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UNC Student Severely Burned in Alleged Anti-Gay Hate Crime


Quinn Matney, a gay student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told police he was attacked by a man in the early hours of April 4. The man reportedly branded him with an object, burning him severely, while uttering anti-gay slurs, before assaulting Matney. Matney said he was talking to an acquaintance at the time of the attack, but that man has not been located.

Wound The Daily Tarheel:

As the freshman took a walk on South Campus at about 3 a.m. on April 4, he said he ran into an acquaintance on the Craige Residence Hall footbridge. As the two spoke, a man sitting at a nearby picnic table stood up and grabbed him by the wrist, he said.

“Here’s a taste of hell you f—-ing fag,” Matney remembered the man saying.

The man branded Matney, who is gay, on the left wrist with an unidentified object, causing third- and fourth-degree burns that damaged three nerves and a tendon, leaving the freshman with no feeling in his thumb and limited mobility in his index finger, he said. Matney said he tried to pull away — but the man didn’t let go until he received a hard punch to the face.

Matney said he then walked away quickly, trying to distance himself from the man and his two friends, who both appeared drunk.


Via Pam, here is a copy of the letter (PDF) to students from the Chancellor in which he says that based on the evidence the incident is being reported as a hate crime to the federal government.

The school has been criticized for not discussing the incident until Monday night, a week after it happened:

UNC plans to report the incident as a hate crime to the federal government, Chancellor Holden Thorp said in an informational e-mail to students Monday. Matney said he thinks the man who attacked may have overheard conversations with friends in the past that might have revealed his sexual orientation.

After going to the emergency room and leaving after hours of waiting the night of April 4, Matney said he received treatment at Campus Health Services the next day. Only then did he file a police report.

Matney is also trying to find the acquaintance he saw at the footbridge to corroborate his report. The witness, he said, was a male student he recognized but does not know by name.

It certainly seems like it would be very helpful for that friend to come forward.

More on the incident from WRAL HERE and the News & Observer HERE.

Watch two clips with interviews with Matney, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I really believe in my heart and with all the passion within me that anyone who commits any kind of anti-gay violence, however small, even burn marks to someone's wrists, deserves the most severe and painful retribution in return. I am so tired of the "gay panic" or "dyke deserved it" defenses. The man who did this to this poor young man deserves to be lit afire himself (his whole body) so that he knows what it feels like to be burnt and maimed for life. I swear with everything in me, if I am touched in any way I will go off and kill someone. I am fed up with anti-gay violence.

    Posted by: brenda | Apr 12, 2011 7:46:27 AM

  2. As barbaric as this sounds, I would really like for the attacker to be found and punished -- with a cattle brand, held across his forehead for exactly as long as he pressed that piece of searing metal on Quinn's wrist.

    Posted by: sparks | Apr 12, 2011 8:06:18 AM

  3. Internalized religious homophobia+drunk=this.

    I am fed up with anti-gay violence too. I know if I'm ever in that situation, I will defend myself to the death if I have to. But, violence really isn't the answer. The answer is to stop the hate that causes incidents like this in the first place. Unfortunately, since the majority of hate crimes happen in the South and the culture of homophobia in the south and in most communities where most hate crimes attackers are from, it is going to take a cultural sea change and total change in mentality in these communities for hate crimes to ever be prevented.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 12, 2011 8:10:58 AM

  4. What is that object that Quinn was burned with, anyway? And what type of person keeps something so burning hot to do so much damage? It's like the attacker did it intentionally. UNC is a progressive school in general so I'm sure that they didn't report about it publicly immediately because they were gathering information themselves.

    As we saw with the homophobia directed at Justin Robinette at Duke, the incident with the college Republicans at SMU, Tyler Clementi and the hate crime at Queens College a few months back, just because a kid is in college doesn't mean he/she isn't crazy, and doesn't mean that person is an enlightened individual. Hate has no bounds. Incidents like this, isolated as they may be, serve as a purpose that education is needed on all levels, at all times. What's unfortunate here is that the attacker doesn't have a long-term injury, only Quinn does. Maybe that will change once/if the attacker is caught and is in prison.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 12, 2011 8:25:35 AM

  5. How bizarre. As Francis says above, who walks around with something that hot? Or has the abiility to make something that hot on the spur of the moment?

    Posted by: Brent | Apr 12, 2011 8:30:23 AM

  6. True, Brent. It doesn't look like a cigarette burn. And it doesn't seem like it was a huge object. So that's weird. Which is why the importance of the attacker being found is even more important, because obviously he is insane enough to do something like this again.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 12, 2011 8:53:02 AM

  7. Just toss the creep in prison for a long, long time.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 12, 2011 9:02:33 AM

  8. Drop your bibles and step away from the religion. The poison that is Christianity is literally killing us!!!!

    Posted by: Mikey Mugglesworth | Apr 12, 2011 9:21:21 AM

  9. The perp should be branded with a swastika on his forehead, Inglourious Basterds style.

    Posted by: Wes | Apr 12, 2011 9:26:37 AM

  10. @Francis; Brent: The question of what he was burned with, or how, also struck me as odd--until I remembered that the two places in the US that you are most likely to find branding equipment are 1) a farm that breeds livestock, and 2) a university with a Greek system. Just an observation--I don't have enough information to claim that the assailant was a fraternity member.

    Posted by: Thomasina | Apr 12, 2011 9:27:12 AM

  11. After he freed himself by punching the mother#@$!% in the face,
    he shoulda grabbed the object and branded the guy. So random, so stupid. In all honesty, I feel the same as Brenda, someone comes after me, it's gonna be to the death. I'm not putting up with this anymore. And yes, violence sucks big time, but maybe the news media needs some stories about bashers getting seriously beaten and some permanent damage done to them. I'm talking war. But then I think of the video of the little kid who was bullied and fought back and dumped his attacker on his head. The bully came on tv and said he was the victim. Sheesh. What if gay people went and randomly attacked people they perceived as straight? Hate crime laws are a step in the right direction because they do take some meat out of the defense perps use when they say they killed the dude because he wanted to have sex with them, but it's a drop in the bucket, really. We need more. But what??

    Posted by: kodiak | Apr 12, 2011 9:28:06 AM

  12. Horrible. Very sad.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Apr 12, 2011 9:37:56 AM

  13. Oh God. Honestly I flinched when I read down the whole article. I know that lots of people would think that this is a part of daily criminal happenings, but this scarily reminds me of that branding Nazis did on Jewish people.

    This is not trivial. Imagine some random dude doing that to you any other day.

    Posted by: Cryo | Apr 12, 2011 9:46:12 AM

  14. I hope I'm wrong, but I have a suspicious feeling about this. It doesn't make sense that someone could walk around with such a hot object or create something so hot on the spur of the moment. Then there is the missing friend, whose name the victim doesn't know and asks to please come forward to verify the incident.

    We had a situation in my area not long ago where a black woman's car was covered with racist words. It turned out she did it herself as a cry for attention.

    Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. I'll be following this story and if there is indeed an attacker I hope he's severely punished.

    Posted by: Brent | Apr 12, 2011 9:51:57 AM

  15. Kodiak, what is needed is a complete repudiation of homophobia and unconditional acceptance of gay people and homosexuality. Or at least to the point where anti-gay attitudes are not mainstream. They still are mainstream enough to the point people feel justified to be anti-gay. That's the big issue here.

    Especially when you have kids like this, who appears to be a brainwashed religious nut. They feel completely justified in the moment to commit a hate crime. In their eyes, we aren't humans and we aren't worthy of human decency. Of course, all of this irrational hate is caused by insecurity, paranoia and ignorance. The way to stop hate crimes is to change the culture that creates incidents like this to ever occur in the first place.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 12, 2011 10:00:04 AM

  16. The politicians who use anti-gay rhetoric to drum up votes are responsible for the violence. As are the conservative media who exploit homophobia for ratings. This is just awful.

    @Brent: I dont get why you would assume that someone would burn himself to the extent that he can't use his thumb or finger? Really?

    Posted by: mike128 | Apr 12, 2011 10:31:53 AM

  17. A well-armed society is a polite society. Fight back:

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Apr 12, 2011 10:34:59 AM

  18. Cold solder iron is a possibility. They can heat the tip up to several hundred degrees in seconds.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 12, 2011 10:37:31 AM

  19. Attacked? Probably not. A cry for help? Perhaps. Misguided media stunt for an important human rights issue? Bingo.

    Posted by: Jim Steele | Apr 12, 2011 10:57:13 AM

  20. Looking through the comments on this incident on some of the NC news sites, you can see why someone like this would do something like this. Really shocking behavior. The majority of the people either say Quinn did it to himself, that hate crime status is "unfair" to straight whites, or say he had it coming to him. Even many of the supportive comments are crazy in nature. It makes you really realize just how far we have to go in certain areas of this country.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 12, 2011 11:08:23 AM

  21. Brent, I'm afraid I agree. Feels odd.

    Posted by: secretagentman | Apr 12, 2011 11:09:55 AM

  22. Sadly, this looks self-inflicted and the campus police will quickly draw the same conclusion.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 12, 2011 11:37:24 AM

  23. i'm with brent and secretagentman. it seems fishy.

    Posted by: alguien | Apr 12, 2011 12:05:59 PM

  24. Another one agreeing with Brent - wouldn't surprise me if it comes out that he did this to himself. Sounds a little off.

    Posted by: Pierre | Apr 12, 2011 1:28:28 PM

  25. The comments here are depressing... Embracing the righteous moral imperative of the self designated victim apparently inspires, among other mistakes, enormous gullibility.

    Mr. Matney's story is literally incredible. Imagine yourself undergoing the assault he describes. A lone assailant approaches you holding a freshly heated (and rapidly cooling) tool in one hand and, and with his other hand, somehow manages to grab your wrist and restrain you long enough to brand you? And the single witness to this atrocity wanders off, unconcerned?

    Mr. Matney has literalized the persecution he's suffered at the hands of Christofascists and mutilated himself in a desperate bid to draw attention to his rage and pain. This is sad, but easy enough to understand. Who here doesn't know exactly how he feels? Unfortunately, turning himself into a poster child reduces the chances of his getting the help he needs.

    But what's truly creepy is the way so many of us are so invested in our identity as victims that we refuse to recognize such an obvious scam for what it is. Like Mr. Matney, we really need the Christians to burn us at the stake. (Note, for example, that none of the coverage will in any way identify this crime as the inevitable outcome of certain religious beliefs.)

    What's driving us crazy is that American Christianists have declared a holy war against 5-10% of the country's citizens, among whom children and young people are the primary casualties, and no one ever publicly names it as such. Every day, the press covers one "patriot" or another declaring a Haraam against LGBTQ people, files it under "everyone has an opinion," and then looks away

    There is a widespread agreement in the media that religion may never be criticized as such. Even when clerics torture and rape children, the focus is on the individual. The role the institution's principles play in the crime is simply ignored, as though the religious association of the perpetrators were a trivial coincidence.

    It's enough to drive you crazy. What Mr. Matney has done is wrong, but I find it very easy to understand why he did it. He's simply made real what most of us feel ever day of our lives.

    Posted by: Bryan | Apr 12, 2011 1:37:15 PM

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