The blockbuster story that the facts in the Matthew Shepard murder case have been distorted in order to promote a political agenda is another example of the power of the left’s narrative mythmaking. Gay journalist Stephen Jimenez presents a new argument as to the details of Shepard’s murder in The Book of Matt, but he’s up against 15 years of storytelling and inverted reality.
A piece in the gay culture magazine The Advocate by Aaron Hicklin lays out the facts about the Shepherd mythology, but it also contains a line that is the Rosetta Stone to understanding how leftist narrative mythology is so pervasive in both the arts and journalism. Despite the clear evidence that the story that Shepard was done in by deadly homophobia was inaccurate and that Shepard was instead killled in a meth-fueled bender by another man who was bisexual, Hicklin states:
There are valuable reasons for telling certain stories in a certain way at pivotal times, but that doesn’t mean we have to hold on to them once they’ve outlived their usefulness.
Take a moment and read that quote again, because it’s one of the clearest statements ever written on how the left sees “the narrative.” It is moral relativism applied to epistemology and metaphysics. There is no such thing as truth to the left. There are “certain stories” that can be told “a certain way.” The story tellers, whether they are artists or journalists, simply pick and choose which story they will tell which way depending upon whether it’s a “pivotal time.”
This philosophy explains why in so many cases you get a story that is heavily hyped in the culture at one point and then later the real story comes out. While trying to drive a gay rights agenda, the myth of Matthew Shepard was useful, so that’s what ended up getting reported. If it’s useful to say that Shepard was killed by homophobic good ol’ boys in Wyoming, the news media and the arts go all in on that story.
Because the means of cultural production–the mainstream press, the entertainment industry, and academia–are all held by progressives, fables like the one told about the tragic death of Matthew Shepard are told, retold, and regurgitated in a thousand different form and formats, from new stories that get the facts wrong to protests based on those false facts, stage plays, movies, and HBO specials all ultimately ending up in a legislative or activist ground fundraising effort.
There are myriad examples. Why did the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story become a wall-to-wall media event? Why has the left done countless stories and even two movies–including “Informant,” which is in theaters and on iTunes now–about Breitbart News writer Brandon Darby? Why did the mainstream media and hactivist group Anonymous focus so much attention on a rape case in the small town of Steubenville Ohio earlier this year?
Why promote a lie? Because the lie is more effective. That’s all that matters in a culture that’s dominated by the leftist views of Saul Alinsky, the Frankfurt School, and the media machines of the mainstream media, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue.
Saul Alinsky realized the first goal of a community organizer is to agitate. By creating resentment and hostility, you can build a mob that can be easily controlled. Sometimes you need a lie to do that. The truth seldom fits the left’s narrative.
One of the big revelations of the protest movement of the late 1960s proved that radical leftism was something that could be actually be marketed and sold. Events like Woodstock, consumer products like the Volkswagen Beetle, Broadway musicals like Hair, TV shows like The Mod Squad, and countless albums, movies, books, and more proved to Hollywood and Madison Avenue that youth resentment and anger could mean big bucks. America would later see the same strategy applied to punk rock, grunge rock, and hip-hop.
And so the media – entertainment/journalism industrial complex delivers us well packaged fables with great production values, where the facts have been twisted to fit the moral of the story.
The Matthew Shepard case proved that America was so homophobic that gay men could be crucified by straight men just for being gay. Except the story we were sold wasn’t true.
The Trayvon Martin myth proved that America was so racist that young black men can’t walk the streets without fear of being racially profiled and murdered. Except it wasn’t true.
The Steubenville myth proved that America is so sexist and sports-obsessed that a small town covers up a brutal rape. Except it wasn’t true.
The Brandon Darby myth proves that America uses entrapment to make up stories about a terrorism threat that doesn’t really exist. Except it wasn’t true.
In all of these cases and so many more, the facts about the actual people at the center of them hardly matter. Don’t make the mistake of blaming Trayvon Martin or Matthew Shepard. Neither of those young men had anything to do with how their stories became entwined in the myth machine. Attacking either Martin or Shepard only serves to distract from the people who use their deaths to promote an agenda. Those activists are the ones who rightly deserve to be criticized.
The antidote to the progressive media command-and-control structure is to follow the Andrew Breitbart legacy of truth telling, harness the power of technology and new media to research the facts, and use social media to share the truth with the world.