God Hates Fags... But Shepard's Killers Don't
Lots of news is being generated over a 20/20 report that casts doubt on the murder of Matthew Shepard as a"hate crime." I am firmly opposed to legislating"hate crimes" and spoke out against it even in the context of the Shepard murder. And yet, while Elizabeth Vargas, the investigative reporter, uncovers a number of problems with the"gay hate" nature of the Shepard case, I have to say that I'm troubled by the inconsistencies. Vargas seems to support the current claims of Shepard's killers, who say that the murder was motivated not by hatred of gays, but by robbery, and inspired by drug use. Still, I can't see how any of the current pronouncements of these killers would stand up under interrogation.
Some of the acquaintances of convicted murderer Aaron McKinney claim, for example, that McKinney and Shepard knew each other from the drug scene in Laramie, Wyoming. Yet, McKinney denies it to Vargas. Some of McKinney's acquaintances claim that McKinney is bisexual. Yet, McKinney denies it to Vargas, though he says that now he does have gay friends. (Where? In prison? Oy.) Still, if we are to believe that McKinney did have affairs with men, why would that make him any less likely to manifest gay-hate? It would fit the description of the classic self-denying"homophobe" who gets all bent out of shape when a"fag" like Shepard places his hand on the self-denier's leg.
This same Aaron McKinney, whose new pronouncements we are being told are true, once used a"gay panic" defense at his trial, hoping to cash-in on what many perceived to be a sympathetic anti-gay culture in Laramie. Now he wants to retract that defense.
Why should we believe anything these killers say when even now they are manifesting inconsistencies? And who cares? A young man is dead. And McKinney and Russell Henderson were convicted of his murder.
As I said: I am against hate crime laws. But let's not forget that many of the ugly happenings in Laramie—including all the hoopla surrounding the trial, the Fred Phelps"Fags in Hell" protests, the bigotry, the hate—took place because of that trial. Even if there wasn't a smidgeon of"gay hate" in the souls of Shepard's killers, the fact that those killers used"gay panic" as a defense and that the gay-haters came out of the woodwork during that trial is enough to convince me that there are cultural issues of profound importance here, which cannot be denied.
Ironically, just this morning, two Sunday news shows—"This Week with George Stephanopoulos" and"Meet the Press"—examined the cultural divide on issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Together with continuing stories on the religious revival in the United States (see the NY Timeshere and here, and discussions here at L&P), it is clear that this is an issue that just won't go away.
And how could it? Not when Jerry Falwell—who once blamed perverts for God's wrath on 9/11, only to apologize for it—is once again pointing the finger at pagans, perverts, and a"lethargic church" as the causal factors in the current jihad. Here's what the founder of the new"Faith and Values Coalition" said this morning on"Meet the Press":
I do believe, as Ben Franklin said, that God rules in the affairs of men and nations. I believe that when God blesses a nation as he's blessed America for a lot of reasons, things happen that don't happen other places. I believe that when we defy the Lord, I think we pay a price for it. So I do believe in the sovereignty of God. ... I do believe that, corporately, God deals with a nation.
Falwell added that, if people"turn from their wicked ways," God"promised three things: 1) I will hear from heaven; 2) I will forgive their sins; 3) I will heal their land. And I believe that conversely works, if we don't do that, I believe that God can judge us."
There you have it. Falwell, who praised the election of Bush as the"Christian" choice, is simply packaging his initial 9/11 message with a little less explicit venom. The USA is filled with infidel who are turning from the Lord and that's why such nightmarish tragedies will continue to befall this country. In other words, this country is going to hell, and it's all because of pagans and perverts, people like, well, people like ... Matthew Shepard.
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Roderick T. Long - 11/29/2004
I wonder whether Falwell would approve of this essay of Franklin's?
Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 11/29/2004
Ah, my friends, life is filled with wonderful ironies, isn't it? :)
Jeanine Ring - 11/29/2004
Quite. Amusing, in a way, that Falwell would choose Benjamin Franklin as a saint of patronage. If memoty serves, the good moralist had a very fine reputation among my own sisters in his day.
Jeanine Ring )O(
Jason Pappas - 11/29/2004
I noticed that also and was surprised and dismayed.
Then I thought, maybe he’ll actually motivate someone to read Franklin. Perhaps, they’ll pick up a copy of the Autobiography. They’ll discover his more liberal ecumenical attitude; and notice Ben’s criticism of his own Presbyterian minister for being too focused on the 1st 5 commandments instead of how to live this life better. Perhaps they’ll even notice that Ben mentions Socrates far more often than Jesus. Maybe they’ll even read Plato next! Perhaps these homophobes will be enlightened about the founders of Western Civilization.
What are the chances?
Roderick T. Long - 11/29/2004
There's something especially obscene about Falwell invoking the name of Benjamin Franklin, a decidedly un-Puritanical Enlightenment deist with rather "liberal" views on religious toleration and sexual morality.