What constitutes a hate crime: the Matthew Shepherd case 

Joaquin Tenedora-Forte

        Unlike any other crime a hate crime is a crime in which the person who did it is targeting a particular minority group. To bring fear to that group of people. A hate crime should be prosecuted not as a ordinary crime but as a special case, with bigger consequences for the person involved.

      A classic case of a hate crime is the 1998 case of a 21 year old kid name Matthew Shepherd. Shepherd was a student at the University of Wyoming. He was brutally beaten and hung at a fence by two people he met in a bar, for being gay. Shepherd died from his injuries six days later. 

     His killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were charged with first degree murders in connection with Shepherd’s death. There defense is Shepherd is trying to hit on them. It was known as the “Gay Panic Defense. It did not work, McKinney and Henderson was convicted on two counts of murder. They will spend their lives in jail for as long as they live.

         The LGBT community is outrage to say the least. They stage a protest in Washington DC for a comprehensive federal hate crime law. But because of congress luck of understanding, it did not pass. Until 2010 when president Barack Obama sign the Matthew Shepherd Act, it was named after Matthew a promising young man who died in the hands of two men who are full of hate for him.

      I wish there comes a time that there is no need for a hate crime law. But it’s not possible because of human nature. I dream of a world with no hate, only love, peace not war. We are all natures children what ever race, gender, disability and sexual orientation we are. The only way we can beat hate is to respect. 


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Filed under Civil rights and libertiy, LGBT

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