The New York Times had a story recently about an altercation that occurred in the West Village after a man made harassing comments to a group of women walking past him on the street. If you take it from the Times, 28-year-old Dwayne Buckle merely said, “Hey, how’re you doing?” to one of the women, and then was attacked by the group and stabbed in the stomach with a steak knife.
But unlike the Times, which relied on Buckle’s side of the story, the New York Daily News interviewed police and others who were at the scene. Turns out it the fight probably wasn’t caused by a violent response to a “harmless” catcall, but by an anti-gay comment and threat. (The women were reportedly lesbians.)
“He called us [homophobic slur] and he said he was going to f- us all,” one of the women said hours later as cops led the seven suspects out of the 6th Precinct stationhouse.
“He spit on us and threw a cigarette,” another woman said. “This is a hate crime.”
Buckle, though, claims he was the victim of a hate crime.
“It was a hate crime against a straight man by a ton of lesbians,” he said. “This is what the world is coming to.”
It’s clear that there’s probably more to this story than the Times reported. No matter what Buckle really said to the women (I’m willing to bet, homophobic or not, that it was more offensive than “How’re you doing?”), violence was not an acceptable answer. But it’s easy to understand how a group of women walking at 2 a.m. could feel threatened by harassing comments from a man on the street. And the Times’ headline was absolutely inexcusable: “Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger.”
After reading the Daily News‘ quotes from the women, and having been on the receiving end of some “admiring” comments on the street myself, I think the Times‘ headline writers should have chosen a more accurate verb. Like “catcalling.”