Bethany L. Coderre
Theater-3 Ms. Kewley
After reading "The Laramie Project" your left with so many questions, ideas and emotions. The
play is a series of interviews (reenacted exactly as they happened) to give the audience facts and true
statements so that they can form there own opinion. The play takes place in Laramie Wyoming, after
the "hate crime" that left 21 year old Matthew Shepard fighting for his life that ended soon after all
because the fact that he was gay. Hate is a feeling and hate crime is acting on that hatred, but what
exactly is a "hate crime"? What makes it so different from any other crime? Isn't all crime hate crime?
"People would like to think that what happened to Matthew was an exception to the rule, but it
was an extreme version of what happens in our schools on a daily basis." (Laramie Project,47) This
quote shows how people are going through hate on a daily basis and it sucks that the only way to get
peoples attention was for something as tragic as Matthew Shepard story. The term "hate crime" was
given the name in the 1980's by journalists that were trying to describe a number of incidents directed
towards Jews, Asians and African Americans. The federal Beureo of investigations defines hate crime
as "a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in
part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national
origin." The word "hate" is defined as "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger,
or sense of injury" or "to feel extreme enmity towards."
The acts of a hate crime include rape/sexual assault, physical assaults with weapons, verbal or
physical harassment, vandalism/robbery attacks on homes or places of worship. These acts all have
different effects, all depending on the act, the offender and the victim. An article from APA stated that
"An individual may not only experience the reactions that often follow a rape or sexual assault, he or
she may also suffer from additional effects brought on by the attack of their identity. These reactions
can include; deep personal hurt/betrayal, feelings of powerlessness/vulnerability, anger or sadness, fear
for personal and family's safety or even changes in lifestyle (where they walk, how they answer the
phone,their reactions to strangers)." psychological problems like, post-traumatic stress disorder,
depression and anger, taking as much as 5 years for a victim to overcome the psychological effects
from an attack.
In the article "All crimes are hate crimes" written by Jim McPherson, he states that "hate crime
laws tend to promote inequality rather than curb it. Such laws create special classes of citizens who
enjoy a special status." When you think about it like that it opens the door for so many pros and cons
of whether or not "hate crimes" should be treated different from any other crime. "It is inherently
unjust to punish certain crimes more...