Liberal bias finds its way into editorial on murder of black, gay pol

Liberal bias finds its way into editorial on murder of black, gay pol

Lawrence ReedIt is a fact of human nature that eyewitnesses to the same event — say, an accident or a robbery — will furnish different accounts of what went down. Personal bias is sometimes a factor.

To see this phenomenon in action, take Josh Marshall’s editorial at TalkingPointsMemo yesterday on the murder last month of Marco McMillian, a candidate for Mayor of Clarksdale, Miss.

“There were many signs from the killing that his death was not just a run of the mill robbery murder,” Marshall writes, adding, “McMillian was openly gay, black and a current candidate for political office. But what got him killed? Now we’re finding out.”

What Marshall claims to have “found out” is that Lawrence Reed, the man who has confessed to the crime, (1) killed McMillian because of his sexual orientation and (2) will be mounting “a gay panic defense.”

In support, Marshall cities an article at the website of Memphis ABC affiliate WPTY that includes statements made by a set of unidentified sisters who say Reed came their house within minutes of the murder. From the article (and Marshall’s editorial):

However, the sisters say Reed told them everything. Just after midnight on February 26, their youngest sister received a panicked call from Reed. One sister says, ‘He called at 12:11am and he told her that the dude [McMillian] was trying to rape him. He was exposing himself to him, playing with himself, telling him to do things and then he’ll take him home.’

He told the girl he was on a back road and couldn’t get away. A few minutes later a bruised, bloody and broken Reed showed up at their back porch. ‘He just looked like he had been through war…’ one sister describes, ‘He was standing in the back, back here, telling God to forgive him. He didn’t mean to do it, and he was saying that he just wanted to die.’

She says when Reed couldn’t get away from McMillian, he used the chain on his wallet to choke the 200 pound politician. ‘He was shaking real hard, he was crying real hard, he was circling, begging for somebody to talk to him.’

From this, an essentially fourth-hand telling, Marshall deduces that a hate crime occurred — that Reed killed McMillian because he was gay. (Marshall tiptoes around the presumption that the killing was racially motivated, but that would be a tougher argument to make since Reed is also black.)

But is this the only conclusion that can be derived from the “evidence” to date? Not in the view of The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, who argues that Reed’s alleged claim that “the dude was trying to rape him” sounds as though his actions were predicated on self-defense, not “gay panic.” Taranto adds:

Try a thought experiment: Imagine an identical fact pattern except that the defendant, the one claiming ‘the dude was trying to rape him,’ is female. Would a good liberal like Josh Marshall be so dismissive of the defense in that case? Would he characterize it as anything other than self-defense (‘straight panic’)? If not, this is a case of invidious antimale bias.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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