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Rep. Virginia Foxx retracts word 'hoax' in Matthew Shepard murder

Here's what Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said on the floor of the House of Representatives this week about Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming gay man brutally murdered in 1998:

Matthew Shepard who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998

"We know that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate-crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

See her House floor video below, courtesy of C-SPAN.

Foxx, who's not related to the TV network, is a 65-year-old former state senator in her third term in Washington. She was speaking against an expansion of hate-crimes legislation.

Foxx now says that although she said those words, her words did not convey what she really meant to say. What she really meant to say, which she is now saying but didn't say in the first place, is:

"The term 'hoax' was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate-crimes bill. Mr. Shepard's death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received."

The beating and killing of the 22-year-old University of Wyoming student, allegedly for his openly gay lifestyle, quickly became a national rallying point for gays and lesbians. Now, Foxx's uninformed comments have done the same again.

Two men were found guilty of the slaying, in which Shepard was beaten and left to die, strung up on a range fence outside of town. They are serving life sentences. But the court never ruled on the motive -- robbery, drugs or anti-gay hatred.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (5)

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Apparently bearing false witness is a Republican pastime. From evolution to the hate murder of this young man, bearing false witness against your neighbor and reason is alright for the Republican right. Wait, that's redundant isn't it, the Republican right. To be Republican is to be a right winger.

Is Justice No Longer Blind?

Rape, murder, robbery, assault, battery etc. are all crimes, why should anyone have special punishments piled on if their motives are racial? There are laws on the books to take care of crime.
Are you telling me that a non white person, who hates white people and rapes, robs, murders them specifically, will now be charged with more time because he is a racist commiting a hate crime? Seriously? Will it ever work that way?
This is purely a divisive tool to make people feel good about doing something on the issue of racism. Can you imagine a Jury having to prosecute a hate crime based on the language used during the crime, by the criminals background of victims, by hearsay evidence from people who knew the criminal. Is that really the path we want to go down?
I don’t care about the motivation for crime, just prosecute the crime. After all isn't Lady justice blind?

Poor choice of words, but I believe she is correct. The motive was robbery, not because he was gay. At least according to the perpetrators.
It wouldn't be the first time major shifts were made to US law based on the wants of political activists as opposed to legal necessity.
President Bush was harshly criticized for not passing "hate crime" legislation after the dragging murder of a black man. The sentences for the criminals under the law that was current at the time ranged from "death" to "life in prison". Recent history has shown many cases like this where legislation was pushed through in a "crisis" to placate voting blocks that demand it, with little regard to whether the law is needed or would do any substantial good.

Troll Vaccine - Note that in no part of this post did I defend the Republican, I am just pointing out facts.

So is the death of James Byrd not a racially motivated killing? If that is what people are claiming that this is not a racially motivated hate killing then I really don't know what is...

yes the motive was robbery but when the perpetrators tried to say it was self defense when they accused matthew of grabbing him in a way he was threaten. Now do you think it was just because of robbery? I do not think soon as the man said that it changed the whole story from robbery to a gay bashing!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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