Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Rush Limbaugh Demeans Matthew Shepard’s Hate Crime Murder

Attempts to demean Matthew Shepard and his murder are a Right Wing fetish.

Attempts to demean Matthew Shepard and his murder are a Right Wing fetish.

Palm Beach County, Florida  –  Conservative radio bombast Rush Limbaugh attempted to undercut the powerful anti-gay hate crime narrative of the murder of Matthew Shepard during a broadcast on Monday, February 24, from his top secret studio in Florida.  In the show, entitled “When did the ‘hate crime’ concept begin?”, Limbaugh launched a diatribe against Jason Collins’s decision to wear Number 98 on his basketball jersey in memory of Matthew Shepard who died because of anti-LGBT bias in 1998.  Collins, the first openly gay person to play on an NBA court this past Sunday for the Brooklyn Nets, came out back in April 2013 to both accolades and brickbats.

According to the broadcast transcript, Limbaugh attempted to win sympathy and outrage from his Dittohead audience for being the “original” target of hate crime language back in 1998. He had one major problem, however–the internationally embraced story of Matthew Shepard’s hate crime murder for being gay by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney in October 1998.  So, Limbaugh proceeded to undermine the hate crime dimension of the Shepard murder that gripped the nation and the world and galvanized the human rights movement, eventually leading to the passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act  in 2009.  Limbaugh said to his audience:

“[Jason Collins is] the first openly gay player to actually play in a professional sports game.  It happened last night, the Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers.  This is the Nets play-by-play announcer Ryan Ruocco, as Jason Collins — who, by the way, took the number 98 in solidarity with Matthew Shepard, who it’s now been proven didn’t happen, but was reputed to have been beaten up by a bunch of anti-gay bigots.”  In the transcript, Limbaugh provided readers with a hotlink to a book by right wing darling Stephen Jimenez purportedly “disproving” the anti-gay hate crime aspect of the Shepard case.

As Unfinished Lives reported last year at the publication of Jimenez’s book, these rather tired arguments are part of the continuing scheme to erode all anti-gay hate crimes narratives by attacking the archetypal Shepard story. Some of Jimenez’s own major sources have decried and disavowed his use of their names in his book of allegations, among them Henderson’s defense attorney who said that none of the “evidence” Jimenez advances was admissible in court when he was defending his client, and it is without merit now.  The Matthew Shepard Foundation, where Matt’s memory is making a difference by saving lives throughout the world, issued a strong rebuttal to this problematic book Limbaugh takes as gospel.  In the New York Daily News, the Shepard Foundation statement reads, in part:  “Attempts now to rewrite the story of this hate crime appear to be based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law.”  

rush-limbaugh-260x300The extremist Right Wing, epitomized by Limbaugh, famously called “Comedian Rush Limbaugh” by Keith Olbermann on Countdownhas made a virtual cottage industry out of demeaning the lives and deaths of LGBT people for over 16 years.  Their agenda is running out of gas.  This latest attempt also fails to obscure the ugly truth that Matthew Shepard and over 14,000 other American queer folk have been murdered for their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity and expression since 1980.

The Shepard murder captured the world’s sympathy, outrage, and imagination as no other anti-gay hate crime murder story had done before.  As Gay Star News reports in its story on the Limbaugh allegations:  “Shepard, a 21 year old college student, died after being tortured in a hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson each received two consecutive life sentences for his murder. The prosecutor in the case alleged that McKinney and Henderson pretended to be gay in order to gain Shepard’s trust so they could later rob him. McKinney originally pleaded the gay panic defense, arguing that he and Henderson were driven to temporary insanity by alleged sexual advances by Shepard. After meeting Shepard at a bar, the pair took him to a remote area outside of Laramie. Once there they robbed him, beat him severely, and tied him to a fence with a rope from McKinney’s truck while Shepard pleaded for his life.”

As Dr. Stephen Sprinkle explains in his award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011):  “The public outcry at [Matthew Shepard’s] cold-blooded killing meant the hate crime that cut his young life short became the holotype in the American psyche for all instances of oppression against people in the sexual minority.   It also sent a chill into the bones of the religio-political Right Wing.  Power to enact protection statutes for LGBT people coalesced around Matt’s death so swiftly that the Wingers feared anti-LGBT hate crime legislation might actually become law.   Their strategy was to kill the story, or failing that, change the narrative.   Cut the power of moral outrage out from under Matt’s murder, they reasoned, and they would blunt the mounting public sentiment for an end to anti-LGBT oppression.”   

None of Comedian Rush Limbaugh’s or Stephen Jimenez’s allegations concerning Matthew Shepard’s murder hold water.  It seems the extremist Right Wing is all out of ideas.

February 25, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay bashing, gay men, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Jason Collins, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, National Basketball Association (NBA), New York, Rush Limbaugh, Social Justice Advocacy, Stephen Jimenez, Torture and Mutilation, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rush Limbaugh Demeans Matthew Shepard’s Hate Crime Murder

Bigot Watch: Rush Limbaugh on ‘Gay Gene,’ Abortion and Gay Babies

How many groups does this screed by Rush Limbaugh injure and offend?  Limbaugh pontificated in 2003 on how the hypothetical discovery of a “gay gene” would cancel LGBTQ support for women’s right to choose.  On the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Limbaugh launched this broadside (see Joe Kovacs, World Net Daily.com:

    “Imagine we identify the gene – assuming that there is one, this is hypothetical – that will tell us prior to birth that a baby is going to be gay. Just like a baby is gonna be redheaded and freckled and maybe tend to be overweight and so we tell the parents that, and the parents say “Nope, don’t wanna give birth to that child, [it’s] not gonna have a fair chance. Who wants to give birth to an overweight, freckle-faced redhead?” Bam. So we abort the kid.“Well, you add to this, let’s say we discover the gene that says the kid’s gonna be gay. How many parents, if they knew before the kid was gonna be born, [that he] was gonna be gay, they would take the pregnancy to term? Well, you don’t know but let’s say half of them said, “Oh, no, I don’t wanna do that to a kid.” [Then the] gay community finds out about this. The gay community would do the fastest 180 and become pro-life faster than anybody you’ve ever seen. … They’d be so against abortion if it was discovered that you could abort what you knew were gonna be gay babies.”

Limbaugh climbed up the ladder of notoriety on the backs of African Americans, women, and gay people.  As L.A. Progressive documents, “The Lyin’ King” compared White House staffers to pedophiles, feminists to “lesbian spearchuckers,” and in this choice quote from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he draws a bead directly on LGBTQ people:  “When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.” In June 2010, Limbaugh made news by securing gay entertainer, Elton John, to perform at his fourth wedding, leading some to suggest that the conservative icon had become ‘gay friendly.’  Hardly.  He was a dangerous demagogue before sealing the deal with Elton John, and he remains one after.  The only thing that is put in doubt by the ‘wedding singer’ incident is the quality of Mr. John’s judgment.  Rush Limbaugh sets the tone for his legion of Dittoheads and for conservative opposition to all things LGBTQ.  The cynicism of his scenario on gay genetics, women’s right to choose, and gay babies is boundless, in our opinion.  Women have been and remain the chief allies of the LGBTQ community in the struggle for equal rights in the United States.  Lesbian scholar Suzanne Pharr got it exactly right when she wrote that “homophobia is a weapon of sexism.”  Limbaugh may love women enough to marry four of them in a row, but he advocates the second-class status of the gender he claims to love “till death do us part.”  When rhetoric dehumanizes people, robbing them of the dignity of their full personhood as Limbaugh routinely does to gay people, his is culpable for setting the conditions for hate crimes against the very gay babies he demagogues about on the radio.  When LGBTQ people grow up, face discrimination and irrational hatred, Rush simply washes his hands of any violence done them.  And, in the case of the gay baby scenario he set forth, we must ask the nagging question he left unanswered: “If a test were devised to ID a baby as LGBTQ before birth, Rush, how quickly would you and your supporters flip and become advocates of abortion?”   ~ The Unfinished Lives Team

July 4, 2010 Posted by | abortion, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Elton John, gay gene, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, Media Issues, Politics, Popular Culture, Racism, Roe v Wade, Rush Limbaugh, Slurs and epithets, Special Comments, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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