ABC's "20/20" took apart the legend in 2004. Elizabeth Vargas told Bill O'Reilly that the prosecutor in the Shepard case never believed it was a hate crime. Instead, it was about drugs: "Aaron McKinney, according to Aaron McKinney himself and to several other witnesses, was coming down from a five-day methamphetamine binge. He freely admits he not only used methamphetamine but dealt them, sold them. Five days up with no sleep, strung out on drugs, desperate to buy more, desperate to rob somebody to get money to buy more drugs."
ABC did not consider that McKinney was a lover of Shepard's. Any part of this counter-narrative makes the media look like myth-exploiters. The Shepard story made the cover of Time magazine in 1998 with the headline, "The War Over Gays," with reporters indicting religious conservatives and demanding a spate of hate-crime laws and other gay-left agenda items.
This counter-narrative would unravel the long-dominant guilt trip that "Laramie Project" playwright Moises Kaufmann has laid on the doorstep of Americans (and especially American Christians). In 2010, The Washington Post championed the guilt trip essential to the play. In the script, a Baptist minister says, "there are people trying to distance themselves from this crime. And we need to own this crime. Everyone needs to own it."
Next, a Catholic priest insists the killers "must be our teachers. What did we as a society do to teach you that?" A character also reads an email from a college student: "You and the straight people of Laramie and Wyoming are guilty of the beating of Matthew Shepard just as the Germans who looked the other way are guilty of the deaths of the Jews, the gypsies and the homosexuals. You have taught your straight children to hate their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters -- until and unless you acknowledge that Matt Shepard's beating is not just a random occurrence, not just the work of a couple of random crazies, you have Matthew's blood on your hands."
The media have repeatedly proven their warm feelings toward any author who alleges that the Bible is unreliable and who theorizes that the "historical Jesus" was something different than the Christian story. But Jimenez can pound sand. They're clinging to the Matthew Shepard legend as a much more righteous text that must not be challenged. This secular Church of Matthew doesn't tolerate dissenters. They cannot be heretics against this murdered savior.