By Jennifer Petersen
In 1998, the bad murders of Matthew Shepard—a homosexual guy dwelling in Laramie, Wyoming—and James Byrd Jr.—an African American guy dragged to his loss of life in Jasper, Texas—provoked a passionate public outrage. the serious media assurance of the murders made moments of violence established in racism and homophobia hugely noticeable and which ultimately ended in the passage of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. The position the media performed in cultivating, shaping, and directing the collective emotional reaction towards those crimes is the topic of this gripping new publication via Jennifer Petersen. Tracing the emotional trade from information tales to the construction of legislation, Petersen demands an method of media and democratic politics that takes into consideration the position of impact within the political and criminal lifetime of the state. (2011)
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Additional info for Murder, the Media, and the Politics of Public Feelings: Remembering Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.
As this is a project focused on the proximities and distances we construct with distant others, it seems only fitting that I mention my own. The proximities that pulled me into this project focused initially around the death of Matthew Shepard and my own relationship to home. I lived in Laramie as a teenager, so it was with more than passing interest that I read about the attack on the front page of the New York Times in October 1998. My own feelings and understanding of the horrible story that unfolded beneath that dateline were wrapped up in my memories and feelings about Laramie.
It is evoked as a time as much as a place. S. culture. The vision of the premodern romanticized in Western iconography is a simpler, harsher time before modern conveniences and material goods and the smoothing influence of “civilization” but also before multiculturalism, women’s rights, and the visibility of multiple genders and sexualities. It is also popularly imagined as a straight space. As Judith Halberstam points out, cultural geographies are overlaid with ideas of sexuality and temporality.
Newspapers in Boston, New York, Washington, Cleveland, St. 3 26â•…â•… |â•…â•… Murder, the Media, and the Politics of Public Feelings It was less well covered in the South: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the largest daily papers in the South, ran only one story on the murder, in contrast to eight news stories and four editorials in the New York Times during October. The story had less purchase on the West Coast as well. 4 There was a coastal division within leftleaning media outlets as well.