This is a tragic end to someone who apparently struggled with the ravages of mental illness.
David Buckel was a prominent LGBT activist attorney. His most famous case involved that of Brandon Teena, in the Brandon versus County of Richardson case.
If you’ve ever seen the 1999 Hillary Swank movie, “Boys Don’t Cry,” then you know Brandon Teena’s story.
She was a girl, masquerading as a boy, who was raped, then later murdered by the very people she’d befriended.
We can’t call her “transgender” because she was only dressing up. She never had any surgery or underwent any hormone therapy.
Buckel was her attorney, and argued (successfully) that the sheriff of Richardson County failed to protect her.
Apparently, Buckel was dealing with his own demons, and took his liberalism in an unusually dark direction.
After sending messages to multiple news outlets, such as the New York Times, Buckel went to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and set himself on fire.
In the messages sent to the news outlets, Buckel protested the use of fossil fuels, to the detriment of the environment, and somehow, felt he’d be sending a message that would resonate to the world outside of the mental health community by killing himself, very publicly.
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,” Buckel wrote the Times in an email. “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
“A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility,” Buckel added.
“For if one does not leave behind a world better for having lived in it, all that remains are selfish ends, sometimes wrapped in family or nation.”
That’s every social justice primer ever written, compressed into 3 neat paragraphs.
I’m not making light of the man’s death, but if your liberalism drives you to this level of attention seeking, then it’s not just liberalism, any more. It’s a destructive form of narcissism and a disconnect from reality.
After winning the Brandon Teena case, Buckel went on to work for Lambda Legal, a LGBT rights organization. In a statement, the organization expressed their shock and grief:
“The news of David’s death is heartbreaking. This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice,” the group said in a statement.
“David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many. He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice.”
But nobody saw his simmering mental illness or the demons that would drive him to do something so desperate.
Mr. Buckel was 60 years old.