Bullying | Crime | Ellen DeGeneres | Lawrence King | News

Ellen DeGeneres on Lawrence King: We Must Change Our Country


ELLEN: "On February 12th, an openly gay 15-year-old boy named Larry who was an eighth-grader in Oxnard, California was murdered by a fellow eighth-grader named Brandon. Larry was killed because he...was gay. Days before he was murdered, Larry asked his killer to be his Valentine...And somewhere along the line the killer Brandon got the message that it's so threatening and so awful and so horrific that Larry would want to be his Valentine that killing Larry seemed to be the right thing to do. And when the message out there is so horrible that to be gay you can be killed for it, we need to change the message."

Ellen DeGeneres will take time out of her show today to express her thoughts on the Lawrence King murder and make a plea for change against hate in the country. Good for her. This will bring awareness about the Lawrence King story and the problems surrounding anti-gay bullying and discrimination to a huge new audience.

The full clip, which I've transcribed, is AFTER THE JUMP...


"On February 12th, an openly gay 15-year-old boy named Larry who was an eighth-grader in Oxnard, California was murdered by a fellow eighth-grader named Brandon. Larry was killed because he...was gay. Days before he was murdered, Larry asked his killer to be his Valentine.

"I don't want to be political. This is not political, I'm not a political person, but this is personal to me. A boy has been killed and a number of lives have been ruined.

"And somewhere along the line the killer Brandon got the message that it's so threatening and so awful and so horrific that Larry would want to be his Valentine that killing Larry seemed to be the right thing to do. And when the message out there is so horrible that to be gay you can be killed for it, we need to change the message.

"Larry was not a second class citizen. I am not a second class citizen. It is okay if you're gay. I don't care what people say. I don't care what people think. And I know there are entire groups of people who face discrimination every single day and we're a long way from treating each other equally. All of it is unacceptable. All of it. But I would like you to start paying attention to how often being gay is the punchline of a monologue. Or how often gay jokes are in a movie. And that kind of message — laughing at someone because they're gay — is just the beginning. It starts with laughing at someone, then it's verbal abuse, then it's physical abuse, and then it's this kid Brandon killing a kid like Larry.

"We must change our country and we can do it with our behavior, we can do it with the messages we send our children, we can do it with our vote. This is an election year and there's a lot of talk about change. I think one thing we can change is hate. Check on who you're voting for, and does that person really truly believe that we are all equal under the law? And if you're not sure, change your vote. We deserve better. My heart goes out to everybody involved in this horrible, horrible incident."


Anderson Cooper on the Lawrence King Murder [tr]
U.S. Reacts with Anger, Sorrow, Action to Lawrence King Murder [tr]
Huge Vigil Turnout for Gay California Teen Slain in Hate Crime [tr]
Shooting of Gay CA Student Officially Labeled a Hate Crime [tr]
Gay Junior High Student Shot at School Declared Brain Dead [tr]
Gay Student Shot at L.A.-Area Junior High School [tr]

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  1. Bravo to Ellen to bring this tragedy to the attention of millions.

    Posted by: Steve Berman | Feb 29, 2008 8:11:56 AM

  2. That was so true. I teared up during it.

    Posted by: Kyle | Feb 29, 2008 8:16:30 AM

  3. I love Ellen better'n money 'n chocolate!

    Posted by: Michael W. | Feb 29, 2008 8:42:34 AM

  4. Are you paying attention Anderson Cooper?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 29, 2008 8:44:27 AM

  5. She is absolutely right. I stayed up late last night watching TV and was appalled at the gay jokes. Gay people are so trashed in the media and we laugh right along with it. But we don't make the connection from humor to hate!! We might think it's harmless because we're safe in our communities, but many people are not and we should keep that in mind when we defend the Jimmy Kimmel's and Conan O'Brian's of the world. And I'm not just picking on them, they just happen to be on my mind today.

    Take some time and really watch how gay people are being portrayed out there and ask yourself. Is this really the way we want to be represented all the time? Has anyone noticed the gay character on Survivor? I'm mean really, I've got nothing against gay men being themselves and not being ashamed of it. But don't you think the execs at CBS knew what they were doing when they picked this guy? He looks weak and pathetic out there and that really sucks because most of the gay men I know are not weak and pathetic. Quite the contrary.

    Posted by: realitythink | Feb 29, 2008 8:44:40 AM

  6. Along the same lines, did you catch Ronnie calling Ben for his homophobic remarks last night on "Make me a supermodel?" It was a proud moment. We should all be so courageous.

    Posted by: Voet | Feb 29, 2008 9:27:39 AM

  7. Go Ellen! I love that her sexuality is mostly a non-issue on her show but she still feels a responsibility and is not afraid to go there when she needs to.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 29, 2008 9:34:18 AM

  8. thanks, andy, for what you do. and the gods have to love ellen.

    Posted by: nic | Feb 29, 2008 9:50:26 AM

  9. This was the right thing to do. Ellen just grew fifty feet in my eyes.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 29, 2008 9:51:12 AM

  10. This was the right thing to do. Ellen just grew fifty feet in my eyes.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 29, 2008 9:53:29 AM

  11. Now let's hope the rest of the media really runs with this and make a huge difference in perception, as Ellen really hit it home with this one! It should be viewed by as many people as possible.

    Posted by: Ken Atkins | Feb 29, 2008 10:07:55 AM

  12. Ellen is the most popular lesbian in the world. I even know people who 'oppose homosexuality' that can't help but like her. She is such an asset to our community if you ask me.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 29, 2008 10:15:05 AM

  13. Ellen speaks words of truth. Hopefully our cowardly politicians and media will someday wake up and exercise some leadership. Bravo.

    Posted by: SFshawn | Feb 29, 2008 10:53:55 AM

  14. Its me again....I had cable/tele couple of years ago...but after my ex and I broke up, and i moved to my new apt...I decided to not have cable...i get only 2 channels lol 7 and 9. I tend to watch dvds only.

    My life has change for good with out all the media hitting me left and right with vague homophobic messages...i get all info on the internet. I AM NOT MISSING MUCH ON TELE.

    TRY IT TRY IT......shwo these people who we are, and how we stand together....money talks

    Posted by: Bosie | Feb 29, 2008 11:51:30 AM

  15. i was just reading through my email from HRC and i couldnt help but read the story of that boy, then up popped ellen and her video and at that point i had to watch..it brings tears to my eyes when i think of that kid being killed all for being himself..it makes me infuriated when i hear about people that pick out individuals and decide to make their lives miserable or end it because they think that their life isn't as important as the next, and they make it their mission to do what they think that person deserves..then i think, well what are their parents like, were they raised to think poorly of people who are different and not ashamed of it?..you know, i was never raised to be against anyone who was gay or any other preference..my mom always told me it was ok to be gay, then the moment i came out, everything changed..she now makes gay comments all the time in an effort to change my decision and she denies it in front of anyone else..then as if we dont get it enough at home, we go out into the world just to get murdered for doing something that someone else doesnt like..

    Posted by: ashley guitar | Feb 29, 2008 12:15:31 PM

  16. Ellen is my shero. <3

    Posted by: Stephen | Feb 29, 2008 12:17:40 PM

  17. It's not enough to say we need change; not only in the US but also in other parts of the world. We actually have to change our way of thinking. It starts with not having a President and a Government that refuses to admit that gays are equal. How can we convince the average person gays are equal and deserve the same rights and respect that everyone else gets if your government and President is doing everything they can to stop gays from getting those rights.

    Posted by: Evelyn | Feb 29, 2008 12:32:39 PM

  18. Rock on Ellen!

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 29, 2008 1:19:35 PM

  19. 2 points:

    1. I went to Youtube, got the URL, and passed this on to as many people as I could. I can attest to at least one CA State University having an extensive address book taken advantage of as a consequence. People DO like Ellen. Use that to our advantage. Pass this on.

    2. Kinda surprised by how few comments there are on this post. Is everyone too busy passing this on? Or is there some other reason why this post does not inspire the response rate of, say, an AI post?

    Posted by: JT | Mar 1, 2008 2:31:01 AM

  20. How can it be that the parents of this young boy can blame anyone but themselves...how is it that anyone who bashes the culture of another can ask for equality...how is is that those who stand for equality simple smirk at another's beliefs? I can't handle it...but God will...and the young man killed is at His side right now...talking away.

    Posted by: Jim | Mar 1, 2008 12:05:01 PM

  21. Ellen said it beautifully and powerfully.

    I'd like to see more attention given to this case and what it exposes about the kind of bigotry gay kids face and the indifference of school authorities.

    Anderson Cooper's show has a blog and he wrote a decent short think piece about this back when he covered the story, although not incredible and impassioned like Ellen's speech. I haven't seen it on the site so here was his take:

    Tonight, in addition to an interview with Ralph Nader, who this weekend announced he is running for president, we are focusing on a story that hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

    The story is about a young man named Lawrence King. He was 15 years old. On the morning of February 12, a classmate of Lawrence’s allegedly walked into the computer lab in front of some two dozen other students and shot Lawrence in the head.

    He was declared brain dead later at the hospital. According to authorities, this was not a random killing, it was a hate crime. Lawrence had recently told people he was gay, and apparently wore clothing that was viewed as effeminate.

    According to many accounts he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence’s life. At this point it doesn’t seem clear how much school officials knew of the bullying, but a full investigation needs to be done. If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead would it have received more attention?

    Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking.

    Bullying is a problem in schools across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again. Is enough being done to stop it?

    We’ll be looking into the facts surrounding the murder of Lawrence King, and we’ll talk with Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

    Posted by: Trevor | Mar 1, 2008 5:04:19 PM

  22. I never really cared for Ellen before this but she's now my hero. Good for her. She is so right about the homophobic humor that pervades American "entertainment". My partner and I walked out of "The Producers" on Broadway for exactly that reason. It made a bigger object of derision out of mincing queens than it did Nazi's!

    Posted by: dezboy | Mar 1, 2008 9:10:36 PM

  23. I've always thought those little "harmless" jabs at gays and lesbians that are so common they're almost unnoticeable (did anyone notice the "Gay-dolf Titler" joke during the Oscars?) are more harmful than the Fred Phelpses of the world, and Ellen articulated this perfectly.

    Well said, girl.

    Posted by: Really? | Mar 1, 2008 10:39:01 PM

  24. Go Ellen! I'd really like to see her follow it up with action. Its great to see her make a statement like that on TV, it really does have an impact. But she could use her "star power" for so much greater good. Please Ellen, do more. Help us change the message.

    We really need anti-bullying/tolerance training in all schools. There should be a federal mandate. Come on Hilary & Barack, who's going to do it?

    On the humor issue, I agree it can be an insidious way to denigrate gays and lesbians. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, find it funny generally. But we really need to look at the source and determine if malice is involved. Is there an alternative to making it PC not to make gay jokes? I'd hate for them to go away. Will and Grace was funny because it was gays making fun of gays. Do we need to limit gay jokes to gay joke-tellers? I hope not. I personally busted a gut at Jimmy Kimmel's video with Ben Affleck; I didn't see any malicious intent, and suspect the actors involved are gay supporters.

    I pray for Larry King, he seemed like such a sweet boy. A reminder to us that we have a long way to go. Let's not let them take another brother from us.

    Posted by: Ted | Mar 2, 2008 1:06:41 AM

  25. I agree 100% with Ellen.Look what the Goverment did to the American Indians,nothing but take away from them and still do.The Goverment only tells you what you want to hear.They passed a law so the police can lie to the public at large.You lie to them and you get charged with false statements.The old saying still goes:"You can't beat city hall."

    Posted by: Joe McAlister | Mar 2, 2008 7:29:37 AM

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