Dissents Of The Day

A reader quotes new reporting on the Matthew Shepard case:

It was fairly well known in the Laramie community that McKinney wouldn’t be one that was striking out of a sense of homophobia. Some of the officers I worked with had caught him in a sexual act with another man, so it didn’t fit – none of that made any sense.

So that quote is probative in your mind that the attack could not have been motivated or exacerbated by homophobia? Nobody who ever got a blowjob from a guy would lash out in front of his straight buddy at an effeminate kid due to homophobia? Really? That’s the best you’ve got?

The question here is whether the crime was solely a function of the homophobic hatred of two strangers who beat up and brutally murdered someone merely because he was gay. That’s the official line of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign. Of course these motives could also have been involved. I’m arguing that meth can explain all of it, but may not be the only factor involved. I can’t read the meth-addled minds of the foul murderers. I can detect bullshit from the gay rights establishment. Another reader:

I’m in the awkward position of preferring to think that Jiminez is wrong while acknowledging the strength of his arguments. But I do object to this statement from you: “Those who made a small fundraising fortune off the myth – like the Human Rights Campaign (natch) – will never acknowledge the truth.”

Your clear implication here is that those who resist Jimenez’s interpretation of the events are acting in bad faith, their eyes blinded by all those lovely fundraising dollars. Is it not possible that the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s complete rejection of Jimenez’s work is based on something other than greed? That foundation was, after all, founded by Shepard’s parents. Would you not concede that a mother, facing the accusation that her murdered son was a crystal meth dealing sex worker, might reject that accusation for reasons other than that it might harm her fundraising work? That her attachment to one interpretation of the events leading to her son’s murder has more to do with how she felt about her son than it does with the petty arguments of the gay rights culture war that (I suspect) you are more attached to than she is?

I could equally suggest that your absolute conviction that Jimenez is right is a bad faith interpretation of the facts, blinded by your dislike of HRC and the fact that they’ve used his death to argue for laws with which you don’t agree. But I’d be wrong there, wouldn’t I?

I can perfectly well understand why a mother would feel that way. That doesn’t excuse her foundation of smearing decent reporters who have uncovered a more complicated truth, or justify others raising gobs of cash on her grief (yes, you have no idea how many fundraising appeals I received based on the myth), and turning this complicated and horrible crime into a rallying cry for a pre-existing legislative agenda. Another:

It seems to me that there are two extremes to this debate: one denies that drugs had anything at all to do with Matthew Shepard’s murder, the other (apparently represented by you and Jimenez) denies that homophobia had anything to do with it. Isn’t it possible that both could have been factors?

I have yet to see you address an obvious question: If it was all about the inexplicable consequences of crystal meth – and not, at least partly, “out of a sense of homophobia” – why didn’t Aaron McKinney or his attorneys use that as a defense, when it clearly could have helped him more than the pathetic “gay panic” defense did?

Obviously, the need for another fix can fuel violence. But enough to explain the sheer brutality of the attack on Shepard, when no traces of meth were found in the killers’ bloodstreams by the Laramie Police Department?

No one wants to confess a meth robbery gone haywire, and they may have thought the gay panic defense might work – and it didn’t. As for the further myth of the blood-test, over to Steve:

In the entire unsealed public record that I reviewed at the courthouse, I never saw a toxicology report or any document verifying drug testing. Your reader seems to be referring to a statement made last year on NPR by Dave O’Malley alleging such a drug test. When asked by Rachel Martin on Weekend Edition to produce such a toxicology report, O’Malley was unable to do it, and Rachel ended the show on that note. The only testing that McKinney and Henderson had that I know of was for HIV.

You referred in your recent post to the Casper Tribune’s latest smearing. In that paper last month, Shepard prosecutor Cal Rerucha was quoted as saying that had meth not been involved, there wouldn’t have been a murder. I also have at least 9 named sources on the record about McKinney’s weeklong meth use (and cocaine) in the week leading up to the crime. Let me know if you want to publish their names.

That being said, the more time that elapses between meth use and testing, the harder it is to get a conclusive result. The crime took place on a Tuesday night, McKinney wasn’t arrested until late Thurs night in Colorado, and he gave a statement to police in Laramie on Friday. So any alleged testing couldn’t have taken place before then. In 14+ years, the prosecutor has never told me of a drug test that proves what O’Malley alleges. What the prosecutor did tell me, however, is that O’Malley begged him not to tell the truth to ABC News “because of all the good that’s been done in Matt’s name.” When Rerucha refused, O’Malley asked him if he would at least “clear” what he was going to with Judy Shepard. Rerucha declined, of course.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign should not be smearing and demonizing good faith work by a courageous openly gay journalist. They need to apologize, and correct the record. At some point, their convenient untruth must stop.