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Monday, February 25, 2008

What He Said

posted by on February 25 at 11:56 AM

Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times

A reader inquires why no one in Chicago has yet written about Lawrence King, the Oxnard, Calif., boy who was murdered two weeks ago for the crime of being gay. King, 15, had begun sometimes coming to class wearing makeup, a capital offense in the view of 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, who, according to police in the town north of Malibu, strode into their middle school computer lab Feb. 12 and shot King in the head in front of two dozen classmates.

“Where’s the moral outrage?” asks reader Bob Zuley, who answers his own question: “This hateful behavior is learned by a society that condones homophobia expressed through families that practice bigotry, churches and schools that practice exclusion, and national leaders that fight to prevent equality and acceptance.”

Sounds right to me. But is that the complete answer? One could once count on Chicago’s active gay community to raise an outcry over such matters, but they have gone quiet in recent years. I’m mystified as to why—perhaps the reduced lethality of the AIDS crisis has lowered the flame under gay social activism. Perhaps gays have grown comfortable and secure—a tad prematurely, perhaps, given crimes such as the one against King. Perhaps their voices are lost in the swelling informational cacophony.

Religious groups are another matter. They’re always going on how they love the sinner while loathing the sin. That said, and given how religion is responsible for much of the vacant faux moral blather that underlies hatred of gays, you’d think they’d step up after cases such as King’s with the bold pronouncement that, vile as the sin of homosexuality is, you shouldn’t murder gays, at least not while they are still children. We seem to expect the entire Muslim community to rise as one and publicly denounce every act committed in their faith’s name anywhere in the world. Why shouldn’t our home-grown faiths take responsibility for the fruit of their efforts?

Typically, condemnation for a crime falls upon the criminal. But when that criminal is a child, it is easier to see the hand of society at work. Lawrence King died for your sins.

In other news of dead gay teenagers, an openly gay teenager was shot to death in Florida, an anti-gay state, as we’ve recently been reminded.

RSS icon Comments


That's it. I'm done wringing my hands and stifling my tears every time I read a story like this. It's time to start packing heat and fighting back. I'm coming for you, Florida.

Posted by sorryroger | February 25, 2008 12:07 PM

I wonder if this is a 'copycat' crime, coming so close to the other teen murder?

I don't know what we should be doing.

Posted by Beguine | February 25, 2008 12:16 PM

"Why shouldn’t our home-grown faiths take responsibility for the fruit of their efforts?"

That is a very powerful quote, and one that should be shouted from the rooftops every time something like this happens. Contrast the story of Lawrence King with Erica's post about Ken Hutcherson's recent sermon - isn't it painfully obvious that conservative Christians are responsible for this apathetic attitude toward hate crimes?

Sadly, even though folks like Jim Wallis are working to bring the evangelicals up to speed on the environment and social justice issues, they're still afraid to confront the Christian Right's bigotry against gays and lesbians.

Posted by Hernandez | February 25, 2008 12:23 PM

Did you all read the NYT Magazine article interview Texas Gov. Rich Perry? I wanted to puke.

Posted by Andrew | February 25, 2008 12:37 PM

I don't want to turn this into a political post, because this kind of tragedy shouldn't be cheapened that way. However, I really respected Obama raising the issue of hate crimes in a baptist church on MLK day, and I think that sort of thing might be a move in the right direction. If the churches aren't willing to speak out against this on their own, then more people at least capable of commanding their respect, people they can't just dismiss as 'godless sinners', needs to speak out to them in venues they can't ignore, and remind them that hate is not a scripturally viable option.

Posted by Beguine | February 25, 2008 12:38 PM

I think they secretly approve of gay killings because the person *would not or could not be saved from their sin.*

Posted by Cat in Chicago | February 25, 2008 1:09 PM

Link to the Rich Perry interview?

Posted by Mike in MO | February 25, 2008 1:20 PM

How can a state with so many fags in it be anti-gay?

The Key West/Miami Beach/Palm Beach fags need to get their booties off the beach and start getting political.

Posted by michael strangeways | February 25, 2008 1:34 PM

Hey, it's not like half of their electronic voting machines fried out when they did the fake Primary in Florida ... oh, wait, that did happen ...

2050 can't come soon enough.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 25, 2008 1:54 PM

Like a lot of New Yorkers, I go to Florida quite a bit--and it seems to me that between the booze and drugs, the Florida gays can't stand up to, or for, anything. Literally and figuratively.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | February 25, 2008 1:59 PM

I think religious groups don't condemn the killing of gay children because that would require acknowledging that being gay isn't a choice.

Posted by hillpagan | February 25, 2008 2:32 PM

As a Floridian, I've always told our visitors and vacationers that "Florida is a redneck pie with gay crust," in a manner meant to assure people that at least portions of Florida doesn't share many of the bigoted views that most non-Floridians typically associate with the South. And growing up on the West coast of the state in a mid-size down that prides itself on its somewhat unique collection of arts, culture, and (for the most part) tolerance of different yet legitimate sexual orientations, I perceived the state as being, at the very least, just as tolerant if not more tolerant than other locales. Since moving inland I have indeed noticed that many part of the state are extremely intolerant of open homosexuals (understatement of the day) particularly in the portions of central Florida where natives refer to themselves as "crackers" in some sort of perverse prideful manner. However I've held hope and defended the state upon the basis of my pie-crust metaphor mentioned above. Well, apparently not, at Ft. Lauderdale and Miami are about as coastal as you can get... man I hate this state.

Posted by rjsplow | February 25, 2008 4:38 PM

DNA tests show I'm the lovechild of Andy Warhol and Dame Edna Everage.

But why should we believe so-called "scientific proof" when we can see with our own eyes there's not the slightest family resemblance?(See photos on

Still, it is odd that Andy and Dame Edna were/are two of my best friends, and that I've had all those adventures with Madonna, Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Elizabeth Taylor, Armistead Maupin, and even the real people portrayed in Gus Van Sant's new Harvey Milk movie.

Your readers will thank you for inviting them to scroll down past the secrets of True Love and Orgasms of Light at

Beep beep!
Strange de Jim

Posted by Strange de Jim | February 26, 2008 8:24 PM

. . . from the Illinois House of Representatives


February 27, 2008 State Rep. Greg Harris

(773) 348-3434

Rep. Harris’ Statement in Response to the Murder of Lawrence King

15 year-old victim attacked due to his sexual orientation

CHICAGO – I am gravely concerned about senseless acts of violence occurring across our nation. On February 12th of this year, 15 year old Lawrence King of Oxnard California was murdered by a classmate while in his school’s computer lab.

Lawrence King was not a victim of the kind of random violence that has become prevalent in our nation’s schools, most recently at Northern Illinois University in my home state of Illinois; rather he was targeted because he was openly gay. He was not harming anyone, he was not threatening anyone; he was killed because he had the courage to be himself.

I am outraged by this act of classroom violence and wish to make clear that intending harm against people based on their sexual orientation is, without exception, completely and totally unacceptable, as are attacks based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender or any personal characteristic. Members of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual and questioning community deserve to live their lives proudly without fear of being victimized by these despicable acts of targeted violence. I urge my colleagues across the nation to join me in condemning this act of disturbing brutality

Posted by Bob Zuley | February 28, 2008 3:48 PM

What we can all do in honor of Lawrence King and in order to help prevent the next anti-gay murder is to lobby your local mainstream newspaper columnists, state and local elected officials, school district administrators and urge them to acknowledge Larry King's murder.
King's death was a failure on so many levels. His parents failed to protect him and apparently placed him in a residential group home for his 'gayness.' the school district minimized and failed to adequately respond to the problem, and the Oxnard police stated they were aware of imminent threats made toward Larry, but chose to ignore them. This amounts to deliberate indifference.

Posted by Bob Zuley | February 28, 2008 3:56 PM

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