Hate Crimes: A Case Study

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Many of Laramie’s citizens were homophobic, which “directly influence[d] the incidents of hate crime victimization” through McKinney and Henderson’s observation (Alden & Parker 321). Laramie was a place where people seemed to conform and willing to push out anyone who was unwilling to be another ordinary citizen. This town seemed to be breeding grounds for hate crimes since there was not many laws in place at the time that dealt with hate crime specifically. As hate crimes increased so did the need for “hate crime legislation specifically protecting sexual orientation” (Alden & Parker 322). McKinney and Henderson are examples of how homophobia directly correlates with hate crimes. These two men allowed their beliefs and observations of the …show more content…
Most of the citizens believe it is normal if one is a heterosexual, but if one is a homosexual, they are “violating the norms of gender” (Alden & Parker 324). The town of Laramie marginalizes homosexuals because of their difference in sexual orientation just like the citizens marginalize anyone else that is different. According to Alden and Parker, people believe men who do not do masculine things are not considered “real men” and are considered gay. Homophobia forms when a man or woman does not perform a stereotypical masculine or feminine action. Society has created these stereotypes that each gender should reflect and when homosexuals act differently, they are seen as different (in this case homosexual). When people create these stereotypes they begin to form negative feelings toward that specific group leading to hate crimes. Fag, homo, queer, flamer, and pansy are words individuals use to otherize homosexuals throughout our nation and even in Laramie. This type of name-calling is called gay bashing and is typically used by males. When McKinney was confronted about Matthew he used offensive words to show his hate for homosexuals, “Look, I’m not a fuckin’ faggot. If you touch me again you’re gonna get it.” (Kaufman 88). McKinney believed using these words were acceptable because many other citizens in Laramie were using them towards homosexuals. According to Murfin and Ray, individuals “seek to show that the truly queer thing is how quick we are to label, categorize, and judge” homosexuals (420). McKinney and Henderson both judged Shepard for how he dressed, talked, acted and even his wealth. Shepard’s murderers

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