sexuality and berate him. Okay, so this customer is apparently really concerned about whether he’s buying echinacea from a gay man or a straight man. Sure, there’s crazy bigots out there who might behave that way. Maybe they walk into every store and ask about the manager’s sex life. We’ve all been victimized by that kind of person at one time or another.
But then to come back hours later with two friends to set the place on fire? With the owner inside, which would make it attempted murder? That seems to shoot way past “crazy” into the realm of “unbelievably psycho.”
Photo credit: WSMV