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Thursday, March 4, 2010

20/20's exposé on the Shepard killing online: blech

If you'd like to get a taste of what that 20/20 piece mentioned in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later actually said, ABC has graciously left the website for the program up so you can read for yourself right here.  I haven't checked this against my transcript of the actual news program yet, but it makes the same argument.  Since this program aired,  Bill O'Reilley has repeated it, Newsbusters has promulgated it, WBC has run with it, congress people have referred to it, and many Laramie people feel this is the true version of events.  Feel free to see what you think.

Not to prevent you all from thinking for yourselves on this one, but I obviously think it's all pretty terrible; the reporting is awful, I'm not sure I trust their motives, and they're a little too willing to take McKinney and Henderson's story as truth (which has changed since the report, I might add).  There are, however, a few important points brought up nonetheless.  Shepard wasn't an angel; he was a kid battling his own personal demons, something his mother's been pretty open about.  The police did focus on robbery as a motive for a little bit.  And McKinney and Henderson really were that lousy of human beings.   Those facts, however, don't change a damn thing about the reality of how or why those two men thought that bludgeoning an openly gay kid for his shoes was a good idea. 

Oh, and I also found a very, very interesting academic article on the 20/20 program as well.  If you have access to JSTOR you can download it:

Charles, Casey.  "Panic in the Project: Critical Queer Studies and the Matthew Shepard Murder."  Law and Literature 18.2 (2006): 225-252. 

It's heavily over-theorized and a LOT of fun.  Check it out!

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