The Truth About Matthew Shepard

By: George Noga – January 17, 2014
      Like me, you probably accepted the media version of Matthew Shepard’s murder; there was, after all, nothing to contradict it. As reported by the media, on October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old University of Wyoming student, left a Laramie bar late one night with two men, was brutally beaten and crucified to a fence post where he was left to die – although he clung to life for 6 more days.  He was murdered solely because he was gay in what universally has been touted as the hate crime of the century.
      Shepard’s vicious murder became a bedrock of liberal-progressive shibboleths about the hate permeating middle America. During the 15 years following Matt’s murder, liberal and gay rights organizations have orchestrated the activities listed below; they continue to this day with unabated intensity and undoubtedly will persist ad infinitum – whether or not they are true.
  1. Even before Matt died, national gay rights groups trumpeted Matt’s story as one of extreme homophobic cruelty and violence; they condemned Laramie, and by extension all of middle America, as a crucible of intolerance. The national media uncritically bought in and made the case a cause celebre. Matt was portrayed as an innocent martyr.
  2. At least four TV movies have been made – each one increasingly mawkish.
  3. The Shepard saga has spawned a panoply of art, poetry, publications, studies, museum exhibits, merchandise and dramatizations – which continue 15 years after his murder.
  4. Matt’s mother founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which sells goods including a hoodie emblazoned with “Erase Hate”. She travels widely and gives 50 speeches a year.
  5. The most successful commercial exploitation of Matt is The Laramie Project, a play staged thousands of times; it is among the 10 most ever performed plays in high schools. It  depicts life in middle America as ugly, violent, intolerant and hopelessly psychotic.
  6. Schools throughout the land use “Laramie” study guides that direct classroom discussion about homophobia, our culture of violence and rampant injustice in fly-over America.
    There is one thing wrong with the previously accepted facts of the Matt Shepard murder saga: they all are lies; none of them is true. What really happened was a murder resulting from a drug (methamphetamine) deal gone sour. To top it off, one of Matt’s murderers, Aaron McKinney, was also gay and likely had a prior sexual relationship with Matt Shepard. Also, the crucifixion to a fence post never happened. This bears repeating in a bigger font.
“Matt Shepard was murdered by his gay lover in a drug deal gone bad. Everything you ever thought you knew about Matt Shepard is a lie.” 
     The real facts have come to light only recently, primarily in a book published in October 2013 entitled “The Book of Matt“. Its author, Stephen Jimenez, is both progressive and gay. To his credit, he ended up writing a book far different than the one he originally intended by following facts wherever they led him. Jiminez studied Shepard’s murder for 13 years, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and scoured thousands of pages of public records. His book has been critically acclaimed even by gay groups and favorably reviewed by the Advocate.

The Real Lesson From Matt Shepard’s Murder

     The abject fecklessness of the media in the Shepard case is hard to fathom – even by someone who believes they are slime. It’s not just that they blindly accepted “facts” provided by biased sources advancing a point of view. Most disturbing of all is that Matt’s saga exposed their universally and deeply held belief that the monstrous brutality of Matt Shepard’s murder occurred solely because he was gay; moreover, such events were de rigueur in small town middle America. After all, these rubes all are gun-toting, homicidal, psychotic homophobes.
“The visceral contempt and hatred liberals, progressives and
the media have for America is the real hate crime of the century.”
      I also am disappointed with myself for having accepted the “official” media version of Matt’s death. At the time it happened and as the years have passed, I could not reconcile the ersatz facts of the Shepard case with my view of America. In the America I know and love, the events as originally reported could not have happened. I was right; they did not happen.
      The visceral contempt and hatred liberals, progressives and the media have for America, on full display for all to see in the Matt Shepard case, is the real hate crime of the century.