Pop Culture Exploits Matthew Shepard Tragedy to Create ‘Thought Crimes’

“Quick: when I say ‘Matthew Shepard,’ what do you think? A man killed because he was gay? Or just some poor sap in the wrong place at the wrong time? More on that in a minute. Hate crime legislation aimed at making it a federal crime to assault someone for being a homosexual passed the House last week, and could be on its way to becoming law. It sounds great, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t be against a law that would prosecute someone for targeting another person based on bigotry and bias? What could be wrong with this scenario? Plenty. I’m all for prosecuting criminals for their acts, especially violent criminals. I’m pro-death penalty, if truth be told. I figure that if you deliberately take someone else’s life, you should pay by forfeiting yours. Not very PC of me, but there you have it. However, it bothers me that individuals may soon be prosecuted for not just the crime, but the ‘behind the scenes’ thoughts that may have contributed to that crime. … When we begin to prosecute for the thoughts behind the crime, we open a very wiggly can of worms that can’t be shut again. … Thanks to the pop culture myth that helped perpetrate the false reason for Matthew Shepard’s senseless death, we could now all be facing regulations that resemble ‘1984’ more than they do ‘Land of the Free.’ Is this really the direction in which we want to head?” –columnist Pam Meister

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