Why Is Violence In Missoula So Surprising?

by lizard

*UPDATE: The Missoula Independent is reporting the young man who claimed to have been beaten lied. If you follow the link, you will find a youtube clip showing the young man injuring himself trying to do a backflip.

*

I don’t go downtown for drinks like I did when I was a student at UM, but every once in awhile I’ll go down to the Rhino for a drink.

A few weeks ago, that’s where I was, hanging out behind the Rhino, talking to a young man. I think this kid had some developmental issues, because his behavior didn’t seem to be the product of drink or the joint that we had just smoked. In any case, the kid was good natured and very talkative, laughing a lot. That’s what he was doing when two massively muscled meatheads exited the Mo Club. Apparently the sound of laughing bothered them, because they both bee-lined toward us. One of the meatheads got in this kid’s face. When I asked him what his problem was, his pal—tweedle-dumb meathead—got in my face and threatened to kick my ass. I put some space between us, then told the two meatheads I was going inside to call the cops. I returned a minute later with the bouncer, but the meatheads had moved on, maybe to go find some drunk girl to rape.

Even if I hadn’t had this experience recently, I still wouldn’t have been surprised to read this report of a young man being beaten outside the Mo Club because of his sexual orientation.

I wouldn’t be surprised because there are some serious pieces of loathsome shit lurking around this town, like anywhere in the US.

I guess I don’t understand why some people seem so surprised whenever something really nasty like this happens. The image of Missoula as an uber-tolerant Mecca of love and understanding is one that is fiercely protected by many, but though I love this town too, I know it’s got its dark underbelly like any town does.

Sorry, Missoula, but we’re just not that special to avoid the violence that happens every day, in communities all across this country.

So yes, young men get assaulted for being faggots in Missoula and women get raped then shamed for it in Missoula and homeless men get beaten to death in Missoula.

Once the surprise subsides, ask yourself what you can do to make things better. I’m going to go out on a crazy limb here and say I bet everyone reading this knows someone who is capable, in the right circumstances, of engaging in targeted violence. These people make jokes in the workplace, they probably drink too much, they are your neighbors, and sometimes, they are your family.

We can pass all the laws and ordinances we want, but relying solely on institutional punishment isn’t enough. We need change at a cultural level, and people willing to stand up, in the moment, to stop this violence from happening in the first place.


  1. lizard19

    over at Hamm On Wry, Hamm laments about location, location, location:

    Why would someone bash a gay at the Mo Club? I’ve been there. Several times. It seems inviting to me, as I am, as they say, a “‘mo”. Why wouldn’t I go there?

    Plus, having been there several times before, with friends, it’s always been an awesome place. And when celebrating something, I’ve definitely had people buy me drinks. And now, someone gets gay-bashed there? On his 22nd birthday?

    Look, people of Missoula, get it together. It’s not acceptable behavior to be like this.

    • lizard19

      over at Hamm On Wry, Hamm apologizes.

  2. Big Johansson

    Something suspicious. According to your link.

    “The man told police he’d asked people at the Mo Club about the location of a gay bar, when someone asked him to step outside for a cigarette, Brodie said.

    But the man said that when he left the bar, someone hit him, and then two more people joined in, Brodie said. The incident happened at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and the man reported it to police at 4:30 a.m., after he got home, Brodie said.

    Number 1 he asked people, meaning more than one. Not just the bartender or a single person.

    Number 2 I don’t know anything ’bout the Mo Club. Is this establishment known for it’s rednecks?

    Number 3 why wait until you get home 3 hours later to call police? Could it be that the bars are closed witnesses/perps have vanished into the night?

    Number 4 the timing. Shortly after the chicken restaurant ordeal right before a planned protest.

  3. KC Whistle

    It isn’t. (surprising)

    I’m sorry for the young man. He’s young, and he has learned the hard way, that bars are dangerous places. It’s something many of us learn, at a cowboy bar, at an Indian bar, at a redneck bar, whatever kind of bar. Fights, stabbings, shootings, rapes, robbery, theft, bars are notorious places for crime. They are a good place to “protect yourself at all times” just like the instructions a fighter gets in the ring.

    This was a young gay man getting beat up outside a bar, so it makes more news, but young men get beaten up outside of bars every single week, in Missoula, in Bozeman, in Sydney, wherever.

    “It’s a hard thing to find out, that trouble is real.”

    • JC

      So, once again, let’s blame the victim?

      I’m sick and tired of this old west mentality — from both the right and the almost right. I’ve come back to this comment several times with the intent to comment or ignore it, but everything about this comment is just so wrong, I’ve got to say something.

      What has this young man learned, besides that bigotry and hatred and violence is alive and well in our community?

      To shut up and not make statements or ask simple questions that may reveal his true inner self? That if one is “different” that they should minimize their social lives to places that are “safe?” That to survive in society one must emulate boxers, and always be able to self-defend with physical force?

      That we live in a community with “cowboys” and “Indians” and “rednecks” and we should all be afraid of the stereotypes cast to these labels? That bars are places where laws are not followed, nor are they enforced — that we as a community have agreed to look the other way when people congregate to drink?

      That because someone is gay, that is the only reason their beating gets reported in the press — that other beatings don’t warrant the community to know about them, or that beatings have become so commonplace that the media isn’t interested in reporting them, or the readership in learning about them?

      Maybe the comment’s final quote is really indicative of the commenter’s inner desires. The song Hickory Wind is all about pining for white picket fences in a little town that time forgot, where all is well, and good little boys and girls do what their parents say, and nothing bad ever happens.

      If only we could turn back the clock to the our salad days by turning on the radio and listening to endless Prairie Home Companion episodes, we could ignore the reality of today: “…the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve … where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

      “Trouble ahead, you know trouble behind,
      And you know that notion just crossed my mind.”

      • KC Whistle

        I wasn’t blaming him. There is a difference between “blame” and “accepting some responsibility” It’s a dangerous world for young men, even in this country. And, alcohol is a contributor to that. I know of two young men who had facial surgery due to alcohol fueled fights in the past year. Neither gay, both careless. Both honest enough to be chagrined at the part they played. The guy whose head was curb stomped in Bozeman last year? Horrendous act! He wasnt gay, it was not the act of a bigot. But an act of outrageous violence outside a bar. It’s not any less disgusting because the
        victim wasn’t gay, was it? We aren’t just “victims of life’s circumstances”; we are also responsible for the choices we make.

        • KC Whistle

          And “protect yourself at all times” isn’t about force; it’s about awareness. Don’t drop your guard. And yes, in the bars of Missoula or
          Bozeman or Glendive that is a necessity, because trouble is real in the real world. JC has that right. And the singer of Hickory Wind? Dead of a heroin overdose as a very Young man.

  4. lizard19

    I added an important update at the top of the post. apparently, this story reported to the police was a lie, and the alleged victim now faces a penalty for making a false report to police.

    • Big Johansson

      Sweet vindication.

      • lizard19

        it’s sad but expected that’s how you would see this.

        • Big Johansson

          It it’s any consolation I was heading toward something a little more sinister.

  5. Chuck

    Gwen Florio should be fired.




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