Stephen Jimenez’s The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard makes a lot of bold claims about Matthew Shepard, whose tragic murder raised awareness about anti-gay hate crimes and led to legislation levying stiffer penalties for crimes committed because of sexual orientation.
Jimenez, who is gay himself, asserts that Matt was a drug dealer and that Aaron McKinney, one of two men found guilty of the 1998 murder, was a gay hustler who had a sexual relationship with Shepard.
After blowback from rights groups and legit journalists questioning his “research,” Jimenez is now also claiming Book of Matt is being covered up because it reveals “politically sensitive” truths.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation already stated the book is “based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law.”
On Media Matters, writer Luke Brinker systematically dismisses these outrageous claims. Highlights include:
The ’hidden truths’ Jimenez claims to uncover are that McKinney and Shepard were regular methamphetamine users deeply implicated in the drug trade, and that, contrary to what McKinney (the principal attacker), Henderson, prosecutors, and Shepard’s friends and family have always said, the two men actually knew each other before the night of the attack.
For an author trying to make the case that homophobia played no role in Shepard’s murder, his killer’s use of crude, anti-gay language would seem to pose a significant problem. Not so, Jimenez assures us. McKinney – who described himself as a “drunk homofobick [sic]” in a letter written from prison – was merely trying to imitate the thug image of the gangsta rappers he admired, according to Jimenez. This explanation is just as implausible as Jimenez’s bizarre speculation that President Bill Clinton spoke out on Shepard’s murder and championed hate crime legislation in order to divert public attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Were’ sure it’ll get tons of play on Fox and right-wing blogs, but Brinker calls Book of Matt “a sub-par work of reportage.”
In the course of his failed effort to upend the public’s understanding of Shepard’s murder, Jimenez pays no heed to the reality of anti-LGBT hate crimes the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) notes that no other minority group is as targeted for hate crimes. However poor the investigative work and unfounded the conclusions, Jimenez’s book gives aid and comfort to those who turn a blind eye to anti-LGBT violence and bigotry.
And that is how you dismiss some nonsense.