Review: Gay Author Stephen Jimenez rewrote Matthew Shepard’s life story to suit his false narrative. His thesis is based on pure bullshit. He has a vendetta against the gay community, and relies on hearsay evidence, unverifiable claims, and poorly researched facts, in his newly published book, "The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard."
by Roy Steele
On April 29, 2009, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) rose from her seat, and asked the Speaker to be recognized, as the US House of Representatives was debating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).
Rep. Foxx made an impassioned speech against passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Foxx is not known for her intellectual acumen, and in true Republican fashion, her remarks received a tremendous amount of media attention, because she made an outrageous statement.
With Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother, sitting in the gallery of the House watching the proceedings, Foxx said:
The bill was named after a very unfortunate incident that happened, where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s, it’s really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”After Rep. Foxx called Matthew Shepard’s murder a “hoax,” Judy Shepard told NBC News that “Attacks of lesser consequence have been said about Matt since the beginning... but I never expected it to be called ‘a hoax’.” Rep. Foxx based her outrageous assertion on an ABC News special report that aired on 20/20 in 2004. The basic premise of the 20/20 piece was that Matthew Shepard’s murder was a drug related crime that had gone horribly wrong.
The producer of the 2004 20/20 news report was freelance journalist Stephen Jimenez. Jimenez spent the next nine years researching and writing The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard.
In The Book Of Matt, Jimenez characterizes Matthew Shepard as a drug trafficking crystal meth addict who was partying and having sex with Aaron McKinney, and purports that Matthew Shepard died because he couldn’t provide McKinney with the drugs that he was craving.
Media Matters For America writer Luke Brinker has done a fantastic job debunking The Book of Matt , and I highly recommend reading his extensive coverage of the book and the author (See the links to his reporting below).
Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress wrote a very thoughtful and hard hitting piece entitled “The Book Of Matt Doesn’t Prove Anything, Other Than The Size Of Stephen Jimenez’s Ego.”
Shepard’s 1998 murder in Laramie, Wyoming, galvanized a national conversation about the visceral, violent nature of anti-gay hatred in America, and Shepard has persisted as a martyr figure and a cultural touchstone. Writing a compelling biography of Shepard fifteen years after his death might have been an important project. But Jimenez hasn’t given us that. Instead, The Book Of Matt isn’t really about Shepard at all. Rather, it’s an exceptionally shoddy attempt to prove that Shepard was killed because he was a major methamphetamine distributor who Aaron McKinney, one of the two men convicted in his death, intended to rob to pay drug debts and to feed his own habit. And most distastefully, it’s an opportunity for Jimenez to portray himself as a hero who’s stood up to political correctness.
If you want to prove a controversial theory about a story that’s become deeply embedded in accepted history, and to suggest that you have more integrity than your critics, it helps to impeccably document your claims. But the problems with Jimenez’s ethics begin in the Author’s Note that begin The Book of Matt. “Though this is a work of nonfiction journalism, I have occasionally employed methods that are slightly less stringent to re-create the dialogue of characters — words I did not personally hear; nor could the characters themselves recall every word exactly from memory,” he explains. “But my intention throughout has been to remain faithful to the actual characters and events as they really happened.” This is a dubious practice to employ at all, but Jimenez compounds the problem by not distinguishing which quotations are manufactured from recollections, which are paraphrases recounted by sources, and which were spoken directly to him.All of the “conversations” in the book have been made up out of thin air, in order to support the author’s hypothesis. While he promised to remain “faithful to the actual characters and events as they really happened,” he is relying on hearsay and third hand accounts, to support his shaky claims.
A good and experienced journalist would have gone to great lengths to be wholly objective, in order to present both sides of the story. That way a reader could make up their own mind about what is true and what isn’t. Instead, Jimenez had his own agenda.
The author approached Dennis and Judy Shepard 18 months after the murder of their son, because he wanted to write a screenplay about the crime. The Shepard family said no, and Jimenez was rejected.
The New York Times Magazine asked Jimenez to write a story about the Shepard case in 2004, and they killed the story. Jimenez claims that the story was killed because it was “too politically sensitive.”
Media Matters For America writer Joe Strupp interviewed the editor of the New York Times Magazine , who remembers things differently. Editor Paul Tough says that the story was killed because Jimenez “was a person I think who didn’t have a lot of experience in long-form magazine writing. And so the story never got to the level where we could publish it ... it was not killed for political reasons at all.”
Jimenez then took the questionable evidence he gathered for his failed New York Times story to ABC News, and pitched his story. They ran with it and he produced it for 20/20, where the reporting was widely criticized and vilified by the gay community.
Jimenez is obviously an author with a vendetta, who is still smarting from the rejection and criticism that his 20/20 report received in 2004, and he set out to prove his critics wrong, and failed in the process.
The biggest hypocrisy evident here is that Stephen Jimenez holds that in order to assess whether a hate crime has occurred, that a hate crime statute needs to be present in the jurisdiction that the hate crime occurred, and that the ultimate arbiter is the jury in a court of law. He posits that the merits of hate crime charge should be argued in a courtroom, between lawyers, before a judge and a jury - so that a determination can be made, based on the evidence presented in court.
It’s an interesting point of view that hasn’t fully been fleshed out by Jimenez, because by writing this book, he himself asks the reader to ignore established legal procedures and standards that allow opposing parties to objectively examine the evidence, cross examine witnesses, and refute the wild assertions made by individuals with a personal agenda.
I read this trashy book so you don’t have to. Don’t buy the book, as it’s a book of crap and a complete waste of your time.
As I said a week ago, Stephen Jimenez failed to deliver on his promise to reveal any new facts or hidden truths in the Matthew Shepard murder case. This book is nothing more than a middling work of fiction.
Links To Media Matters For America’s coverage by Luke Brinker:
straight talk in a queer world.
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