JENNY JONES SHOW:
An episode of the Jenny Jones Show was taped during 1996-MAR. The
topic of the day was "secret admirers" in which panelists meet friends,
co-workers, neighbors, etc. who have a secret crush on them. This theme
has been used many times before on both this and other talk shows.
However, this time, the secret crushes were by members of the same sex.
Jonathan Schmitz from Detroit MI was invited to be a panelist on
the show. He asked whether the secret admirer was a woman; the show
representative said that it might be a man or a woman. At the taping,
Johnathan's secret admirer turned out to be his gay neighbor, Scott Amedure.
Johnathan, being heterosexual, declined Scott's implied offer
to enter into a closer relationship. Scott, Jonathan and a woman friend
later went out together that evening for drinks.
Jonathan later said that he felt ambushed and humiliated by the show. He
bought a shotgun at one store; he bought ammunition at another; he went
to Scott's home and killed him.
Since Jonathan Schmitz admitted to killing Scott Amedure, one would have
expected the trial to examine the motivation for the murder: that is the
homophobia of Schmitz which drove him to murder. One would anticipate
that the murder would be treated as a hate crime, with the most serious
of charges and severest of sentence. But instead, the trial concentrated on the talk
show itself, implying that the show was largely responsible for the murder, not
Jonathan's hatred of gays. Schmitz was projected as a helpless victim
of a talk show which went beyond allowable bounds. On NOV-12, the jury
found the defendant guilty of a lesser charge of second degree murder.
||On OCT-31, MSNBC broadcast a special report on the trial. The bulk of
the panel discussion related to the ethics of the Jenny Jones show and similar
talk programs. The hate crime was described as a "talk show murder".
One of the panelists briefly commented that Schmitz was "apparently...very
||On NOV-12, CNN's program "Burden of Proof" dealt with this
crime. Various panelists concentrated on Schmitz' humiliation, but
ignored the homophobia factor.
||On NOV-13, CNN's program "Larry King Live" covered this crime.
Scott Amedure's brother and the Amedure family lawyer were interviewed.
The lawyer commented that Schmitz was exposed to "embarrassment
and humiliation that they [, the show,] created." He made a common error,
believing that one person (or group) can be responsible for another person's feelings.
In reality, the talk show merely created the environment; Schmitz'
homophobia then created the homicidal feelings.
Return to the "Homosexuality in the News" page.