Originally the first post was to have the first twelve anti-gay hate crimes listed, but it was so freakin’ long that even I had a hard time going over it (that after I’ve spent all day working on this thing, it’s waaaaay past my bedtime). So I revised it and decided to make smaller posts to make it easier to digest. Here’s the next six claims of Christian-based anti-gay hate crimes and the verdicts–are Christians really responsible?
Les Benscoter–on June 15, 1979, Benscoter was beaten to death in his apartment in Minneapolis by unknown assailants who wrote “fags will die” in toothpaste on his furniture. Again, little is known about the actual crime; it is believed, however, due to the timing of the crime that it may have been a copycat and that no actual bias was involved. This is further proved by the fact that the phrase was written in toothpaste on the furniture, and not in the victim’s blood on the walls. Verdict: HYSTERIA.
Charles Howard–at an unknown date in 1984, three teenagers with prior convictions beat Howard up in Bangor, Maine, supposedly for being “flamboyantly gay.” He was still alive and conscious when they dumped him from the State Street Bridge into the Kenduskeag River; while in the water he had an asthma attack and drowned. None of the teens claimed to commit the crime because of any belief in God, much less Christianity. All were sent to reform school (jail for kids) and released on their 18th birthdays, and have all likely landed right back in prison. Verdict: both TRUTH and HYSTERIA.
Rebecca Wright–on May 13, 1988, Rebecca Wright and partner Claudia Brenner were camping in Michaux State Forest when, while they had sex in a secluded area, Stephen Roy Carr (whom they’d encountered earlier) began shooting at them from 80 yards away, hitting both. Brenner hid Wright and wrapped her own neck wound with a bandana and ran for help; the teens who found her took her directly to the nearest police station despite her pleas to be taken back to her partner. Wright was found dead. Carr claimed that he’d been raped in a Florida prison and was enraged when he saw the two women kissing, and that they were taunting him by having sex in front of him. The judge in the case refused to allow the sexual orientation of the victims to be presented in court, thus refusing to allow the trial to become a circus; the defense team was forced to accept a plea agreement. Carr, who after his stint in prison sometimes lived in a cave, was given life without parole. Brenner later wrote a book about surviving anti-gay sentiment. At no time was Christianity mentioned as a motivation by either the perpetrator or the defense lawyers. While there is little evidence to prove homophobic bias aside from the perp’s own admission, it is still persuasive that he committed the crime while they had sex. Verdict: both TRUTH and HYSTERIA.
Julio Rivera–on July 2, 1990, 29-year-old gay bartender Rivera was walking home when he was accosted by three members of the DMS or “Drugs, Money, Sex” gang–Daniel Doyle, the wannabe from a nice neighborhood, and members Erik Brown and Esat Bici, who were often mistaken for neo-Nazi skinheads even though there were Asians and blacks in their ranks–and beaten and stabbed to death in a nearby park. Rivera had an expensive cocaine habit and was described as remarkably unhappy. The three skinheads decided one night to get as drunk as they could and after doing so “went walking.” They passed Rivera in a schoolyard and decided to “stretch someone out.” They beat him with a claw hammer and stabbed him with a kitchen knife. Doyle later admitted they talked earlier about looking for “a drug dealer, a homo or a homeless man” to beat just to “do something crazy.” Doyle attempted to claim that they’d killed Rivera for being gay, even though later it was discovered that none of the men had any idea who Rivera was or what his orientation was. It was deemed a bias crime by a bias crime review board who had a misconception of what the gang was and who their membership comprised. Also, no mention of Christianity or religious bigotry. Verdict: HYSTERIA.
Matthew Shepard–shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, college student Matthew Shepard went to the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming and met Russell Henderson and James McKinney. Whether Shepard came onto them is a matter of some debate; the two offered him a ride, and once they had him in their vehicle they robbed him of his shoes and $20. They then took him out to the middle of a secluded field outside of town where they savagely beat him, then left him lashed to a split-rail fence to die in the extreme cold. Henderson and McKinney were quickly found, and while their girlfriends at first offered alibis for both of them, the holes in the stories (and the shoes they’d taken from Shepard found in their truck) gave them away and soon everybody was rolling over on everyone else. The girls admitted to helping Henderson and McKinney dispose of their bloody clothes and the weapon and the perps started singing the “gay rage” defense tune, claiming that Shepard had made an open pass at both of them and in their disgust, they beat him. Then, on October 12, Shepard died of his injuries. The “gay rage” defense went to trial, but the jury was unconvinced. Both are currently serving multiple life sentences imposed at the behest of Shepard’s parents. Recently, both have given interviews in which they have claimed that the gay rage argument was a lie, that they only wanted to rob him. However, I find it disingenuous that two lifetime thugs would claim such a thing and, years after it became a political powderkeg, then claim it was a lie. Rarely does a robbery begin with a ride home and end with a severe beating in a field, especially when the perps have gotten nothing more than a pair of shoes and a twenty spot. I do believe that the crime was bias-motivated, at least in part due to the girlfriends’ testimonies that both men had openly planned to rob and beat a gay man to “teach him a lesson” before meeting Shepard. HOWEVER–we find another crime committed with no mention, at any time, of religious bias. Verdict: mostly TRUTH, partially HYSTERIA.
Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder–on July 1, 1999, Matson and Mowder were found shot to death in their platform bed at home in Happy Valley, CA. It was quickly discovered that Matson’s credit card had been used to purchase ammunition and various pieces of weapons and equipment from Scottsdale, AZ, and the address given for delivery was a post office box in Yuba City, CA. The couple’s Toyota Tercel, stolen from the home, was also found in Yuba City. Brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams were found nearby leaving a mall, both with handguns in their posession, both wearing bulletproof vests. Earlier the same year, the brothers had been charged with a string of arsons at three Synagogues and an abortion clinic. Neighbors of the Williams family said they were well-known for their fundamentalist Christian beliefs, their faith so strong that when they moved out of one house the new tenant received mail from militant groups that touted Christianity. After their arrest, Tyler gave at least one false account of what had happened before Matthew set the record straight: they’d committed the crime believing it to be judgement, not murder, because the bible called homosexuality a sin. He said they’d done what other Christians didn’t have the guts to do and that he hoped to be “martyred” for obeying God’s command. Matthew later strung a blanket between his jail bunk and the toilet and jammed his door so that he could not be seen or reached by corrections officers as he slashed his wrists and his throat with a cutting tool he’d made from a razor and a ballpoint pen. Before doing so he’d mailed a letter to their attorney claiming sole responsbility in an attempt to exonerate his brother. Verdict: TRUTH.
Well, there’s one–one lonely little guy on the whole list confirmed as an anti-gay crime committed by people claiming that Christianity told them to do so. With the entire gay community claiming that Christians are responsible for a majority of the anti-gay sentiment and hate crimes, it’s disconcerting even for me to find more verifiable evidence than I expected that reality is being deliberately distorted. We’re not doing ourselves any favors with this crap.
It’s beginning to look more and more as though Christians are merely an easy target for scapegoating. What’s worse is this literally isn’t even half of it–and I’ve already started on the rest. It ain’t much better.