Years later, ABC News and the folks from 20/20 are re-visiting the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. After all this time, we learn, from the killers, that it wasn't a hate crime after all. Our bad. Fuck the Laramie Project. It was all just a big misunderstanding. That new Vargas lady is NO Barbara Walters. Pam Spaulding, a blogger on Atrios, had a great piece on the story:
Vargas interviews several people that say McKinney was bisexual, wasn't homophobic and knew Shepard long before that night. McKinney denies having sex with men, or ever having met Shepard prior to the night he killed him. A great deal of time is spent with a specialist describing violence and meth addiction, but not one minute is spent talking to anyone about McKinney's obvious internal conflicts about his sexuality.Also, many of these interviewees that support the theory that McKinney is bisexual have some serious credibility problems of their own -- like having lied or not come forward with information at the time of the murder. After the piece you are left with more questions than answers, but it is clear from the outset that the goal is to "prove" it was not a hate crime, no matter how much of the other information equally muddies the waters.And, we had Andrew Sullivan, ostensibly as the "official gay voice" of the piece. He didn't add anything substantial, but it was a sorry sight to see him add legitimacy to this carefully edited slam piece. It did the job it intended to do, which was to say "this is not a hate crime" (no matter how many other issues this retelling raises).Vargas also speculates that Shepard might have been HIV+, depressed and on drugs -- subliminally making it easier for some in the audience to justify that he was already going to die and that this was some kind of mercy killing. Before you think that's preposterous, think again. My brother's girlfriend, a professor at a university in Texas, had to dealwith a devoutly religious student that wrote in a paper after viewing "TheLaramie Project," that she truly believed that Shepard was a wretched and depraved human being and that what happened to him was a merciful act of God.There are more like her out there and stories like this just fuel the growing fundamentalist intolerance. It also shows the increasingly sensationalistic and intellectually bankrupt "mainstream journalism" at work.