In our latest video from the author of The Book Of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, he defends the use of anonymous sources in his book, given how perilous the drug underworld can be:
A reader dissents over the series:
I’m a big fan, but I’m also fascinated (and slightly disturbed) by your aversion to hate crime laws and your recent advertising campaign for The Book of Matthew. I think your readers deserve to know: Have you ever been minding your own business, hanging out on the sidewalk, talking with friends at the end of a fun night out, and had a complete stranger walk up to you and punch your fucking lights out just for being a faggot? How many Saturday nights have you spent in Meridian, Mississippi, or Albuquerque, or Cleveland? Not everyone gets to pedal around all summer in the “A-Gay” cocoon of P-Town. For countless LGBT people living in small-town America, being yourself means risking your life. Hate crime laws are not perfect, but they are a deterrent. For you to argue otherwise is classic homocon elitism.
I don’t believe in arguing from a single personal incident. But yes, I was “gay-bashed” once, though not seriously. Just rushed by a group of young Hispanic men in Adams Morgan a decade or so ago, knocked over, kicked a little, jeered at, and then left. I wasn’t seriously hurt. My view is that the right approach to hate crimes like that, and much more serious ones, is to enforce the existing law against assault. It is already illegal to bash someone for any reason. And recall that in Shepard’s case, the two perpetrators of the crime are serving life-sentences without parole – in a state that had no hate crime laws on the books. For hate crime supporters, that’s an extremely inconvenient fact. And yet they spent the next decade raising gobs of money arguing that hate crime laws was the only way to bring gay-bashers to justice. Another reader:
The death and destruction of the AIDS pandemic led to a period of PTSD and deep mourning and even survivors’ guilt in the community. Gay men of a certain age tried to reach back to a pre-AIDs world to experience what they had “missed” and the drug at hand was meth. If the Matthew/meth connection had been better known at the time, it would merely have created a new backlash against an already devastated community by the wider world, which was already comfortable with blaming gay men for their “decadence.”
Should the historical record be changed? Certainly. Was it a tragic missed opportunity to have aired the dirty laundry in the 1990s? Unlikely.
This kind of defensive, cowed argument for deliberate lying is exactly what I think civil rights movements should avoid. I think Shepard deserves better than that. And it’s not “dirty laundry”. It’s simply a very relevant fact in the tragedy. And if we had seen the role of meth up close earlier, we may even have been galvanized to tackle the meth epidemic more aggressively sooner – saving countless lives, careers and relationships.