>On the night of the 6-7 October 1998 Matthew Shepherd, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was out for the night in Laramie. Shortly after midnight he met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside Lounge. They offered him a lift but they drove him to a rural area once they heard he was gay and pistol whipped and robbed him then tied him to a fence (below). It was not until 18 hours later that Shepherd was discovered, after initially being mistaken for a scarecrow in a coma, suffering major head injuries. He died 5 days later on 12 October.

His horrendous murder led to statewide and federal hate crime legislation, however, the Tim Ravndal, President of the Tea Party in Montana feels this is a laughing matter as in this Facebook exchange shows.


In response to the original comment:

“I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Cal Wyoming for display instructions.”

Ravndal replies, “Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”

The response obviously pinpoints the Shepherd case as if the original comment wasn’t clear enough as it was an case that sparked international and national outrage. The fact that Tea Party supporters and leaders, which is growing in popularity, can be so blazĂ© about hate crime is worrying and indeed frightening.

We already know the measures that far right Americans will go to in reversing equality legislation. Legislation that is there for the benefit of the minority being sought to be overturned or blocked by a vocal, misinformed or misguided group, stirring up bigotry enough to get a majority. It is something we have seen happen before in the 1930s and 40s which America didn’t wake up to in their cosy little world until it started to affect them. The problem is that it is occurring again now right on their doorsteps and they don’t seem to realise and are in some cases actually be swept along with it.

There is the Islamaphobia, the homophobia at present which are getting whipped up purely from irrational misinformation. The case for defending Proposition 8 in the USA was a prime example of that. To show how irrational it is look at the same groups campaigning against same-sex divorce in Texas, so they are fighting same sex-marriage and also a means to dissolve same-sex marriages that are legally recognised, how irrational is that?

The Tea Party are a group that is looking to shift America to the right, far right. They are coming in by stealth at a time when right leaning Americans are concerned that sitting near the centre is a place where they are not differentiated from the Democrats enough, but it is a shift which takes the humanity out of the achievements of the past.

So much for “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

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