Alex Blaze

Calling Brandon "obsessed with Nazis" seems restrained now

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 22, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: blame, brandon mcinerney, California, larry king, LGBT, Nazi, oxnard, queer, school, shooting, transgender, victim

Yesterday I posted about the first day of the trial against the killer of Larry King, Brandon McIrnerney. I wrote about how the trial, unlike the media coverage, was shaping up to be more about Brandon than about Larry. If you remember last year, Newsweek, the AP, the Advocate and other media outlets pretty much blamed Larry for his own death - it was Larry who was abnormal and deserved to die; Brandon's reaction is just what happens when kids get pushed too far with all this gay stuff.

I noted last year, though, how Brandon's obsession with Nazis only got a passing glance in the Newsweek investigation of that Oxnard, California, shooting, and they wrote it off as "not inappropriate." Well, the police went deeper and here's some of what they found:

Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when Larry King was fatally shot during a computer lab class, was acquainted with local neo-Nazis and kept a notebook with elaborate drawings of Nazi symbols and regalia, according to testimony from an investigator. McInerney, who is now 15, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder.

"The evidence strongly indicates he had been indoctrinated to some level," said Dan Swanson, a Simi Valley police detective and specialist in neo-Nazi gangs. On the second day of McInerney's preliminary hearing in Ventura County Superior Court, Swanson discounted earlier testimony that McInerney had black and Latino friends at school, contending that white supremacists are accustomed to hiding their true beliefs.

Lots more after.

A search of McInerney's bedroom and backpack yielded the notebook, seven of Hitler's speeches translated into English and a book about SS troopers who had been former members of the Hitler Youth. The collection reflected an interest in the Nazis that was far more profound than the World War II book report McInerney had been assigned, the investigator testified.

Swanson said the teenager's family was friendly with a white supremacist in Oxnard's Silver Strand area. The man told Swanson that he and his girlfriend allowed McInerney to sleep in their apartment a night or two before the shooting.

This is important stuff, since the defense is trying to make this all about Larry, not Brandon. Like the racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, anti-semites, and haters of all stripes have done for centuries (although they're getting more sophisticated about it now), they are trying to paint the oppressed group as a threat to the dominant group and use the fact that the dominant group doesn't particularly like or trust the oppressed group to their advantage.

In other words, they'll say Larry had taken over the school because teachers were afraid to discipline the queer kid because they were too PC, so he became a terror, and one of the other kids was just pushed too far and had to kill him. And jurors/Newsweek editors/people in general are likely to believe that because few people, in reality, are too PC to judge the queer kid unfairly and they aren't likely to believe him because they don't particularly like queers anyway.

It's maddening and Kafka-esque and cruel, but, hey, no one said being a minority was a day at the park.

And that's exactly what the defense is counting on:

The prosecution image of McInerney as a violent, cold-blooded racist was at odds with the picture advanced by his defense attorneys, who cast the gangly youth as breaking under a cascade of sexual insults from King.[...]

McInerney's attorneys described King as an aggressor. He got under McInerney's skin by publicly declaring his love for him. Other boys complained that he would blow them kisses. A substitute teacher told investigators that King put his hands down his pants and wiped them off on her and other students, although her account was disputed by prosecutors.

"He was harassing other students," said Scott Wippert, an attorney for McInerney. "There was a climate of harassment at school that surrounded not only Larry but also Brandon."

But at least some more of the truth is coming out now. Here's what Newsweek reported in their long investigation of the shooting last year:

While his life did seem to become more routine living with his dad, Brandon's troubles resurfaced in the eighth grade. His father was working in a town more than 60 miles away, and he was alone a lot. He began hanging out with a group of misfits on the beach. Although he was smart, he didn't seem to have much interest in school. Except for Hitler--Brandon knew all about the Nuremberg trials and all the names of Hitler's deputies. (When other kids asked him how he knew so much, he replied casually, "Don't you watch the History Channel?" Brandon's father says his son was interested in World War II, but not inappropriately.) By the end of the first semester, as his overall GPA tumbled from a 3.3 to a 1.9, he was kicked out of his English honors class for not doing his work and causing disruptions. He was transferred to Boldrin's English class, where he joined Larry.

The bolded section is 100% of what Newsweek thought a school shooter's ties to Naziism merited in a long article. Perhaps the author heard that and didn't think much of it, not enough to investigate further, but it was enough to jump out at me at the time in the midst of a rather large article.

This was important, but the take-away argument people got from the Newsweek article was that queer kids are terrors at schools and cracking down on gender variant behavior reduces violence, when that's not at all the lesson to take from Larry King's death.

The actual lesson is that hate kills, but the ironic part is that it also prevents us from seeing it by making journalists unwilling to investigate objectively or us listen with an open mind.

Updated for grammar and clarity.

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I'm not holding my breath for this. If a man got off stabbing a gay man 61 times under the gay panic defense of sexual assault, I'm inclined to believe that the jury will take cues from Newsweek's grotesque piece that delineated how Larry "asked for it".

If violent kids are obsessed with Hitler and Nazi related stuff, it's no big deal. But if the kids are obsessed with something trivial like Marilyn Manson's music, the media (and "christians") are all over THAT particular obsession.