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How the radical right killed Matthew Shepard

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It's funny how the radical right constantly finds ways to outdo themselves. Just when you think they've done all they can to portray Christians as hateful petty pseudo-religious bigots, they surprise you even more hate. To wit: Their renewed attacks on Matthew Shepard.

Isn't it funny how the only people to still be pissed as hell at Matthew Shepard are the radical right hate groups. It's now clearer than ever that they're terribly worried about the lingering perception that their hate speech about gays helped contribute to an atmosphere of bigotry that led to Shepard's death. The radical right is claiming in the past week that ABC somehow "proved" that Matthew Shepard's death wasn't a hate crime. The "new" evidence? One of Shepard's murderers now says they were just jealous that he appeared to have money, so they lured him to a remote location, pistol-whipped him some 48 times to the head, or so, tied him to a fence in the freezing weather to die, and then made up an elaborate story about how Shepard had tried to come on to them and that they killed him because he was gay. Pretty elaborate cover-up, especially when the cover-up makes the killers sound worse than the motive they now claim they were trying to conceal.

I mean, think about it. We're to believe that they kill Shepard simply because they don't like that he appears to have money. But instead of admitting that it was a simple murder (so to speak), they confess that they brutally executed him because he's gay, causing a national outcry of anger and demands for them to be put to death. Yeah, pretty effective plan that one.

Of course, their "new" story is utter bs. Not to mention, the only "proof" of it is the new claims of the murderer himself - which means he perjured himself in court when he claimed that they killed Shepard because he was gay. So we're to believe an admitted perjurer's new story?

Anyway, you get the picture. But don't let that stop the religious right from one last kick at Shepard in his grave. They've now made an all-out effort to publicize the "fact" that ABC has "proven" that Shepard was no killed because he was gay. Why? Because they know that they're the ones who killed him. Here's how.

What the religious right, and many conservatives, never understand is the not-terribly-nuanced difference between what is legal and what is right (meaning, "good"). Hate speech is legal in America, but that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it good. And hate speech (be it spoken or in writing) is, I would argue, probably the number one cause of bigotry and prejudice in America.

Think about it. No one is born a bigot (and no one is born a fundamentalist bigot). It's a learned trait. It's a trait you learn from the speech and writings (and actions too) of your parents and peers in society. You aren't born hating blacks or Jews or gays or whomever, you LEARN to hate them, most often through the words you hear in your own home, from your own friends, and/or from the writing of others.

You learn to hate from the hatred of others. So it's really not any stretch at all to suggest that the hatred of gays by the religious right (and their previous hatred of blacks, and current subjugation of women) inspires, feeds, and helps maintain a climate of prejudice that it is absolutely responsible for discrimination and violence against those groups.

Again, this isn't rocket science. The white Klansman who strings up a black man. Where did he get his desire to do this? From birth? From meeting black people and "realizing" that they're "evil" and "need to be killed"? Or from the bigoted messages he was fed as a young child and throughout his life?

The same applies to the religious right treatment of gays. You can't label someone a pedophile, suggest that he's responsible for causing September 11, and claim that his mere existence is going to cause the end of our nation and our world, and not expect that to inspire hatred of that person. I mean, Jesus, you'd have to be a freak not to hate someone who was out to rape your kid and literally cause the end of the world. And that kind of hatred IS the root cause of anti-gay violence. Per se someone that kills you or attacks you because they hate fags is motivated by anti-gay hate. And that hate comes from the anti-gay zeitgeist in the society around them.

And the religious right is prime mover and shaker in creating an fomenting and maintaining that anti-gay zeitgeist, and that's why the religious right shares the blame for killing Matthew Shepard.

And it really really really pisses them off to hear us say that. So say it loudly and often. YOU killed Matthew Shepard.

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