I know there are various negative opinions about Mathew Shepherd and most are based on speculation and the associated conjecture. Even if all of the gossips are to be believed and he was all of the dirty things I refuse to repeat , the kid was killed for one reason - because he was different in a place where different can still get you killed.
The people who propose the repeal of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act use quips like " isn't every crime a hate crime " and other sarcastic remarks to convince everyday folks that the act is a joke . Then there are the hypocritical Bible-beaters like Fred Phelps who celebrate hate crimes . But the largest group of people are people who think that it won't affect anyone they know. Now that's where they are wrong.
This guy was a friend of mine many years ago . His name is Shawn Keegan , but everybody called him Junior . He was a friendly little guy about 5'6" and pretty innocent-looking . He was homeless for a time and used to crash on my couch but he was no freeloader , just a previously lost kid who was getting his life in order . That is until May 21st , 1996 - the day prior to my 20th birthday.
It was just after midnight when he was picked up by Marcello Palma , but instead of a sexy time , Junior got a bullet to the head . The same asshole stalked and shot dead 2 other folks that night. The guy was under mental health treatment but somehow was still allowed to own the .357 magnum used in the murders as well as a huge cache of rifles and handguns . And then Palma ran like the coward he is.
When he was caught , he had the privilege of hiring superstar lawyer Eddie Greenspan to claim him to be mentally incompetent (He was directed to kill "scum" by G-d) and fight for his life . Brenda , Shawn's mother , loudly fought for justice for three young people who Palma thought he had silenced. Because of the hate crime enhancement all three charges were upped to First-Degree murder (25 years to life , parole not probable) instead of second (10 years to life , parole probable) , and on April 20 , 2001 Marcello Palma was convicted of all counts. The poor excuse for a man who took my friend away will never see life outside of a prison.
Unfortunately the scumbag has become something of a "celebrity" with a following of right-wing religious nuts and that is abhorrent to me . If any "good" can come from this it will be people seeing that this can happen to anyone's friend or family member and continue giving a voice to an exhuberant man who was taken just as his life was beginning.
About 6 months after this my friend Rahim (I don't have even a grainy photo but I drew a lot of "Flying Furball" cartoons of him over the years I knew him) was tortured and killed by the mother of his boyfriend . He was injected over a period of 3 days with opiates and G-d knows what else and had actually escaped once before he was thrown from the balcony of his 21st-story apartment. Rahim was 18 but had lived on his own for at least a couple of years and was doing quite well until he met the family from hell . Rahim's family (that had previously disowned him) had him quickly buried under the guise of religion but in reality just wanted to bury the "shame" and nobody was ever convicted .
Both of these awesome dudes left the earth before I could introduce you to them . These were people who were killed by people so filled with self-hatred that they unleashed it on people who had done nothing wrong except be themselves .
People like James Dobson and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint want hate crime laws to be repealed, but that's not all. Repealing hate crime legislation is actually on the Republican Party's official platforms for several states, most notably Texas. It's up to us to see that no bias crime goes unpunished.