Yesterday I admitted I was wrong in stating earlier in the week that Senator Diaz had been mum on the attack. But I agreed with New York Daily News political reporter Bob Kappstater when he said the statement could have been stronger and not evade the use of the word gay.
I also said that the only way I found out about the statement was through an article that ran over the weekend in the Spanish-language newsdaily El Diario La Prensa.
Admittedly, it's not Diaz's fault that other newspapers didn't pick up on his press release but, yesterday, I also criticized that the statement was nowhere to be seen in what is arguably his most public presence on the web: His Senate page.
I wasn't expecting a response and the Senator's office has certainly not reached out to me but a Google alert just... ehm... alerted me to some developments.
The Senator's office has posted the Reverend's full statement online as a top news story on his website. It's titled "Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Outraged by Depraved Acts of Violence" and it reads as follows:
I am appalled by news reports of depraved criminal acts committed by nine young men who tortured and robbed teens and men in a building on Osborne Place in The Bronx. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.There's a second story at the top of the page, though, and that one reads "Senator Diaz to Blabbeando: Thank You!". I. Kid. You. Not. From the Senator's statement:
No one deserves to be brutalized or victimized. Predatory crimes like these are among the most heinous. Our laws must be enforced. Each criminal involved deserves the maximum penalty upon conviction.
Violence in our society is out of control. Too many young people act on impulse and don’t think about the consequences of their actions for themselves or others. We need to teach our youth to respect each other and remind them about the importance of reflection.
I deeply appreciate the honesty of blogger Blabbeando to correct himself on his website and through his twitter account about the press release I issued on Saturday expressing my outrage about the heinous crimes committed by Bronx youth on Osborne Avenue.As you know, yesterday I also pointed out a blog post at the WNYC radio station's website in which Latino political pundit Gerson Borrero took Senator Diaz to task for the homophobia he has seeded throughout the Bronx as a political representative from the borough. I'm not sure if the Senator - or his press handlers - missed it but I did categorize Mr. Borrero's essay as "a great, great, great - and important - column".
Even though Blabbeando criticizes me, I love honesty – and unlike Gerson Borrero – Blabbeando is honest.
I publicly thank Blabbeando for his sincerity and for his refusal to perpetuate any claim that I was “mum” over the weekend.
Mr. Borrero, as I did at first, probably wasn't aware of the statement because it was certainly not disseminated publicly and was only picked up by few media venues, making it easy for people to have missed it.
But, in his thank you statement to Blabbeando, the Reverend (or his press handlers) are directly evading the larger point that Borrero was making in his essay: Homophobia has an impact and the Reverend has blood on his hands for seeding it all over the Bronx all these years.
Yes, I sincerely thanked the Reverend for putting out the statement because I sincerely appreciated it. But one single statement does not make up for the incredible damage the man has done to the LGBT community in New York throughout the years.
I am aware the two men - Diaz and Borrero - have a longstanding feud over Borrero's criticism of the Reverend (Borrero calls Diaz "a man of the Devil" so there is no love lost on either side). I for one don't appreciate to be thanked in a statement that only serves to get back at Borrero.
Two final points: In releasing the Senator's statements against the crime in the Bronx, the Senator's office also state the following:
Last week, Senator Reverend Diaz joined with community leaders to denounce crimes committed against Bangladeshi residents in Parkchester. In August, he joined with members of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization to denounce bias attacks against Mexican residents of Staten Island.Well, he might have joined those communities publicly at press conferences and rallies, but he certainly was nowhere to be seen when advocates held a press conference over the weekend denouncing the crimes. Now, think about the opposite: What would have happened if the Reverend had stood publicly with LGBT community advocates and deplored the homophobic basis of the attack? THAT, my friends, would have been big news.
And about Kappstater's comment on the avoidance of using the word "gay" in the statement Diaz released to media: As Kappstater noted, the word "gay" is indeed absent from the official statement and it's also absent in the Senator's 'thank-you' statement but, surprisingly, it appears in the intro to the note:
New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz issued the following remarks today in response to online postings by Blabbeando about the Senator’s repudiation of the widely reported predatory attacks of two gay men in The Bronx...So, in a sense, the Reverend has yet to utter the word "gay" in deploring these attacks. As for the statement that two gay men were attacked, the alleged victims are four, not two, and, as far as I know only one was known to live an openly gay life. The fact that two of the gang members who were victimized are alleged to have admitted to having sexual contact with the openly gay man does not necessarily mean either man was gay or identified as such.
PS: The Reverend is still blocking me from following him on Twitter. LOL!