Man Who Burned Neighbor’s Gay Pride Flag Has Gay Friends

A Nebraska man is facing felony charges after stealing a gay pride flag from the gay couple that lives in his neighborhood and setting it on fire in front of their house. I’m sure it goes without saying that he was just joking. And of course, he has lots of gay friends.

Cameron Mayfield, 23, is accused of stealing the flag from the home of a neighborhood gay couple at the beginning of March and now faces felony charges of arson aggravated by a hate crime.

Police received a call from the women who identified Mayfield and, while investigating, found the burnt remains of the flag in his basement.

According to Mayfield’s father, his son had been drinking the night before the incident.

“My client wants to apologize for the foolish stunt he committed on March 1,” said James Martin Davis, Mayfield’s lawyer. “He was intoxicated.”

Speaking with the press, Mayfield searched for a word to explain his actions, finally choosing “prank,” adding, “I have gay friends and I apologize to my neighbors. I’m sorry for the confusion. I don’t hate anybody or anything.”

Hey, at least he isn’t claiming religious freedom to do it. And he was drinking and he has gay friends (allegedly), so that makes it totally okay. Never mind that he terrorized a couple with young children in their home. Move along, nothing to see here.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • eric

    I’m all for the guy being found guilty and punished, but a felony seems a bit extreme. Aren’t we opposed to prosecutors inflating sentences? Oh well, hopefully what we’re seeing here is the “offer” which will be followed by the “counter offer” and the two sides will eventually arrive at some just punishment. Yeah, I’m a dreamer.

  • Chiroptera

    Hey, at least he isn’t claiming religious freedom to do it.

    He can’t. He’s an actual person, not a closely held corporation.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    They should throw him in prison for 18 months or so. On the day they release him, they should insist they were just joking.

  • sabrekgb

    I thought arson required the target of burning to be a structure or an occupiable vehicle…? Seems like this would be more like malicious mischief and theft. Douchenozzle in any case, but i can’t really support the “hate crime” aggravation. The crime is the crime, punish him for that.

  • https://www.facebook.com/danny.butts.52 Danny Butts

    Nope, if he had burnt a cross on their lawn I don’t think people would be so quick to dismiss what is a hate crime.

    I’m don’t think throwing people in prison does much good so if the couple agree to it this may be a place for restorative justice, where this guy can get to meet some gay people and make some actual gay friends.

    If the couple or wider gay community don’t feel safe having him around then fuck him, a short prison stretch wont help him sort his head out but at least there will be a punishment.

  • lofgren

    Nobody appears to be claiming that this is “totally OK,” not even the guy who did it. He wants to minimize the court’s punishment, but that’s only natural and expected in our adverserial system.

  • John Pieret

    but i can’t really support the “hate crime” aggravation. The crime is the crime

    For what it’s worth, the rationale is that the crime was committed with the intent of intimidating a larger community of people … think of the KKK burning a cross on a black activist’s front lawn. It is intended to intimidate the entire local black community and scare off “troublemakers”, so there is more than one victim of the crime. With more intended victims, the punishment goes up.

  • celcus

    Yes, but does he let them use the bathroom? This is a really important detail, I am told.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I have gay friends

    Why even say this? Really? Isn’t it just completely mockable how obvious this is? Not to fault Ed for mocking it, of course, even low-hanging fruit have enemies, or something like that. But how stupid to you have to be to actually SAY this?

    I’ve been caught deer-a-headlight and said things like, “Oh, I didn’t mean…”. I’m sure, though I’ve learned better since, there have even been a few times when I declared something I’ve done/said “wasn’t like me”.

    But, really, “I’ve got gay friends”?

    Present tense?

    After this?

    Seriously?

    More like:

    In second grade I had a friend who turned out to be gay, but I stopped hanging out with the little fairy. Still said hi to each other in a friendly way, though, until yesterday. Saw him at the grocery store and he totally ignored me. What’s up with that? I never did anything to him.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Oh, come on! Who hasn’t gotten drunk, stolen a neighbor’s flag, burned it, and gotten caught? It’s virtually a rite of passage

    (“Today, son, you are a moron”).

     

    Look on the positive side: without that flag that mechanic who won’t serve The Gays won’t know they’re gayhomos. The rainbow trucknuts on their pickup might be a giveaway, though, not to mention all that glitter that shoots out of the tailpipes when they floor it, and the horn that plays What is Love? won’t help.

     

    In any event, you’re feeling pretty foolish for not supporting those flag burning amendments, right Liberals? Sure, it wouldn’t support your gay flag, but that’s beside the point.

  • busterggi

    Well he pretends he has gay friends, even though the price of gasoline has gone down, it would be too expensive to set everyone/thing he suspects of being gay ablaze.

  • doublereed

    but i can’t really support the “hate crime” aggravation. The crime is the crime, punish him for that.

    Last I checked, we still care about motives in crimes.

    This is about as blatantly “hate crime” as it gets, which makes it more serious than just vandalism.

  • chuckster

    Now waiting for the wingnut freak out that its ok to burn an American flag but not a gay flag, even taking someone else’s flag an burning it is just as illegal. I remember in 1989 the wingnuts did not understand the difference of burning your own flag and someone else’s.

  • RickR

    I remember in 1989 the wingnuts did not understand the difference of burning your own flag and someone else’s.

    Hell, they still don’t understand the difference between their own children and everybody else’s.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Mayfield will be the most popular con in the joint, what with all his admirers sending him True Christian Cakes© and Faith Flowers® to share around every day.

  • Michael Heath

    John Pieret writes:

    For what it’s worth, the rationale is that the crime was committed with the intent of intimidating a larger community of people … think of the KKK burning a cross on a black activist’s front lawn. It is intended to intimidate the entire local black community and scare off “troublemakers”, so there is more than one victim of the crime. With more intended victims, the punishment goes up.

    I don’t think this logic applies if the prosecutor didn’t charge the alleged perp with a hate crime.

    I’m all for hate crimes where the argument you make above is one of a handful of reasons. But I don’t see how you can argue the victims extend beyond those in the house unless this yahoo is charged and convicted of a hate crime.

  • Krasnaya Koshka

    Wait, the victims don’t extend beyond those in the house? Are you serious? What about all the gay people who have to hear about this kind of thing every day? Granted, it’s not in my yard now, but it has been in the past and it may be in the future. It still sends out a message of “Shut the fuck up!”

    Oh, sorry. We’re being strictly legal. I’ll shut the fuck up.

  • John Pieret

    Michael Heath:

    Usually “hate crime” charges are “multipliers” of underlying crimes … that is, the charge in this case is “arson aggravated by a hate crime,” which increases the maximum penalty for arson in whatever degree he is charged with. There may be a separate category of “hate crimes” in some jurisdictions (I’m not familiar with all the laws across the US) but it is quite common to have such multiplier laws, such as the one in my own state of New York:

    http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/legalservices/ch107_hate_crimes_2000.htm

  • RickR

    John Pieret- Exactly. IANAL but I’ve certainly seen my fair share of the Law & Order franchise.

    My take on the way it usually works is this-

    1) Suspect is charged with the crime in question. Prosecution seeks enhanced sentencing under whatever the relevant Hate Crime law is in that jurisdiction.

    2) Defense will (if they’re worth their salt) challenge that designation.

    3) Prosecution and Defense argue their positions before a judge (why the crime should/ shouldn’t be classified as a Hate Crime).

    4) Judge rules. The case goes to trial.

    It’s my understanding that a jury is not asked to decide if the crime in question is a Hate Crime or not, since that decision is made prior to trial.

    But I’m less clear on how it works during the sentencing phase.

    How’d I do?

  • John Pieret

    Krasnaya Koshka:

    Here is the “Legislative Finding” when New York passed its Hate Crimes act:

    Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs. Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes.

    So you are right as to why we have hate crime laws. Michael’s right in that it does take more than just showing that this numbnutz burned a gay pride flag to constitute a hate crime. As the New York law puts it, a hate crime is committed when someone:

    (a) intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct, or

    (b) intentionally commits the act or acts constituting the offense in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.

    2. Proof of race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of the defendant, the victim or of both the defendant and the victim does not, by itself, constitute legally sufficient evidence satisfying the people’s burden under paragraph (a) or (b) of subdivision one of this section.</I)

  • John Pieret

    RickR:

    I don’t practice criminal law, so I won’t absolutely swear to the procedural niceties of prosecuting hate crimes but, at least under the law I posted above, showing the defendant actually did a) or b) is an element of the hate crime and generally all elements of the crime have to be submitted to the jury for a factual finding.

  • RickR

    Ah yes, it’s coming back to me now- Prosecution has to present evidence during trial that the suspect harbored animus toward the group in question, and that that animus motivated the crime to some extent.

  • eric

    if he had burnt a cross on their lawn I don’t think people would be so quick to dismiss what is a hate crime.

    The report says they found the burnt flag in his (the perp’s) basement. Its hard for me to see this as a hate crime trying to incite fear in the surrounding gay population if the dude took it back to his own basement and burned it there. Heck, I have a hard time even seeing that as arson rather than just theft and/or vandalism.

    But I could easily have the details of the actual burning wrong. If the dude burned it on his neighbor’s lawn or sat there waving the burning flag in the street, then yeah, that’s absolutely equivalent to a KKK burning cross and should be treated as such.

  • John Pieret

    eric:

    This report says:

    About 12:30 a.m. Sunday, police said, Mayfield stole the rainbow flag that had been hung outside the couple’s home, which is south of Hanscom Park. He left but returned a few minutes later, and had set the flag on fire. Mayfield, 23, waved the burning flag in front of the house.

    http://www.omaha.com/news/crime/lesbian-couple-file-protection-order-against-man-accused-of-stealing/article_e052377c-c1cb-11e4-bb4e-dfdea81e967a.html

    That might invoke a hate crime law, but we are all flying blind here. All we know for sure is that this kid is an idiot.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @RickR & John Pieret:

    I don’t know anything about it in the states, but in Canada what John Pieret says is how I’ve been taught it proceeds: this is an element of the crime that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    We actually had a famous constitutional case arise post-Charter where possession of X grams of a drug permitted the rebuttable presumption that the defendant was intending to distribute where intending to distribute was an element of the crime.

    The law was axed. IIRC the Crown now simply has a statute making possession of X grams a separate offense with a higher penalty, a penalty equal to the old penalty for possession with intent to distribute. There was nothing unconstitutional in punishing the possessor of large amounts differently from the possessor of small amounts. What was unconstitutional was that an element of the crime specified in the statute did not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it could be presumed based on the proof of another element of the crime. So parliament merely removed that element of the crime. Of course, the original defendant couldn’t be tried under a law passed after he committed his offense, so he was sentenced to a lesser period or retried where the Crown had to prove the intent rather than infer it. I don’t remember. The important bit is that even something as tricky as an intent element must be proved to the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt if the Crown wishes to convict a person of a criminal offense.

    The same absolutely applies to hate crime enhancements.