The journalist was killed 10 years ago today.
Ian Murphy, a man notorious to Wisconsin Republicans for prankcalling Gov. Scott Walker (R), is in jail.
The editor of The Beast turned himself in to authorities in Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday evening after a prolonged legal battle stemming from his 2012 arrest at an anti-LGBT protest staged by the National Organization for Marriage.
The sentence: 15 days hard time, all because he annoyed the wrong people.
Murphy went to an event staged by the gaybashers on the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed marriage equality into law.
"Mostly we just asked people silly questions," he told me. "We told them they were going to hell for wearing polycotton blends and cutting their hair. You know, crazy Old Testament stuff."
The key word here is "mostly."
He also brought a bit of a prop with him: a dildo, which was supposed to substitute for a microphone -- or as he called it, The Dildophone.
"We only used it on one guy, which sounds really bad when you say it that way," Murphy laughed. "We pulled him aside and asked how he defines marriage. The guy chuckled a bit, got all red in the face, then he walked away."
The scene was like a sketch from MTV's old "Tom Green Show," in which the manic comedian put dog poop on the tip of a microphone and walked around New York City jabbing it in people's faces for shock value, asking inane questions in filming their faces contorting with horror. However, Tom Green was not the inspiration for The Dildophone. I'm proud, and sad, to reveal that I was.
I first encountered Ian at The Buffalo Beast in 2007, when he and the paper's former editor preapproved, then rejected, a feature story penned by myself and fellow progressive journalist Nathan Diebenow. (Diebenow, apart from being a good writer and a good friend, is the guy who wrote the 2004 editorial in President George W. Bush's hometown paper endorsing John Kerry for the presidency.)
The idea was simple: We were to attend the Texas Fetish Ball, held in Houston the night before Easter Sunday, and chat up some leatherfreaks about their political views. The next morning we would visit Bush's spiritual advisor, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who leads one of the nation's largest black congregations, just to see if we could spot any similarities between these two groups we assumed would be wildly different.
Throughout the whole odd affair, I kept with me a prop of sorts -- a dildo called "The Facilitator," featuring a rubber strap at its base so it can attatch to the chin, making the wearer look like some kind of upsidedown, perverted unicorn. I decorated it to keep things festive, slapping Jesus stickers on the beige shaft and stabbing a Christian flag in the tip. The point was to both be offensive and find a single bizarre object that embodied the attitudes of both groups.
I didn't strap the dildo to my chin, opting instead to wear it like a necktie. It went over well with the fetish crowd, but I figured it would be an arrestable offense to start waving it around inside of a black megachurch. I still carried the obscene prop in my pocket, and was very surprised to find that its presence was rather fitting.
That Easter Sunday, the pastor made all the single women in the church run through the aisles, promising them, "God is gonna deliver you a man," like some kind of Christian/Pagan hybrid fertility ritual. Caldwell is into the prosperity doctrine, after all. If God can make you rich, then why can't he also get you laid?
The idea of our failed attempt at Gonzo journalism was to figure out what kept these two wildly different groups bound together as Americans. What we found was that only two inches separated them.
None of that really came through in the piece, however. We kind of got caught up in wildly unintelligible hallucination sequences featuring Hillary Clinton flogging, then crucifying, a giant pink ape wearing a ballgag. (Don't ask.) The answer from Ian's editor was a resounding "No." He even called the story "self-fellating," for what it's worth.
"I don't know if you guys were high or what but [the story] was incomprehensible," Murphy said. "All we knew was they were inside of some religious event covering it like Gonzo reporters, and they had something called The Jesus Cock? The Christ Cock? Yeah, there you go. That's always stuck with me. The Christ Cock is always stuck inside of me. So, it seemed perfect for these homophobic assholes, to ask them questions with The Dildophone."
Although he swears the cops didn't see The Dildophone and actually arrested him for filming an officer, which is legal, Murphy was officially convicted by a jury several months later of making an obscene gesture. The other charges, largely trumped-up, did not stick.
In the courtroom, the prosecution featured an image of Murphy pointing The Dildophone, positioning it just so it would look like he was waiving the faux schlong at the jury. Two people who participated in the anti-LGBT protest also took the stand and testified that Murphy was waiving The Dildophone in peoples' faces and actively fellating it in front of the whole group.
Think about that for a second. Try to imagine the scene. If you saw a short, angrylooking dude with a camera screaming obscenities at church folk and choking down a giant rubber cock on a street corner, you'd film that right? I would. Hell, some would even pay to see that -- and do, I'm sure.
There are, however, no photos of Murphy fellating The Dildophone. Likewise, there are no videos of him screaming curse words. He was convicted purely on the testimony of two very annoyed homophobes who Murphy insists lied about him out of spite. For the record, he also said that the police called him a faggot after they discovered his strange prop.
Thankfully, Murphy will return to us soon. Then again, if The Christ Cock is forever inside him... Well, let's just hope the prison guards aren't conducting too thorough a search.