A letter to Joe: With sincere sympathy and complete contempt

Dear Joe,

Shame on you. When I first heard the breaking news about you being beat up I felt so many things. I felt sad for you and for the community of Missoula, and I felt anger at the guys (not men) who’d attacked you. I thought about writing you a letter offering to take you out for a belated birthday burger and beer at the Mo Club. I’m not gay, but I’d show you around the best I could. I thought about letting you know that Missoula doesn’t have a thriving gay and lesbian scene, but we do have some fine people. I told my friends how sad I was about what had happened to you, and we talked about the fact that Missoula doesn’t need another scar on its record.

Missoula is lovely and idyllic, but far from perfect. We act like a town, and forget we’re a city. This year we were nicknamed “rape capital” and had a federal investigation into how our community handles reported rapes. (Our mayor handled it like a champ.) We have a mess to clean up already, Joe; we certainly didn’t need you and your fake-gay-bashing-fiasco.

You weren’t the first guy to report a gay bashing violent attack in this city, but to the best of my knowledge you were the first to report a fake gay bashing. I have to ask: what the hell were you thinking?

When I was your age I did a lot of things without thinking, but my immature antics were more along the lines of your backflip gone awry. I’m no angel, but it never would have occurred to me to tell a lie of your magnitude then allow it to perpetuate. Did you know that people shared your story all over Facebook and that your story got tens of thousands of shares and comments? Did you read them and laugh? Your lie was so egregious that your story spread like wildfire. You crafted yourself as a victim, and Missoula was made to look like a jerk with egg on her face. But now, Joe, you’re the one needing a napkin. Check the mirror, kid, and go practice your flips in a swimming pool.

Are you even gay? Was your lie to paint Missoula as anti-gay because you are too? Why, Joe? Why did you do it? What in the world was your point?

When I heard that you’d waited three hours to report the assault I imagined how harrowing those hours must have been for you. It crossed my mind that you should have reported it immediately, but then I thought about you debating whether it would be safer for you to just keep the secret. Perhaps you were afraid that telling the truth would lead to further assaults from homophobic heathens. I thought about you sick to your stomach over what to do, though it turns out the only thing sick was your head.

I was on your side; a lot of us were. But no more. You’re just an attention-seeking jerk. On behalf of everyone who has ever had a secret but been afraid to tell the truth as well as those brave enough to speak up and demand justice: Ef you, Joe. Do you know about Savannah D.? That girl is brave; you are a coward.

I’m disappointed in your mild sentence as well as the fact that your jail time is deferred. That you only have to pay a $300 fine is ludicrous, but we are in a state where people are “allowed” to get seven DUIs. Oh, Montana, you’re lovely, but get with the program.

In reality, Joe, you were just a douchebag who slapped it hard on a backflip. On a busy downtown street. And on camera. The video is pretty hilarious, and all of us who felt sorry for you are now getting a good laugh on your behalf. So thanks for that, though it wasn’t worth it. Did you think you’d become infamous and get people to pay attention to you? Did you think your backflip video would become a youtube sensation and that something good would come of this? No, you’re just the guy who cried fake-gay-bashing-assault and smashed in his own face attempting a trick (or two) he couldn’t pull off. That’s the guy you want to be?

Nothing good will come of this Joe, except that now there will be more doubters of the people who actually have been assaulted. If that was your intention, you win.

And so now I’ll come to the apology part of this letter. I’m sorry I’ve been so hard on you. You are obviously hurting in some very deep place that is quite possibly inaccessible to you right now; maybe you don’t even know what you’re hurting from and are just acting out like a child. I pity you, Joe. I hope you get some help and you aren’t starting a long life of run-ins with the law. If you violate your probation your sentence will no longer be deferred and you’ll get a six month running start on the rest of your life. The prison system won’t help you, so go get some help for yourself now.

I hope you feel some remorse. I’d like to see you write an apology letter to all of the people who empathized with your pain and who supported you, and I’d like you to apologize to the city of Missoula. You probably have no idea how long ranging the effects of your actions will be on this community, but news flash: you are not an island.

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’m pissed. I’m angry that selfish people like you pull stunts like this without thinking. So here’s the best that I can hope for: I hope that the scabs on your face last long enough for you to have some repentance for what you’ve done. I hope you feel ashamed when you look in the mirror and see those scabs, and I hope you spend some time in the sun and neglect to use sunscreen and that you have scars that last longer than the scabs themselves. I hope you learn soon, if you haven’t already, that karma is a bitch. Trust me on this one.

But I’m getting all mean again when I was supposed to be apologizing, and I don’t want to spend any more of my time writing a letter to a degenerate who probably won’t even take the time to read it.

Really, Joe, I just hope you’re sorry.

With sincere sympathy and complete contempt,

Jaime Alexis Stathis

Missoula, Montana