Is “The Laramie Project” like Huntsville?

Recently, the SHSU Theatre department staged a production of Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project”. The play is the story of a small town and what happens when it experiences a hate crime. Laramie is a small college town with a variety of religious faiths and variety of cultures, but has no outlet for those cultures. Due to this, Laramie is also a town torn apart by a hate crime and shown as savage by the sensationalistic media. Huntsville is similar to Laramie in several of these aspects. Unlike Laramie, Huntsville has yet to feel the pain and anguish of a hate crime; however, what happened in Laramie could happen in Huntsville. All it takes is one. Laramie’s population is about 25,000. It is far enough away from any big city to steer clear of the freedom of ideas and expression that are often associated with any place with larger cities. Huntsville has a population of about 33,000 people and, like Laramie, is not near any areas that are intensely populated. Huntsville is an hour and a half away from Houston and three hours away from Dallas. In Huntsville, the majority of the bars and clubs only serve the fraternity/sorority oriented and the local coffee shop doubles as a pool hall. There is not a place for others to truly express themselves. SHSU is more than just a college for upper-to middle-class white kids. There are a variety of different people and ideas that hardly ever come to the forefront, because they exist just below the surface. In a sense, there is no freedom of expression if a place to express oneself is lacked. Part of the main problem that exists in “The Laramie Project” and in Huntsville are conflicting religions and the resistance to change and the unwillingness to accept people. Homosexuality, other religions, the woman’s rights movement, human sexuality and change are fervently looked down upon in a majority of religions, and it is these religions which influence a large majority of the views that populate both Huntsville and Laramie. The Bible was written over 5,000 years ago. People change; why can’t religion? Jesus accepted Mary Magdalene as a prostitute; do you really think he would have a problem with homosexuals?Cultural myopia is defined as narrowly defining culture within the limits of your own culture. Laramie, Wyo., was relatively uneducated of other cultures besides the predominant one in the town. Minorities were considered unimportant and people did not take the time to educate themselves about these minorities. People were only concerned with themselves and what they believed. Others beliefs were not important. Ignorance reigned and as a result, life was lost. Eventually, if some form of cultural literacy is not taught, some random act of hate-based violence will erupt and force Huntsville into the limelight, due to ignorance and the inability to accept and understand others.Laramie, Wyo., was an example of what can happen in a small town, if issues deemed unpleasing to the public eye are constantly ignored and swept under the rug of public opinion. Huntsville can be another Laramie unless some of these issues are brought to the forefront. Things are often deemed unpleasing because they are misunderstood, and all of us, regardless of our background, could indulge in taking the time to understand those different than ourselves.

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