Gay Hate Crimes: Truth or Hysteria, Part II

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.


21 thoughts on “Gay Hate Crimes: Truth or Hysteria, Part II

  1. Very well done Mel!

    As a Christian (Episcopalian) I can tell you a Christian would never murder another human being. Christianity along with other religions teaches the commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill in one form or another.

    If a person kills in the name of God and claims to be a Christian then that person isn’t a Christian. A Chrisitan would not do such a thing.

  2. I can tell you a Christian would never murder another human being murder and kill being two entirely different things.

    Which has NOTHING to do with mel’s fabulous two posts, just an observation I feel compelled to make because I’ve been questioned on being a “warmonger” and “Christian” in a not-nice way before.

  3. I’m a believing Christian, too. That’s one of the reasons why it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck to see comments from people who claim these crimes to be committed at the hands of so-called Christians. AFW is correct, the bible draws a line of distinction between killing as a just punishment or in self-defense and outright murder.

    John, you are correct, too–a true Christian is a person who honestly, faithfully follows the word and the spirit of Christ and would not commit murder. It may not be up to me to judge what God did with Matthew Williams’ soul, but I’m sure we’ve all got a pretty good idea. Even the demons believe…and they tremble.

  4. “murder and kill being two entirely different things.”


    Thanks for catching that. Thou Shalt Not Kill: amazing what one little word can do. If it were Thou Shalt Not Murder, then an different spin on that Commandment would ensue.

  5. “That’s one of the reasons why it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck to see comments from people who claim these crimes to be committed at the hands of so-called Christians. ”

    I agree. Such comments lump all Christians as one and we are not all like that.

  6. John in CA – the correct translation from Hebrew is murder, not kill.

    Of course, someone could argue that “all killing is murder!” if they wanted. I certainly hope they are pro-life, then.

  7. “Of course, someone could argue that “all killing is murder!” if they wanted. ”

    I’ll listen to that argument when such a person calls me on their phone with a gun in their hand and four intruders pulling a home invasion robbery. You bet I’ll listen.

  8. i think you need to check your facts on the julio rivera case or just simply read more about the case which is very well documented … one of the three boys lured julio by pretending to be gay in an area that is a gay pick up strip … the other two were laying in wait

    this is not a case of hysteria, this is a case of ignorance on your part

  9. richard, this is no different than Matthew Shephard.

    The bottom line: don’t be a slut who goes off with anything willing to smile and pull their pants down.

    Whoredom knows no preference.

  10. “The bottom line: don’t be a slut who goes off with anything willing to smile and pull their pants down.

    Whoredom knows no preference.”

    That’s really cruel Steve. The penalty for sleeping around is not murder. The penalty for hooking up with strangers is not death.

    I don’t know the precise details of Julio Rivera’s death. But it would take a lot to convince me he deserved to be murdered or it was his fault. The men who killed him for whatever reasons made that choice. They get the blame for that crime.

    As for Matthew Shepherd, he to did not deserve to die either. The men who killed him chose to do that.

  11. “The bottom line: don’t be a slut who goes off with anything willing to smile and pull their pants down.

    Whoredom knows no preference”

    Way to be a judgmental asswipe. Get cancer and die.

  12. It is not cruel. And it depends also how you read the statement I made.

    MILLIONS of women over the years have had the same things and even worse happened to them for leaving a bar with people they didn’t know.

    If each and every one were documented to the depth Matthew Shephard’s or Julio Rivera’s were, there would be no trees left!

    It’s not a “hate crime against women” and it’s certainly not a “hate crime against gays” – it’s a crime.

    So where is the cruelty in pointing out to a woman that she shouldn’t walk into a bar, get smashed drunk, and take a stranger home. Where’s the judgment in pointing out that you shouldn’t take strangers home if you’re gay or go off into a dark alley with someone you think you’re getting your next fix from? Nothing! If they were perfectly fine, we’d say “Gee that was a bad thing!”

    But because they died, we use the example of pointing out how many people hate others in the world, and then we muddy up the waters by branching out – “ooh they hate them because they’re gay!”

    For someone to leave a bar with someone they do not know for a quickie – subjecting the world to a spread of STD or perhaps another unwanted child that grows up frustrated and that victimizes all in its path – doesn’t indicate love to me, especially love for themselves.

    Don’t ask me to regard people more than they regard themselves. Doing that opens up more room for them to do more damage – real evil – but because our society says “judging evil is worse than doing evil” – here we are sitting on our hands worrying about the most PC way to acknowledge the obvious.

    Straighten up and fly right. You not only reduce risk of harm to yourself, but to the others around you.

  13. Richard, none of what I found on that case suggested that Doyle lured Rivera with the promise of sex. Even if that is the case, not one of the perpetrators involved in the crime ever stated any religious belief as their motive. All three stated that they were looking for trouble; they were trying to find someone, whether they be gay, homeless or drunk, to beat up. My verdict remains. It is hardly ignorance; my point was to decipher whether Christianity was truly at fault for the crimes given to us in a list by a gay man claiming all of them to be hate crimes committed by people claiming God’s influence in their actions. You apparently missed that part.

    John, I do agree with you that the penalty for casual sex should not be murder. You are absolutely right. But, Steve does bring up a good point. (Give it a chance before you get your panties in a wad, Anonymous.) Casual sex may be your thing, but going with any stranger–whether you’re intoxicated or stone-cold sober–for a romp in the sack is a bad idea in this day and age, and some people are too wrapped up in their own desires to think about what the consequences might be. No, one does not deserve to be beaten to death for doing such a thing. However, people would be much safer and likely more healthy if they would be more discerning about who they leave the bars with.

    I have a relative who has lost track of the number of sexual partners she’s had since she was 19. She’s gone with people she’d never met before and woken up in the morning in all kinds of situations. She’s woken up more than once in strange places, with no idea how she got there, at times finding her purse stripped of anything of value. I’ve told her I don’t know how many times that she needs to control herself, but she hasn’t listened yet. I do, in fact, speak from personal experience in watching someone I love destroy themselves with such behavior.

  14. “For someone to leave a bar with someone they do not know for a quickie – subjecting the world to a spread of STD or perhaps another unwanted child that grows up frustrated and that victimizes all in its path – doesn’t indicate love to me, especially love for themselves.”

    Well if everyone who slept around did the above then I would agree. That is not how it is.

    I might be 44, but I was in my 20’s and I’ve been around the block plenty of times. Safer sex practices can minimize the risk of STD’s. Birth control can minimize the risk of unwanted children too. As for the risk of picking up a deadly trick, I liken that risk to the same as driving a car or crossing the street.

    I don’t condone or condemn casual sex. Rather I encourage people to be true to who they are for the right reasons.

    People I have known who sleep around tend to do it for the wrong reasons. What they do is a symptom of deeper troubles.

    I’ve aslo known and know people in long term relationships who like those who sleep around are in it for the wrong reasons.

    Conversly I know people who bed hop for the rights reasons. I know stable couples who are in that for the right reasons too.

    Casual sex and long term relationships are not black or white matters. But being true to who you are is black or white. Either you are true to who you are or you are not.

    I sense Steve and Mel that casual sex is not your groove and I applaud that. That is being true to who you are.

  15. I’ve had casual sex.

    Of course, it’s pointless. People tend to be excited by the new. Then 15 minutes passes and you realize you actually have to talk, sleep next to them, and for God sake – provide breakfast and a shower!

    That’s a personal learning though. The fact is, casual sex promotes the spread of STD’s. I do not care which way it flies…gay or straight.

    I’m a very “old” 35 where the few casual encounters I had were over a decade ago.

    People enjoy sex when they take it more seriously. They enjoy life when they take it more seriously. Taking something for granted like life or sex makes it calculated and boring.

    Taking things more seriously requires a higher awareness for self-regard. There’s always a price to pay for “cheap and fast.” The only problem is you have no idea when the payment will come due nor can we guarantee who’s going to pay it.

    As I said, there would be less murders/rapes/STD’s if more folks would regard themselves a little higher and stop taking blessings for granted.

    One shouldn’t have to keep reminding others that nobody deserves death or slaughter for bad behavior. That’s a given. Of course it’s not acceptable.

    But life is full of cause and effects, somethings are simply inevitable. The fact that these occurences aren’t everyday is a blessing that one person has the ability to change.

  16. In reference to the Les Benscoter murder on June 15, 1979, the crime happened in St. Paul, not Minneapolis. To say that there is little known about this crime only means that you did not researched the murder. You can find much information about this murder in the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press Archives for June and July 1979.

  17. I agree that Christians are probably not directly responsible for these crimes. However they have an indirect link. Ask a priest there views on homosexuality and see their responce. Remember they are given a position of highened respect by their congregations. They stand up and preach against gays as if we were Satan himself. Now how many kids sit in those churches and hear this all their young lives.
    Also while the idiots who killed Mattew might have done it just because their hate dispositions. What about the Church that picited his funeral.
    Christians can say they are not to blame for hate crimes but the simple fact is they are to blame along with governments that thru their laws make gays less than human.

  18. i think the overall point that should be made is that it is no one’s right to decide who dies…he who has no sin, right? if god does exist, and he is the all-knowing and all-powerful that can judge, then let him do it. i guarantee you he doesn’t need help.

    and just to stir the pot, if god is love then wouldn’t he love everyone (love the sinner not the sin)? why do so many misinterpret this? do you think he would send someone to hell because of who they loved? i guess that’s a conversation to have with god if he’s out there. and if that is the case, then maybe he isn’t love.

    all of you parents out there, if you son or daughter came out to you, would you completely disown them? kick them out? shun them? the little baby girl or boy that you raised, that you were blessed with, that only wants to share that they found love, could you honestly look them in the eyes and no longer parent?

    i don’t think god would do it, either. but then again, i think it’s clear i have a different take on god.

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