Shameless, Brainless, Heartless, Factless, Full of Absolute Shit

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina): The, uh, hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard Bill is named after, uhn, uh, a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know, uh, that that young man was killed in the, uh, in the commitment [sic] of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This—the bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it, it's, it's really a hoax!

Text: FALSE. Fact: "According to local police and prosecutors, the two men lured Mr. Shepard out of a bar by saying they were gay. Then, the Laramie police say, the pair kidnapped Mr. Shepard, pistol-whipped him with a .357 Magnum, and left him tied to a ranch fence for 18 hours until a passing bicyclist spotted Mr. Shepard, who was unconscious."—The New York Times, 10/12/98
More here.

Just to be clear, although Rep. Foxx may well be dumber than a box of rocks (with my apologies to rocks), what she is doing here is itself not the result of stupidity, though it is appallingly coarse: It is a deliberate strategy, an attempt to play into the ubiquitous conservative talking point you hear in opposition to hate crimes legislation that giving specific consideration to crimes committed against people on the basis of some specific part of their identity amounts to "special rights" and some kind of preferential treatment.

This is, of course, bullshit: The prosecution of hate crimes requires special consideration because when someone is targeted for hir race, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, it has the potential to affect everyone who shares that identity in hir community, state, across the entire nation. Period.

The accusation that supporters of hate crimes legislation are "exaggerating" the circumstances of Matthew Shepard's death to justify the policy is part of a shamefully cynical effort to undermine that rationale.

In case you'd like to call one of Rep. Foxx's offices and politely let her know she's got her facts wrong and politely request that she not perpetrate lies about Matthew Shepard and the much-needed Hate Crimes Bill, you can call her Washington office at 202-225-2071 or her North Carolina offices toll-free at 1-866-677-8968. You can also contact the National Republican Congressional Committee at 202-479-7000 and politely let them know you disapprove of Republican House members disparaging victims of hate crimes and telling demonstrable lies on the House floor.

[H/T to Bill.]

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