Editorial: Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

The Laramie Project is a moving play about the murder of openly gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The town has since been stained by this hate crime that has been inevitably imprinted in the hearts of so many Americans.  The depth and divisiveness of the crime is central to the plot of the play; certain residents never saw anything wrong with the crime in the first place.  True to MBS, discussion of these themes are not isolated to simply the stage.  Dr. Boynton’s Humanities English 11 Honors classes recently finished reading The Laramie Project, connecting the broader theme of hate to the first quarter’s theme of “Being a Somebody” in America.  Discussing the ideology of hate crimes in the classroom signifies progress. 

America has always been a country living in the shadow of its image.  The ideal of “equality for all” has never been fully realized, despite the best of,  and sometimes the worst of, intentions. That’s not to say that those repeated efforts haven’t sparked progress, just that they’ve been chasing something slightly out of reach. Under the surface of the acceptance culture that permeates the twenty-first century, unreasoned anger and bias still run rampant.  Hate only serves to foster resentment, which in turn only leads back to hate.  The cyclical nature of hatred is why it persists, but also, the reason that we have the power to cut it off.

Hate can manifest in many ways. For example, microaggressions occur around the nation, including in school, and are often not as readily recognizable. Lessons outside the classroom are just as important as those learned in the classroom, arguably moreso.  When hate, in any form, is left to fester in the classroom amid silence, it breeds acceptance.  The classroom is a place of growth, both mental, social and emotional.  If hate is deemed “okay” in the classroom, it becomes deemed “okay” in the world.  That acceptance of hatred in the real world threatens the rights of the Matthew Shepards of our world.  

We should let Matthew Shepard’s story serve as a lesson to modern America.  It is necessary to accept others for who they are.  As it is commonly said, it is necessary — now more than ever — to respect existence or expect resistance.