Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Live free from hate" by Brooke Eades, Kelly Walsh High School

Live free from hate

Lessons from the lives of Logan and Matthew Shepard

By Brooke Eades – Kelly Kall Staff Writer

Kelly Walsh High School


“Hate has no place in this world.”

            As graduation approaches and seniors go off to conquer the world while their fellow classmates move up the high school ladder, those seven words are ones to be kept in mind. No matter where life leads or what path is taken it is important to remember that everyone deserves respect. This year is the tenth anniversary of the loss of Matthew Shepard and the brutal hate crime that took place within our state that led to his death. His brother Logan Shepard’s words above are just some advice he gives to the students at Kelly Walsh and around the country.

            Matthew Shepard was, as his brother described him, a “one of a kind individual” who had the gift of being able to strike up a conversation with anyone he met. He attended the University of Wyoming with an emphasis on political affairs and was a shinning student and a kind person to his fellow piers. Tragically, on October 12, 1998 Matthew passed away after being beaten and tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming for simply being gay.

The brutal hate crime was committed by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney when they encountered Matthew in Laramie’s Fireside Bar and offered him a ride. Once in the car Matthew was severely beaten by a pistol and driven outside of town where he was tied to a fence post, severely tortured, and left to die. He was discovered the next morning by a bicyclist who at first glance thought that Matthew was a scarecrow. Matthew was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado where he remained in a coma with injuries too severe to operate. He passed away with his family at his bedside five days after the attack.

            Matthew’s story spread across the nation and the world like wildfire and the awareness towards hate crimes took center stage. Logan Shepard was only a senior in High School when his brother passed away. A time when students are looking forward to graduation, prom and the typical high school events. Logan’s senior year was sadly far from typical as he faced obstacles that are hard for any person to even imagine.

            “One day I was an everyday student and the next day we were on the news and the covers of magazines.  I had always pictured my senior year to be one of the best years of my life, then it all came crashing down around my head and I lost one of my best friends and biggest supporters,” Logan Shepard said. In a time when pain was unavoidable Logan stayed strong for his family and all those around him. “It was difficult to go back to school, but I did and I had to grow up faster in a year than I had ever imagined possible. I had to become an adult, I had to be strong for my family, I had to be able to stand up to those people who would come up and say awful things about my brother and my family.”

              There is no excuse for what happened to Matthew and for what his family was put through. Hate can create devastation and as high schoolers go off to face the world, we are the only ones who can stop it. The realities of our words and our actions can be far spread and bigger then anyone realizes. Showing respect towards others regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender or personality is essential. You don’t have to agree with them but you owe them the courtesy to be their own individual and live their life in peace the way that they choose to live it.

            The Matthew Shepard Foundation was put in place by Matthew’s mother Judy and has become a huge success throughout the country. They have created nation-wide attention to hate crimes and gathered support to stop them from happening. The foundation also introduced the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act that is still waiting to be passed.

            Logan Shepard had an immense amount of advice for Kelly Walsh students.  “The world is a much bigger and more diverse place than small town Wyoming. Life is going to change dramatically and the best advice I can give you is, treat people with respect. Treat people how you would like to be treated.  I know kids are tired of hearing it, but I was in school too and the lesson is; High School and Junior High do not last forever, and who you are now, will change once you enter into the real world.   Enter the world with an open mind. Learn about new cultures and religions, learn about the LBGT (Lesbian Bi-Sexual Gay Transgender) community, you may be surprised by what you learn and even more surprised to find out that we all have common interests and form great friendships.  We are all people, just trying to live our lives and trying to find our own love and happiness. Under no circumstance should anyone have to live in fear.”

            Keep Logan Shepard’s words in mind as each and every one of you go on with your lives. Always remember to consider before you speak, respect those whom are different and before you choose to hate- think of Matthew.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Social Internet Networks are they the greatest thing ever created or the biggest hassle of everyday life?

It seems that in today’s world everyone and their pet has some form of a social internet account, whether it is Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Connexions, Hi5 etc.  It doesn’t matter, a profile has been created somewhere by everyone who has touched a keyboard.

There are even grandparents and parents setting up accounts now.  Why not?  It is better than email, and as easy to use as a text message since most people have mobile alerts now.  It is such a huge part of everyday life, that even the names of those sites have become verbs and nouns used everyday.  For instance, “I’ll facebook you later,” or “I’ll post that on MySpace,” are phrases used almost daily, in my life.  It is a great way to stay connected with people from your past, but is being connected that easily too hundreds of people, safe and a great tool; or is it borderline addiction and dangerous?

When I was introduced to MySpace a few years ago I thought it was great!  I could sign on, send my friends pictures and e-mails, right from my own personal page, and then I started finding old classmates.  This was great too, since I moved around a lot, and spent my Jr. high years in a different country and then went to a private school, I had lost contact with many people, and it was fun to find them and catch up again.  When I’m really bored I’ll play games with my friends online, it is definitely a major part of my daily life.

However, there is always a down side to that as well.  With the addition of hundreds of friends, comes the massive amount of internet SPAM, and people hacking other accounts, and then there are the people that create fake accounts to cause harm and post hurtful things.  It is disappointing, people should have better things to do, than ruin and waste other people’s time. However, there is always a down side to that as well.  With the addition of hundreds of friends, comes the massive amount of internet SPAM, and people hacking other accounts, and then there are the people that create fake accounts to cause harm and post hurtful things.  It is disappointing, people should have better things to do, than ruin and waste other people’s time.

For new users out there, be careful with what you are posting on your own personal pages, for instance don’t post stuff that would disgrace your parents or your employer. Just because it’s on your account and password protected doesn’t mean that others can’t find a way to see your private things.  I have many friends that have even deleted accounts after college, in order to start their job search.  Once things are on the Internet it is hard to get away from them, and companies don’t want to be represented by party animals and weekend morons or by people who are writing slanderous things towards peers and posting particular slurs aimed at groups of people.  I think my biggest complaint about it, is how easy it is to set one up, people are using false names of others and then posting things without any consequences. 

The Internet is a fun and useful tool, but user be wary, if it is mistreated it will come back and bite you.