IT WAS A QUIET NIGHT for five friends gathered at a townhouse in Wichita, Kansas-until an unspeakable crime interrupted their evening and abruptly ended four of their lives. Now a media blackout has descended on the event, cloaking the politically incorrect fact that the victims of this hate crime were white and their accused killers black.
The night of terror began December 14 when two men burst in on the group of young professionals, in their twenties, and held them at gunpoint. While rummaging through drawers and shelves for valuables, the thieves found an engagement ring.
"That's for you," Jason Befort reportedly told his girlfriend as they huddled together in terror. She hadn't known about the ring before the thieves found it. "I was going to ask you to marry me," he told her.
After driving their prisoners to an ATM and forcing them to withdraw money, the thieves then took them to a deserted soccer field.
There they ripped the clothes from the two women - including Jason Befort's fianceé - and raped them as the three men watched. Afterwards, they forced the two women to perform sex acts on each other, and the three men to have sex with the women.
Finally, the five prisoners were ordered to kneel on the ground and were shot execution-style.
Only one survived. It was Jason Befort's fianceé.
She walked more than a mile, bleeding and naked, through the snow, before finding help.
All Wichita is now abuzz over the grisly quadruple homicide. Yet the story remains virtually unknown outside Kansas - even though the racially charged murder comes at a moment when talk of hate crimes has reached a fevered pitch.
"The investigation has found no evidence of a racial motive," a spokesman for Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston told FrontPageMagazine.com. Her office characterized the motive as robbery.
The five victims were certainly robbed. So was Matthew Shepard -- the gay man whose gruesome murder in October 1998 became a national media obsession.
But why was Shepard's murder treated as a hate crime, while the killings in Wichita are not?
The four people killed on that soccer field were only the final victims in a week-long crime spree, for which two brothers -- Jonathan and Reginald Carr-have now been charged. In the days before the soccer-field killings, the brothers allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint outside a convenience store and murdered a 55-year-old cellist near her Wichita home.
In a just society, where all are treated equally before the law, there would be no need to dwell upon the fact that all the victims were white, while the Carr brothers are black.
But in a society such as ours, where the government has seen fit to mete out different punishments for identical crimes, depending upon the skin color, religion and sexual habits of the perpetrators and victims, we are obliged to raise the question of race.
If two white men subjected five black people to an extravaganza of horror such as unfolded on that dark soccer field in Wichita, can there be any doubt that the media would be screaming "hate crime" from coast to coast and that everyone from Kweisi Mfume and Jesse Jackson to Bill and Hillary Clinton would be calling for stricter hate-crime laws?
On Wednesday of this week, the MTV network interrupted its regular schedule to air nearly 20 hours of special programming about hate crime, beginning with a documentary about the Matthew Shepard murder.
But the four people executed on that soccer field in Wichita -- Heather Muller, Jason Befort, Aaron Sander, and Bradley Heyka - were not among those featured.
The indifference of government, media and civil rights leaders to crimes such as those alleged to have been committed by the Carr brothers send a clear message across America that some lives matter and some lives don't.
They send a message that the lives of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd – the black man dragged to death in Texas in June 1998 – are considered more valuable by our government than the lives of those four young people, buried and forgotten, in Wichita.
If that is what hate crime laws are intended to teach us, then it is time to put an end to hate crime laws.