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What the attack on Scott Jones tells us about fear and courage

'Hearts can harden in any culture. Fear and ignorance can grow in any corner.'
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sunday morning I received an email from a friend who advocates with me on behalf of gay rights. She wrote, “I’m too emotional…to think clearly.”

Scott Jones, a close friend of her niece, had been stabbed in the streets of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and left paralyzed early Saturday morning in an alleged anti-gay hate crime.

Scott Jones

Scott Jones

A 27-year-old choir director and church organist, Jones is well known in his community. He is also openly gay and passionate about helping others. Just last week he had been talking with friends about the importance of supporting LGBT teenagers in junior high and high schools and had been discussing ways to help them through the process of coming out.

Everyone who knows Jones is reeling from the attack. Said his sister’s fiancé, he is “one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”

Jones had been celebrating with a group of friends after an art opening. They were leaving one bar and heading for another. Two men followed Jones who had fallen slightly behind the group with another companion. While one of the men distracted Jones’ friend, the other slit Jones’ throat, whispered something in his ear, and stabbed him twice in the back, severing his spinal cord.

He is now paralyzed from the waist down. A 19-year-old man, Shane Edward Matheson, has been arrested in connection with the crime.

Even as I write this I find myself pausing, unable to type further, and sitting with a hand over my mouth in mute horror at this hideous, heartbreaking act of cruelty.

Then I bring my hands back down to the keyboard because being paralyzed by horror is a luxury and being mute – or silent – in the wake of such a crime would be another crime in itself.

This violent attack didn’t happen in a notoriously anti-gay country such as Russia, Jamaica or Uganda. This happened in Canada, one of the gay-friendliest countries in the world where anti-discrimination laws have been in effect since 1998. And the province of Nova Scotia is no exception to its country’s rules.

So what does this attack tell us?

It tells us what the other senseless hate crimes have told us this year: that we are not yet in a position to let down our guard even on the streets we call home. And that is tragic.

Hearts can harden in any culture. Fear and ignorance can grow in any corner. Which is why the attack on Jones is a terrifying reminder that we cannot afford to waste any time living in fear or ignorance ourselves.

Each and every one of us is a leader in that we all have the potential to lead by example. More than ever we must speak out for acceptance – socially, politically and legally – no matter where in the world we live.

Although Jones lived in a place where he wasn’t treated as a second-class citizen, he still knew how difficult it was, especially for a young person, to be openly gay. So he wanted to help. He wanted to go into schools and work with the youth in his community. What is incredible is that, already, he has expressed a desire to continue to help.

From his hospital bed on Sunday, according to a report in the New Glasgow News, he began talking about forming a new choir “with a focus on diversity.”

Said his friend Amy Punke, Jones is trying to focus on what he can still do – play the piano, lead a choir – and remains who he has always been: “a peaceable human being…determined to make the world a better place.”

That young man who stabbed Jones carries with him a darkness that speaks to its own kind of pain but he chose to embrace the darkness and his voice will remain as small as the whisper he cowardly uttered. Not Jones’. Not ours.

We can all work to create that new choir. Let our voices be heard! For Scott Jones and Matthew Shepard and everyone who has suffered for no other reason than that their truth threatened someone else’s charade.

Silence empowers the fear. Expression expands the heart.

Be as brave as Scott Jones. Keep your heart open. Speak out for human rights. Share your story. Connect with others. Teach by example the beauty of diversity because, as all music proves, harmony is only possible with a diversity of voices.

The more voices in a worldwide choir for acceptance and peace, the louder our song, the greater our range, the more people that will hear – and the better the world will be.

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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65 more reader comments:

  1. What is tells me is live in a place that permits concealed weapons.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:43pm
  2. It was in Canada, and he was paralyzed with a knife, not a gun. Knives are not generally considered concealed weapons.

    Replied on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:55pm
  3. it seems that every nation everywhere has a fear of gay and lesbians. i am a lesbian and i can honestly say you are safe from me, i am no different from you straight people do NOT FEAR us as we are HUMAN and deserve respect!!!!!!

    Replied on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 10:30pm
  4. weapons are not the problem ignorance and hatred(useualy sparked by the church) is the issue

    Replied on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:48am
  5. In the short term I like my chances better with a pistol when the homophobes attack, thank you. You pull the trigger, they go away.

    Replied on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:54am
  6. this is triage…does he live?

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:43pm
  7. He has survived and is recovering but will be paralyzed and not have the use of his legs.

    Replied on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:00am
  8. he is a cutie

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:44pm
  9. can he be saved?

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:44pm
  10. would that be the proper action…

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:44pm
  11. this man, should he choose…

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:44pm
  12. will be my brother.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:44pm
  13. Heartbreaking but what a great triumph

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:49pm
  14. This kind of thing must stop and all of us who are LGBT or straight allies must work together to bring this senseless violence to an end.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:49pm
  15. I am literally crying right now. Ohmygod.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:55pm
  16. It disgusts me to the core to know we live in a time and a world that allows things like this to take place.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:59pm
  17. Hes a gorgeous, beautiful guy. I wish him a speedy recovery, get well soon love alin xxx

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 10:03pm
  18. Sickening!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 10:05pm
  19. yes so sad and horrible….hate is still here

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:12pm
  20. sending lots of love and prayers :-)

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:13pm
  21. oh gods, how cruel… some people have fallen too far into the depths of ignorance and hatred. i wish i was at the side of this gentleman giving him all my support.

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:00am
  22. Gay men start carrying guns knives pepper spray baseball bats ball pin hammers any fucking thing and beat those homophobes back in self defense!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:25am
  23. Absolutely heartbreaking. I certainly hope they punish the punk ass kid who did this heinous act severely!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 1:43am
  24. So sad!!! Beautiful young men like that!

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:41am
  25. Hate is a disgusting trait…. Very sad…. Hope they severely punish all involved … They should severe their spines…then hang them from their nuts

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 7:41am
  26. <3

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 10:46am
  27. Learn self defense, learn how to kill the attacker. Go to my website:www.womensselfdefensedallas.com for details.

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 11:23am
  28. To quote South Park, everyone is friendly in Canada: except for Steve. Steve is a dick.

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 7:11pm
  29. I consider myself to be “gay fundamentalist christian” and I can’t begin to convey how much hate like this makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian in today’s society. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in scripture supports this kind of hate and ignorance. Contrary to “popular opinion” this is not a Biblical value.

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 8:52pm
  30. Speechless. This is horrible.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:31am
  31. This is so sad, I hope he recovers physically and mentally

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:34am
  32. The world is getting darker

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:35am
  33. As bad as it seems, it's actually not. Crime is down. Quality of life is up. Living standards are up. Tolerances of all kind are greater now than pretty much ever before. Just try and imagine what kind of response coming out publicly would have caused a century ago.

    Replied on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 4:57am
  34. Scott shows the strength, courage, and love we should all strive for.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:38am
  35. We shal show Them we have no fear. Live Free or Die Trying

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:42am
  36. Speedy Recovery :3 :3

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:44am
  37. wish you well

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:46am
  38. God bless him

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:49am
  39. S o f sad people make me sick

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:50am
  40. I’m in awe. What a beautiful man

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:59am
  41. Wishing you all the best Scott Jones! I hope you heal soon! And good on you for wanting to continue on your path and not letting the hate win! From a fellow East Coaster!

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 4:36am
  42. WOW I Hope they Got the Assholes and They PAY For it

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 4:40am
  43. My Prayers are out to him

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 4:40am
  44. The criminals who did it should be jailed for life

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 5:38am
  45. What a horrible, senseless attack. My best to Scott.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 6:02am
  46. They’re low life gay haters every where. Most of them had acted on a gay urge.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 7:08am
  47. shocked and saddened by these attackers.. they are never one person on their own they are in packs…all for ego and hatred…and totally lack of compassion for humanity, as an openly gay person i do not wish this on anybody to be injured or killed. As for people who take this kind action of wish them to be in prison no patrol or death by injection….

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:50am
  48. Scott I send you my love and hope your life gets back on track and the road to recovery be steady and real for you…

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:51am
  49. Hate and bigotry are everywhere. Unfortunately.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 11:27am
  50. Wtf? Poor guy.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 12:01pm
  51. So sad. Best wish to him and his loved ones. I fight every day running the LGBTQ center in my town in NY and sometimes I want to quit. But every time I hear a story like this I know I can’t. It’s not about laws it’s about public opinion. We all can do our part by being out and a part of our towns and cities. Let Scott no he is an inspiration not a victim. Love from NY!

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 12:27pm
  52. shame on u common folk .

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:27pm
  53. I want to give him a great big hug and kiss, then go find the perp and do something that really shouldn’t be said here.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:49pm
  54. horrible…..why is there so much hate??? think about it

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 5:18pm
  55. I know...we must speak out against hate...and I believe that love will prevail.

    Replied on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 7:56pm
  56. Hatred is everywhere. :-(

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 7:35pm
  57. Their is much hatred...but I believe that there is more love and compassion...there are caring people like all of us here, and we can stand against the hatred and intolerance. Please be encouraged.

    Replied on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 7:59pm
  58. it just makes me sad to think that a fellow human being got hurt because of his sexuality i hope he recovers soon and continues doing what makes him happy

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:07pm
  59. This is so sad, I hope his fast recovers and I am Speechless hope that how ever done this well pay good time in Jill

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:52pm
  60. God Bless Stay STRONG!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 10:22pm
  61. I point to those hateful “christian” preachers as a source of this hate crime & others like it. They are like poison.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 10:30pm
  62. There are violent hateful people everywhere, always have been and always will be, no matter how far we come as a community or how enlightened the nation(s) we reside in may be. Its a sad fact of life. Equality,as a matter of law and social policy, does not mean universal acceptance.

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 10:39pm
  63. bless u scott may u have a fast recovery and i hope u recover mentally from this the best u can :(

    Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 11:07pm
  64. Prayers go out to him! And a prayer for justice

    Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 12:42am
  65. Such a sad commentary on life.

    Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 1:11am