Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Culture Campaign's Position is Always Conclusive

One thing I love about fundamentalists of the Culture Campaign's ilk is their concept of proof. When there is the slightest evidence for their position, they trumpet it as conclusive proof of whatever they believe. While most people might be tempted to take a convicted murderer's statements with a grain of salt, the Culture Campaign is happy to embrace them as gospel when they provide some ammo for their right-wing homophobia.

The post titled "Gay Activist Bullies Get Their Way at New Jersey High School" concerned a controversy over a production of the Laramie Project, a play about the 1998 murder of Matthew Shephard in Laramie Wyoming. Shephard, a homosexual, was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, and left for dead. He was found after eighteen hours and died five days later. The play examines the reaction of the town to the crime and to the "gay panic" defense offered by Aaron McKinney who claimed that homosexual abuse as a child caused him to overreact to a sexual advance from Shephard. (For the record, my son appeared in a high school production of the play which I thought was terrific. Not surprisingly, the Culture Campaign opposed that production as well.)

Despite the fact that McKinney said that Shephard's homosexuality motivated him to commit the crime, the Culture Campaign now claims that "it has since been conclusively revealed that Shepard's murder was never about his homosexuality." (emphasis added) And what is the source of this irrefutable proof? The killer changed his story! McKinney now says that drugs and robbery were the only motives. The Culture Campaign is convinced that he lied at trial, but now there apparently can be no doubt that he is telling the truth. Among the law enforcement officers and the community at large, there are differences of opinion about which story is true, but the Campaign finds the current word of the convicted killer (and admitted liar) to be "conclusive."

In addition to blatantly disregarding any rational understanding of the word "conclusive," the Campaign has missed a major point in the play. The very fact that McKinney and his lawyer thought that the "gay panic" defense would buy them some sympathy with the jury was symptomatic of the bigotry and prejudice that somehow makes violence against homosexuals "understandable." They thought that McKinney could exploit the same kind of hatred and intolerance that assured the acquittal of Whites who lynched Blacks in the days of Jim Crow.

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