Statement by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) on Murder of Matthew Shepard

Statement made on the Floor of the House of Representatives

October 12, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

The Honorable JIM KOLBE of Arizona: Mr. Speaker, the senseless and tragic death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, following by only a few months on the heels of an equally tragic murder in Jasper, Texas, reminds us how imperfect are our efforts to eradicate violence, hatred, and bigotry in our society.

By all accounts, Matthew Shepard was a gentle young man, liked by all who knew him, an unlikely person to incite such mindless and brutal violence in others.

How then does this occur? How do individuals get it fixed in their head that it is open season on others, simply because they are black or gay? I do not believe we should engage in an exercise of national self-flagellation. But, I do believe it is incumbent upon each of us to examine the words we use, the statements we condone, even the rhetoric of bigotry we sometimes hear and simply let pass without condemnation because we are preoccupied with other things. We must not tolerate a message of hate in our midst. We must not give bigotry the fertile soil it needs to flourish.

A loving God has gathered Matthew Shepard to His bosom; he will never face such hate again. That same God may grant His mercy and forgiveness to those who killed him, but a harsher justice awaits them in this life.