Bronx Gang Attack Rattles Blogosphere

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and producer Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. Hear listener reaction to recent news of anti-gay hate crimes in New York City, and updates on how one former Tell Me More guest is responding to the Obama administration's response to a California judge's order that would allow gays to serve openly in the military.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here with me as usual. Hey Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey Michel, well, both on the program and online we've been talking a lot about that alleged crime in the Bronx, New York, where 11 gang members are accused of torturing three men. Now the attacks reportedly came after gang members learned that one of the victims, a 17-year-old, had sex with another man.

I caught up with Tom(ph) who used to live in the neighborhood where the attack took place. Here's what he had to say.

TOM: During the five years I lived in the Bronx, I can't seem to recall it being held up as a fertile breeding ground of intercultural understanding and tolerance. There was the Italian section, the Dominicans, the Kosovars etc. But they were certainly never embraced and honored for their unique cultural identity. With luck, I pray that this tragedy might inspire some introspection that will allow such a revolution in thought and feelings to begin.

MARTIN: Thank you Tom. Lee there was also another angle to the story according to the police report. One of the three victims was actually trying to join the Latin King Goonies gang and listener Michael writes that: Inner city gangs are notoriously violent. And while what occurred was certainly a hate crime, two gay teens attempting to join a street gang and being surprised when they are attacked is a little bit like two young black men attempting to join the Ku Klux Klan and then being surprised when the Klan attacks them.

HILL: Okay Michael, thanks for that. And Michel, during our conversation about those attacks we also discussed controversial comments recently made by New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Here's what he said while speaking to a group of orthodox Jewish leaders.

Mr. CARL PALADINO (New York Republican Gubernatorial Candidate): Don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live. I just think my children and your children will be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.

HILL: Now Michel, some found his remarks to be offensive, but Paladino initially refused to apologize until Wednesday that is when he made this statement. He wrote: I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.

MARTIN: And Lee, here's another update. On Wednesday we talked to Christian Berle, a leader of the Log Cabin Republicans. Now that's the oldest and largest group of gay and lesbian Republicans. And they originally filed a lawsuit challenging the military's ban on gay service members serving openly. That ban of course was called, Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

We reported the news this week that a federal judge ruled in their favor and issued an injunction to stop its enforcement. The Obama administration has since asked for a stay of the injunction and the Log Cabin Republicans are fighting back. They issued this statement and part of it reads: We are not surprised by the government's action as it repeats the broken promises and empty words from President Obama avowing to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell while at the same time directing his Justice Department to defend this unconstitutional policy. So the story continues.

HILL: And Michel, I want to share one last thing. This week we reported on how the Roma are often discriminated against in Europe and that story hit home with one of our listeners who wrote to us all the way from Hungary. Gabrielle(ph) writes: Thank you for jolting me awake to my complacency where my personal interactions with the Roma are concerned. I cannot change other people's stances and behaviors toward the Roma but I can certainly begin to change myself so that I am a part of the larger world effort to unify and equalize life for all people.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for writing Gabrielle all the way from Hungary and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE the conversation never ends. To tell us more you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our website. Go to npr.org click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

Coming up, from Brett Favre's sexting shenanigans to black bloggers busting the off the record rules at the White House. The Barbershop guys weigh in. That is next on TELL ME MORE from NPR News, I'm Michel Martin.

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