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Two Weeks

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An Open Letter To Representative Foxx

May 15, 2009

Dear Representative Foxx,

It’s been ten years, seven months, and fifteen days since the night Matthew Shepard was savagely beaten, tortured, pistol-whipped so badly his skull was crushed, and, yes, robbed, and tied to a fence for eighteen hours in freezing temperatures, during which he sank into a coma before dying five days later. It’s been two weeks and one day since you stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and delivered your now infamous speech to your fellow Congressmen, constituents, reporters, the media, and, yes, watching from the House gallery, Matthew Shepard’s mother.

On that hallowed floor, Ms. Foxx, you said, and I quote, “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.”

Facts, Representative Foxx, are facts. They’re not malleable. They don’t change based on your opinion or that of your sources. They are “pragmatic truths”. And they can’t be cherry-picked to flesh-out a version of events that suit one’s purpose. Ms. Foxx, when you stood in front of your country and the world, on that Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago, however, that’s exactly what you did.

You believe you have apologized, but you have not. You simply apologized for your choice of words. You apologized for semantics. You did not, however, apologize for the fact that you maligned the memory of a twenty-one year old, five-foot four-inch boy who weighted barely more than one-hundred pounds. You did not apologize for getting the facts wrong. You added your voice to a lie. And that is unacceptable.

It is unacceptable to millions of Americans, some of whom, in North Carolina, you represent directly. It is unacceptable to millions of people around the world who hold the memory, and the very idea of what Matthew Shepard represents, in our hearts. It is unacceptable to me. And it is unacceptable to the nearly two-thousand people, some of whom are your constituents, who very quickly after you spoke those now infamous, horrific words, joined a group dedicated to securing your resignation.

Representative Foxx, after reading your public statements, your voting history, and seeing the very manner in which you serve the people of North Carolina and this country, we do not believe that you understand the gravity of your actions, or the gravity of your office. You may be the elected representative of the Fifth District in North Carolina, but you are a United States Congresswoman. And as a United States Congresswoman, when you speak, America hears not the Representative from the Fifth District of North Carolina, America hears a United States Congresswoman.

We know you sent a letter of apology to Judy Shepard, and said, “If I said anything that offended her, I certainly apologize for it and know that she’s hurting, and I would never do anything to add to that.” But, Representative Foxx, you did. And you wounded millions of Americans with your uninformed and ugly rhetoric, you violated the trust placed in an elected official of The United States, and you violated the memory of Matthew Shepard. Saying “if” demonstrated, in yet one more poorly chosen word, your lack of understanding of the pain you have caused victims of hate crimes, their families, friends, and loved ones. Saying “if” demonstrated your lack of understanding of the significance of your office.

How can you deny facts, so many facts, not set the record straight, not say you were wrong? Even Russell Henderson, one of Matthew Shepard’s murderers, in the very ABC News 20/20 article you based your statement on, apologized. Ms. Foxx, we need a real apology, a real statement that says you understand the facts of the Matthew Shepard murder, and the reason it was, in fact, a hate crime. And we need you to understand that hate crimes are real crimes, far worse than isolated murders and violent attacks. As a lawmaker, you need to understand the difference between a crime and a hate crime.

A hate crime, in the words of conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, “is really two crimes — one against the individual and another against the group to which he belongs. By that definition, Shepard’s murder may be viewed as a terrorist act against all gays, who would have felt more fearful as a result.”

Perhaps, Ms. Foxx, not having been part of an oppressed minority, it is difficult for you to understand what it’s like to feel the fear of others who have suffered, knowing that, you, too, might one day befall the same fate, merely for the color of your skin, or your heritage, or for simply how you appear. What could possibly be worse than not supporting the idea of protecting those who need protection the most? Isn’t that what America stands for? Isn’t that the reason we, over the course of more than two centuries, have many times gone to war? How can you not support something so simple and so human as wanting to ensure all Americans feel free from the danger and harm that hatred can bring?

Representative Foxx, I invite you to reexamine your comments about Matthew Shepard. We need you to correct the record, apologize for the hurt and pain caused by not only your words, but by your position on the murder of Matthew Shepard and by your position on hate crimes. Apologize, and tell the truth: Matthew Shepard’s murder was a hate crime. If you feel these requests are too unimportant, then, Representative Foxx, you should consider the needs of the people of North Carolina and America, and let someone else, anyone who has the temerity for truth, take your place. Because, if you cannot realize that your understanding of the Matthew Shepard murder was wrong, that your words and your response were hurtful, and that your position on hate crimes is hateful, you may still be qualified to “hold office,” but you are in no way qualified to represent any part of this great country.

Sincerely,

David Badash
Founder,
FireFoxx

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COMMENTARY

Trump An ‘Enemy of the Constitution’ Declares Nicolle Wallace, Blasting Call to ‘Terminate’ Nation’s Founding Document

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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace slammed Donald Trump as an “enemy of the Constitution” on Monday after the ex-president, over the weekend, called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated.

Trump demanded “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” in light of his most recent – and false – claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

That was Saturday, on his Truth Social account.

On Monday, Trump denied having ever said it, despite the post still being up.

Wallace characterized Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution “an extraordinary statement even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup against his own government and recently dined with white supremacists.”

READ MORE: ‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

“The disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as ever, when he called for the United States Constitution to be ‘terminated.'”

Quoting The Washington Post, Wallace said: “Trump’s message on his Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020, that the election was stolen, but he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents.”

She also played a clip of Republican Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio from Sunday’s ABC News.

Rep. Joyce in the clip twists and turns but ultimately admits that if Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024 he will vote for him.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

“Well, again, it’s early I think there’s gonna be a lot of people in the primary I think at the end of the day, you will have — wherever the Republicans tend to pick up I will fall in behind because that’s –”

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interjected, asking,”Even if it’s Donald Trump, as he’s called for suspending the Constitution?”

“Again, I think it’s gonna be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s gonna clear out the field like he did in 2016.”

“I will support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Joyce added.

“And I don’t don’t think that at this point he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidates out there.”

“He says a lot of things,” Joyce continued, refusing to denounce Trump.

“Let’s not speed past that moment,” Wallace urged. “This is exactly how Trump happened. All the Republicans in Washington and around the country said, [Trump] ‘says all sorts of stupid you know what. Dorsn’t mean he’s going to do it.'”

“He did all of it, all of it. And then some,” she chastised.

Watch below or at this link.

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'REGURGITATING RIGHT WING TALKING POINTS'

‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared angry and even hostile at several points throughout Monday’s oral arguments in a case brought by a Colorado right-wing evangelical Christian website designer who is suing the state because she wants to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples who are getting married.

The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, promises to be one of the most important of the term, and arguments extended more than two hours.

During one of the more heated moments, conservative Justice Gorsuch attacked Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson, claiming the state forced an infamous anti-LGBTQ baker who also went before the Supreme Court, winning his 2018 case in a very narrow ruling, into a “re-education program.”

RELATED: ‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

Jack Phillips, a business owner who refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, citing his religious beliefs, was required to attend a class so he could become familiar with Colorado anti-discrimination law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling at the time called it, “additional remedial measures, including ‘comprehensive staff training on the Public Accommodations section'” of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Justice Gorsuch instead called it a “re-education program,” and slammed the state’s Solicitor General, Eric Olson, with it on Monday.

“Mr. Phillips did go through a re-education training program, pursuant to Colorado law, did he not, Mr. Olson?” Gorsuch asked the solicitor general.

“He went through a process that ensured he was familiar –” Olson responded, before Gorsuch cut him off.

“It was a re-education program, right?” the justice blared.

“It was not a ‘re-education program,'” Olson replied, holding his ground.

“What do you call it?” Gorsuch, dissatisfied, pressed.

“It was a process to make sure he was familiar with Colorado law,” Olson explained.

“Some might be excused for calling that a ‘re-education program,’” Gorsuch snapped.

“I strongly disagree, Justice Gorsuch,” Olson said, defending the law.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who provided the clip above, warns: “It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes ‘reeducation training’ on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules.”

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Ruling in the Gay Wedding Cake Case

“Astounding that Gorsuch, A Supreme Court Justice,” tweeted Adam Cohen of Attorneys for Good Government, “Refers to Colorado giving courses on following civil rights law, As ‘reeducation training.'”

“Like being taught not to discriminate against LGBTQ is the same as being sent to a gulag for protesting communism in the Soviet Union,” he added.

Professor Elizabeth Sepper of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law says, “Justice Gorsuch describes education about antidiscrimination law and compliance as a REEDUCATION PROGRAM. This is beyond offensive. It was a central and SOFT tool of many civil rights movements and was essential to targeting market discrimination.”

Columbia Law School’s Elizabeth Reiner Platt, the Director of The Law, Rights, and Religion Project responded, “OMG Gorsuch repeatedly insists that a training on civil rights law is a ‘reeducation program.’ Good grief.”

Attorney Andrew L. Seidel, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted, “WHOA. Gorsuch asks a very hostile question about sending the bakery to ‘a re-education program.’ He spits the phrase with venom and repeats it several times. He’s regurgitating right wing talking points.”

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'INAPPROPRIATE'

‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in one of the most important cases of the term, a case that will determine if the nation’s highest court will or will not allow a person citing their personal religious beliefs to openly discriminate in the marketplace against same-sex couples.

In likely the most salient and important hypothetical example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson described in great detail a photographer wanting to re-create scenes from 1940’s Christmases with Santa Clauses and children, in sepia tones, and making them historically accurate.

She asked the attorney representing the right-wing Christian website designer who does not want to have to provide her product to same-sex couples, if under her legal theory the hypothetical photographer would have to create photos of a white Santa with Black children.

Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom‘s attorney arguing in favor of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, was forced to admit that the photographer would be able to say they would not take photos of Black children with a white Santa.

RELATED: Listen Live: SCOTUS Hears Christian Right Religion vs. LGBTQ Civil Rights Challenge

Later, Justice Samuel Alito, one of the Court’s most far-right jurists, decided to use Justice Jackson’s hypothetical analogy to make a point, and he did so by mockingly joking about Black children wearing KKK costumes.

“Justice Jackson’s example of that, the Santa in the mall who doesn’t want his picture taken with Black children,” Justice Alito began, getting the basics of the analogy incorrect.

“So if there’s a Black Santa at the other end of the mall, and he doesn’t want to have his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, now does that Black Santa have to do that?”

Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied, “No, because Klu Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws.”

READ MORE: ‘Anathema to the Soul of Our Nation’: Trump Pilloried for Demanding ‘Termination’ of the US Constitution

“And presumably,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor interjected, “that would be the same Ku Klux Klan outfit regardless whether if the child was Black or white or any other characteristic.”

That’s when Alito decided to make a “joke,” while thousands of Americans were listening to the Court’s live proceedings.

“You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time,” he said, presumably sarcastically.

He then laughed, and some viewers in the gallery joined with him.

Many on social media were outraged and offended.

“He is so inappropriate today. And offensive,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “The Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits? Not funny. Is this the highest Court of the most powerful country in the world? Good grief.”

Minutes later, NYU School of Law Professor of Law Melissa Murray weighed in, saying, “I’m going to need Justice Alito to stop joking about seeing ‘Black children in Ku Klux Klan costumes.'”

“Seriously, what am I listening to?” she asked, to which Ifill replied, “Just awful.”

“The joke about Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits?” Ifill also lamented. “No Justice Alito, these ‘jokes’ are so inappropriate, no matter how many in the courtroom chuckle mindlessly.”

Columbia University Professor of Law Katherine Franke tweeted, “Justice Alito is resorting to KKK jokes. Ha ha ha. As if what’s at stake here is funny, and isn’t taking place in a context in which LGBTQ people feel like we have a target on our backs. And, ahem – Klan jokes aren’t funny under any context.”

The Rewire News Group tweeted, in all caps, “I knew Alito wouldn’t be able to resist bringing up the Ku Klux Klan,” and then: “What the hell, Sam.”

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