AMERICAN HONOR KILLINGS by David McConnell

AMERICAN HONOR KILLINGS

Desire and Rage Among Men

KIRKUS REVIEW

A graphic recounting of a series of gruesome murders involving young males.

Lambda Literary Society co-chair McConnell (The Silver Hearted, 2010, etc.) explores “a shadowy and explosive tension...in the minds of young men,” which he considers to be the “prime mover of violence” in certain cases identified by lawyers and activists as “hate crimes” and “gay panic.” The author equates that tension with a fear of real or apparent exposure of unmanliness or homosexuality, and thus, he believes the killings he discusses resemble vengeance-driven “honor killings.” While his conclusion may be questionable, McConnell convincingly shows how fluid terms like “gay” and “straight” can actually be. One such example is the case of Darrell Madden, a former homosexual porn star who became an anti-gay neo-Nazi and murdered a homosexual in 2007. This was one of five cases where young men, with homosexual pasts or fears, killed homosexuals, or suspected homosexuals, in crimes discussed as hate crimes. The author compares these to the Wyoming killing of Matthew Shepard or the murder of African-American James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists. “Hatred was a critical factor in these murders. It would be poisonous to pretend otherwise,” he writes, but it is not the whole story. In McConnell's opinion, a review of the perpetrators, victims and circumstances indicates more—“hatred often seems to exist prior to its having a clear object.” The author’s case studies reflect an intensive investigation into the economic and cultural backgrounds of a wide variety of extremist cultures, research that involved interviews with law enforcement officials, families of victims and the convicted criminals themselves.

A shocking look at the subculture of violent crime, not for the fainthearted.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61775-132-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2012




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