fbpx
53.2 F
Spokane
Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeCommentaryNex Benedict Is Another Matthew Shepard 

Nex Benedict Is Another Matthew Shepard 

Date:

Related stories

Christian Music Star Mandisa Dies at 47: Shine 104.9 Pays Tribute for Beloved Artist

Mandisa Lynn Hundley, known as Mandisa, passed away in her home April 18. The next morning, Christian music station Shine 104.9 took to social media to express their condolences.

Everything You Need To Know About Life You Can Get from ‘The Twilight Zone’ and Rodgers & Hammerstein Musicals

Should someone ask me (a secular atheist) where I got my philosophy of life — what to value, how to behave — and how not to, I can answer simply and directly: from watching Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals as I grew up.

University of Southern California Bars Muslim Valedictorian from Giving Her Speech

The University of Southern California's decision to bar their Muslim valedictorian Asna Tabassum from speaking at graduation shows academic institutions are failing to protect students equally.

FāVS Religion News Roundup: April 19

Spokane hosts several Earth Day events, Dr. TJ Romano is named Spokane's new Catholic education director, the Spokane River Forum opens registration for its H20 symposium and more are in this week's FāVS Religion News Roundup.

After 57 Years, American Indian Center in Spokane Secures Site for New Permanent Location

The American Indian Community Center (AICC) will soon be moving to a permanent location after years of renting spaces to operate out of around Spokane.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img

Nex Benedict Is Another Matthew Shepard 

Commentary by Becky Tallent | FāVS News

UPDATE: The information used for this column came from several news sources, including some Tulsa news groups (Tulsa World, KJRH-TV). Yes, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner takes a while, but until that report is finalized, one must work on the evidence at the school, hospital and family. Tallent was a reporter in Oklahoma for 35 years, and knows that officials will not release any information about a case until all facts are in. 

Unfortunately, in absence of solid information, rumors run wild, as do suppositions

It feels very much like a 2024 repeat of Matthew Shepard. Shepard was a gay Wyoming college student who was beaten to death in 1998. 

On Feb. 7, Nex Benedict, a non-binary Owasso, Oklahoma, teen, was beaten to death in a girl’s restroom at Owasso High School by three older female students. So far, there is no sign the girls responsible have been arrested or even interviewed by police. 

News reports say a teacher broke up the fight, but the school administration did not call an ambulance or the police. Benedict was later taken to the hospital and released, only to return to the hospital the next day, when they died from the injuries. 

All of this follows years of the Oklahoma Legislature and Oklahoma State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters issuing laws and policies proclaiming LGBTQ+ is wrong and should be eliminated. 

Last year, Walter’s office released a video claiming the trans movement is “an assault on truth.” The same video also has Walters saying, “We have injected radical gender theory and telling kids that they might be other genders. It’s dangerous. It puts our girls in jeopardy.” 

How about that attitude putting the lives of non-traditional children in jeopardy? Or does the state only care about safety for young girls? Such transphobic rhetoric is dangerous to society because it encourages hate and hate crimes. 

For the past several years the state legislature has passed bills cutting gender care and gender identification. This year alone the legislature is considering 50 separate bills which would deny rights to the LGBTQ+ community, specifically targeting transgender members. 

A Legislated License to Hate 

Such actions go well beyond simply denying people the right to be recognized. In conservative states such as Oklahoma and Idaho, it gives citizens the implied right to physically assault, even kill, people with whom they disagree about gender and sexual identification. 

Such hate is astounding, especially for so-called Christian areas who claim to worship a God of peace. Although lately, many seem to have taken the idea of a vengeful God into their own hands through legislation, policies and individual actions. 

Specifically, the Christian Bible (New Testament) shows Jesus said people should love their neighbor, reject violence, share money and welcome foreigners. If the extreme conservatives are truly believers of the New Testament, then why are they spewing so much hate that it is costing young people their lives? Why are the rejecting what their Bible teaches?  

On one level, it is a deep-seated fear of the unknown. Sure, what one doesn’t understand is scary, but is that a reason to kill? I have an irrational fear of math, but it does not make me want to kill mathematicians.  

Science and Cherry-Picking Facts 

Recent scientific studies show that people will reject ideas by cherry-picking facts and studies that back up their own point of view. This is cognitive bias at its best by ignoring all the facts and focusing on one small dissent or question in volumes of research.  

In essence, that is what we are now seeing with minority groups being targeted by conservative populations. It is somewhat a throw-back to the pre-Civil Rights era, but much worse because people believe they have a right to violently attack with words or actions thanks to words by state leaders. 

It is all strangely reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s prophetic quote, “The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.” 

If justice is to be found, there should be an active ongoing investigation into what happened to Nex Benedict. Otherwise, this will continue to happen, and many more young lives will be lost. 


The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Becky Tallent
Becky Tallent
An award-winning journalist and public relation professional, Rebecca "Becky" Tallent was a journalism faculty member at the University of Idaho for 13 years before her retirement in 2019. Tallent earned her B.A. and M.Ed. degrees in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and her Educational Doctorate in Mass Communications from Oklahoma State University. She is of Cherokee descent and is a member of both the Indigenous Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. She and her husband, Roger Saunders, live in Moscow, Idaho, with their two cats.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img

8 COMMENTS

3.5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Christine
Christine
2 months ago

Well said.

A disturbing theme with the socially conservative world is an expectation and demand that others must accommodate their fears and anxieties by having others conform to certain social roles, even if these roles are completely artificial or overly restrictive.

The social conservatives will claim it is an exercise of their religious freedom or a necessity to protect society to impose their views on others and limit how they may live, but doing so is counter to the very idea of personal liberty which they claim they are defending.

The ultimate test if a policy or law is unreasonable or downright wrong is if individuals or the state must inflict violence against those who are deemed to have transgressed to force them to conform for only trying to live their lives in peace. These anti-LGBT+ laws and anti-trans laws fail this test absolutely.

Becky Tallent
Becky Tallent
2 months ago
Reply to  Christine

Thank you so much, I deeply appreciate your comments. This story upsets me greatly and any light on it, Ihope, will soften the hard rhetoric and help stop the madness.

Angela
Angela
2 months ago

I did not know they were Cherokee until I saw a lovely tribute from some of their Choctaw Nation tribal community. I know our national attention span is measured in blinks. I hope this one stays, that this pain and grief alights people’s fire for justice.

May their memory forever be for a blessing. This is just gutting. Thank you for sharing this piece.

Sarah
Sarah
2 months ago

Thank you for writing about Bex and calling for justice on their behalf. I agree with you that is baffling how these Christian regions tells to spew such hate, but as you eloquently connected the dots, this was practically the plan. Hundreds of bills nationwide are feeding this hate. We need to be speaking up in defense of Bex, and voting to protect the rights of all trans and non-binary folks, who are the newest target for the unifying call to hate from the Right.

Walter A Hesford
Walter A Hesford
2 months ago

Thank you for bringing to us this terrible story which could, will be repeated here, especially in Idaho, as our government continue to deny the humanity of transgendered people.

Lynnea Kaylor
Lynnea Kaylor
1 month ago

Denying the humanity of trans people… that is certainly the truth. But “transgendered people” is the wrong way to put it because “transgender” isn’t a verb but an adjective. “Transgendered” was never widely accepted among trans people.” Use of the term “transgender” has also changed over the years. A quarter century ago, it was generally accepted as an “umbrella term” to encompass all variance of sex and gender from societal norms. That included those intersex and non-binary, even cis-gender people perceived to be masculine females or feminine males, regardless of whether those perceptions belong to another person or onesself. Then, beginning in the European Union, and then spreading to North America, “trans” became the umbrella term and “transgender” replaced the term “transsexual” for most people. However,some who have transitioned have more recently sought to reclaim the term “transsexual”. In the same context, “transgender” and “non-binary” are subsets of “trans”. In 2017, intersex people in Australia issued the Darlington Statement in which they asserted themselves as distinct from yet intersectional with trans identities. So while one who is intersex may also be trans, it won’t always be the case. After all, not all variations of sex characteristics are accompanied by variations in gender from their birth assignments.

Julia Duin
Julia Duin
1 month ago

Becky, as a former journalism prof, you know that lede is off by a mile. Nex was not “beaten to death” in the girls restroom. Instead, Nex died the following day. That is not the same thing as what you wrote. The school says that all the students involved in the fight walked to the principal’s office afterwards. Nex’s mother then took her offspring to a hospital to be checked out; the hospital couldn’t find anything wrong; the child still had a headache but went to sleep that night; but collapsed the next day and died. Now the medical examiner is saying Nex did not die as a result of the fight. We’ll see what the final truth is – but my main point is to ask you to stick to what you know happened.

Rebecca Tallent
Rebecca Tallent
1 month ago

I’m sorry you feel this way. The information was taken from reputable news sources in Tulsa (including the World) and others who covered the story. The initial autopsy said Benedict may not have died from trauma, but it was inconclusive about whether or not the attack in the bathroom contributed to the death. It is now for the State Medical Examiner to decide and that will take some time. The bullying and the attack reminds me of the Shephard case, and neither the Benedict nor the Shepherd case should have happened.

8
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x