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Thursday, November 30, 2006
AIM's Double Standard on Killers As Victims
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Nov. 30 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid purports to be outraged that the public defender for Nicholas Gutierrez, a "deranged homosexual man" convicted of murdering "Chicago Catholic and mother of four" Mary Stachowicz in 2002, claimed in her defense that, in the words fo anti-gay activst Peter LaBarbera, whom Kincaid copiously cites in his article, Stachowicz "became enraged to the point of violence over [Gutierrez's] homosexual lifestyle." Kincaid quoted LaBarbera calling this "ugly anti-Christian bigotry -- the legal equivalent of spitting on Mary's grave." Kincaid added that Stachowicz "is not politically correct. So she will not be portrayed sympathetically. Indeed, her killer, an admitted and active homosexual, may get the media's sympathetic ear."

But Kincaid -- nor, to our knowledge, LaBarbera -- raised any similar objections when one of the men who killed Matthew Shepard tried a similar blame-the-victim defense. In fact, in a Dec. 8, 1998, column, Kincaid and Reed Irvine were eager to endorse it. The column noted that "Newsweek magazine reports that Shepard had apparently tried to pick up another man in another setting"; rather than condeming it, as Kincaid did with Guiterrez's defense, he and Irvine linked it to Shepard's purported desire to "go after sex in public or semi-public settings" and used it as an example of why gays should not be protected under hate-crimes laws:

This is disgusting behavior and no one really wants to talk about it. But an understanding of this subculture is necessary when considering passing hate crime laws to protect homosexuals.

A Nov. 2, 1998, column by Kincaid and Irvine similiarly noted that "Some reports indicated [Shepard] was attacked after cruising for sex," but didn't condemn it as a defense.

When one of Shepard's killers, Russell Henderson, went on ABC in 2004 to claim that Shepard was killed as part of a robbery and not because he was gay, Kincaid was all too accepting of Henderson's story and used a Dec. 22, 2004, column to suggest that Shepard deserved to die, calling him "a heavy drug user who was HIV-positive." In recounting Henderson's "gay panic" defense, Kincaid not only doesn't criticize Henderson for using it and, he blames political correctness for Henderson's resorting to it in the first place:

The gay rights movement wanted to depict Shepard as an innocent victim of a homophobic society.  This played into their demands for legislation to curb so-called "hate crimes."  One of the perpetrators used that to his advantage, arguing when he went on trial that he went into a panic when Shepard tried to proposition him at a bar. His girlfriend made the same claim in the media, including on "20/20." But now they say it was all a ruse, designed to get him a reduced sentence by suggesting that he wasn't in control of his faculties when the murder occurred.

As we've previously detailed, Henderson has a history of giving "multiple, conflicting accounts of what happened" the night Sheppard died. Apparently, as far as Kincaid is concerned, a convicted felon is more trustworthy than a gay person.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:57 PM EST

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