Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“The stage is set to rip the wings from a butterfly…”

I meant to write about this earlier, but for once procrastination actually paid off… The subject is Matthew Shepard. For those of you who have not heard of Matthew Shepard, he was killed by two men who offered him a ride home from a bar in 1998. According to witnesses during the trial, he was targeted because he was homosexual. Shepard was a twenty-one year old student at the University of Wyoming when Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson tied him to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming and robbed and pistol-whipped him, leaving him tied there overnight in freezing conditions. He was found the next day in a coma by Aaron Kreifels, who mistook him for a scarecrow. He was taken to a hospital in Colorado, but died five days later on October Twelfth.

Okay, I know that’s all really depressing. Makes me want to cry, honestly, but this trial was a great turning point in the passing of hate crime laws in the United States. After all this, Matthew’s parents fought very hard for national hate crime laws for LGBT victims. But now to why procrastination is a good thing in the case of me writing this…

Well today, President Barak Obama finally did something POSSIBLY notable for a Nobel Peace Prize. He passed a Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill disguised in a 2010 Defense Authorization Bill. This bill is meant to protect victims of crimes motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity. Since I suppose marriage for gays will not be legal for a long time, this was the least he could do… although it is a bit ridiculous that this took ten years to pass. Matthew’s mother released a statement shortly after, which can be viewed in an article on The Advocate’s website.

But ANWAY, I’m just speaking politics when this is supposed to be about art. What I really want to talk about is the post-punk, independent screamo band, Thursday. Their frontman, Geoff Rickly is really into Equal Rights and one of their songs is actually about Matthew Shepard. The video below is the song “M. Shepard” with footage from a movie based on the crime and trial called “The Laramie Project.” Hope you enjoy it!

P.S. I’m also going to post the lyrics, because it’s a bit difficult to understand all of it, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

"M. Shepard"
The stage is set to rip the wings
from a butterfly.
The stage is set, don't forget to breathe,
between the lines.
If the whole world dies,
then it's safe to take the stage.
These graves will stretch like landing strips ----
hospitals: all dead museums,
we won't have to be afraid anymore.
The crowd is growing silent
with the gathering storm.

When the curtain falls,
and you're caught on the other side
(just trying to keep up the act),
we'll lie in the back of black cars,
with the windows rolled up,
joining the procession of emptiness.

If we say these words,
it will be too late to take them back,
so we hold our breath and fold our hands, like paper planes
(and we're going to crash).
We don't have to be alone
ever again.
There's a riot in the theater.
Someone's standing in the aisles,
yelling that murderers are everywhere
and they're lining up,
carving the M in your side.

Pull the curtain back.
Kill all the houselights.
Pin the dress with lotus flowers.
The silk is spinning
around and around, with the ceiling fan.
I'm disappearing into the spotlight.
I'm on display,
the butterfly
and the scarecrow.

With smiles like picket fences,
you tie us all up and leave us outside.
"That voice is silent now, the boat has sunk..."
We're on our own,
but we're not


  1. That is really sad. I have no idea why people have to be so hateful. It's possible to disagree with something and not be mean about it. Relatively sane people do it all the time. Some people are just jerks, I guess.

  2. I have a pen pal who went to a school in Oregon. His drama club was going to put on the play "The Laramie Project," but the city/school got really upset about it. They did it anyway and the drama teacher got fired! It was about it being too serious or too homosexual or something. How terrible!

  3. This story makes me extremely sad every time I hear about it, but I'm so glad that this hate crimes bill was finally passed! This post was really great.

  4. Your posts are always so well-written and nice! They put mine to shame. ;)

    Anyway, while I'm pretty disappointed that it took SO LONG for this to be passed, I'm glad that something's finally being done. With new laws comes the hesitant enforcement, though. Here's hoping that officials take it seriously and put their feet down!

  5. I guess it is a little refreshing that something was finally done, but you're right. It's insanely ridiculous that it took that long to pass this bill. I can't imagine what the argument was behind opposing it.