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On Jesse Dirkhising

Yoo-hoo, Mr. Krepel: It has come to my attention that you have scolded the media critics who compared Matthew Shepard's murder to Jesse Dirkhising's murder for losing interest in the contrast during the trial and conviction of Dirkhising killer Joshua Brown. Au contraire, Izquierdo. The day after the conviction, I reprised the contrast on National Review Online. Your update needs an update.

It's important to note the distinction between Shepard and Dirkhising. I do not believe Dirkhising's death should be exploited for political gain. I also do not believe Matthew Shepard's death should have been exploited for political gain. (I also would never compare his death to the whimsical Oklahoma song. I don't get that clumsy comparison at all.) But the media used Shepard's death to push for an entire menu of gay-left lobby items, while Dirkhising's death was only known because conservatives noticed this atypical case was getting the typical cold shoulder.

Sincerely, Tim Graham

PS: A few days later, Brent Bozell also returned to the scene of the double standard.

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Terry Krepel responds:


Thanks for writing.

Would that all conservatives agreed with you on not exploiting the Dirkhising case for political gain. Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine is one dissenter, who writes: "The Dirkhising case shows that sadism and child abuse is an important part of the gay lifestyle. That is the dirty secret homosexuals refuse to publicize." (He offers no proof of this.)

But, at this point, what would be the point of putting Shepard-like exposure to the Dirkhising story except for political gain, i.e. to make homosexuals look bad? I have yet to see an explanation of why, beyond the homosexual angle, the Dirkhising story is equivalent to the Shepard story; the circumstances of the deaths themselves are very different.

You seem to argue it deserves national exposure on sheer luridness alone, where I'll agree that it does have Shepard beat. Brent Bozell tries to claim he doesn't want to "match vicious canard for vicious canard" (odd for a guy who's quite fond of vicious canards), but the whole tone of his article is of being pissed off because the religious right was made to look bad during the Shepard coverage, and his apparent, if not explicitly stated, goal is to avenge that.

You might as well argue that because the JonBenet Ramsey story got much more national exposure than the "Girl X" story in Chicago(in which a girl living in the Cabrini-Green housing project was savagely beaten and force-fed roach killer yet miraculously survived to testify against her attacker) that the media is biased against poor people.

Was Matthew Shepard exploited for political gain? Absolutely. Is that objectionable? Perhaps. But liberals are not the only ones who do this. For example, there's the "She Said Yes" girl, one of the victims at Columbine High who supposedly was asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God, said yes and was killed shortly after. I recently saw an ad for a "She Said Yes" benefit album with music by Christian artists. Is that not exploitation?

But I do agree with the guy from Time: The Shepard case did highlight what I think is an important issue, which you flippantly described as "a nation stained by its intolerance and hatred for homosexuals." Whether or not it was pushed by certain media outlets, violence against homosexuals (not just actual gays, the homophobia often found in schools, where even the perception of being gay can get one beat up) is an issue worthy of debate, as is the conservatives' attitude toward homosexuality. Conservatives, I think, have a hard time articulating that the vast majority of them understand that there is a line between being opposed to homosexuality and legal rights gays seek and urging their "conversion" away from it, and why the use of violence is not a logical extension of this opposition.

But the issue that still intrigues me is why the folks at NewsMax, WorldNetDaily and your old stomping grounds (or so I'm guessing by your NRO byline) at, having played up the Dirkhising story and used it to bash the "liberal media," didn't offer day-by-day coverage of the trial.

Finally, I wanted to point out a couple things on your NRO piece. First, the Associated Press did move daily coverage of the Joshua Brown trial on the national wire. Second, those "200-word local-crime-beat yawners" did indeed describe Brown and Carpenter as gay men pretty much from the beginning. I live in Arkansas and work in the media, so I know this.

Third, your last paragraph quoting a GLAAD official doesn't say who said it, when it was said or in what context it was said. It's a nice column-capper, sure, but it's meaningless without attribution or context. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm interested in that kind of stuff.


Terry Krepel

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Posted 4/9/2001

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