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Young, Gay And Murdered


E.J.

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Young, Gay And Murdered

Kids are coming out younger, but are schools ready to handle the complex issues of identity and sexuality? For Larry King, the question had tragic implications.

By Ramin Setoodeh | NEWSWEEK

Published Jul 19, 2008

At 15, Lawrence King was small?5 feet 1 inch?but very hard to miss. In January, he started to show up for class at Oxnard, Calif.'s E. O. Green Junior High School decked out in women's accessories. On some days, he would slick up his curly hair in a Prince-like bouffant. Sometimes he'd paint his fingernails hot pink and dab glitter or white foundation on his cheeks. "He wore makeup better than I did," says Marissa Moreno, 13, one of his classmates. He bought a pair of stilettos at Target, and he couldn't have been prouder if he had on a varsity football jersey. He thought nothing of chasing the boys around the school in them, teetering as he ran.

But on the morning of Feb. 12, Larry left his glitter and his heels at home. He came to school dressed like any other boy: tennis shoes, baggy pants, a loose sweater over a collared shirt. He seemed unhappy about something. He hadn't slept much the night before, and he told one school employee that he threw up his breakfast that morning, which he sometimes did because he obsessed over his weight. But this was different. One student noticed that as Larry walked across the quad, he kept looking back nervously over his shoulder before he slipped into his first-period English class. The teacher, Dawn Boldrin, told the students to collect their belongings, and then marched them to a nearby computer lab, so they could type out their papers on World War II. Larry found a seat in the middle of the room. Behind him, Brandon McInerney pulled up a chair.

Brandon, 14, wasn't working on his paper, because he told Mrs. Boldrin he'd finished it. Instead, he opened a history book and started to read. Or at least he pretended to. "He kept looking over at Larry," says a student who was in the class that morning. "He'd look at the book and look at Larry, and look at the book and look at Larry." At 8:30 a.m., a half hour into class, Brandon quietly stood up. Then, without anyone's noticing, he removed a handgun that he had somehow sneaked to school, aimed it at Larry's head, and fired a single shot. Boldrin, who was across the room looking at another student's work, spun around. "Brandon, what the hell are you doing!" she screamed. Brandon fired at Larry a second time, tossed the gun on the ground and calmly walked through the classroom door. Police arrested him within seven minutes, a few blocks from school. Larry was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later of brain injuries.

Read the rest HERE

? 2008 Newsweek, Inc.

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Horrible story. The more I think about it, the more I think there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

I can almost understand why a straight kid might feel a little threatened if a pushy, fem kid tried to pursue him in school. What bothers me most about the story is that the straight kid would shoot him in the head -- twice -- in cold blood, in the middle of a class. Why have any witnesses? Why not ambush him on the way home? And why kill him at all? Why not just ignore him?

But then, I'm reminded of what Chris Rock said about the Columbine killers: "Maybe these kids are just f-in' CRAZY!"

Still, it's troubling enough that I could come up with about five plots that would explain it -- most of them revolving around the murderer having sex with the gay kid and then killing him out of fear that he himself would be exposed.

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Guest Fritz

Thanks for the link E.J. It helps give us an understanding of what happened and why, but even that doesn't help me decide what would be an appropriate way of handling the case. One side of me wants to lock Brandon up and throw away the key as a way of protecting society, but the other side keeps saying for Christ's sake, he is only fourteen and hasn't matured enough to understand ALL the implications of his actions.

Having said that I am left with one nagging question. Does our juvenile justice system leave kids like Brandon thinking that they can commit crimes because as juveniles they will not be punished in the same manner as they would be were they adults, or does that thought even go through kids' minds when they decide to commit such crimes. If I had a definitive answer to that question I would have a better chance of deciding whether to try him as an adult or as a juvenile.

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Fritz, in my view, ideally, anyone who acts civilized and properly only because of threat of punishment if caught needs to be kept in a place where observation would ensure him/her being caught. The sad fact is, most of the crime and crime prevention is because of people who are out to do things they really shouldn't be doing in the first place.

The difference between knowing you are doing something wrong and doing it anyway, and not knowing you are doing something wrong is probably the defining moment from youth to adulthood. I think many so-called youths are well aware of the wrongness of some actions, and procuring a gun, concealing it, then shooting someone twice, not in anger, but calmly, is adult. Maybe the motivation is still juvenile, but that shouldn't really count. There are lots of juvenile motivations for adult actions, including road rage, but that shouldn't be the defining point.

All that said, I have to think that society as a whole is to blame for many of our crimes, since we raise kids to adults often without teaching responsibility, respect, realistic expectations, and even forget to display love. What can you really expect to be the result from endlessly neglecting kids, leaving them sit in front of the TV for mega hours, and seldom showing affection? Who's really at fault, the reactive child, or the equally untrained parents? Or their parents? How far back can you trace this responsibility? It's uncomfortable to think about, and I'm honestly glad I don't have any kids to worry about.

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Guest Fritz

Trab, I agree with much of what you say and for myself lean towards trying Brandon as an adult. Still, I have some nagging doubts that he truly understood that his actions could and would affect his life forever. And yes, that lack of understanding is in great part due to the lack of proper teaching of responsibility. Add in that not only do most parents not teach responsibility, our whole society tends to discount responsibility which leaves him no examples of the consequences. Time after time we hear of people--and not just young people--committing crimes and getting off with little more than a slap on the wrist, so what is a young person to take from that lesson. The lesson that our society has been teaching for years is that you can commit all kinds of crimes as a juvenile and maybe--if you do enough--someone will actually punish you somewhat. Then again, maybe they won't. Even when you are an adult it is difficult to get sent to prison unless you happen to commit certain types of crimes. However, lord help you if you commit some crime that society happens to be really down on. As an example of what I'm talking about, people who drive without licenses or insurance frequently get caught multiple times and rarely go to jail, yet committing the same number of offenses for a minor drug crime will put you in jail for a long time. Granted my example is a generalization and you can find anecdotal evidence to refute it, but on average it will hold true.

Then there is the problem of if you are a sports star, or a movie star, or a politician, or some other famous person you can frequently get away with behavior that we would condemn or punish if it happened to a person of lesser popularity. When our young people see people like O.J Simpson getting away with murder, what kind of message does that send? When they see a politician getting in an accident because he was drunk, and there is no punishment because the guilty party checked himself into rehab, what message does that send? The fact is that we are not even willing to hold ourselves responsible for our actions and kids pick up on that.

I don't have any solutions for the problem. I wish I did, but I know of no way to force people to teach their children responsibility, or insist that people be responsible for their own actions. What I do believe is that if we continue down the path of not assuming responsibility for our own actions it will produce a collapse of our civilization. Any system of democratic governments can only flourish as long as its citizens are responsible members of those governments.

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