Gary Bauer Perpetuates Conspiracy Theory about Matthew Shepard**Update**
College Jay has an excellent dissection of Gary Bauer's email in a guest post over at Ex-Gay Watch and at his own blog. This is definitely worth the read and really gets to the heart of my utter frustration with the far right on so many levels.
In his "End of Day" message yesterday, Gary Bauer, of The Campaign for Working Families, addressed the upcoming vote on hate crimes legislation (linked through Randy Thomas' blog because the "End of Day" email is for members only). Gary and Randy both lovingly refer to the legislation as "thought crimes legislation" even though they have yet to show how the thought behind or motivation for the crime, independent of the violence, has been restricted.
Unfortunately, Gary Bauer uses his email to perpetuate a conspiracy theory of the Matthew Shepard murder that claims the crime was not committed because Shepard was gay, but rather as a result of a robbery gone bad.
Gary's Words (emphasis mine):
Unfortunately for Bauer, the court records show numerous times that Matthew's killers beat and and murdered the college student because he was gay, despite later claims and changed stories of one the murderer's girlfriends (under oath the woman testified that the two were specifically looking for a gay man, and their initial defense was "gay panic"). I'd like to see Gary Bauer explain why a "drug-related" robbery would lead to a man being tied to a barbed-wire fence after being beaten to the point of torture. How sad that someone could stoop to such a level and ignore the facts of a case and follow a hollow conspiracy theory simply to make a political point.
A companion bill in the Senate was recently introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who chose to name his bill after Matthew Shepherd, a college student killed in Laramie, Wyoming nearly ten years ago.
Kennedy’s bill would have done absolutely nothing to save Matthew Shepherd’s (sic--really, didn't even get the name right?) life, which was tragically taken in a drug-related robbery. But Kennedy and other liberal Democrats believe that because Shepherd (sic) was a homosexual, his life is more valuable than the lives of others.
I'll let other bloggers hopefully address the other fallacies in Bauer's argument, including how the claim that hate crimes laws restrict religious liberties is bogus at its core. For now, let's just say that as long as you aren't specifically telling someone to go out and harm a gay person, your religious liberties are perfectly fine.