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Let me say, right at the outset of this column, that I agree with those who characterize the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Wayne Shepard, a homosexual, in Casper, Wyoming, last week as a “hate crime.”

But not for the same reasons as most.

You see, I think most real crimes of violence are motivated and made possible by hate. And this was no exception.

If you carefully read the vaguely hysterical news stories covering this revolting murder, one thing is crystal clear: Shepard was not attacked, viciously beaten and left for dead because he was a homosexual. He was killed because a couple of young punks, who had no compassion for any human being, wanted to steal his money.

Now, if it is a “hate crime” when someone victimizes another because he or she is a homosexual, why isn’t it a “hate crime” when someone victimizes another because he or she has more money? Hmmmm. My guess is that lots of people in government would be in jail right now if we had such laws on the books.

And nobody has done a better job of practicing the politics of envy and class struggle than President Bill Clinton.

Ironically, it’s the Clinton administration, once again, that is hoping to exploit the gruesome murder of a homosexual in Wyoming — turning the nation’s attention away from the president’s own scandals in an artful, political sleight-of-hand not witnessed since the burning down of the Reichstag.

What can we do about a murder that has already been committed besides punish those guilty of the crime? It’s time for “hate-crime legislation,” they say. It’s not enough to have laws against murder that carry the death penalty. We need some really tough deterrents.

Let me tell you what’s really going on here. This has nothing, nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with discrimination, bias or racial or gender prejudice or even “alternative lifestyles.” It has nothing to do with actual patterns of victimization, either. It has to do with one group of politicians using an issue to maintain and expand their power base. Nothing more, nothing less.

Class warfare has worked. Now it’s on to another divide-and-conquer strategy.

There’s a virtual media feeding frenzy setting the stage. Read through the coverage in The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, etc., and you will almost certainly come away with the idea that Shepard was murdered by a couple of redneck “homophobes.” You’ll also get the idea that America is a place heavily populated by such potential killers. Something needs to be done to prevent similar future “gay-bashings.”

There simply isn’t an iota of evidence to suggest any such thing. Those accused of the brutal murder of Shepard didn’t hate homosexuals. They didn’t target him because he was “gay.” And they didn’t beat him because of his sexual proclivities.

One of the two young thugs had several homosexual friends, according to those who know him. Shepard was targeted because he obviously had money and his alleged attackers needed to pay their bar tab. And they beat him because they were full of hate — not of homosexuals, but of anything that stood in their way of getting what they wanted when they wanted it.

In other words, they were criminals — bad guys, evil, sinful people, not unlike most of those plaguing our society today, victimizing the helpless and usually motivated by greed.

Hate crime? Yes, indeed. But not by the standards of the kind of legislation now being drafted in Washington.

Now, ironically, last weekend, while the nation’s media were mourning Shepard as a “hate-crime” victim, they were asleep at the switch with regard to a real hate crime just outside the nation’s capital in Maryland. Two black men and a black teen-age girl murdered two Indian immigrants and seriously injured another who were working in a donut shop. The attackers went to the trouble of picking up their shell casings, stealing the video security camera tape, setting fire to the establishment, even serving a donut to a customer while they were committing their “execution-style” crime in a back room.

Interestingly, in this crime, there appeared to be no economic motivation. The murderers left the cash in the register and stole nothing — not even a donut.

Why the lack of coverage? Where’s the outrage over this obvious hate crime?

Simple. It doesn’t further the hate-crime lobby’s agenda to draw attention to the crimes of violence perpetrated by one of their specially protected classes of people.

And that’s the proof that these calls for laws are not only disingenuous, they are themselves an example of the very worst kind of hate crime — the kind that intentionally pits one group of people against another, all in the name of politics.

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