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Brandon's Big Gay Blog

Dane Hall Could Unify Salt Lake City

by Brandon Burt
- Posted // 2011-09-03 -

News of a brutal downtown attack last week on a gay man can only be described as horrifying. In a sane world, this kind of tragedy would bring the entire community together in sympathy for the victim and outrage against his assailants.

But this is not a sane world. This is Salt Lake City, where we view every event through paranoid, us-versus-them bifocals.

No surprise, then, that the Dane Hall story -- as clear-cut a case of wrongful, unprovoked assault as ever was -- has Utahns drawing ideological lines in the sand.

Reports say it all happened late Friday, Aug. 26 or early Saturday, Aug. 27 (that close to midnight, it was difficult to settle on an exact date). But all sources agree that as Hall was leaving gay night at Club Sound (579 W. 200 South), four men began calling out anti-gay epithets, then whacked him on the back of the head, punched him in the face and finished up by curb-stomping him and kicking him in the ribs.

The first line in the sand was drawn by the gay community, outraged by the local mainstream media's failure to report on the attack. In fact, it was QSaltLake, a Utah LGBT news and entertainment magazine, which first broke the story.

Now, historically, the LGBT community has good reason to suspect the media of ignoring gay issues. There was a time when local news went out of its way to disregard all but the most extreme and sensational stories involving gays.

But, over the past several years, that's all changed. The Salt Lake Tribune regularly reports on issues affecting the LGBT community -- as, surprisingly, does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned Deseret News. These days, even the local TV stations do their best to present gay-related stories without noticeable bias (although KSL 5 can always be counted on for an elaborate tapdance to avoid any appearance of genuine support for full-fledged LGBT equality).

Still, the mainstream media certainly dropped the ball on this one. Just by the law of averages, with such a long, languorous publishing interval, it's not often that a bi-weekly gets a chance to scoop the dailies and TV news. But scoop them QSaltLake did, when editor Seth Bracken's report on the Hall story broke late Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Other than massive sympathy and support for the victim, the LGBT community's immediate response was disbelief the story hadn't already run in the broadsheets and on TV. Comments on QSaltLake's message board included:

"Thank you for telling this story. I am wondering why this is not all over the news, trib, ksl, fox. Any ideas why this isn’t an outrage everywhere?"

"Why was this not all over the news?? This is horrible and we can not tolerate this kind of behavior regardless. What can we do to help Dane?"

"thanks for the link. i just emailed kutv 2. we need everyone to do the same"

By the very next day, the mainstream media was all over it. Sheena McFarland published the Trib's initial report noon Friday, Sept. 1. (And, might as well come right out and say it: We all gotta love Sheena McFarland, right? I mean, she's very kind, and capable, and lovely. So, seriously, dudes, I think all this gay anger might be just a twee bit misplaced.)

The D-News ran a story at 4:30 that afternoon with the headline "Gay man severely beaten outside club says he was victim of hate crime." (Yes, he says it was a hate crime, but apparently when four thugs curb-stomp a queer, shouting "faggot," there may be some doubt.)

And, later, the TV stations duly offered their segments on the evening news. For example, Brian Carlson's report on ABC 4 was comprehensive and thoughtful.

On Sept. 2, practically every news organ in the state followed up with stories about hate crimes, community response, etc.

This chronology of events suggests that the mainstream media are extremely willing to report on gay issues, so long as our issues are brought to their attention. After all, it's not as though most of us in the gay community even knew about the Hall attack until QSaltLake broke the story. And then it took a concerted effort by the LGBT community to alert the dailies and the TV stations that, yes, this is an important story deserving their attention.

Trib columnist extraordinaire Paul Rolly explained that police-beat reporters are stymied by Utah's new obfuscatory government-records regulations. Basically, what happened was that, during the 2011 legislative season, Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, and Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard, R-Cache and Rich counties, eviscerated the Government Records Access and Management Act. Back in the good old days, GRAMA guaranteed public access to information. But, this year, the Republicans in the Utah Legislature decided they liked it better when government can conduct its business secretly, beyond the eyes of us meddling citizens. So now it's much more difficult for newswriters to get hold of police reports. And, if it hadn't been for the "angry" calls from the alert LGBT community, who knows how long it would have taken for the story to get reported in the mainstream media?

See? Togetherness! Unified action! That is how things should be. I'm proud of the LGBT community for coming together over this heartrending event, rather than splitting apart.

If only the general community could come together like that! But no. Immediately upon the Trib's follow-up story, another line was drawn in the sand by someone who thought that Dane Hall must have provoked the attack by making a pass at a straight guy. Others felt that the attack could have been averted had Hall been carrying a sidearm, while some people bristled at the mere suggestion that there is such a thing as a "hate crime."

"I will withhold judgment until we hear other side. Perhaps hall tried to come onto one of the men and wasn't taking no for an answer. Innocent until proven guilty. We have only heard one side."

"I encourage all of my gay friends to pack heat. Nothing says 'leave me alone' like a .45."

"Obviously the crimes were hateful, but I think that the term 'hate crime' is dumb."

To TheodoreH, you are a dickhead. Nobody ever suggested Hall tried to "come on to" any of his attackers. But even if that were so, I think we can all agree that curb-stomping is never an appropriate response to an amorous advance.

To UnitedElectric, I have many gay friends who exercise their Second Amendment rights. Still, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable in any nightclub filled with guns. Perhaps if Club Sound allowed its patrons to check their pistols at the door, I'd bet those four red-shirted thugs wouldn't dare come within a five-block radius!

And, to Smonster -- yes, the term "hate crime" is dumb, but the legal rationale for enhanced sentencing is sound. Can you think of a better term?

The bottom line is this: Dane Hall didn't deserve to be attacked. None of us -- none of us -- can possibly be anything but appalled that such a thing could happen in our great City of Salt.

And, there is no doubt that Salt Lake's Finest are doing everything in their power to bring Hall's assailants to justice. Give them a break, people! The SLCPD, under the admirable Chief Chris Burbank, are definitely the good guys.

In the meantime, the best thing all of us can do is to come together as a community -- not just an LGBT community, nor an LDS community, nor as conservative, liberal or libertarian communities -- but as a single, unified community. And what we can say, with one absolute, unified voice, is: "No, this kind of injustice does not happen in Salt Lake City."

Our fellow SLC native Dane Hall is now faced with $40,000 in medical expenses -- involving much surgery, pain and recovery -- just to get his life back together. We can help him. Contributions may be mailed to this address:

The Dane Hall Fund
Zions Bank
701 E. 400 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

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Posted // September 12,2011 at 16:15 If you are wondering about the previous arrest, dane was drugged the night of his arrest. He blackedout and took a friends car that had drugs in it. Notice there is no dui. No alchol was involved. He was the only one in the car so he had to take blame. When he goes to court on it he will tell them whos bag it was and his friends identification was in the bag as well. Dane will not take a felony crime for someone he hardly knows and the rumors going around are complete bullshit. They are just making things harder for him so why don't you negitive bigots just back off. . .


Posted // September 13,2011 at 10:52 - There's so much wrong with what you posted that I hope you aren't going to be Dane's eyewitness. Listen to yourself: Dane was drugged. He blacked out AND took a friend's car? You know, someone, when I want to go out and have a good time late at night in SLC, why I get loaded on drugs to the point of blacking out, I "take" my friend's cars and try to drive around town in that condition just letti9ng whatever happens, happen.

Dane is a 20 year old headed for prison, period. The drug possession is not a huge deal overall, but hit-and-run and fleeing are a pineapple in the ass. What's his excuse, that he was "high?" Yeah, that'll be fun.


Posted // September 9,2011 at 09:26 This is online about Mr. Hall from his July 2011 arrest. The only reason I bring this in is the drug and criminal angle brings in a whole new set of options here. No one should get beaten like he was, but I don't really think we're talking about a total presumption of innocence on the victim's part. You're putting together a relief fund for a guy who plays it on the edge on purpose.
Hit and run
Marijuana – possession of
Poss Cntrld Subst/Synthetic Narcotics
Drug Paraphernalia
Resisting an Officer
License required
Public intoxication


Posted // September 6,2011 at 11:35 Thank you for an unbiased, and factually based account of what actually happened. Thank you also for your hilarious and spot on opinions of critics of this horrible crime. I hope those responsible are found, and tried for attempted homicide. If the roles had been reversed, there is no question that this would have been all over media outlets everywhere. I am apalled, and sadly not shocked at the way people are handling this tragedy.


Posted // September 7,2011 at 08:58 - You are mistaking focused "concern" for 'acceptance' and it's not.

Instead of turning this into another victim-saga, how about we start a reward fund of about $5,000 with donations that are currently aimed at a ridiculous corporate hospital bill and post it all over town? About 10 minutes later, you'll receive an anonymous tip to at least one, if not all the perps. I realize this is a harsher way to deal with these assholes than the pathetic "prayer and poetry" sessions that are planned, where the organizers of such idiocy grab the spotlight for themselves for a few, precious media-moments. You know, they're just bringing attention and awareness" to the fore front. . .attention and awareness of them, in all their Birkenstocks-and- sox wisdom. And everyone twirl-dances home afterwards in their gypsy skirts and tie-dye beards and the perps are still out there.

Give me a reward fund, an anonymous tip line and I'll kick their asses back to the swamp muck they rose from. Boys, meet "the system," where you will now exist 24/7. System, meet your new victims! The rest of it is feminized pearl-clutching.


Posted // September 5,2011 at 21:07 Stay Human People. It doesn't matter who is attacked and beaten, its WRONG! The fact that there are people who can't see that makes me ashamed to live in Utah.


Posted // September 4,2011 at 16:09 he was not beat for being gay. He was beat for a drug deal gone bad. Now he is making money off he's lies. he is a known drug dealer and been aressted twice in the last months on drug charges. You bleeding heart librals are to gullible.


Posted // September 9,2011 at 13:51 - From Dane's arrest this past July.

Hit and run
Marijuana – possession of
Poss Cntrld Subst/Synthetic Narcotics
Drug Paraphernalia
Resisting an Officer
License required
Public intoxication

I don't know. . .seems like he was in the right place at the right time. I'm concerned that he's only 19 or 20 years old and has a lifestyle I wouldn't wish on anyone I know.


Posted // September 6,2011 at 15:47 - Ok, that got my attention and should be easy to verify, if what "blacksheep" is saying is valid at all. Does Dane deal in the neighborhood? I realize he spells like a 4 year old, but how does "blacksheep" know any of what he's saying? Chris and Sean, donpt be so quick to dismiss the message just becasue you don't approve of the messenger. I've been tipped-off to facts I wasn't aware of by the same kind of seemingly illiterate information source that's so easy to dismiss. Can anyone clarify the drug-dealing remarks? I would like to know before we diefy the victim and feel like real tools in the end. I'll send money, I'll make phone calls but I won't defend a dealer.


Posted // September 5,2011 at 21:49 - I agree with you, Sean. Sorry "blacksheep," but it's hard to take you seriously when your comment looks like it was written by someone in the second grade. Go pick up a book and, while you're at it, wake up to the fact that you spreading bull shit lies across the internet is only making this tragedy worse.


Posted // September 5,2011 at 14:17 - Yes, because we should certainly believe a post filled with baseless accusations, and grammar and spelling errors. Sheesh.