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Fire Virginia Foxx, But Not Because She Lied About Matthew Shepard

by David Badash on April 30, 2009

in Bigotry Watch,Discrimination,Legislation,News,Politics

Post image for Fire Virginia Foxx, But Not Because She Lied About Matthew Shepard

Admits She Is Trying To “Scare You To Death”



“The hate crimes bill that’s called the Matthew Shepard Bill is 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 a robbery.  It wasn’t because he was gay.  This – the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”

So said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R -NC) yesterday in a full session of the U.S. House of Representatives, in her bid to defeat the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009”, H.R. 1913, better known as the Matthew Shepard Act. There was one special guest in the House too: Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother. Ten years ago, Matthew Shepard, a gay, 21 year-old college student who stood 5′ 4″ tall, and weighed just one hundred pounds, was lured out of a bar by two men claiming to be gay. He was robbed, pistol whipped, brutally beaten and tortured, and tied to a fence and left for dead until someone came by and found him in a coma eighteen hours later. (At first they thought he was a scarecrow.) Matthew died six days later. The two assailants did this to Shepard because he was gay. They are now in jail. These are facts. They have been proven many times over.

Via Wikipedia:

“Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.”

For an elected Representative of the U.S. Congress to stand in front of hundreds of her peers, reporters, network television cameras, essentially the world, look at Judy Shepard, who, for ten years has worked to make her son’s death at least have some meaning, for Virginia Foxx to stand up and lie is inexcusable. Our elected officials are supposed to stand for our highest ideals. They are supposed to stand for truth. They are supposed to make the world a better place for all people. For Virginia Foxx to lie to the world, and to Matthew’s mother, is not only unacceptable, it is unforgivable. And it is time for Virginia Foxx to resign.

The country saw Rep. Foxx on television over and over and over last night. There are far too many pundits to quote, but I’ll let share with you perhaps the best portraiture of Rep. Foxx:

Yes, Keith Olbermann called Rep. Foxx’s statement “The most despicable thing said on the floor of the House in decades.” He goes on to say, “She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed, at worst, she is a bald-faced liar… She is not worthy to represent this country… she is our shame.

But, you say, maybe she made a mistake? Maybe she’s not that bad? Well, the Virginia Foxx of Thursday doesn’t really disagree with the Virginia Foxx of Wednesday. She released a statement today saying,

“The term ‘hoax’ was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate-crimes bill,” Foxx said in a statement. “Mr. Shepard’s death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received.”

She goes on to say she took the information from two news sources,

“Referencing these media accounts may have been a mistake, but if so, it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts.”

So, here’s what’s wrong:

The name “Matthew Shepard”, sadly, is synonymous with the term “hate crime”. The case is over ten years old. An Amazon book search yields over 1200 results. There is no way any competent staffer could not have come up with the correct facts of the case. A bill this important and this much in the public eye warranted more than a partisan Conservapedia search. Even that biased account admits Shepard’s killers “planned to pretend to be homosexuals so that they could rob Shepard.”

Yes, “hoax” was a poor choice of words. A terrible choice of words, and a lie. Supporters of the hate Crimes Bill are not perpetrating a hoax on anyone. Even if, even if Foxx believed Shepard’s killing was not a hate crime, even if she does not believe in the concept of the term “hate crime”, to stand before the world and Judy Shepard and use that language dishonors every one in that chamber, and the people of America. Be against this important legislation if you must, but never, never abuse he memory of a beloved victim and icon. To do so harms history, your office, and yourself.

Her “apology” wasn’t an apology. It wasn’t even one of those “If I offended anyone” apologies. And by releasing her statement saying only that she made a poor choice of words, she is saying she doesn not believe that Matthew Shepard’s murder was in fact a hate crime.

Well, if her egregious comments aren’t bad enough to warrant her resignation, her performance is. Let’s look at some other comments Rep. Foxx has made:

About the Hate Crimes Bill, she said,

“If this bill becomes law, it will have a chilling effect on many law-abiding Americans’ freedom of expression.”

It “will start us down the road towards a public square that is less robust, more restrictive, and that will squelch our cherished constitutional right to free speech. … We should not live and legislate in fear of bankrupt ideas.”

Is “there such a thing as non-hateful violent crime?”

Anyone who is concerned that their actions could be punishable under a hate-crimes bill should be closely monitoring their actions.

Let’s look at how Foxx represents America’s fallen heroes, our military:

Horrendous. Yet again, Rep. Foxx ignored the mother who lost her son, this time in service to his country. Has she no shame? Has she no caring? has she no heart?

Evidently, no American icon is sacred to Foxx. Last year, also on the House floor, in an attempt to shore up her state’s lumber industry, she claimed “the origins of baseball [have] been the subject of debate and controversy.”

And her pattern of truth-transforming emerges: Regarding the October, 2008 Bailout Bill, Foxx said, “I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say this may be the day America died.” (America hasn’t died. More people now than in the past five years feel America is on the right track.) During the presidential campaign, of Obama and Clinton, she remarked, “basically [they] are socialists, he more than she.”

An elected representative, as I said, should be a role model, an inspiration, someone who makes their people hopeful for the future, and delivers information that’s troubling with honesty and respect. On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, in a campaign- fundraising letter, Rep. Foxx wrote, “for those of us who believe in limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise, this is a scary time.” Scary? That’s not inspiring. That’s not good leadership. That’s fear-mongering. It gets worse.

In March, just two months after her “scary” comment, Foxx “told a Charlotte Chamber of Commerce group visiting Washington, “You should fear for your country.” The Democratic majority in Congress, she warned, has become “bolder and bolder” with tax dollars and the rules of the House. “I am trying to scare you to death.”

I watched the Hate Crimes Bill debate in the House yesterday on C-SPAN. I heard all the wonderful and all the hateful comments. Rep. Foxx’s comments were the worst, though there were others that came close. Then I wanted President Obama’s press conference last night. And I thought, we have a true leader in the White House. A man who has a grasp of all the issues. A man who looks objectively at problems and tackles them with thought and facts as he attempts to gather consensus. And then I thought more about Representative Foxx. She does none of those things. She is none of those things. She is not a leader, she is a fear-monger. She doesn’t deal in facts, nor does she take time to find out what the facts are. And she doesn’t take responsibility for her mistakes.

I don’t live in North Carolina. But I do live in the United States. And, unfortunately, Representative Foxx, therefore, also represents me. And I am not going to sit by and allow any member of Congress to lie to the world without challenging them on it. Nor should anyone else. The time to replace Virginia Foxx is now. Not only for her hateful and ignorant comments about Matthew Shepard’s murder, but for all the hateful and ignorant comments she has made as the Congresswoman of North Carolina. And for her poor performance in representing those she was elected to serve.

Please take some action.

You can:

  • Call Rep. Foxx and share your thoughts about her cooments and about her performance:

Washington, DC: (202) 225-2071
Clemmons, NC: (336) 778-0211
Boone, NC: (828) 265-0240

  • Write Rep. Foxx:
  • 1230 Longworth House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

Finally, please share this article.

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Mark April 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

She didn't apologize. She still believes that her source was sound. She just apologized for using Hoax.

Horrible woman.

David Badash April 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm

This is exactly what people mean when they say Republicans have lost touch with America. And not just her comments on Matthew Shepard. So much of what I read in researching this piece led me to believe she is just simply out of touch.

Thanks for your comments and for being here!

Matt Algren April 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I'll give her a hundred dollars if she can tell me what she meant by "a public square that is less robust".

And no using Google, either.

David Badash April 30, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Hey, Matt!
I agree. I have a feeling Foxx's concept of free speech really is about what she wants to hear, not the truth. Again, it boggles the mind how she can be so closed to the truth.

Glad you took the time to share your thoughts. Thanks!

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