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Documentary Reviewed:

Licensed to Kill. Producer: Joe Hoffman, Deep Focus Publications

The documentary can be purchased from Amazon.com.

Review by Gary Simpson. All copyrights are held by the author.



The documentary was produced one year before Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming.

A gay man who was bashed decided to confront his fears and interview men who were convicted of killing gay men why they killed a gay person. The producer resisted the urge to engage in lay psychological analysis of the convicts. The producer allowed the men to tell their stories.

Seven men convicted in the murder of gay men were interviewed. Their on-camera interviews form the backbone of most of the documentary. While insights can be gained from personal interviews with a few people, people should be cautioned not to apply the comments made to large groups of people. What the men shared as to personal motivations for killing gay men might not apply to all people who kill gay men. They are only personal reflections.

Two men had unpleasant sexual experiences that might have been contributing factors. One of the men convicted of killing a gay man was molested as a child. One got the impression he was afraid that he was gay because he had been molested. Another man was sexually assaulted by a gay cousin.

A military man convicted of killing took the position that gay people are weak. Having gay people in the military makes the entire military look weak. In his case, killing may have been a political statement about the role of gay people in the military.

Two of the men felt the Bible and religious beliefs played a role in their actions. One of the men who had religious motivation is gay. He felt the Bible condemned homosexuality. He stated he loathed himself and felt disgusted by being gay.

One man said gay people were targeted for robbery, because one can more easily get away with robbing gay people. Another one of the men said gay people are easy targets, as it is possible to go to areas where gay people congregate and find gay people. He indicated gay people are reluctant to report crimes, as they do not want people to know they were in a gay district where gay people meet for sex. Thoughts were also expressed that the police will not take action when it is a crime against gay people. One of the men felt the police hated gay people, so he expressed those thoughts to the police, thinking that would get the police on his side. He was not aware of hate crime statutes that protect gay people.

One of the convicts appeared to have little remorse for his actions. He said, "If a man ever gets his hands on me again, that's just where it is going to have to go." In reference to killing gay people, he said, "Just one less problem the world had to deal with."

This documentary has some graphic photographs. People who find graphic photographs very disturbing will not want to watch the documentary. The documentary is worth watching to get a sense of some of the factors that may have motivated the men interviewed to kill. People interested in the role religion may play in some hate crimes might find the interview of the gay man who killed gay people for religious reasons interesting. The caution, however, needs to be given again to not generalize the reflections of one or two religious people to all religious people. Most deeply religious people are very peaceful.

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