Matt Shepard Goes To Tehran

Posted: Sep 08, 2014 12:01 AM

Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri were hanged in southern Iran on August 6, 2014. According to the Daily Beast, it appears that they were executed for consensual sodomy. Their deaths are part of a wave of executions in Iran, with more than 400 in the first half of 2014 alone, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights.

So why is a possible wave of anti-gay violence in Iran not being investigated by the Obama administration, headlined by the national news media, and protested in mass by college professors? The answer to that question is actually very simple: The current administration, the media, and the academy are all motivated by national identity politics, not by global principles of human equality.

Some may remember the brutal death of Jesse Dirkhising back in the late 1990s. Dirkhising was a 13-year old who was brutally raped, sodomized, tortured, and then murdered – all at the hands of a couple of adult homosexual males. But because he was white and not identified with a disenfranchised minority group – and because his attackers were gay – the Clinton administration ignored the murder. And so did the national news media. And so did the American professoriate.

Instead, the Clinton administration, the national news media, and the professoriate focused on the murder of Matt Shepard. The reason for that was simply that Shepard was gay and his killers were not believed to be. In fact, the killers were not part of any readily identifiable victim group. So the murder fit the vision of those who embrace identity politics and seek to protect minorities from dominant groups.

Identity politics is a game and it is not based on principle. It is predicated on the dangerous idea that rights belong to groups and not individuals. Years after the Shepard murder, it has become evident that his killers were not motivated by anti-gay animus. Nonetheless, the legend continues. Truth is not relevant to those who embrace identity politics. Neither is evidence.

The same factors that were in play in the Shepard coverage were also involved last month when the Obama administration, the media, and the academy ignored the deaths of Chahzanjiru and Chahzanjiri and instead focused on the death of Michael Brown.

The Brown case fits the vision of the anointed. They see a minority victim and a white attacker and they have all they need to commence with the trial. But the trial will take place in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law. And a presumption of guilt will dictate the proceedings. The accused will shoulder the burden of proof.

But there will be no trial in the court of public opinion for those responsible for the deaths of Chahzanjiru and Chahzanjiri. Nor will there be a formal investigation at the behest of the Obama administration. And the academy will remain silent. They all identify with the homosexuals who were killed. But the problem is this: the killers were Muslims. And they need to avoid offending Muslims.

In America, Muslims are a crucial part of the victim coalition. They are envisioned as being unfairly targeted as violent and intolerant. According to this vision, they are practitioners of the religion of peace. In fact, as a group, Muslims have a right to that characterization. The rights of the group trump the rights of occasional victims.

Recently, Robert George was accused of applying a double standard by speaking out against the Iranians for hanging Chahzanjiru and Chahzanjiri. After all, he opposes same-sex marriage in America. How can he push for equality in Iran?

But that is a misapplication of the term “double standard.” A double standard is applied when one treats two identical things in a different way. Put simply, preventing homosexuals from redefining marriage isn’t the same thing as hanging them for consensual sex. There is no moral inconsistency, here.

The American left is not involved in the application of a double standard by simply ignoring Chahzanjiru and Chahzanjiri after making a martyr of Matt Shepard. The two Iranians were not killed for their involvement in illicit drugs. And Shepard was not killed because he was gay. The two cases are not the same. Thus, no double standard is possible. There is only rank Pharisaic hypocrisy.

So don’t wait around for the anointed – even the most committed of gay activists - to start believing what they preach about human equality. If you do, they will only leave you hanging. Sometimes even literally.