Via Shakesville, I just learned about fagbug.com, a bit of awesomeness I’d like to draw your attention to.

The deal is this: Erin Davies had a rainbow bumper sticker on her new Beetle. Because of this, some asshole decided to spray paint “fag” and “u r gay” on it. (I love the second one. She had a rainbow sticker on the car in the first place, dipshit—ooh, burn!)

Rather than immediately scouring the graffiti off the car, Erin decided to leave it there, a blatant manifestation of homophobia right out in the open for people in her community to observe—and what’s more, she decided to drive the fagbug cross-country, raising awareness about intolerance. She’s already getting media attention and speaking engagements, and it’s only been a couple of weeks. Go, Erin!

The thing I find particularly awesome—and so does she, according to her blog—is that, in doing this, she’s already connected with hundreds of compassionate, supportive people, as opposed to the one asshole who defaced her car and the one (so far) who’s sent her hate mail. Instead of internalizing the shame that asshole vandal wanted her to feel and spending a lot of money to have her car scrubbed and repainted, she’s put the shame where it rightly belongs—on the asshole—and used this as an opportunity to meet hundreds of people who don’t hate teh gays.

Think about that for a second. The purpose of spray painting “fag” on somebody’s car is to make them feel as if there are legion others out there actively hating them—so if they know what’s good for them, they won’t be so cavalier about evil faggy behavior like, you know, putting bumper stickers on their cars. And usually, it works. Usually, as someone pointed out to Erin, the victim will get the car repainted so no one else sees it—yet never forget that it was there and what it implied. By leaving it there and going public with it, Erin completely subverted the attempt to make her feel small, alone, hated, and afraid. What she’s gotten out of this experience is reassurance that hateful assholes like that are the minority. When you shine a light on their appalling behavior, non-homophobic people come out in droves to condemn it. So the asshole who did it is the one who stands alone and hated.

That’s pretty fucking cool.

I do have one quibble—with her characterization of the vandalism as a “tragedy” right in the first sentence of text on her site. A hate crime, yes; a tragedy, no. Other hate crimes that really are terrible tragedies are committed every day, and I don’t think it’s wise or useful to place a defaced car in the same category. But other than that, I loved reading about the fagbug project, and I think you should go read about it, too. I hope she stops in Chicago.