Sara Whitman

Lawrence King Deserved To Die

Filed By Sara Whitman | May 09, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: anti-gay violence, hate crimes against LGBT people, Larry King, Lawrence King, school shooting, transgender, youth violence

While the defense lawyer in the Lawrence King shooting decided to take the most disgusting route possible- it was in fact, Larry's fault for being open about himself and the school's efforts to support him that got him killed.

I'm not surprised but it makes me sick.

The defense attorney, William Quest, said, "administrators were so intent on nurturing King as he explored his sexuality, allowing him to come to school wearing feminine makeup and accessories, that they downplayed the turmoil that his behavior was causing on campus."

So when a group of people decides to pick on a single person- who did have the constitutional right, "under long-established case law," to dress the way he did- it is the single person's responsibility to change?

Silly me, I would have thought it was a teachable moment. An opportunity to learn. I know, crazy to think that might happen in a school.

What if Larry was Black and decided to wear afro-centric clothes in a racist town. Would it be up to him to change? Would we excuse his killer because, well, he should have known better than to do that? Or would we be outraged by the senseless killing of someone simply because they were different.

Lawrence King had the constitutional right to be dressed the way he chose to be dressed. Brandon McInerney had no constitutional right to bring a gun into school and deal with his "discomfort" over King.

In the meantime, at Brewster High School, Michael Loscalzo has begun to wear women's clothes to school. He has been in therapy and is in the process of making the decision to transition to being a woman.

"Brewster Schools Superintendent Jane Sandbank reiterated that the district stresses respect and tolerance of all people.

"The school has been supportive of Michael and helping him work through his issues," Sandbank said. "Undergoing a sex change is a major choice for a young man to make. We would hope that the school would give appropriate guidance and ensure that he's not ridiculed or bullied."

Some of Loscalzo's peers have been supportive. Some have not. Some organized an "Equality Protest." Some have called him a freak.

I'm proud of Loscalzo, I'm proud of his mother who is scared but supports him, and I'm proud of his friends who rallied around him. He may transition and he may not. Sandbank is right. It is about tolerance and respect.

And I'm terrified the very tolerance and respect deserved may also get him killed.

Like Lawrence King.

Will we be blamed, again, for being out and proud? Because that's what it boils down to, being unashamed and out of the closet. I don't care if you are uncomfortable with my life. I will talk to you, try to inform you, share my experience so you can have a better understanding but if you don't like it still? You have no right to shoot me.

Your fear is not an acceptable reason to shoot me.

Defense attorney Quark was right about one thing. There were rising tensions between the two boys. King had been bullied for a long time.

The crime was when McInerney's when he pulled the trigger. He's a kid. He believed it was okay to kill someone. He needs help. Quark's defense only reinforces the belief that it's okay to kill someone who is different.

It only says, Lawrence King deserved to die.

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The defense attorney is using a version of that old cynical, hateful "gay panic" defense . . . the same defense that the military and its political apologists use for supporting DADT.

Make no mistake about it: I place full blame and responsibility on McInerney for his crime and, unlike others, believe that he appropriately is being tried as an adult (although I do believe that his age later should be a mitigating factor at sentencing).

However, to some extent I do place some responsibility and blame on society at large because where (1) hateful attitudes against the LGBTQ community by the religious right are disseminated in the mass media, and (2) outright discrimination against the LGBTQ community is sanctioned by state and federal governments, then young people such as McInerney cannot help but be polluted with a distorted understanding that maybe a gay person really is less than human and perhaps deserves to die.

I am sure that there are many others with more knowledge than me to address the issue, but my basic understanding is that for decades the murders of young transgendered people have long been ignored and sit as unresolved cold case files because there is an attitude in law enforcement that these lives simply did not count as much, and accordingly, do not get the money, resources and time that are needed to investigate adequately.

I thought California had outlawed the gay panic defense? I suppose not.

The prosecution in this case needs to object, and get the judge to order Quark to stop attempting to use an illegal defense.

This is what happens when juvies are tried as adults. Had they done what they should have done and tried McInerney in the juvenile courts, and hopefully gotten him the help he really needs, this trial - and this illegal and immoral defense strategy - doesn't happen.

King's parents are being more tolerant than I would have been. I'd have punched Quark out in open court the first time he intimated that King brought this on himself.

Remember, Polar? Lawrence King was living in a group home.

the only comments I've read from his family- which were not from his parents- was that they wanted him remembered as a nice boy.

not as a gay icon.

Yeah, I've never heard anything from his parents either, Sara. Doesn't that make it even more horrible?

The gay panic defense lives on. *spits*

Even if Mr. McInerney were tried in juvenile court, this defense still could have been used, but there would be an automatic gag order preventing the lawyer from putting this out into the media.

In juvenile or criminal court, he is still entitled to a zealous defense. In fact, the lawyer is required to give him a zealous defense. And hence this is the problem with a lawyer who is both a.) creatively challenged and b.) prepared to politically ax-grind. I would not be in the least bit surprised to learn that this lawyer is involved in some way with anti-equality causes.

The Lawrence King case also drives home the point why the words 'gender or perceived gender' need to stay in ENDA.

I've made my feelings clear in other comments on Larry King and what I think should happen to his murderer. I think it's important to take notice of the significance of the reaction teachers and especially classmates to Michael Loscalzo's coming out. Could this have happened, and perhaps most importantly, would it have gotten the kind of relatively respectful media coverage it has, five years ago? Three years ago? Two?

Maybe I sound like an aging left-wing fart, but that's ok. Personally, I can't help but think back to when I was that age and what it could have meant to me to be able to do what this kid is doing now. It thrills me to know that this girl and hopefully many others like her, won't have to spend their teen years terrified of exposure of their true selves but instead will be able to naturally develop into the people they actually are. The fact that this is not only possible now, but has even become a cause celebre for at least one school, says more to me about the future of LGBT rights in this country in general and about transgender equality in particular, than any politician or piece of legislation can.