In an obvious renewed attempt to prove Darwin was right, a “green” activist who was also a pioneering lawyer for gay and transgender rights, which included the notorious “Boys Don’t Cry” rape-murder case, committed suicide by setting himself ablaze Saturday morning in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in a grisly act of protest for what he believed was the ecological destruction of planet Earth.
According to police the 60-year-old David Buckel left behind his charred corpse along with a typed suicide note that read he was burning himself to death by using fossil fuel in order to show how mankind is killing itself.
— New York Post Metro (@nypmetro) April 14, 2018
Here are some excerpts of Buckel’s suicide letter:
“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.”
Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson arguing on behalf of Brandon Teena. A murdered man who was also a transgender whom Buckel argued successfully that a country sheriff failed to protect. The case was made famous in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” for which Hillary Swank won an Oscar for portraying Teena. Buckel later went on from that case to work for Lambda Legal which is a national LGBT rights organization.
Lamda Legal, in a statement on Saturday, confirmed his death an called it heartbreaking. Adding that it was a tremendous loss for the Lambda Legal family and the entire social justice movement.
Not really sure what led this attorney to act in such a manner. Maybe he had some incurable disease or something of the sorts, but he as an attorney should have known that a stunt like this wasn’t going to change much. As an attorney, he can cause change without having to go to such an extreme measure. Now all people will remember him for is one final act of unexplainable lunacy.
Whatever the reasons for this, lets hope and pray his soul is now at peace.
Here is more on David Buckel’s legacy via IBtimes:
“David Buckel, one of the most renowned and nationally acclaimed champions for gay rights, was found dead in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, after he set himself on fire early Saturday morning.
Before he self-immolated, Buckel clarified he was committing the act as a protest against the use of fossil fuels.
“My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide. I apologize to you for the mess,” he said in a hand-written note left at the scene and in an email to media outlets.
Buckel, 60, was a supporter of LGBT rights and also the lead attorney in Brandon vs County of Richardson, in which a Nebraska county sheriff was found guilty of failing to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered.
The case attracted quite a lot of publicity and was even adapted into a movie, concentrating on Teena’s life named “Boys Don’t Cry,” which won actress Hillary Swank an Academy Award.
Apart from this, Buckel also served as a director for a project to promote marriage equality and a senior counsel at Lambda Legal. During his career, Buckel worked on several important cases that focused on marriage equality before shifting his complete focus to environmental causes.
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water, and weather. 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,” he added in the letter he sent to the media outlets just before his death.
According to a report in Slate.com, following Buckel’s suicide, Lambda Legal also issued a statement mourning the death of one of their own.
“This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice. 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,” Camilla Taylor, director of constitutional litigation and acting legal director, said.
In the note Buckel left, he also supposedly drew comparisons between his actions and those of the Tibetan monks who self-immolated in order to protest Chinese rule.
Buckel, a graduate of Cornell Law School, worked with several local organizations that were involved in the practice of community composting. He also served in an official capacity on the NYC Compost Project at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which is right next to Prospect Park.
Susan Sommer, a former attorney for Lambda Legal and currently the general counsel for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, also reacted to Buckel’s death.
“He deserves tremendous thanks for recognizing this was in many ways at the heart of what it meant to be gay for many Americans and making it a priority. I learned so much from him about the emotional center of what it means for a gay person not to be able to have all the protections for the person they love and that it’s worth fighting for,” she said.”