because the three attackers made slurs derogatory to homosexuals, police Sgt. Amy Knoll said Tuesday.Hate crimes are horrible, and the attackers were probably homophobic bigots, but the fact that they used words like 'fag' while attacking him really just doesn't constitute evidence that they believed he was gay. Rural teenagers in Texas say horrible things like that all the time. Even some of the decent, progressive, liberal-minded people I knew at Rice had to make a conscious effort to remove 'gay as derogator' from their vocabulary. It's everywhere. There's a philosophical point about reasons and normativity, too. I emphatically raised my left eyebrow at this quote:
"We have found no other reason whatsoever for the attack other than their belief that he was a homosexual," Knoll told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Wednesday's editions.Sgt. Knoll, if she's to be read literally, seems to be committing to an extremely robust form of internalism here -- a belief can be a reason for an action even if (1) the belief is false, (2) the belief is unjustified, and (3) the content of the belief would not, even if true, justify the action! We might charitably read 'reason' as 'cause' here, but if we did that, then the utterance would surely be false -- I'm sure there are *many* plausible causes to be attributed -- they didn't like the kid, or he was looking at them funny, or they were drunk.