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U.S. Reacts with Anger, Sorrow, Action to Lawrence King Murder

A bunch of updates on the Lawrence King shooting for you here. Hundreds of parents asking for answers attended a meeting at an Oxnard, California campus regarding the shooting last week of 15-year-old Lawrence King, shot in the back of the head in a classroom by a fellow student, allegedly because he was gay:

King"In orderly fashion, one parent after another asked for metal detectors on campus, more programs dealing with bullying and for stricter enforcement of the district's uniform policy. 'There were probably weeks of this student being subjected to harassment,' said Joe Gonzales, parent of a student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, where King was killed Feb. 12. 'We need to know what was done, or not done, so we can prevent something like this from happening again instead of reacting to it.' Details about events the days before the shooting also trickled out as a panel that included school officials, mental health counselors and Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach responded to questions. One parent said her daughter told her that several students exchanged text messages the day before the shooting that talked about what the suspect planned to do. Crombach acknowledged that several students told police they heard about 'comments, statements and threats' that were made but that they didn't take the chatter seriously and that there was no evidence that it was reported to school officials. King's classmates said he had proclaimed himself gay in recent weeks and began wearing feminine accessories with his school uniform. The boy endured frequent taunting but appeared to be holding his own, students said, refusing to change his appearance."

One of three 911 tapes has been released.

EngAssemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes, this week announced plans, in response to the King shooting, to introduce a bill expanding diversity education in California schools: "'My bill is focusing on [hate crime] prevention,' Eng said after a news conference at his El Monte district office. 'We already have bills on the books about proper punishment; mine will focus on dealing with hatred in a school setting.' Eng hopes to create a pilot program by allocating up to $150,000 to establish a diversity and sensitivity curriculum at a few school districts. The pilot program would serve as a model to be used to develop lesson plans statewide."

Sara Whitman notes in the Huffington Post: "In my LGBT community, we argue about who is more pro LGBT rights, Obama or Clinton. It's been days since Lawrence King was shot dead. Neither candidate has issued a statement or said a word. The national media has done a complete pass on the story. Both candidates make me sick...Don't worry. I get the message, loud and clear. Just one more dead faggot."

MemorialFollowing the King shooting, Time magazine published this classless story on King and bullying in public schools that sounds as though it was written by some fundie from Focus on the Family. It claims that gay groups are exaggerating the amount of bullying made against kids because of their sexual orientation in order to make the situation sound more dire and drum up the need for legislation.

Quote: "Still, it's hard to look at the photo of King's fragile little face and not want to do something."

Read it and fume.

The L.A. Times ntoes that at least a dozen vigils and memorials are scheduled around the country for King this week. you can find a list of them at GLSEN. The page where they are listed is currently down, but it may be up later.

There's one taking place in West Hollywood tonight at 7 pm. There's also one on Friday in Kansas City.

Additionally, here is Lawrence King's memorial MySpace page.

For all our coverage of the Lawrence King murder, click here.

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  1. Sorry, Hermes, I have read John Cloud's other pieces, and it does not change my opinion of his article one bit. People were sickened by the article not because they were "heeding Andy's rallying cry" but because they read what it said and strongly objected to its message in the aftermath of a hate crime. (Most people criticizing Cloud did not know he was "one of our own," by the way.)

    Regarding his other writings: The fact is his profile of wingnut Ann Coulter was widely ridiculed. His article on gay relationships took several leaps of logic based on minimal evidence. (Since I've been in one for 17 years, I have some experience to make a judgment call.) And his article on gay youth, while not without sensitivity, had an inordinate amount of space devoted to ex-gay quackery. (Ironically, one of the gay youths he quoted at length has gone on to be a darling of the ex-gay movement.)

    If people reacted strongly to his article, it is not necessarily a vilification of its author--rather, it is passionate critiques of a writer carelessly using statistics in the face of a brutal hate crime (along with a common misperception of what hate crimes are) to argue against hate crimes legislation.

    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 20, 2008 2:03:59 PM

  2. Hermes In DC:

    To clarify: I never quoted Mr. Cloud as saying big fucking deal. It's a common practice amongst writers, whether novice or otherwise (I consider mysel the former, BTW), that if you're going to attribute a quote to someone in particular, you'd do so by inserting quotation marks around the phrase, which I did not do, so it was my intent and hope that the sentence would be taken as purely my own interpretation and opinion of the article.

    With all due, I do see how the statement could have been easily misconstrued.

    Posted by: banjiboi | Feb 20, 2008 2:05:37 PM

  3. Damn you, typos!

    Posted by: banjoboi | Feb 20, 2008 2:07:20 PM

  4. Hermes in DC I did indeed read Cloud's article on gay relationships in its entirety and I fully agree: it IS thoughtful and very personal and I was quite glad to see it in a news magazine I have been reading for as long as I can remember and which, in the European edition anyway, does not often cover GLBT issues. For the purposes of brevity I did not mention my overall thoughts on the article. Because of brevity it does appear like I'm trying to take the quote out of context. A lesson learned!

    In addition, I also did read Kurdek's paper and I did appreciate what he was trying to do with the groups he had available to him. It doesn't change my point, which is that it's not statistically relevant to compare such disparate groups and Cloud did not highlight this clearly enough in his article. Possibly also because of brevity enforced on him. Certainly he has a better excuse than I. Furthermore, I am not in "this" country you speak of and Time is not limited to "this" country. So why should Cloud limit his research to it? Surely other studies have been conducted in countries with gay marriage has been available for a suitable period of time.

    The reason I mentioned that article (which was fresh in my mind) was that Cloud shouldn't be comparing students who have been in "physical fights" to those who have been "assaulted". The former implies a degree of consensuality, the latter has none.

    Posted by: EireKev | Feb 20, 2008 2:57:48 PM

  5. Cloud demonstrates why the Log Caibnetes are every bit as much the enemies of the LGBT community as Fred Phelps.

    They're the new Roy Cohns.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 20, 2008 3:11:05 PM

  6. All of the problems faced by gay youth (oh, hell, youth in general) aside, what I want to know is where in hell did that kid get a gun?

    One poor kid is now dead and another kid, who actually might have outgrown his homophobia to become a useful member of society is going to go to prison for the rest of his life. Doubtful he'll outgrow it there...

    Where did the SIU shooter get HIS gun? Where did the Columbine shooters get THEIR guns? Where did the UVA shooter get his?

    How many lives have been wasted in this country because thanks to the NRA League of Firearms Promotion, guns are as easy to get in this country as a Snickers Bar...

    Posted by: McQ | Feb 20, 2008 3:40:55 PM

  7. All of the problems faced by gay youth (oh, hell, youth in general) aside, what I want to know is where in hell did that kid get a gun?

    One poor kid is now dead and another kid, who actually might have outgrown his homophobia to become a useful member of society is going to go to prison for the rest of his life. Doubtful he'll outgrow it there...

    Where did the SIU shooter get HIS gun? Where did the Columbine shooters get THEIR guns? Where did the UVA shooter get his?

    How many lives have been wasted in this country because thanks to the NRA League of Firearms Promotion, guns are as easy to get in this country as a Snickers Bar...

    Posted by: McQ | Feb 20, 2008 3:41:55 PM

  8. HERMES IN DC aka John Cloud.

    Posted by: Toro | Feb 20, 2008 4:10:30 PM

  9. A few thoughts for various posters who replied to my previous comment:

    Not that I can prove this, Toro, but for the record, I am NOT John Cloud. He has a much better platform at his disposal to defend himself anyway. I think time.com gets more traffic than towleroad.

    Ernie, yes, Cloud's piece on Ann Coulter was widely ridculed. It was not a good piece. But I'd argue the principal reason it was so ridiculed is that it reported an uncomfortable truth (that that harpy has become enormously influential in this country) and then took that fact seriously enough to try to understand why.

    Also, Ernie with respect, the fact that you have been in a 17-year relationship doesn't leave you better qualified than anyone else to judge Cloud's article on relationships. It surely helps to inform your own personal opinion of his argument, but it doesn't make yours a better opinion than anyone elses, simply because your 17-year relationship makes you an expert on YOUR relationship, but no more or less so on relationships in general than any other non-expert. So that's a sort of facile credential.

    In any event, I don't see the leaps in logic based on minimal evidence you do. I see reasonably sober speculation on the meaning of some data, of a degree and extent appropriate to the general interest medium in which he is writing.

    And Rudy, I think you continue to misconstrue Cloud's larger point because he does not share your same level of alarm about the condition of LGBT youth in the schools today. That being as it may, you make one woefully inaccurate statement when you call Cloud's piece "personal opinion masquerading as objective reporting." It is nothing of the sort. It was clearly identified on the time.com home page as "viewpoint," and reads not at all like objective reporting would. Whatever your background in legal writing may be worth, it's not helped you make the easy distincton between reportage and opinion. In reading Cloud's piece it leaps off the screen that it is an opinion piece. You're very entitled to disagree with his opinion, but don't get your knickers all in a twist that he and TIME are somehow abandoning the principles of journalism.

    And finally, Banjiboi, if you're going to be so literal, what I meant to say was that nothing Cloud said could be reasonably construed to mean "it's no big f-----g deal," which is what you paraphrased and shorthanded his argument to mean. (Since two can play pedantic, let me note also that that's in fact evident from my own use of quotation marks. I put your words, in my post, in a single set of (double) quotation marks because I was quoting YOU. If I had thought you in turn were actually quoting him verbatim, I'd have used two sets of quotation marks, one single set inside a double set, like this: "'It's no big f-----g deal'." You see, I went to grammar shool too.)

    As to why I'm spilling so much "ink" on this issue, I am not so much wedded to Cloud's conclusions as I am alarmed at the shrill condemnation (here and elsewhere) of any even well-meaning person who dares to depart from the LGBT issue orthodoxy. Who ordained any of us with the unerring right answer to every issue that concerns us? And how many of these posts are written without the benefit of a few minutes' pause and reflection on what other people are actually trying to say? That was my point in calling out the posters who ridiculously inaccurately mischaracterized and oversimplified Cloud's points. Such miscues speak to me of lack of thought and reflection, which surely one of our own is due.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 20, 2008 6:25:24 PM

  10. Hermes, I don't like to get into tangential pissing contests with other posters in blog comments, so I will be brief. The only reason I brought up my relationship in relationship to Cloud's article was because he used his own relationship to make generalizations about the capacity of gay men to have lasting marriages. I hardly think my opinion is a "better opinion than anyone elses."

    Furthermore, while opinions here can sometimes be "shrill" (show me a good blog that doesn't inspire shrill commentary), more often they're made by Towleroad readers who are thoughtful and informed.

    To say you are "calling out the posters who ridiculously inaccurately mischaracterized and oversimplified Cloud's points. Such miscues speak to me of lack of thought and reflection, which surely one of our own is due" reeks of condescension. Because many of us vehemently disagree with Cloud's opinion piece it hardly means we haven't thought about the issues or given him his due. When a gay writer like Cloud has an influential platform to air his views, we, as gay people, have a responsibility to call that writer on his statements when we are profoundly disturbed by them.

    And, with apologies for ranting, I vow to leave this topic alone now.

    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 20, 2008 7:13:15 PM

  11. What Ernie said.

    And isn't it intriguing that the gay journalist who is publishing in a wide circulation magazine just happens to write article after article in which he a) criticizes gay people / organizations and b) praises heterosexuals or at least avoids blaming them for any of our problems.

    I'm not saying there's any connection, of course. Perhaps they have some other reason for liking him -- his impeccable research talents, for example. Demonstrated by several retractions/rewrites on this article.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Feb 20, 2008 7:22:20 PM

  12. "When a gay writer like Cloud has an influential platform to air his views, we, as gay people, have a responsibility to call that writer on his statements when we are profoundly disturbed by them."

    You mean, when he doesn't repeat gay dogma.

    And, as KevinVT makes clear, anyone who criticizes gay people or organizations in any way, shape or form, and doesn't blame heterosexuals for all of gays' problems is antigay and stupid.

    It's always amusing watching gays go down the militant activist path, where anyone who doesn't reinforce the victimist mindset or regurgitate the party line is automatically blasted as an "Uncle Tom" or a "Roy Cohn".

    Posted by: North Dallas Thirty | Feb 20, 2008 7:40:52 PM

  13. People who thinks things are just fine when it comes to LGBT youth needs to go back to grade school immediately; their age and political infiliation is showing.

    Posted by: astonedtemple | Feb 20, 2008 7:53:20 PM

  14. Oh, now it all makes sense. Where there's a HERMES IN DC there's a NORTH DALLAS THIRTY close behind.

    You guys have taken quite a break from posting here on Towleroad. What, are things going slow over at GayPatriot?

    I find it funny that the two of you seem to be under the impression that you are cutting edge, of superior intelligence and real mavericks just because you are gay and to the right of Anne Coulter.

    Have you guys ever met a homophobe you didn't like or a gay supportive person you did?

    Posted by: Nanuck | Feb 21, 2008 12:20:46 AM

  15. we should be very glad to read this article. We are brave enough to face the real us. It's great. It the first and most important step for LGBT. "We should be proud of ourselves as we really are." from the typical signature on the forum of http://www.bimingle.com . In this way, i think we LGBT will be accepted by all others in future.

    Posted by: lynnran | Feb 21, 2008 5:09:33 AM

  16. Mr. Cloud should have thought about the many gay students who don't finish school due to harassment and anti-gay violence. Why was a school like Harvey Milk High created? Because too many gay teens had to quit public/parochial schools--especially those who couldn't "pass" for straight.

    The Times article was of no value except to remind us that not only gay kids are harassed at school. All children--whether they're gay, overweight, not considered attractive, financially poor-- should be allowed to go to school free of fear and anxiety.

    Lawrence King was brave for even trying to continue his education in a traditional public school. I doubt he thought of himself as being particularly brave. That's how it usually is.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 21, 2008 11:29:27 AM

  17. If I had the time, and ERNIE wasn't already doing such a great job, I'd write a serious smack-down to HERMES In DC.

    What I will say is this: Don't tell me that I didn't read what I read, didn't see statistics manipulated, didn't see a twisting and minimization of a truly horrible happening. Because you are wasting your time, as TIME and Mr. McCloud has wasted everyone else's.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 21, 2008 12:06:06 PM

  18. Oooh, Hermes, how you've impressed me so!

    While I do believe I conceded that I wasn't the best of writers, would if make you feel better if I applaud your considerable skills as a "wordsmith"?

    Would it do your ego justice if I were to say that your comments on this matter did NOT hint at some degree of self-loathing?

    It seems that since your remarks have been overwhelmingly opposed in this particular forum, you chose to pout and make snippy little personal attacks on my lack of proper writing skills.

    Ah, well, so be it.

    I still stand by comments, and I believe that you're terribly misguided on this issue.

    That is all.

    Posted by: banjiboi | Feb 21, 2008 12:15:01 PM

  19. Ernie -- thank you for a thoughtful reply. Your points are well taken. I did not mean to be condescending, but sometimes it's hard not to appear as such when one is criticizing the manner in which others express their opinions.

    What I don't get is why disagreeing with Cloud, even vehemently, passionately, angrily, seems for so many posters to entail simplifying and wildly mischaracterizing his argument? For those who are actually interested in the merits, as opposed to simple pattern and response name calling, it's sort of pointless and self-defeating.

    Case in point, Nanuck. The ad hominem attacks on North Dallas Forty and me are baseless and irrelevant. And for the record, Nanuck, I loathe Ann Coulter and would be hard put to be more liberal than I am, e.g., I haven't voted for a Repulican in 20 years and then it was George Bush the elder over Michael Dukakis (which in hindsight I regret, needless to say if only because it begot that inbred halfwit son of his and his ascendecy to the White House).

    And JT, because this is a FORUM for discussion, I won't tell you what you read, but I will tell you and others when I think you are misconstruing it. And statistics manipulated? That's what researchers (which I have been for 25 years since earning a PhD in statistical research) call analysis and interpretation. Would that the world were so simple that the data answer all the hard questions for us. But they never do; it's all in the interpretation of the data. You disagree with Cloud's. Fine. That doesn't mean he's manipulating the data.

    And JT, if I'm wasting my time in arguing as much, then it's only because you have decided to close your mind to honest discussion which strikes me as a shame for you more than me. Not to mention that it proves my original point.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 21, 2008 12:30:54 PM

  20. It is always amusing when a self-delusional Log Cabin Republican gets high and mighty and, in an attempt at pithiness or perhaps to show just how "independent" he is in his opinions or thought, refers to "gay dogma".

    Now, in my years as a gay/queer man, I have never seen any evidence of "gay dogma", unless the self-delusional Log Cabin Republican is referring to the general tilt of gay opinion and votes towards the Democratic party.

    Only a typical, self-loathing Log Cabin Republican fairy would pretend that, by being "conservative"--you know, the usual Log Cabin Republican dogma: "I'm for la-di-da lower taxes and less government and strong national security and national defense la-di-da"--such Log Cabin Republican is somehow, you know, just SOOOOO much less dogmatic than a self-respecting queer who supports the political party that actually FIGHTS for equal rights for queer people and sticks its neck out for those rights and may very well lose elections by supporting those rights.

    The only "dogma" is the pompous bilge that emanates from such self-loathing Log Cabin Republicans who will surely support the next Republican candidate for President and, of course, all Republican candidates because, well, you know, they're CONSERVATIVE and it's just SOOOO trendy to be, well, you know, NOT "dogmatic".

    And, just as those same despicable Log Cabin Republicans will work hard to make sure "their" candidate gets elected president, they can be assured that "their" candidate will work just as hard to make sure that queer people never achieve true equality in the land of their birth.

    But then, most Log Cabin Republicans don't ever have to worry about ever being homeless or without a job or abused or bashed or discriminated against because they have learned how to "suck-up" to their jesus-loving, homophobic masters.

    When you are SOOOO trendy-conservative and independent and undogmatic, you know that--even though the political party you support hates the very fact that you even exist and has millions of supporters who would love to see you NOT exist--you will always be safe and protected because, well, you SUPPORT those "conservative", "undogmatic" values.

    Good luck in the 2008 elections, Log Cabin Republicans. May your "undogma" protect you from the holocaust to come if we have even one more year of the disaster that is the Republican Party.

    Posted by: mike | Feb 21, 2008 1:08:27 PM

  21. @Hermes
    I read the article myself. I don’t need Andy T. or you to tell me what to think about it. It was appalling.
    By cherry-picking statistics Mr. Cloud trivialized the verbal and physical abuse thousands of LGBT children face in schools across this country on a daily bases. His lack of compassion for LGBT children was self-evident in this article. How many Gay children have to have bullets put into their heads before Mr. Cloud cares? How many Gay children have to beaten before Mr. Cloud cares? How many Gay Children have to slit their wrist in suicide before Mr. Cloud cares? Mr. Cloud was given a national audience and he trivialized the torment that thousands of LGBT children deal with everyday. I found Mr. Cloud to be both appalling and heartless.

    @North Dallas Thirty
    What’s really sad North Dallas Thirty are people like you that use a story of a Gay child’s murder so you can rant about your politics of hate.
    Have you no decency. Are yours and Mr. Clouds hearts so empty of compassion that neither of you care about LGBT children who face verbal and physical abuse in schools everyday? People like you and Mr. Cloud are so empty, so soulless, I find you both just so sad that it’s pitiful.

    Posted by: 1♥ | Feb 21, 2008 1:27:20 PM

  22. It seems that the message that HERMES IN DC would like for us to get here is that it is completely unacceptable to have an opinion that is the same as the prevailing opinion in the gay community BUT it is equally unacceptable to disagree with his personal opinion (or anyone who has an opinion with which he agrees) because doing so means that one is ignorant, uninformed, unintelligent, unable to read, unable to comprehend and unable to come to a reasonable and acceptable conclusion (other than his) from the information (or misinformation) presented.

    The sooner everyone here gets that the sooner the world will be a perfect place to live; at least for HERMES and ND30.

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 21, 2008 2:56:09 PM

  23. That's RIGHT, Zeke. Finally someone got it. Thanks so much for clarifying it for me and everyone else.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 21, 2008 7:54:26 PM

  24. That is right, Hermes. That is precisely what Zeke does so well. He cuts through the bullshit but always does so with politesse whereas those of us less polished than he merely dismiss your rantings. Far be it for us to remove you from the petard upon which you have so deliberately hauled yourself. You are breathing your own fumes and have thoroughly convinced yourself.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 21, 2008 8:33:16 PM

  25. Hermes in DC:

    Again, not much time, but I'll give you one, particularly offensive (to me) example from the article:

    "Of those in the GLSEN report who had been harassed or assaulted, more than one-tenth — 13% — said the incident wasn't serious enough to report."

    This is how one manipulates statistics. Does the way this is phrased characterize this as a negative? No. It says "more than" in order to show that there might be something substantial associated with "wasn't serious enough to report."

    Let's try it this way: "Fully 87% who had been harassed or assaulted found that the incident was serious enough to warrant reporting." I've presented the same statistic. I think it's a more accurate interpretation of the situation.

    I could go through the article and rephrase everything McCloud put a rosy spin on and interpret it differently. Because I don't find some of the statistics encouraging enough to say let's not blow this death out of proportion. Because I think even one death is one too many.

    You win in the pissing contest - you have a PhD and I've merely got a Masters - in Psychology. I'm a therapist. I've dealt with youths petrified to come out because of the possible negative consequences. I am aware of the statistics associated with gay youth and suicide. I have studied, extensively, the psychology of hate and prejudice, with a specific focus on the toll being devalued takes on a person. The messages sent by the oh so popular phrase, "That's so gay" are not positive ones; by comparison, I should think the message sent by a bullet sends an even stronger, infinitely more negative one. It is one undeserving of positive spin.

    I do not have a closed mind. I have an educated opinion. There is a difference. Have a good evening.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 21, 2008 8:53:31 PM

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