Matthew might have been black. He might have been wearing the garments
of the Orthodox Jew. He might have been born Asian. But he wasn't.
He was a member of another, different group of citizens, who are
also singled out for assault and murder by a nonrandom selection
criteria. Matthew was born gay.
The Laramie police say the primary motive for murder was robbery.
This was easy to for them to establish, because investigators were
able to detect that his wallet and shoes had, indeed, been taken.
The death of the victim cannot be explained away so conveniently.
The police also acknowledge that a hate crime "may" have
occurred. There is ample evidence Matthew was lured to his death
with all deliberate malice aforethought, because he was gay, and
because the perpetrators "hated" gays.
There is no question that most
of the town of Laramie feels badly about this tragedy.
There is no question that Matthew's parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard,
will grieve forever at the irreplaceable loss of their son who was
cruelly and foully taken from them.
There is no question that this nation mourned the loss of Matthew.
There is no question that this particular murder was, and will
be, the focus of extraordinary attention on gay bashings and hate
crime of all types.
There is no question that at least one of the perpetrators feels
remorse for this crime.
There is not even any question that this murder is pronounced indefensible
and reprehensible by most (but not all) of those churches which
have most actively worked to fan and inflame anti-gay hatred.
There is no question whether those churches and organizations will
continue to fan hatred with the dissemination of the rabid anti-gay
slurs which have become the hallmark of the "religious right"
in recent years. These churches will continue to do so.
There is little or no question that Russell Arthur Henderson, 21,
and Aaron James McKinney, 22, who physically murdered Matthew Shepard,
will be convicted of murder. It is plausible that they will be convicted
under existing hate crime laws.
There is no question that, after
that, these murders will continue.
|I am going to press the point that
existing laws should have been adequate to prevent this, but
were not. The most casual student of the history and development
of Nazi Germany would recognize the similarities. I will address
this point strongly in this article, and shall rewrite it and
rewrite it again and again until I make the point exactly and
It amazes me that we shared this country for two hundred years
with throwbacks who proclaimed, "the Constitution don't say
nothing about no nigger rights, and they ain't gittin' none either."
After we added the race, color and creed clauses they said, "Fine,
they got they damn rights, but not in my restaurant and not in our
Equally amazing is that some people, who profess to care for this
country, can look at the sordid record and still stick to their
story that the existing laws were adequate then and are adequate
This is not a question of mere viewpoint,
but of established track record. This is not a question of personal
opinion and of freedoms of expression and association, but of institutionalized
murder and flagrant conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a
large proportion of the population of the United States of America.
The only question is, "Why?"