Shepard’s Mother Encourages Awareness

Judy Shepard Advocates for Openness of Mind and Civil Rights

Judy Shepard of the Matthew Shepard Foundation gave a speech to discuss gay rights while relating it to the death of her son and advised people who aren’t sure how to open up about being gay.

The Alumni hall was packed with people who came to see Matthew Shepard’s mother tell her story, which was put on by CCSU along with President Miller and P.R.I.DE.

“You must tell your stories or else people will go back to the stereotypes,” Shepard warned. Shepard said that the word “gay” can be used as a derogatory word, yet people usually get away with it without repercussions.

“This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple,” said Shepard.

Matthew Shepard, who died at the age of 21, was tortured and beaten by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who both later received life sentences in prison. Shepard met the two one night in October, 1998 in
a bar in Laramie, Wyo. and was kidnapped. Shepard was beaten into a coma and tied to a fence to die. After he was discovered 18 hours later, he laid in a hospital bed for days where he died after receiving life support.

Judy Shepard described the sight of her son lying in a hospital bed with bandages all over him and tubes running throughout his body. She told of the hours spent by Matthew’s bedside and the pain that Matthew’s younger brother Logan was going through seeing his brother struggling to live.

Shepard encouraged the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer members of the audience to tell friends and family or they run the risk of outing by someone else. She said if she and her husband Dennis weretold Matthew was gay the day of the incident, it would have killed them because they would have known that Matthew didn’t feel he could open up to his family.

“That’s the way you make change, by educating people on what you don’t have,” said Shepard.

She encouraged each LGBTQ person to educate others and become a spokesperson for the LGBTQ community on every level – at home, school, or the office.

Shepard said that Matthew at first said he would have taken a pill so he didn’t have to be different, but later decided it wasn’t true and that he loved his life the way it was.

“That’s the best thing you can do is be you,” said Shepard.

Shepard told the LGBTQ members of the audience that they needed to remind their families that they’re gay because friends and family may tend to forget. She told them to expose themselves for who they truly were to their friends and family and use that awareness to push for civil rights.

Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming and majored in political science after having years of interest in current events and politics. Shepard’s mother said this started when he was a child and was described as a bright individual who was accepting of everyone.

“He knew that judging and stereotyping was a loss of an opportunity,” said Shepard.

“What makes us individuals is how we live our lives,” said Shepard.

Shepard also said that same-sex couples should have the right to get married and that it’s no different from any other marriage.

Shepard said that she didn’t blame Henderson and McKinney for the death of her son, but blamed society for making people think it was fine to commit such crimes.

-Matthew Kiernan, News Editor: ccsurecorder.news@gmail.com

Finkelstein Discusses Israel’s Motives

The tragedies in Gaza have been impossible not to notice in the past few years.

Norman Finkelstein spoke in front of a full house in Founders Hall on the CCSU campus last Thursday about state terrorism in the Middle East, including the recent massacre in Gaza, as Finkelstein referred to the these events.

In addition to clarifying what happened during that “awful day”, the well-known American political scientist, who specializes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also detailed the history of the conflict and events leading up to where things are
today.

“The Palestinians have a stronger case than Israel to resort to selfdefense,” Finkelstein said to an eager crowd in reference to Israel’s “self defense” explanation of their December attack in Gaza. “That’s common sense.”

Finkelstein, who is known for his anti-Israeli viewpoints, claimed that what happened to Gaza was the inevitable aftermath of what happened in Lebanon in 2006.

“It had nothing to do with elections,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein likened the recent conflict to something as unfair as “a Sherman tank rolling through a schoolyard and blowtorching the kids.”

When asked about what Israel’s end goal could be, Finkelstein offered up the difference between the Israeli’s ideal and practical solutions.

“Ideal is that the Arabs just vanish. Practical is probably, among several possibilities, to keep pounding them enough to abject submission,” said Finkelstein.

Other possibilities Finkelstein mentioned as Israel’s goals included making conditions intolerable enough that over time the Palestinians gradually leave.

Finkelstein didn’t hold back on criticism of other voices on the situation. He criticized columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who referred to Israel’s actions in 2006 as “educating Hamas”.

“That’s called terrorism,” said Finkelstein.

The controversial speaker wasn’t without his combatants. Dniety Schachar Siman-Tov, who claimed to be a former professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, spoke up during the early portions of Finkelstein’s lecture, raising the tensions in the room. When Siman-Tov received the chance to speak during the question and answer portion of the event, she was met with a restless crowd who eventually drowned her out.

Siman-Tov was upset with the way Finkelstein portrayed Israelis as “monsters”.

Finkelstein touched on issues closer to home when he brought up the new Obama administration. He said that the recent statements made by President Obama concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were “very discouraging.” According to Finkelstein, President Obama says they will always defend Israel’s right to defend themselves against legitimate threats.

“Don’t Palestinians have the right to defend themselves from people who steal their land?” Finkelstein questioned. “Should we disarm Hamas so next time the kill/death ratio is 1,300 to 0?” asked Finkelstein.

Kaylin Brennan, a senior at Bacon Academy in Colchester, went to the lecture on her own after a teacher suggested the event to her class.

“I really feel uneducated sometimes,” Brennan said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I wanted to learn about what’s going on.”

Dr. Evelyn Newman Phillips, director of international studies and anthropology at CCSU, was one of the professors responsible for bringing Finkelstein to campus as part of the continuing state terrorism lecture series. Phillips cited Finkelstein’s experience and reputation as why they brought him here.

“His research is very in-depth and thorough,” said Phillips.

Author Mark Perry, foreign policy analyst and Co-Director of Conflicts Forum of Washington D.C. and Beirut, Lebanon, will be the next speaker to talk about the issue in Gaza with a program entitled “After Gaza: The Catastrophic Status of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Monday, February 23 at 4 p.m. in Founders Hall.

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor