Losing Matt Shepard

Topics: Matthew Shepard, Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming Pages: 3 (1091 words) Published: April 29, 2007
A Cause

Beth Loffreda, an associate professor of English and the advisor of the Gay and Lesbian rights group at the University of Wyoming, stresses for change in her publication "Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder" (2000). Her publication is a study of how the residents of Wyoming responded when Shepard, a young gay student at the university in Laramie, was brutally beaten, tied up to a fence, and left to die by the side of the road. Loffreda examines and documents the multifaceted problem caused by the media frenzy, fanatic religious groups, and the prejudices of Wyoming and the rest of the country. Loffreda believes that the hysteria in Wyoming was ignited by a media that developed its own sensationalist spin. Matt's death is only one of many deaths that year; however, his death received an enormous amount of the media's attention. The news frenzy became so carried away, that Shepard's family received "about 10,000 letters and 70,000 emails" in response to the image broadcasted by the media (327). However, most of the media reports were hype and exaggeration, with little if any truth! Many things were exaggerated to increase the ratings of the news stations, and the Journalists misinterpreted many key facts, such as how Matt was tied to the fence, and that he "got burned." The news also reported how Wyoming is a "hate state," a statement that Wyoming residents strongly disagreed with. Beth Loffreda illustrates how the death of Matt Shepard influenced many individuals and groups, including religious leaders. A reporter mistakenly related the incident involving Matt Shepard to a crucifixion, seeing as how Shepard was pinned to the fence, "spread-eagled, splayed out" (312). This instigated a false perception that Matt Shepard had been "tied like a scarecrow." The news that Shepard had been tied up "something akin to a crucifixion" became the starting point for the reaction to follow (313). Many religious...
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