Hate Crimes: A Boys Life an Essay by Joan Wypilewski

Hate Crimes: A Boys Life an Essay by Joan Wypilewski

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In October of 1998, Aaron Kreifels, a young man, resident of Laramie, Wyoming discovered Matthew Shepard's limp body bound to a fence. From a distance Kreifels mistook Shepard's slender frame for a “scarecrow”, and was horrified to find otherwise (Kaufman). Matthew Shepard, a twenty-one year old University of Wyoming student, had been beaten until he was no longer recognizable, and while still technically alive he was rushed into urgent care. He died, after slipping into a coma, six days later (Kaufman).
Shepard was a homosexual man, and his murder was labeled as a hate crime, a murder which, in the late 90's, dominated the airwaves: “Matthew Shepard” was the name at the tip of everyone's tongue, but what made his murder special? JoAnn Wypilewski points out in her essay “A Boy's Life” that, “Gay men are killed horribly everywhere in this country, more than thirty just since Shepard – one of them in Richmond, Virginia, beheaded” (609). When so many men are killed in a similar context why do we specifically care about Matthew Shepard – or why don't we? Searching simply the name “Matthew Shepard” in the Google database yields thousands of results in the form of articles, news periodicals, and videos. The media exposure of the Matthew Shepard case is overwhelming. The overload of information can leave us clueless. As college students of the twenty-teens who are fifteen years removed from the incident how do we care about Matthew Shepard?
There is no denying that the murder of Matthew Shepard was brutal and unnecessary. His murderer, Aaron McKinney, committed a heinous act and were punished to the full extent of the law. However, do we simply whisk away the murderers demonizing them as monsters while Shepard is left as an angel sh...


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...ommunity is still prevalent today, and the impact of Shepard’s death, will allow twenty-first century college students to care about Matthew Shepard. Shepard became a symbol for sexual equality and tolerance. Whether or not his tragic death was motivated by homophobic hate no longer matters.



Works Cited

Gumbel, Andrew. “Matthew Shepard's murder: 'What it came down to was drugs and money'.” The Guardian. N,p., 14 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Kaufman, Moises, dir. “The Laramie Project”. 2002. http://www.grpl.org/. DVD-ROM. Apr. 2014.
“New Details Emerge in Matthew Shepard Murder.” ABC News. N.p., 6 Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Apr, 2014.
Olsen, Eric. “Why Does Sensationalism Sell?”. Live Science, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Wypijewski, JoAnn. “A Boy's Life”. The Composition of Everyday Life. Eds. Mauk and Metz. 4th ed. Boston: Wadsworth. 2013. Print.

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