vale matthew shepard

Since the atrocious death & crucifixion on a barbed wire fence in October 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming, of 21 year old Matthew Shepard, his family had to endure the disgusting protest by the Westboro Baptist church at the funeral. Recently, of course, Fred Phelps, head of that spuriously religious group has himself died & doubtless been made aware of his inadequacy as a human being & as a putative community leader, in an intermediate realm where one’s karma is evaluated.

But the Shephard family have had to endure another, more recent atrocity, the publication of a book that sets out the scenario of Shepard having been the secret lover of one of his killers, and the murder being the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Shepard family say that there is not a shred of evidence supporting the theory. Indeed, it feels like a moment early in a Poirot episode where one of his helpers arrives at an absurd conclusion, at which point Poirot laughs at them and exhorts them to “use the little gray cells”.

That, however, is to assume that the writer had no malicious intent in mind, that his literary effort was a by-product of mental laziness. I’m aware of the efforts made in US society to protect so-called “freedom of speech”. Unfortunately, the people who have something seriously interesting to say, think first & only articulate their ideas reluctantly. I’m not sure if you can libel the dead, or whether their family can take action for defamation; I’m not sufficiently bored right now to research the legal niceties of several countries, including my own. I do know that an Australian author, if s/he sets out to write about real people, will reassure the reader that the scenario is fiction. Otherwise, a work that undertakes to be forensic is written with a lot more care.

I continue to be amazed at the ferocious malice expressed by US right-wing people about the GLBTIQ communities. I’m not sure if it was Freud or Jung who said that when someone expresses such strong feelings about another, they are wearing a cathartic mask in order to project their own self doubt, self hatred & insecurity onto ” the other”. I am sorry that they have not sought help earlier.

I read FB posts about how Australians find it hard to learn other languages; it is “the other” that the mainstream Australian cannot accomodate, be it woman, gay, indigenous or ethnic. I try, whenever situations inspire strong emotions, to find the nuances that discourage me from ascribing a category like “pure evil” to human behaviour.

We could look at the battleground incidents in the Middle East, instead we are already lining up patriotically.

Meanwhile, religion offers a safe haven for righteous hatred & indignation. I think it was divine (or rather diabolic) inspiration that coined the phrase “god told me to hate you”. All it takes now, with WW3 impending, is for the pastors to step forward & bless the nukes, the armaments filled with depleted nuclear material; what a clever way to kill innocent people invisibly & for centuries to come, without invoking the mushroom cloud.

Ok, I’ve strayed off message. But the un-self-examined hatred of heteros for GLBTIQ communities surpasses understanding. We, the second class citizens, the recipients of such queasy reactions, turn the other cheek or express indignation that is interpreted as unprovoked hatred. Give me strength.



About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
This entry was posted in gay panic defense, gay/lesbian, Matthew Shephard and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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