Matthew Shepard Is the World's Most Famous Gay Hate Crime Victim. But Was He Really Killed for Being Gay?

Comments

1

Was he "interned" or interred?

2

Thanks for the read, interesting perspective.

3

And your point is?

4

@3 that the obvious explanation for thinks aren't always actually correct. It's an advisement not to jump to conclusions, as is very common in today's twitter-mob world.

7

Good investigative reporting deserves attention. Good on you, Katie.

8

@3 I'm not sure if you are just demonstrating the ever popular contrarian pose for attention or not, but just in case you truly don't know I invite you to pick up a newspaper. Find six or seven stories in it. Do you have an opinion about them? Do you think you know what has happened? Would it be enough to make you want to right the wrong?

Now think of what it would mean if everything you thought you knew about each case was actually wrong. This often takes years, sometimes decades to surface (and right now there are a ton of cases that have surfaced in the form of Netflix documentaries), but when it does it makes you rethink how you view the world. Everything shifts. The older you get, the more you notice it. Eventually you learn, if you develop an awareness, that we don't always know what has happened, that it is okay to wait to form an opinion, that our life experiences and personal agendas influence how we see the world around us.

We live in a time where people are more and more attached to their "truth". Social media gives everyone a chance to state their beliefs and the right to unfriend, write in all caps, block those who disagree and shout into the echo chamber.

Some of us still want to know the truth.

Hope this helps.

9

Hi Katie,
I read the article about Jimenez's book in 2014(?). It came quite as a surprise to me then. I reasonably assumed that Jimenez would catch hell for the book. I recall reading that that the mother of one of the killers (Henderson or McKinney) died freezing to death on a cold winter road in Wyoming walking home. Most unfortunate all around.

Good that this was followed up.

10

I had a coworker from Wyoming who told me this back in 2009 and I figured he was full of shit. He said the killers basically knew that they'd get the death penalty if it was about drugs but if it was a hate crime they had a chance of getting life. My coworker was put away soon after for on an acid dealing charge and I figured it was just some homophobic bullshit he was spouting. It looks like he may have been telling the truth.

11

I'm curious why there is a rush to conclude that these cases are due to homophobia. The Pulse Nightclub shooting is a similar case. I think most people still believe it was due to homophobia.

12

Fascinating.

13

It's interesting if the murderers thought they would get a lighter sentence if their motivation was homophobia rather than greed for drugs and drug money, since the crime (planned torture and murder) seems equally reprehensible either way.

14

Extraordinary indeed!

15

ehh, if it helped wake the nation up to oppression of LGBTQ people then I'm fine with letting it be what it might not.

16

What?!
Next you will try to tell us that Michael Brown was not shot by police because he was black.
You'll probably try to tell us he was on a late night crime spree.
You'll probably even tell us he assaulted the police officer and tried to get his service weapon.
Screw all that.
Truth is a luxury we can't afford in the fight for Social Justice.

17

@6 did not read the story.

18

@13 in most states with capital punishment, Wyoming included, the death penalty is on the table when murder is committed during a crime of theft - if you look at the majority of people who are actually are executed, they wound up death row for committing murders to steal drugs, or rob businesses. Their lawyer tried the gay defense, even as his clients testified that they intended to rob Shepard, because that would have taken the death penalty off the table.

19

I had a friend in Moscow Idaho that was brutally murdered for being gay about the same time. That story never got attention. There are thousands of cases of hate crimes that are not given the coverage they deserve. Perhaps the Mathew Shepard story is miss-attributed but it is a powerful stand in for all those who have been victims of anti-gay violence. History is full of these kind of inaccuracies. Only someone hopelessly pedantic or mean spirited would make a big deal about this 20 years later.

20

"Only someone hopelessly pedantic or mean spirited would make a big deal about this 20 years later."

One person's Pendanticy is another's History lesson.
Thank you, Katie.
You rock.

22

All the saints were also sinners

23

@20 The word is "pedantry" (I note, pedantically).

25

I guess The Stranger has now bolstered its’ reputation for edgy journalism by publication of this article on this day of all days. How brave. Yes there has been debate in and out of court on the motives of his murderers. I suppose there will continue to be especially for those who have the luxury of debate like this journalist and this book which proved nothing but argued that it did. Today though a family who’d finally found a place to safely lay their loved one to rest did so. They mourned the death of a son who’d been beaten and tortured to death. So good on you Stranger you haven’t lost that edgy vibe. And...fuck you.

26

What is the point of this article? It's not really a book review, although everything in it is about one book. It's not an expose, either, as the author did no original research. It's basically "I read this book, I believe everything in it, and now you should, too." OK, great, but what's here that I couldn't get by reading the book myself?

27

Thank you for writing this, Katie, and thanks to The Stranger for publishing it. It’s always good to remember how what we “know” is often simplified or otherwise distorted.

John Adams always insisted Independence Day should be on July 2nd. Rosa Parks was a civil-rights activist long before her arrest on a bus. The Stonewall was a sleazy, Mafia-connected dive bar for “chicken hawks.” None of those facts detract from the power of the events to which they are linked, but it is good to recall them.

28

Look at our City politicians, corruption in real time, but we'll wait and talk about it in 25 years.

29

This article and narrative is shameful.

30

@29 Why? For insisting on factual accuracy?

It may come as a great surprise for The Strangertariat, but that's something journalists are actually supposed to do.

@26 makes a fair point - if there was no original resource, or new facts of the matter, then we are left with what we have already learned, but even then, those facts can be re-examined without worrying about disrupting an existing narrative.

31

@29, Not to make a point of it, but why?

32

23

Yeah, damn straight Skippy, and thanks, I really blew that spelling,
but in this case I (too, pedantically) prefer 'pendanticisms' to pedantry.
It's meatier...

Long as we're already over-working it, from RandomHouse/Webster's:

"Pedant: 1. a person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning;
3. a person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge, without regard tor comon sense."

So, @whatever, corrected: one person's Pendanticisims are another's History lesson.

33

I understand why some of the commenters are a little irked over this article, but I hope they realize it does nothing to invalidate or smear the hard-fought struggles of the queer community. Nobody is served by cherry-picked truths. The battlefields of a culture war fall in random spots, and the author even acknowledges that perhaps the greater good has been served. But now I'm just repeating the article. Good work Katie.

34

@11 I'm being a bit unfairly glib here, but victimhood is currency in our modern climate.

@13 Arguably it could have been capital murder under bullet #7 here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Wyoming but otherwise I suspect it's good strategy from the lawyers rather than a play on the mores of the jury and judge. There's surprisingly little room for severity informing the sentencing - there was, subsequent but unrelated to this, a supreme court case (won by some Seattle-based lawyers) that basically said aggravating factors (ie, "in furtherance of a robbery", "was high", etc) must be proven in court rather than alleged to be a sentencing factor. Most states implement hate crime laws not as crimes, but as aggravating factors for sentencing.

Reading up on it now, it turns out one of James Byrd's killers was an acquaintance of his as well. I wonder if there's another story there.

35

It’s cool that a crack pot’s article gives credence to another crack pot’s book.

36

@29 - Look at the author of this piece. Enough said.

37

If Katie Herzog ever becomes editor of The Stranger, she'll turn it into what David Brewster reduced The Weekly to in the Eighties...a "liberal" publication perpetually fixated on nudging liberalism a little further to the right each issue, until she helps give us the kind of liberalism Bill Clinton reduced the Democrats to in the Nineties...right-wing on economics, foreign policy, crime policy and spending but that's fine because "it's enough that they're pro-choice!".

38

@37 OK, and she'd have insisted they be slightly pro-LGBTQ, like Hillary pretended to be(even though she never cast anything close to a risky vote on that issue in the Senate).

As to what happened to Matthew, if it were really just a drug thing, why wouldn't they let it go at just shooting the guy? You don't just bash a person's head in and then nail 'em to a fence just to steal meth.

Most likely, this is just a case of a few bunch heartless scumbags, rotting away in a state prison, taking one last chance to shit on Matthew's corpse and torment his parents.

39

@38, The reason they didn't "let it go" at shooting Matthew Sheppard is because they wanted him to tell them where he hid his his stash of meth. Had he told them in the beginning he might well be alive today. The only reason the media made such an issue was because he was cute and boyish looking; had he been a fat slob no one would have given the incident a second glance. I remember seeing a picture of him as he was hanging on the fencepost altered to appear to be a cross with a halo on his head; he did not die for anyones sins.

40

There is value in a discussion of historical perspective, and I would enjoy an entire thread dedicated to discussing the proposition that "truth is always liberating," but this feels much more like the attempt of a non-gay person to sully the G for her own profit.

41

Herzog should probably call her column "Everything but Me is a Scam!", since that seems to be her view of life.
If for no other reason, it was wicked cruel for Herzog to publish this on the anniversary of Matthew's death. Oh, and #38, why the fuck would you believe a bunch of murdering meth dealers?

42

Oh, and the bishop's surname is Robinson, not Bishop.

43

A more accurate assessment of Jimenez's book:

But the problems with Jimenez’s ethics begin in the Author’s Note that begin The Book of Matt. “Though this is a work of nonfiction journalism, I have occasionally employed methods that are slightly less stringent to re-create the dialogue of characters — words I did not personally hear; nor could the characters themselves recall every word exactly from memory,” he explains. “But my intention throughout has been to remain faithful to the actual characters and events as they really happened.” This is a dubious practice to employ at all, but Jimenez compounds the problem by not distinguishing which quotations are manufactured from recollections, which are paraphrases recounted by sources, and which were spoken directly to him.

44

Katie, I too investigated Matt's murder after 20/20 came out with an episode on the issue about 10 years ago. I, too, came to Jimeniz' conclusion without much poking around. But I dared not say anything to go against the orthodoxy and be accused of heresy.

45

@40

I think Herzog does claim to sleep with women, though whether or not she claims to be gay I do not recall. But she'd probably be thought of as queer, which is something that gives her cover, just as she claims to be something along the lines of liberal/progressive and possibly feminist, even though her work does nothing but attack feminism, progressivism, and gays.

The post is another example of her laziness and her simple-minded writing. She attributes some details to the author of the book, but it appears she didn't read the actual book--she's just reporting the news story about the book. And after her book report of a book report, she ends with the kind of flourish you see in high school papers.

46

Why would someone post what @44 says and then delete their account?

47

@44 Drive-by, methinks.

48

@47

Yeah, but kind of interesting when you consider the usual types of drive-by comments.

49

It's also a way of discrediting comments critical of this article by implying that the author of @44 feared being burned at the stake by the Holy Gayquisition or something.

52

Oh for fuck's sake people. It honestly doesn't matter if Matthew Shephard died from homophobia or from a drug deal gone bad. Dead is dead - but Matthew S. has done more to raise awareness about LGBT issues since he died than most living people will do in their whole lives.

53

@51: do the rest of us even WANT to know why that image sprang to your mind? Or what, exactly, you were even making an analogy TO there?

54

It seems “let’s roll this queer” is not just a phrase uttered between thugs lurking outside gay bars. It’s also a pitch by authors in publishers’ offices.

55

Trump people seem to have a high rate of pedophiles among them. @51 probably got that image out of the websites they visit.

56

@47, Any “new” profiles that are deleted the instant they post belong to trolls whose IP address has been “banned”. They can get around it by starting a new profile and commenting exactly one time with it.

57

@37
You idiot.
Brewster started The Weekly.
Sheesh.

60

Yes he was killed for being gay. Don't even bother reading this homophobic crap. We've been over this before. So disrespectful to throw this out here on this solemn anniversary. Shame on The Stranger.

61

“Matt Shepard needed killing,” Aaron McKinney bluntly told Tectonic company member Greg Pierotti for the epilogue, which includes the first interviews with McKinney and Russell Henderson since 2004.

“As far as Matt is concerned, I don’t have any remorse,” McKinney said during nine hours of talks with Pierotti. “The night I did it, I did have hatred for homosexuals.”

McKinney’s initial motive was robbery. But he targeted Shepard, he said, because “he was obviously gay. That played a part. His weakness. His frailty.”

https://www.denverpost.com/2009/10/01/murderer-matt-shepard-needed-killing/amp/?_twitterimpression=true

62

57: Ok, he started it, rather than just taking it over. But in the Eighties, all he ever did with it was pushing it further and further to the right, pushing to move the Democratic Party further and further to the right, abandoning(or watering-down) any position it had taken in the Seventies that was even vaguely progressive. By the time he left, The Weekly was just The Seattle Times with slightly better arts coverage. That's still what Herzog would do as editor...just push closer and closer to full support for the status quo...except where Herzog moved to the Right of the status quo.

63

59: Look, since nothing the "woke left"-whateve that term means, if it means anything at all-does or supports equates to anything remotely similar to the repellent visual you shared with us-"felching", btw, something no one else here but you have any personal experience with, has never been discussed in The Stranger in any context other than something a handful of CONSENTING ADULTS might do, solely, with OTHER CONSENTING ADULTS-why would you even reference that? Is your mind really that much of an open sewage trench? Get therapy. None of us want to know what you fantasize about.

64

Savage never taught that act to kids or advocated anything like that. Nor did anyone else here who you might still be nursing got a twisted hate-on for. Again...therapy...get it.

66

@62

The Stranger has already moved in that direction. Compare the work that Herzog does with the compassionate and dogged journalism of someone like Sydney Brownstone.

67

You all know that when you post dozens of pissed off comments about the temerity of someone making a blog post, and several creepily obsessing over their sex and personal life (seriously, stop this. It's really weird), it only ensures that person will keep posting things?

66 comments is a homerun in engagement for this tiny little blog.

68

@65: No, it isn't telling regarding anything.

69

Katie, you miss an important fact about Matthew and his family. This family was an Episcopalian family. Matthew was an acolyte and they participated in their church. The National Cathedral is an Episcopal place of worship. After Matthew's death, an openly gay Episcopal bishop reached out to the family. Regardless of the circumstances of this young man's death, this was and is a homecoming. The Episcopal community will continue to hold this young man and his family and honor his life.