Jeremy Bishop

Rep. Virginia Foxx Says Matthew Shepard Wasn't a Victim Of Hate Violence

Filed By Jeremy Bishop | April 29, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: hate crimes legislation, Matthew Shepard, russell henderson, Virginia Foxx, Wyoming

From our tremendous friends over at Media Matters:

Summary: On April 29, 2009, in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Virginia Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard's death was merely the result of a robbery gone bad. While his killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson did rob him, they also admitted that they were well aware of his sexual orientation and pretended they were gay to lure him away from the bar he was in at the time. The most striking feature of the case, of course, is that during the course of a normal, simple robbery, the victim is not generally beaten, tied to a post, and left for dead.

You can watch the video of her disgusting statements after the fold.

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christophe | April 29, 2009 6:00 PM

How did this bigot ever get elected? Why is it so damn hard for these people to recognize hatred when it stares them in the face. It is extremely disturbing to see someone lie like this when common sense would tell anyone this is the a hate crime. She must also be so full of hatred herself for gay people as she is willing to make these comments. How wrong

Kenneth E. Peacock, Chancellor
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Subject: ASU’s association with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx

Dear Chancellor Peacock:

I had the honor of meeting you some weeks ago at an alumni reception in St. Petersburg.

I was born, raised and lived most of my life in North Carolina. I am extremely proud of that upbringing, and am a very proud Mountaineer. The lessons I’ve taken from my upbringing and education have, I believe, served me well. I was incredibly impressed by your presentation and your enthusiasm for the University, and recognize the current budget pressures you must confront.

At the reception, I noted I’d been lucky enough to receive a small bonus from work, and promised to share that with the University’s program for the financially disadvantaged students. Perhaps, with the deepest regret I’ve ever felt in my life, I cannot continue my support of Appalachian State University. Even my pride in North Carolina is shaken, and I can no longer be proud of my home state.

Boone and the University are, as you know, in the Fifth Congressional District, and Virginia Foxx is the representative for that district. I have seen, on Rep. Foxx’s congressional website, a number of photographs with her appearing at ASU functions behind and beneath the ASU Banner.

Unfortunately today I saw a video of a statement made by Rep. Foxx on the floor of the United States House of Representatives opposing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. It was the vilest, most hate-filled, hateful, and un-Christian statement I believe I’ve ever heard come from a U.S. Representative. (And that is a pretty high bar.)

To advance her political career, Rep. Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard was killed merely as part of a robbery. This is a lie, and Rep. Foxx is, or ought to be, aware of the record before making such a statement. The Laramie Police and Prosecutors said the two men lured Mr. Shepard from a bar by pretending to be gay, beat him to pulp, and left him hung, still alive, on a fence post for over 18 hours. The men attempted to use a “gay panic” defense during their trial, and one of the defendants admitted to beating Mr. Shepard because he was gay. How is that not a hate crime?

Yet Rep. Foxx had the gall to stand on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and say, “It’s really a hoax.”

Chancellor Peacock, I recognize the political reality with which you are faced, but as a gay man, who, while never having suffered as did Mr. Shepard, has been subjected to threats and discrimination, must also stand up to the very real face of hate. I have seen that in the face and words of Rep. Foxx, not only today, but in previous statements. So while I understand you will be able to take no action on this matter, I can act. I cannot, and will not, support any person, organization, group or institution that even associates itself with Rep. Foxx. A person with Rep. Foxx’s spirit of hatefulness and lack of integrity should not be actively exposed to the diverse group of young people under your charge as part of any University sponsored event

I hope that will appreciate that this is an extremely difficult decision on my part, but until such time as the University publically denounces Rep. Foxx’s statement and bans her from access to the Campus or any University sponsored event, or until such time as the voters in her district recognize her for the hateful, dishonest person she is and vote her out of office, I will make no further contributions to ASU.

Again, I regret this decision, and hope that the time will be short when I can resume my contributions to my beloved Alma mater.

cc: Rep. Virginia Foxx

Ms. Foxx is a cunt of the highest order.

What's wrong with a little cunt now and then? I hear lesbians especially are fond of them.

Perhaps a better term could be used to share your outrage?

Idiot? Dipshit? Moron? Hateful bigot? Something other than a woman's body part as if that's all the Rep is worth?

Let me sort this out here:

I thought they said they "panicked" because Shepherd came on to them.

Now I'm reading that they knew he was gay and just played along so they could rob him?

Two guys on one who have to tie a man to a post and bludgeon him, just to take his wallet?


Two guys on one who have to tie a man to a post and bludgeon him, rather than just say, "Uh, no thanks, I'd rather not dance with you, but you have a nice evening, guy."

Okay, these cowardly psychos need to get their stories straight (no pun intended, sorry).

And Rep. Foxx needs to pick up the CluePhone.

Hmmm... let's see. There's a lot of huffy outrage here, and Kim even goes so far as to call Foxx a "cunt." Do we see a contradiction in any of this? That kind of language, my friends, is exactly what's constituted as "hate speech" in some contexts. Careful what you say from now on... the hate police are watching.

First of all, I think people are vastly over-reading Foxx's statement. Secondly, let me pose this question: What if, just hypothetically even, Matthew Shepard had NOT been killed for being gay? Isn't the crime itself horrific enough? Doesn't it warrant the kind of punishment our (overly zealous) criminal (in)justice system already metes out in spades? Or are we,in this outrage over Foxx's comment, implicitly acknowledging that our case for HCL is always a wobbly one?

I've already written about HCL here: (I'm a queer on the left, and I don't support it) and it's clearly time for part 2. But suffice it to say, I think the comments here alone prove that the call for HCL is an unsettling reminder of how irrational and even bloodthirsty we queers can get. Surely we, of all people, who understand the harmful effects of the state's intrusion on our bodies, thoughts, and lives, should resist measures like HCL.

This makes me sad.

Yasmin, don't be sad. Get a clue. The woman, Representative Foxx is totally without a clue. She has no sense of what's it's like to lose a child to hate and she has no clue what it's like to grow up in an environment where killing a queer for christ is ok. I have nothing but contempt for the woman. You seem to be trying to find a middle ground. Forget it! She is a cunt!


Just to be clear: I'm not sad about Foxx's comment. I'm sad about living in a world where queers, who know enough about state violence, are now endorsing more of the same. And I'm struck by your language in describing her. Which, by the way, could well be construed as "hateful."

But I'm also moving beyond sadness - and determined to keep arguing and working against HCL, which is a deeply problematic form of legislation. To be clear: I have no interest in a "middle ground." I'm opposed to HCL, period.

Rep Fox has released a statement about her "word choice":

"It has come to my attention that some people have been led to believe that I think the terrible crimes that led to Matthew Shepard's death in 1998 were a hoax," she said. "The term "hoax" was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate crimes bill. Mr. Shepard's death was nothing less than a tragedy and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received.

"The larger context of my remarks is important. I was referring to a 2004 ABC 20/20 report on Mr. Shepard's death. The 20/20 report questioned the motivation of those responsible for Mr. Shepard's death. Referencing this media account may have been a mistake, but if so it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts."

Yasmin, you are not clear to me at all. Don't try to restrict my free speech by calling it "hateful." You say you are opposed to HCL. I am of the impression that HCL is Hate Crimes Legislation and you are opposed to it. Why? Are you a republican or a right-wing conservative, or what? I don't know any one opposed to Hate Crimes Legislation. Are you kidding? You construe my remarks as hateful towards Ms. Foxx. How very perceptive you are. She has my utter contempt. Pick a word to describe her and so long as there is no positive connotation, it will likely fit. No, I do not know Ms. Foxx, but I do know what it is like to lose a child. She is despicable in trying to place the blame on the victim. You choose the adjective to describe her, I chose the one that came to mind for a person of her ilk.

Re: calling Ms. Foxx a "cunt" -

See "The Last Man, vol. 1, 'Unmanned'" by Brian K. Vaugan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan, Jr. Page 112


"You say that word with such venom. Cunt. It's a fairly harmless insult in the UK. Only in [the USA] could a euphemism for female genitalia be considered the ultimate obscenity.

"The word is actually quite beautiful, related to Cunina, the Roman goddess who protects sleeping infants. It means all-knowing, all-powerful."

End Quote.

On those grounds, I would not apply the term to Ms. Foxx.

I believe the term "ignorant slut" will do nicely. (old-school Saturday Night Live, FTW.)

Hi KIm:

I'm sure Yasmin will speak for herself. But I must say (personally) I am ambivalent about Hate Crimes legislation. That ambivalence comes from the fact that we have a broken criminal justice system that I think does not focus at all on rehabilitation - and I worry about what happens to the 16 year old who beat ups a gay kid and then has an enhanced penalty that leaves him in an adult jail for 15 years he comes out at 31, even more angry, without job skills, etc etc.

What that 16 year old did was despicable, but did "enhancing the penalties" and sending a 16 year old kid who did something terrible into an adult jail, for 15 years make anything better? seems like we have destroyed another life as well.

I like Hate Crimes Leg in that it gives local law enforcement access to federal help in major cases (like matthew shepard) and also begins to collect statistics nationally.

But to me, there is something that always makes me a little uncomfortable- and for me, I believe it is the worry of what we are sending- esp. youth, who may commit hate violence, into as a result of enhanced penalties. I've actually met quite a few LGBT people, hell one of my bullies in High School, who throw a lot of hate my way, and then he turned out to love sucking the cock as well.

Also on a completely personal level, There have been so many times when some right-wing jerk has thrown nasty and derogatory names my way- that I want to reply back in hand- and just call them out.

I don't. For me that's because I really try to find the human worth in every fucking individual, even the ones I don't understand at all- and who do terrible things to me, my family, and friends.

That is probably just a result of my dad being a southern baptist minister and that damn golden rule thing got stuck in my head.

Maybe instead of calling her a cunt, you could do like us nice southern belles in the south do, and just say, "bless her heart"

If I had of been on the floor when she spoke I would have just gone over, given her a hug, and just say, "so you think matt shepard died from a robbery, well bless your heart, Virginia, bless your heart."

But I fully endorse your right to call her other things instead!

Jeremy, OK then; bless her cold-stone heart.

Re: a 16 year old receiving an enhanced sentence that puts him/her into an adult prison for 15 years or so, I simply don't think that would happen to a juvenile. If it does, it is, more likely than not, well deserved. There are many, many exceptions to many, many laws that help to mitigate sentences. There should also be circumstances that enhance sentences. I view most of this not as punishment, but a warning to others who would commit violence against those in protected groups. If Hate Crimes legislation helps just one of us, it is well worth passing the legislation.

As far as Virginia Foxx, she really isn't worth the ink she has generated. She is another right-wing bigot and she gets all of her information from the RNC and FOX news and its illustrious hypocritical commentators.

Keith Olbermann's response on MSNBC to Virginia Foxx's unconscionable statement echoed the outrage that so many of us felt today. He concluded, "She is not worthy to represent this country, nor any of its parties nor any of its peoples. She is our shame..."

Congresswoman Foxx does not speak for the American People or for reasoned voices in her own party. Here in Colorado, Republican US Senate candidate Kenneth Buck spoke eloquently in this Sunday's Denver Post in support of bias-motivated crime legislation:

"To inflict violence on a person simply because he or she is different is morally repugnant to our broader sense of community. Outlawing such acts through comprehensive laws is a necessary and overdue step toward protecting our fellow citizens from being singled out for hate-based violence."

Mr. Buck should know. He is the Weld County District Attorney, whose staff successfully prosecuted Allen Andrade last week for the brutal murder of Angie Zapata, including a historic conviction under Colorado's bias-motivated crime statute. He concluded:

"Every human being, whether they are like us or not, is of infinite worth and deserves to have his life protected with every tool available to law enforcement. We expect no less for our families."

Figured folks may be interested in this action alert -

You can join NYAC in calling on Rep. Foxx to apologize to the Shepard family and LGBTQ community for her remarks.

The idea that Matthew Shepard's murder wasn't motivated by his sexual orientatione goes way back with the conservative movement. It's as much a part of their lore as "the founding fathers were fundamentalist Christians" and Ricky Martin's "hate couture" are.

I can see why she'd say something like that in front of the entire country. The right has built up their own sound machine, their own means of communication, and their own community in order to create their own reality. She had no idea that there were people who'd disagree with this since the right has created a whole alternative story to Matthew Shepard, complete with metaphorical black helicopters and everything. They usually sit around and repeat this fantasy as if it were real and everyone just says ditto. How was she to know other people might think differently?

The point of it wasn't just to mobilize against hate crimes legislation, but to dismantle the idea that gays are oppressed at all. It's the same as when Michelle Malkin and other assorted rightwing bloggers a few years back were trying to disprove the fact that an Iraqi source for the AP even existed because then they thought all their stories about how the war was going badly would unravel (they turned out to be wrong there, but whatever).

(Oops, accidentally clicked "submit" when I wasn't finished.)

Another part of their lore around hate crimes legislation is the inability to tell the difference between hate crimes legislation and hate speech legislation, the latter of which is in some other countries but isn't even being discussed in the US.

Funny enough, Rep Virginia Foxx makes that mistake as well in her speech, citing a Glenn Greenwald blog post that decried hate speech legislation as if it were talking about hate crimes legislation:

That said, i'm pretty much with Yasmin and Jeremy about hate crimes legislation. We think that sending people to prison longer will solve all our problems, but it won't. And we see politicians who don't want to as "soft on crime" (or here "tolerating hate crimes") when they might just be in favor of crime-fighting methods that actually work.

Although keep the hate speech coming. We'd have like only 5% of the content we do now if we banned hate speech on this site (haha, just kidding).

.......In today's Marilyn Musgrave Memorial Stakes, there are 2 uncharming fillies contending for the title of Dumbest, Most Bigoted Woman in Congress......and THEY'RE OFF.....

Michelle Bachmann goes off the rail, and takes a lead over Virginia Foxx, then Fox gains ground in the backstretch.......they turn for home, both under the whip.......and it's a photo-finish. They both win the Musgrave Cup. Which makes them both LOO=SERS!

Ok Gang!
We need to send a loud message to this hateful woman!

I am outraged at this type of ignorance! I found the website to send a direct comment to her office. Here it is!!!

When you submit the comments, it will only accept them if you say you live in her district (city and zip)

Renee Fannin | May 5, 2009 10:58 AM

HCL needs to pass now. I love the people who are against are men and women in uniform. Until yiou spend a day in the streets of LA, NYC or even Knoxville, Tennessee, perhaps you should reserve judgement.
Rehabilitation success rates are low. Most criminals learn to play the system. IF you think that we don't need this legislation, you likely have not ever been a victim of a crime or known someone who is. Let's have your gay son or daughter murdered and see how you want that person in "rehab".

Actually Renee-

I have been a victim of violence, and as the police officer put it, you were most likely targeted because you were white. So "hate" violence as you will.

So please don't make sweeping generalizations that you don't have the evidence to back up.