Friday, April 07, 2006
Real life 'Crash' in L.A.
When I first heard about this story, I thought to myself, "No way can this be true." These things simply don't happen. However, despite my natural skepticism as a journalist, the true facts of this story couldn't be ignored.

It goes like this: In 1981, a 13-year-old gay runaway was savagely beaten in a back alley in West Hollywood, California. The group behind the attack specifically targeted homosexuals. After the attack, the victim's life would never be the same. He was fearful of being in public places, even movie theaters.

Fast forward to 2005. The victim is working at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, a place dedicated to educating the public about hate. While there, he meets a former neo-Nazi skinhead who served time in prison for attacking an Iranian couple he thought was Jewish. This man, however, has undergone a personal transformation. He now realizes he was stupid for espousing racist beliefs and acting on them.

Over lunch, the two start talking about their life experiences. They quickly realize they'd met before. Yes, in that back alley in West Hollywood. After all these years, the victim and the perpetrator speak face-to-face. However, this time they're on the same side, both trying to accomplish a little bit of good.

This story is about so many things -- forgiveness, redemption, love, hate -- all the emotions we as human beings are capable of having. That two people could meet like this after 24 years and begin a friendship is astonishing.

I'd like to give a shout out to CNN Producer Stan Wilson for finding this incredible story and pushing it through to air.
Posted By Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent: 10:48 AM ET
  32 Comments
Hi Dan,
It is a great story. And stories like this should be given to the viewers much more often..Yes, the world is crazy but if we are fed only a steady diet of hate and hateful things we become, just that. As they say, none of us are going to get out of this world alive, we might as well try to be kind, while we're here..Thanks for the post..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:37 AM ET
Wow, that is powerful. More stories like that need to be told.
Posted By Anonymous Walton, Los Angeles, CA : 12:04 PM ET
In addition to forgiveness, redemption, love, hate.. I think you should also add cowardice.

I don't think the converted skinhead would have done the same things he did if he didn't think he had some sort of physical advantage over his victims.
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 12:07 PM ET
I am hardly an emotional person, I detach myself as much as I can from emotional triggers but after this story I cried on my couch and for the longest time I thought about how forgiving people are and how little doses of hate can dramatically change a persons life. Bravo for bringing us this story.
Posted By Anonymous A.G Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 12:09 PM ET
That is an amazing story. Even more amazing would be if the rest of our country could overcome their intolerance of certain groups different from them.
Posted By Anonymous Amy, Fort Wayne, Indiana : 12:18 PM ET
What a powerful story. I wish more of these could somehow be brought together and ran on Television and in Newspapers for a full day or maybe even a week. To change the thought of the world.
Posted By Anonymous B.Brooks New York, NY. : 12:33 PM ET
This is an amazing story, but it is still so sad that it takes so many wrong, horrible, and hateful mistakes for those to realize their faults. Stories like this need to be broadcasted far more often. It would be a nice change from the violence and upset that is always heard.
Posted By Anonymous Janisha, Great Falls, MT : 12:37 PM ET
I had just watched "Crash" yesterday for the 1st time and was extremely emotionally moved. The obsticles that hated and prejustices pose while large are not insurmountable. We need to remind ourselves as a society that compassion, understanding and forgiveness will always triumph hatred and racism.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Lewis, Walnut Creek Ca : 1:28 PM ET
Hi, Thanks for bringing this story to the public domain - it's amazing how life tosses up these real events to remind us of the basic humanity that is within each individuals grasp.
Posted By Anonymous MJ Cronin, Auckland, New Zealand : 1:51 PM ET
It's refreshing to hear such a positive outcome come from such a violent and negative experience from the past. By revealing this story, an important life lesson could be taught to all. We should all celebrate the differences that we all possess and be tolerant of others with different beliefs and views. No one should be subjected to acts of violence because of who they are or what beliefs they possess.
Posted By Anonymous Angie, St.Louis, MO : 1:54 PM ET
Excellent life story. A man who is able to forgive in spite of the horrific act against him. Also, a man who realized his wrongs in life and made a commitment to change. This is how life is supposed to be. I commend them both.
Posted By Anonymous Stan M, Baton Rouge, LA : 1:55 PM ET
What an incredible story. And you know, I don't think I could have been that brave, brave enough to forgive the guy and befriend him. These guys are an inspiration both to those discriminated against and to those doing the discriminating.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 2:32 PM ET
What a wonderful story to read just coming back into my office from lunch. That's going to carry me through the weekend. Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Bryan, Texas : 2:33 PM ET
What an incredible story.

Wow, I don't know if I could be so forgiving. I hate to say that. But it is true.

Not surprisingly though, situations like this occur all the time. But to have a meeting of the minds with these two men and a reconciliation, is truly amazing and a miracle.

Thanks,
Lisa Anderson
Dallas, Texas
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Anderson, Dallas, Texas : 2:45 PM ET
I saw Crash and have been recommending the movie to everyone. The message is so wonderful!! Very, very moved by this real-life event, I know there must be many more stories like this out there.
Posted By Anonymous Judi Edwards, Garden Grove, CA : 2:49 PM ET
I don't believe that him getting locked up made him change his views, once a rascist always a rascist.
Posted By Anonymous Sherie, Philadelphia, PA : 2:55 PM ET
I have been unable to forgive a former close friend I've known for the past 15 years, 4 of which we have not spoken except for the obligatory Christmas card sent between us. She has recently sent an apology for the demise of our friendship yet I cannot get past the hurt and more importantly trust her again. This story about forgiveness makes me re-evaluate forgiveness in general and why I'm unable to fully forgive yet this man can. Does time really heal?
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Van Nuys, CA : 3:22 PM ET
Great Story!!!
Thank you for sharing it with the public!
Posted By Anonymous RaeRae, LasVegas, NV : 3:26 PM ET
forgiving is one thing, forgetting is another, however it is wonderful to see two people from totally different lifestyles be able to overcome hate and ignorance
Posted By Anonymous angela fox, columbus, indiana : 3:37 PM ET
So glad you brought this story to us. Shows that people are capable of change. I wish the people of the United States could take away from this story that all of us are one and that homosexuals deserve the same rights as we enjoy, the right to marry and adopt children. It is an astonishing story.
Posted By Anonymous dina, Conway, AR : 3:44 PM ET
This does sound like it comes from a movie script. Almost baffling to hear... which is sad. But it's refreshing to know that it's real.
Posted By Anonymous Victoria, Chapel Hill, NC : 3:46 PM ET
I find it really interesting to read the entries here that expressed that forgiveness or changing beliefs is not possible. My personal experience is that I can (and do) change my lifelong beliefs when two things happen: one that I find evidence that based on results the current belief dos not work, and two, that I see evidence of better choices. I have changed some personal beliefs (i.e. judgments about others based in hurt or loss of trust), and I witness change in my 4-year-old through taking an active role in parenting. I can sympathize, however, from an experience of being hurt over and over, where I have just had to distance myself from an individual.
Posted By Anonymous ross, Albany Oregon : 4:23 PM ET
Wow! great touching story....and good that the victim chose to be friends rather than to just letting out his anger. More stories like this should be told and people should learn from them.
Posted By Anonymous Gaurav Basu, England : 4:38 PM ET
So good to read such a wonderful human interest story..See, not all the world is bad, there is hope for us all.
Posted By Anonymous Mimi from Baltimore, MD : 4:58 PM ET
Thank you so much for bringing this thoughtful and timely story to light. I imagine many people will be touched by the struggle and redemption for both of these people. As someone currently struggling with discrimination because of my homosexuality, I'm glad stories like this are being told.
Posted By Anonymous Heather Hanford, CA : 7:57 PM ET
This story gives me hope.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Orange Park, FL : 4:54 PM ET
It just goes to show that what we do comes back to haunt us. Almost like God willed it, eh? Wow. Amazing story. Glad it ended well, too.
Posted By Anonymous Lauren, Wheeling, WV : 8:15 PM ET
Wonderful story! Hate really does not have, or should not have a place in this very very small world of ours. People with these very strong attitudes against other people really scare me, what are they afraid of???? Always wondered! I do not advocate hate on any level. Unfortunately, for some mad reason I think hate/intolerence will continue until people can learn that differences are OK, we do not need to be all the same. Dull world it would make!
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 9:51 PM ET
This is what life is all about! What a story! We need to hear more good ones like this!
Posted By Anonymous Judy Watson-Conley, Hindman, Ky. : 1:47 AM ET
Rarely do we ever here of a story like this that ends with a Hollywood ending - no pun intended.
It also shows what character this victim has after being face-to-face with the perpetrator AND forgiving him.
This is truly a unique and incredible story, thanks.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Vancouver, BC : 5:51 AM ET
Last night I watched the movie "Crash" with my boyfriend. We thought it worth it's best picture Oscar (ever though it took it away from "Brokeback Mountain"); touching movie but still only a movie. Today I read this story and I realize it is really true: Art imitates Life.
Thanks for this touching story.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, New York, NY : 9:35 PM ET
great story ,can all people who shed a tear ,pls look at immigrants too with compassion .
Posted By Anonymous ria fern albany ga : 8:02 PM ET
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