Good Lord. Judging from the press she's getting (and the reaction she's undoubtedly getting from Republican leadership -- at least, one hopes), I'm gonna go out on a limb here and bet that she does not make this mistake again.
Just so we're all clear on the story, this is what happened to Shepard. From an AP story dated Oct. 9, 1998 (via LexisNexis):
Shepard was found Wednesday evening by a man on a bicycle who at first thought he was a scarecrow or a dummy because of how he was tied to the fence.
He was unconscious, and his skull had been smashed with a handgun. He also appeared to have suffered burns on his body and cuts on his head and face. The temperature had dropped into the low 30s during the more than 12 hours Shepard was left outside.
From Shepard's Wikipedia page:
The beating was so severe that the only areas on Shepard's face that were not covered in blood were those where his tears had washed the blood stains away.
The men had a gun and some sort of cutting implement, yet instead of a quick kill and hiding of the evidence (or, I dunno, maybe just robbing him!), they chose to torture and mutilate the kid, tie him to a fence post, and leave him to die of hypothermia. And this horrible woman wants us to believe this was not a hate crime.
You can argue against hate crimes laws without downplaying the atrocity of hate crimes themselves. You can talk about "thought crimes" or relying on individual judges in individual cases to make the right calls or whatever, but don't try to tell us that Matthew Shepard was just some dude killed for drug money. It insults our intelligence and alienates the generation of Americans who were touched by this crime (my generation, in point of fact).