The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project Act 3: Aaron McKinney Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
This moment consists of the dialogue from a taped recording of Aaron McKinney’s confession, which was played during the trial. In the conversation, Rob Debree tells Aaron that he has the right to remain silent. He asks Aaron about his trip to Fireside Bar, where he and Russell Henderson met Matthew Shepard. Aaron tells him that they gave “a kid” a ride home, and when Rob Debree asks what the kid looked like, Aaron uses homophobic slurs to describe him.
As the audience observes this scene from Aaron’s confession, they might think back on Father Roger’s comment about how homophobic slurs are themselves the seed of violence—since Aaron uses words like “fag” to describe Matthew, whom he has just murdered. Clearly, Aaron’s words show that language and physical violence are closely linked.
Themes
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Rob Debree asks how Aaron McKinney met Matthew Shepard, and Aaron says that Matthew asked them for a ride home. Rob asks when Aaron and Russell talked about beating Matthew up and robbing him, and Aaron said they discussed it at the bar. Rob asks what happened next, and Aaron admits to beating Matthew up after Matthew put a hand on his leg. Aaron says he hurt Matthew “pretty bad” with his fists and his pistol, and maybe killed him. Aaron says he felt disassociated as he attacked Matthew.
As Aaron describes attacking Matthew, it becomes obvious from his casual language that Aaron does not fully understand the significance of taking Matthew’s life. Aaron also admits to deciding to kill Matthew because he thought Matthew was hitting on him when Matthew put his hand on Aaron’s leg, confirming that homophobia was behind the attack.
Themes
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon