Hate Crimes and a Tale of Two “Shephards”
by Peter J. Smith
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, December 21, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Both Matthew Shephard and Jason Shephard are alleged to have been victims of hate crimes. Both are alleged to have been targeted by their respective assailants over their sexual orientation. But unlike the former Shephard, Jason Shephard was murdered for his heterosexuality by a homosexual assailant, and one pro-family group wants to know whether the new federal hate crimes law would be applied in both cases.
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania argues that heterosexuals targeted by homosexuals over their sexual orientation should receive the same charges as heterosexuals targeting homosexuals. The new federal hate crimes law, "Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act," applies special federal protections for victims of crimes who are targeted by their assailants over their "actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.'
Homosexual activists fought for passage of the bill, which Congress passed as an amendment to a must-pass defense bill and President Obama signed in October.
But what about heterosexuals targeted by homosexuals over their sexual orientation? The AFA of Pennsylvania says that if the law were taken at face value, then homosexuals should also face prosecution for brutally assailing victims targeted for their heterosexuality. However these names get little recognition, especially in the national media.
Unlike Matthew Shephard - whose attackers confessed to brutally murdering over drugs and not his sexual orientation - Jason Shephard of Philadelphia was strangled to death in 2006 by William Smithson, 44, for resisting his homosexual advances and rape. Smithson worked at the firm where Shephard was interning, and premeditated the sexual assault on Shephard, slipping a date-rape drug into Shephard's drink during a dinner. To cover-up the crime, Smithson personally filed a missing person's report, and even introduced himself to Shephard's family, before police finally caught him red-handed trying to dispose of the decomposing corpse.
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld Smithson's first-degree murder conviction and life sentence.
And unlike Matthew Shephard, the murder of the heterosexual Jason Shephard by a homosexual has little recognition beyond Pennsylvania and no major legislation or public initiatives invoking the tragedy of his death. The young man who described himself as "a kid from Cavalier going to see what the world had to offer" has a simple Facebook page dedicated to his memory for the sake of those who knew him.
"Who in America recognizes their names or now the name of Amanda Collette?" asked Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of PA, demanding to know whether the cases of heterosexual victims would also get the same special protections accorded to homosexuals targeted for sexual orientation under the hate crimes law.
Collete, a fifteen-year old student at a Miami high school, was murdered by a sixteen-year old lesbian classmate for rebuffing her homosexual advances. The Miami Herald reported that Teah Wimberly, 16, confessed to police that she shot Collete in November 2008 "so she would feel pain too."
In Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Joshua Brown and David Carpenter tied up 13-year old Jesse Dirkhising and sodomized him to death. WorldNetDaily reports that Dirkhising died in his own vomit while Brown and Carpenter took a lunch break from their savage sexual assault.
Nicholas Gutierrez of Chicago raped, battered, stabbed and strangled Mary Stachowicz, 51, before stashing her body under the floorboards of his apartment, for the simple reason that Stachowicz had asked him to leave his homosexual lifestyle.
For Gramley, those brutal cases - no less brutal than Matthew Shephard's murder - seem well-qualified for hate crimes charges. But as AFA of PA points out, only homosexuals as "hate crimes" victims need apply for national attention: Matthew Shephard's murder generated over 3,000 stories in the month after his death, while only forty stories developed in the month after Dirkhising's brutal rape and murder.
"Just the fact that the hate crime bill signed by the President in October is named after homosexual Matthew Shepherd reveals the true intent of its advocates - give special protections to homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender individuals," commented Gramley. "I predict the murders of heterosexuals by homosexuals will continue to be ignored."
Many pro-family groups suspected that the Matthew Shephard Act was intended to make homosexuals and transgenders a protected class under federal law. But other serious concerns remained.
Opponents of the hate crimes legislation in general have charged that the law violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution by making an individual's thought as much a factor as the nature of his act in prosecuting a crime.
The US Commissioners on Civil Rights wrote letters to US House and Senate leaders condemning the legislation, saying they "regard the broad federalization of crime as a menace to civil liberties." The commissioners also pointed out that the law creates a legal loophole to the Constitution's prohibitions to double jeopardy, because it allows the federal government to try an individual for a second time, who has already been acquitted in a state trial, for the same crime.