Friday, May 01, 2009

Sully Rewrites His Story

Sully Joe Sullivan is still backpedaling on his glowing endorsement of the bullshit 20/20 piece saying that Matthew Shepherd's murder wasn't motivated by anti-gay bigotry. In 2009, he writes:

I agree, but then I've never been on the gay left and have always opposed these laws. There is a real debate about the 20/20 story and, for the sake of balance, you can read the critiques of it here and here.

Of course, Sully didn't think there was a "real debate" of the 20/20 piece back in 2004, when he was pimping it -- and his tangential role in it:

Now ABC News has prepared an important, thorough and debunking review of what happened. I was tangentially involved in the documentary, but wasn't privy to its most closely held findings. I have a feeling it will reveal how dangerous it is to rest an entire political argument on one incident, whose details were always murky and subsequently turned into myth.

How does one have a real debate a "thorough" "debunking"? How does one debate a false story, a "myth."

Perhaps Sully should explain his acknowledged role in the piece, rather than pretending to be a neutral observer, as he now does. Why doesn't Sully acknowledge his involvement any more? If there's a real debate about the piece, Sully should explain what he knows -- both about the reporting and the murder itself -- so we can judge the piece on all the facts.

Sully's fallback position is that Shepherd murder isn't the issue, what he really cares about is the injustice of hate crimes laws. (Of course, he could have made that argument without endorsing shoddy reporting or attacking his political enemies -- if he wasn't Sully, that is.) But he still doesn't understand hate crimes legislation.

At least this go round he doesn't claim that such laws create protected classes or punish thought. But he still argues that there's no reason to treat variations of the same criminal act differently based on intent. Yes, the victim of of a revenge killing which started as a bar fight or a lovers' quarrel is just as dead as the victim of a fatal gay-bashing. And both killers deserve harsh punishment. But if we want to discourage things which should be stopped -- and can be stopped -- by imposition of harsher penalties, it makes sense to impose a greater punishment on those things. There are criminal laws which impose greater penalties for killing on-duty police officers, or federal workers, or children. There are criminal laws which impose greater punishment for defrauding or abusing the elderly or incompetent, because they are more vulnerable to abuse. These laws reflect not only value judgments, but also practical judgments as to most effective way to deter certain types of crimes. For Sullivan to pretend that hate crimes laws are some aberrant deviation from what exists in our present legal system is simply absurd.

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