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Wednesday 08 April 2009


Proclamations of the Red Queen

11th February 2009

Milk: Dan White: The Story of Milk’s Assassin

Posted by: Craig Young

In the film Milk, the former Board of Supervisors member Dan White shot and killed both San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, and Harvey Milk, on November 25,danwhite.jpg 1978. Why?

White (1946-1985) was a conservative Catholic and Vietnam War veteran (1965-1972). It’s tempting to attribute his later behaviour to post-traumatic stress disorder, but there is no such diagnosis available.

Although he was opposed to lesbian and gay rights, drug liberalisation and stood for “home, family and religion,” initially, he had a cordial working relationship with Milk and Moscone, until a land zoning debate seperated them.

Unlike Milk, White never really settled into his new role and took a leave of absence to open a potato restaurant. Due to the endemic post-Vietnam recession, his business venture failed, and Moscone and Milk obstructed his return to the Board of Supervisors.

For whatever reason, White shot and killed them both on that fateful day. His lawyer argued that “Twinkies” cupcakes had provoked a period of unwellness, leading to the derisory phrase “Twinkie defence” for a similarly convoluted defence counsel case. White was only jailed for five years, provoking a riot from San Francisco’s lesbian and gay community.

By 1984, he was living in Los Angeles, but his marriage folded, and he was jobless. In 1985, White committed suicide through inhaling carbon monoxide through a tube in a locked car. Hated by San Francisco’s lesbian and gay communities though he was, few asked what might have driven him to his drastic action in November 1978.

Recommended:

Randy Shilts: Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk: New York: Saint Martins: 1982.

Mike Lukiss: Double Play: The San Francisco City Hall Killlings: Reading: Addison-Wesley: 1984.

Tags: Politics

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