Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Outrage in California: Remember Lawrence "Larry" King

While I was perusing through Digg I found this tragic story about an 8th grade student out in Cali who was killed back on February 12 because he was gay. Usually this type of news causes quite a stir and ends up on nightly newscasts in the "National" section or on the front page of CNN for a couple of days, only to be forgotten. This story, unfortunately, did not get the chance to even garner national attention, but it really should. There are so many aspects of this story that are sad for both the victim and the shooter.

Lawrence King was shot in the back of the head in the computer lab of the E. O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California (about an hour northwest of Downtown LA). The shooter was a 14 year-old classmate of King's who, according to the brief CNN article, had a "beef" with King. The "beef" that CNN refers to (which conjured up images of gang violence) was actually the fact that Lawrence (who went by Larry) was hitting on the classmate, 14 year old Brandon McInerney, as a way to get back at him for countless episodes of name-calling and verbal abuse because of King's sexual orientation. This apparently enraged McInerney so much that he brought a gun he got from his father's house and shot King twice in the head.

A look at both of the children's lives leaves one feeling sympathy for both of the boys. King had been living in a home for troubled and abused children for about six months prior to the shooting. His friends and classmates say that he was withdrawn socially at times and it seems that he was a kid lacking stability in his life; something that is essential for a teenager going through those tough adolescent years, especially a gay teenager who is subject to abuse at school.

Of course Brandon McInerney's life was not all silver spoons and roses, either. He grew up in a household with a father that abused his mother (even shooting her once, for which he spent 120 days in jail) and a mother who physically abused him. Both parents appear to have been addicted to drugs and the house that they lived in was a local drug house where junkies could be found passed out on the floor. McInerney, as I said earlier, procured the gun from his father's home where he lived after his parents got divorced.

McInerney's domestic situation, however, does not excuse his behavior and his harassment of King and his murder of King. My question is where was social services when McInerney's father was in and out of jail, beating up on his wife and drunk driving and all that? The tragedy in this is that McInerney is so young and was so full of hatred for King, apparently because of King's sexuality, and because of this ruined two lives (not counting the family and friends of both boys). McInerney is being charged as an adult with premeditated murder with the enhancements of use of a firearm and a hate crime. This means he is facing 50 to life if convicted.

Now onto the next question: why hasn't the media picked up on this? Time magazine's John Cloud wrote an article on it, but chose to take it from the angle of "Gays need to stop complaining that they are picked on in adolescence because everyone, at one point or another, gets picked on in adolescence." (Note, my paraphrasing of his words, not a direct quote). He then said that McInerney should be punished, but that prejudice against gays should not be made an issue because of this one incident. I don't have the time or energy to get into homophobia in this society, but suffice it to say that I strongly disagree with Mr. Cloud's argument of, essentially, "deal with it." Additionally, I do not know if that article was even in the magazine, as I simply got it online in a Google search. I have not seen the King murder discussed in any other national major news outlets, and this is disconcerting, as it deals with a lot of what plagues society today (hate, prejudice, violence, young offenders, etc.). Instead, outlets like CNN want to focus on some actress from Gilligan's Island being busted for grass or that Lisa Marie Presley is pissed about photos that make her look fat. It's unbelievable that bullshit "news" like that takes precedence over real stories like this.

So where does this leave the situation? Larry King is still dead and, unfortunately, nothing can bring him back. Brandon McInerney is going to go to prison for a very long time (thanks to Prop 21). But one has to think, why was McInerney allowed to live with such irresponsible adults such as his mother and father? I mean, not only was the father abusive to the mother, but he left his gun about so that his 14 year old son had access to it. Personally I feel that the father should be held slightly responsible, given that it was his gun and bullets that killed Larry King. But I don't have much faith in the state of California to do anything about it if they allowed Brandon McInerney to continue to live with him in the first place. The national news has not picked up on it (instead focusing on asinine stories) and two lives are ruined because of hatred. This is just a very sad story that should have been reported on more because of its severity and societal implications. Peace.

Photos - Lawrence "Larry" King in December 2006 (, Brandon McInerney (, A memorial for King outside of E. O. Green Junior High, where the shooting took place (


  1. It is obvious Larry King was trangendered and not gay. He wore girls clothing, acted feminine, wished to change his name to a girl's name and wanted gender reassignment surgery. Its hard to believe everyone is including the media (Newsweek article) is still so ignorant.

  2. From the various news stories that I have read, none of them (including those who were quoted regarding King's gender/sexuality) stated that he was transgender. I was going off of the news stories (considering I did not know him personally) but if you know him personally and can vouch for the fact that Larry identified as transgender, I will amend the post.