Matthew Shepard Hate Crime
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“The view was that homophobic rednecks walked into a bar and saw an obviously gay man with money and targeted him and beat him to death for that reason,” says Jimenez. “But that isn’t what happened..."
“Aaron and Matthew had a friendship. They’d been involved sexually, they bought and sold drugs from each other. That complicates the original story of two strangers walking into a bar and targeting Matthew – someone they did not know – because he was gay.”
But ABC’s “20/20” ran with a story Jimenez produced, which won two major broadcasting awards. Yet the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog recently accused Jimenez of serving as a lapdog of “right-wing pundits, radio hosts and bloggers.” In Washington, DC, gay activists pestered bookstores to cancel Jimenez’s appearances. -Andrea Peyser
While Shepard lay unconscious in a hospital, the national press quickly arrived in Laramie. Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted the case, told Vargas the media descended on Laramie "like locusts."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann viciously slammed Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx for claiming that murder victim Matthew Shepard – whom the current hate crimes bill is named after – was targeted out of a desire to commit robbery rather than because of anti-gay sentiment by his attacker...
"She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed. At worst she is a bald-faced liar. And if there is a spark of a human being in there somewhere, she should either immediately retract and apologize for her stupid and hurtful words or she should resign her seat in the House." -Brad Wilmouth
Liberal, Violence, Financial, Narrative, Oops, Drugs, Murder
“Shepard’s sexual preference … certainly wasn’t the motive in the homicide,” Jimenez quotes police investigator Ben Fritzen as saying. “What it came down to really is drugs and money.” A number of other sources close to the story and the protagonists confirmed much the same thing.
Liberal, Violence, Financial, Narrative, Oops, Law, Drugs, Murder
The prosecutor who prosecuted these crimes says that he never believed it was a hate crime. He believes it was a drug crime. Aaron McKinney, according to Aaron McKinney himself and to several other witnesses, was coming down from a five-day methamphetamine binge. He freely admits he not only used methamphetamine but dealt them, sold them. Five days up with no sleep, strung out on drugs, desperate to buy more, desperate to rob somebody to get money to buy more drugs. This was the motive, according to Aaron McKinney and the other witnesses. -Elizabeth Vargas, ABC
Liberal, Financial, Narrative, Oops, Drugs, Murder
Six years ago, on a cold October night on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo., 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left for dead. He was found 18 hours later and rushed to the hospital, where he lingered on the edge of death for nearly five days before succumbing to his injuries.
The story garnered national attention when the attack was characterized as a hate crime. But Shepard's killers, in their first interview since their convictions, tell "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas that money and drugs motivated their actions that night, not hatred of gays.
"I remember one of my fellow reporters saying, 'this kid is going to be the new poster child for gay rights," he added.
The day Matthew died, President Clinton told journalists at the White House: “In our shock and grief one thing must remain clear: hate and prejudice are not American values.”
The media, in his eyes, also played a role in mythologizing Shepard and discouraging deeper inquiries into what happened, and why. It was easier, in the end, to believe that an over-trusting young gay man faced grave danger simply because he was living in the macho cowboy culture of the prairie.
“Tangled secrets of this landmark crime persist,” Jimenez writes. And many people, it seems, are happy to leave them undiscovered. -Andrew Gumbel