A Hate Crime That Wasn’t
The news of Jessie Smollet’s arrest reminds me of something that happened over twenty years ago. Jessie who? I had to ask the same question when I first heard of him, but more on that in a bit. If Jessie Smollet did fake his hate crime, he may have been persuaded to do so by propaganda which spiraled out of the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1988.
Matthew Shepard died on October 12, 1988. I remember hearing of the horrible details of his beating, crucifixion, and death. I was a sophomore at Creighton University at the time. News reports detailed a horrific and slow death. Savagely beaten, burned with cigarettes, tied to a fence in a cruciform position, left to the dark of the Wyoming night to die in the cold, alone… I remember thinking that things like that did not happen so close to home anymore. The brutal days of the wild west were elements of the past. But here, just one state away, near the end of the 20thcentury, a young man was brutally murdered. We are pretty anesthetized to that phrase now, “brutally murdered”. All murders are brutal, even those committed with an I.V. in a hospital as a misguided form of compassion. Our movie screens, television screens and especially our smartphone screens are like anesthesia for our consciences. We see so much brutality, we can’t really grasp how brutal Matthew Shepard’s murder was. It was horrific. For what reason did Matthew Shepard’s killers kill him? Back in October 1998, we quickly learned it was because Matthew Shepard was gay.
After twenty years without a final resting place, Matthew Shepard’s ashes were finally laid to rest in Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral in 2018. His parents had been reluctant to bury his ashes in a cemetery out of fear that someone would deface the burial site. No parent should have to deal with the sorrow and suffering Mr. and Mrs. Shepard have had to deal with all these years. It is good that there will actually be a final resting place for Matthew Shepard. However, I wish more people knew the truth behind the whole matter.
The truth is, Matthew Shepard was a beloved son of God, who although he struggled in his relationship with God – as we all do – he was loved and remains loved by God. The truth is we were all told a lie about Matthew Shepard’s murder. We were told that he was murdered because he was gay. Matthew Shepard was not murdered because he was gay. He was not tied to a barbed wire fence in a cruciform position. He was not burned with cigarettes. He was not murdered by homophobes.
Stephen Jiminez is an investigative reporter. He began looking into the tragedy of Matthew Shepard’s murder a little less than two years after it took place because he was deeply impacted by the words of Matthew’s father at the sentencing hearing of one of Matthew’s killers. He was planning to produce a story which would appear on ABC News 20/20. Jiminez was already an accomplished journalist at the time. As a homosexual himself, he was expecting to produce a story which would take the facts of Matthew’s murder and paint a compelling but honest argument for gay rights.
What Jiminez found was just the opposite. In fact, he discovered that other LGBT advocates had manipulated Matthew Shepard’s murder in order to paint a compelling but dishonest argument for gay rights. He also found that Matthew Shepard was not murdered because he was gay, in fact, his murderer, Aaron McKinney, was bi-sexual himself.
Jiminez concluded that Matthew Shepard was murdered because both he and McKinney were deeply involved in the selling of methamphetamine, a drug which had a death grip on rural communities in the 1980’s and 1990’s. At the time of Matthew Shepard’s death, the average thirteen year-old in Wyoming was using meth at higher rates than twelfth graders nationwide.Meth is so addictive, it only takes one moment of indiscretion to change a person’s life forever. The supply line for Laramie’s meth market appeared to come out of Denver, and like many other parts of the country, Laramie had a serious subculture of meth users at the time.
Not only were Matthew Shepard and Aaron McKinney both meth users and dealers in Laramie, they both worked as male escorts for a shadowy figure in Laramie named Doc O’Connor. The sex-trade, especially homosexual work, is often only sustained with the prostitute’s addiction to drugs such as heroine, cocaine, or meth. But it was not the sex-trade which ultimately ended Matthew Shepard’s life, it was the fact that he and McKinney worked for two separate drug rings. Shepard’s supplier worked out of Denver, using Interstate 25 as the pipeline from Mexico. McKinney’s supplier used Interstate 80 as the pipeline from California. The two interstates meet in Cheyenne, but the biggest market for McKinney and Shepard was in and around the University of Wyoming, which is in Laramie.
Jiminez eventually turned his research for ABC’s 20/20 episode into a book, The Book of Matt. In an unexpected twist, Jiminez, who expected to champion gay rights, ended up dispelling the myth that Matthew Shepard was the victim of anti-gay hatred. Jiminez has been criticized for refusing to promote the myth that Matthew Shepard’s murder was a anti-gay hate crime. In reality, Jimenez should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his honesty. At a minimum, he should be recognized for telling the truth even when it conflicted with his intentions and his deeply held ideology. This is a truly rare trait in today’s media.
The Book of Matt is a fascinating, necessary, but extremely disturbing read because it plunges you into the darkness of the drug trade, homosexuality, and loneliness, right in the middle of what should be an iconic story of Americana. Worse yet, LGBT activists have twisted Matthew Shepard’s story into a political statement which is far from the truth. And in spite of clear evidence as to the dishonesty of the political statement, people continue to perpetuate the lie and ignore the truth, which never bodes well for anyone.
Read The Book of Matt. It is a riveting and dark book about the entire case.
Anyone who desires truth, should be content with Matthew Shepard’s ashes being laid to rest in the National Cathedral. He deserves a place of rest, not because he is an icon for LGBT advocates and activists, but because he was created in the image and likeness of God. We must never lose sight of the fact that each human life is precious and even if someone is denying their intimate relation with God, we must continue to recognize it for them. This is very hard to do. Matthew Shepard did not have many people around him who were doing that for him. Instead, he surrounded himself with drug dealers, drug users, Johns, and other lost souls. It is easy to treat someone in an inhumane way when they themselves often identify as less than human.
The only way to truly honor Matthew Shepard is to honor him as a son of God who is still in need of our prayers, not as a canonized saint of the gay rights movement. Not as the inspiration for fictionalized plays and advocacy groups which deal only in partial truths. He was not murdered by two men who had flown into gay-rage. He was not burned with cigarettes. He was not tied to a fence and crucified. Matthew Shepard was the victim of a horrible set of circumstances in which human life no longer had value. Some of this was due to Matthew’s own choices and circumstances and some of it was due to the disordered culture which had gripped Laramie and other communities across the country at the time.
Today, meth is much less common, but other drugs and other lifestyles have filled the void. We continue to look for things which will bring us happiness because this is how God created us. We are created with certain desires and needs written on our hearts. Unfortunately, we often try to respond to these needs and desires by grasping pleasure and placebo instead of the actual things which will bring lasting happiness.
Matthew Shepard had the same things written on his heart as we have on ours, a desire for the divine, a desire for community, desire for knowledge, etc… Tragically, he could only bring himself to reach for partial answers and quick remedies. When he had finally surrounded himself with others who were reaching for those same answers and remedies, he became a partial answer or a quick remedy for them, and eventually one of them Aaron McKinney, decided that killing him was an answer or a quick remedy for something Aaron McKinney needed.
The politicization of Matthew Shepard’s death is not totally unfortunate, because it does compel many people to look more deeply into the reasons and cause of his death. Many people fall victim to these same reasons and cause each day, but their deaths are never publicized, analyzed, or theorized like his. For those of us who wish to look beyond a manipulated story with a political agenda, the Matthey Shepard tragedy can be a call to conversion. As Christians we can change the way we treat others who are living in the darkness of addiction and immorality. We can point to things beyond the temporary, striving to regain a deep and intimate relationship with God. God is the only thing which can truly satisfy the needs and desires written on our hearts.
Some may be angry about the fact that Matthew Shepard’s ashes are now interred in the National Cathedral. Don’t be angry. We all will need a resting place someday, and we should not begrudge another person that right. But we should also educate people as to the fact that Matthew Shepard, though a victim of horrible violence, was not the victim of anti-gay hate.
So back to Jessie Smollett.
Maybe I avoid popular entertainment too successfully, though I doubt it. I truly believe that most of the material offered on television and in theaters, is simply high-quality propaganda. Therefore, when Jessie Smollett was recently reported as the victim of a hate crime, I did not hear about it. I had never heard of Jessie Smollett either. My familiarity with Smollett changed when I saw a report that he had staged a fake hate crime. Only then did I learn that Smollett is an actor. I also learned that he was employed as a character on a fairly popular television show called Empire.
I’m out of touch with fantasy. That is a good thing.
Unfortunately, many people are totally in touch with fantasy. Fantasy has become a sickness in our culture. Just as the motive for Matthew Shepard’s murder was a fabrication in order to further a political agenda, Jessie Smollett is alleged to have tried to change reality by fabricating his own assault. Both fabrications are based in fantasy. Now that Smollett has been arrested, it is believed that he organized and faked the hate crime because he was unhappy with the salary he was paid for his work on Empire. The irony is, his career is based on fantasy, and when he grew unhappy with reality, he tried to change it with more fantasy.
I am a practicing attorney which means that I have a graduate degree and a license to practice law. People ask me to help them with difficult situations in their lives, and I do my very best to help them. Mr. Smollett portrays fiction in order to entertain people. While I would not trade places with any celebrity, Mr. Smollett was apparently paid $125,000per episode last year. In other words, he was raking in a significant amount of cash for nothing more than portraying fantasy, and he wanted more money for it. When fantasy is your career, more fantasy is sometimes the logical solution to your problems. When your lifestyle is based on feelings, manufacturing situations which cause more feelings is sometimes the logical solution to your problems.
The whole situation is simply mind-bending.
Fake hate crimes happen a lot, and not just with people in the entertainment industry. If you have been paying attention to faked hate crimes, you are aware of numerous fake hate crimes across the country in the past few years. They seem to happen most frequently on college campuses, which does not bode well for our future. There is a website which serves as a database for the fake hate crimes which have been staged across the U.S. for the past fifteen years. The Fake Hate Crimes database contains over 350 incidents, but it shows that the frequency of faked hate crimes has increased significantly in the past three to four years.
While some of the faked hate crimes involve teenagers who were trying to cover up a missed curfew or a relationship of which a parent would have disapproved, many of them involve an intentional and dishonest effort to further the belief that many if not most Americans are homophobic, Islamophobic, prejudiced, etc… If society is so prejudiced, discriminatory, and hateful, why are there so many fake hate crimes? I suspect it is because there are not enough real hate crimes for the taste of the liberal progressive social justice warriors who inexplicably celebrate both homosexuality and at the same time Islam, which persecutes homosexuals.
Although he is innocent until proven guilty, Jessie Smollett may be one of the latest in a long line of people who have faked a hate crime, but this is a line of those who have been caught. There are many incidents in which the police were unable to apprehend someone who actually committed a hate crime, and no one was able to prove that it was a fake hate crime. These get filed away as hate crimes.
In 2017, a disturbing note was taped to the door of a student’s dorm at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2018, there was a report of someone shouting the “n” word from a passing car near DePauw Univeristy in Greencastle, Indiana. Earlier this year, America University investigated an incident in which a man wearing a Confederate hoodie was spotted in a campus dining hall.
There is no question that hate crimes do occur nearly every minute of every day in the U.S. Isn’t every assault an act of hate?
It is one thing to say that there should be enhanced penalties for assaults and murders which are motivated by racism, bigotry, and hatred of others based on their religion, nationality, or abnormal sexual preferences. It is another thing to say that mean words should be classified as hate crimes. However this distinction is for another discussion.
My point is that people are abusing hate crime legislation, and it is the very people for whom the legislation was designed. Shouldn’t there be a heightened penalty for faking a hate crime? Possibly. Everyone is victimized by fake hate crimes. Real victims face more doubt and skepticism. Innocent parties face more suspicion and inquiry. Law enforcement spends additional hours chasing a wild goose… All the while, the purpose for hate crime legislation is undermined.
When someone fakes a hate crime and is merely sentenced for false reporting, disturbing the peace, or interference with a police investigation, it is a mockery. It fuels the fire for fragile college students who are traumatized when they see a confederate flag on a fellow student’s jacket. It is not a fake hate crime to call the police and report to them that you have just witnessed a man with a confederate flag on his jacket, but the police believe it would be a hate crime to tell you to stop acting like an idiot as they hang up the phone. Instead of helping fragile college students to grow into adults, they investigate the matter as a hate crime, thereby affirming that the situation was at least serious, if not criminal.
Fantasy has overtaken our culture. Reality is now cause for calling 911, even when reality is just something which is unpleasant, rude, or disturbing.
We all need to live in reality and occasionally escape to fiction, fantasy, and make-believe. Currently many Americans have that backward. Many of us live in fiction, fantasy, and make-believe. Therefore, we are shocked, offended, scandalized, and traumatized when we are forced to face reality.
Here is my advice. Face reality now, before you have to face reality at the moment you pass into the afterlife.