As I wandered around my apartment Wednesday night, I was stopped suddenly, distracted by the program that my roommates were watching on television. The program had mediocre acting and I, at first, thought it was one of those silly drama series, but I was instantly intrigued and couldn’t pull myself away from the screen.
There were no commercial breaks and I wondered what station was airing the show. To my surprise, it was MTV. It was the special showing of “”A Hate Crime Revealed,”” the story of Matthew Shepard.
I recalled hearing about the horrific crime that took place in Wyoming and had read an article about it in “”Time.”” Though it certainly was not the first crime of such nature and magnitude, the case of Matthew Shepard drew national attention.
The harsh treatment of gays in America, the “”land of the free,”” needed to be brought to light. The events surrounding Shepard’s death were unsettling. With its portrayal of the violence of the men who attacked him and exhibition of small-town anti-gay sentiment, the program struck emotional chords.
But the most disturbing part of the story was the public reaction after Shepard’s death. There was footage of actual events and protests that transpired after his death woven into the movie. The posters that people made in response to Shepard’s death were appalling. Bold letters on posters screamed “”Matt is in Hell.””
To know that the people who made these posters were so-called people of the church was especially disturbing. Those people who claimed to be followers of God were certainly not practicing the unconditional love they believed was so graciously given to them. There can be no resolution when those who should ease the problem only contribute to it.
I am not saying all believers are of the same outspoken and judgmental type, but those outspoken people are the ones who set precedence into the public’s eye of what all Christians are like. It is outrageously hypocritical to judge another person without considering one’s own faults.
My initial reaction to the show was to praise MTV for sparing an hour of airtime from the bombardment of advertisements. A significant statement was made: This is an important topic that warrants no interruption.
The popularity of MTV with youth adds to the impact. Eager young viewers flip to their favorite music channel to find something very different. MTV hopes their interest is piqued by this show and that they might continue to watch and broaden their understanding of such a topic as hate crime awareness.
Certainly, many viewers were disappointed to miss their regular program and did not even consider what was being shown. Or even worse, the young viewers may have already been conditioned to think negatively about homosexuality and refuse to open their minds to other ideas. It is not that they should completely change their morals and the way they were raised, but they should at least try to gain a new understanding. One does not have to believe in or accept an idea, but an attempt should at least be made to understand it.
It is encouraging to see programs that touch on important events and problems that affect our nation. By educating the people, especially the younger generation, there is hope for less hate in the future.