Rep. Virginia Foxx Dishonored Matthew Shepard's Death And Said It Was A Hoax

The lies that are told by right wing extremists know NO bounds. What Rep. Virginia Foxx said on the floor yesterday in attacking the hate-crimes bil

The lies that are told by right wing extremists know NO bounds. What Rep. Virginia Foxx said on the floor yesterday in attacking the hate-crimes bill was inexcusable. I will try to take some action against her.

From Media Matters Action Network:

Rep. Virginia Foxx Called Matthew Shepard Hate Crime "A Hoax"

Summary: On April 29, 2009, in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Virginia Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard's death was merely the result of a robbery gone bad. While his killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson did rob him, they also admitted that they were well aware of his sexual orientation and pretended they were gay to lure him away from the bar he was in at the time. The most striking feature of the case, of course, is that during the course of a normal, simple robbery, the victim is not generally beaten, tied to a post, and left for dead.

Matthew Shepard's Death Was A Hate Crime, Not Simply A Robbery

Rep. Foxx: "The bill was named after a very unfortunate incident that happened, where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's, it's really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."[House Floor Speech, 4/29/09] All the evidence clearly indicates that this was a vicious hate crime, not a robbery gone bad...read on

America Blog says:

A hoax? Belittling the brutal murder of a 21-year-old college student? And Republicans wonder why their angry, hateful, pathetic party is now only 20% of the US population.

Dave N: I've written about the Shepard case a great deal, including in my book Death on the Fourth of July. Probably the chief source of misinformation about his murder was a 2004 ABC News report, which I debunked at the time:

[T]he 20/20 report substantially omits evidence that was produced at the time establishing McKinney's bias motivation. And indeed, McKinney not only did not deny the existence of this bias, he positively embraced it at trial by attempting a "gay panic" defense.

Incidentally, Fritzen was not the lead investigator in the case. That honor went to a fellow named Rob DeBree. And DeBree has significantly repudiated the "crystal meth" theory.

Here's what he told Beth Loffreda, author of Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of an Anti-Gay Murder, regarding the attempt by McKinney's defense team to paint him as being under the influence of crystal meth:

Rob DeBree too was unimpressed by the argument -- he told me quite forcefully that the murder didn't look like any meth crime he knew.

In his confession to DeBree, McKinney had denied using meth the day of the murder, and while McKinney had been arrested too late for the police to confirm this through blood testing, DeBree felt certain that for once he had told the truth. Obviously it's unsurprising that the lead investigator would disagree with the defense, but DeBree had some compelling reasons on his side. "There's no way" it was a meth crime, DeBree argued, still passionate about the issue when I met him nearly six months after the trial had ended. No evidence of recent drug use was "found in the search of their residences. There was no evidence in the truck. From everything we were able to investigate, the last time they would have done meth would have been up to two to three weeks previous to that night. What the defense attempted to do was a bluff." ...

There are other serious problems with the report. It omits the fact that McKinney has now changed his story at least three times, and probably more, raising serious doubts about his credibility anyway. It also omits the fact that other detectives in the case testified at trial that the victim was selected for violence, and was beaten especially severely, because he was gay. Their testimony was based on their actual conversations with McKinney and Henderson.

And the piece's later attempts to defend McKinney by tainting Shepard's reputation (claiming he also was a crystal-meth user) should be beneath even the lowliest cops-and-courts reporter, let alone a national news organization. Even if true, whatever Shepard's habits, he did not deserve to die for them.

However, the shoddiness of ABC's reportage has not prevented the spread of the CW that this was somehow a definitive report. Indeed, Andrew Sullivan and Andrew Breitbart have been known to regurgitate that particular hairball.

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