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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. Holy Hannah, Hermes! Did you really drop the PhD bomb? Wow, scareda her!

    Posted by: jmg | Feb 21, 2008 9:00:25 PM

  2. Rudy -- apparently you don't know sarcasm when you read it. And I would hardly call anything Zeke has written here an example of "politesse," although perhaps you have your own special definition of that term.

    Uh, JT, what you describe as manipulation--Cloud's citing the 13% who didn't consider their assaults worth reportig rather than the 87% who did--is not manipulation. It's argument. It can hardly be called maipulation when it is simple addition and subtraction. Cloud emphasized the 13% because he thinks that's the mor important part of the data. That you disagree doesn't make him a manipulator.

    And yes, JMG, I did cite the fact that I have a PhD in statistics because people were making outlandish allegations of Cloud's manipulating data when anyone familiar with data analysis can see he did no such thing.

    Okay guys, one more time, here's the point. And if you disagree, fine Say so. But don't get all pissy and start calling me names. Just because you don't agree with someone's analysis doesn't mean he's a liar, a cheat, a right wing fundie, a manipulator, a Log Cabin Republican or a self loathing gay man. It means he disagrees with you. If you can't argue on the merits, you're sort of missing the point.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 21, 2008 10:38:29 PM

  3. Hermes in DC

    For the sake of argument (and by this I refer rational, reasoned argument) I hoped to make what I consider a valuable point: That comparing 13% as a positive versus 87% as a negative and reaching the conclusion that the 13% is more important to consider than the 87% makes McCloud's argument invalid. Basic tests of statistical validity would show that this argument lacks validity. That you apparently agree with McCloud speaks to YOUR unwillingness to change your point of view and YOUR willingness to tow YOUR party line despite reasoned argument.

    By your reasoning, I then cite the argument that 70% of reporters felt that complaints were handled satisfactorily means that the 30% who didn't feel complaints were handled unsatisfactorily is the more important statistic. But I would only agree because I don't find any level of unsatisfactory treatment acceptable.

    Hermes. I am challenging you on the merits of (or lack of) your analysis. Don't accuse me or anyone else of missing the point when you are appearing somewhat dull in comparison. I'm not calling you names. I am vehemently disagreeing. How one couches ones argument is ALL about manipulation. How McCloud framed his argument is all about the slant and spin he intended to portray. I suggest that the stakes are high in this argument, because I truly give a flying f**K about what happens to gay youth, and anyone else suffering from discrimination. Or the threat of a life-ending bullet.

    Because I don't sense a willingness on YOUR part to consider the flaws of your defense of this article or author, I, like ERNIE, will now bow out. But I sure as hell hope you take the time to think. And don't for one moment consider my bowing out as acquiescence. It's that I am saving my energies for the clients I will see tomorrow. The real, live faces behind the statistics. The ones who won't be able to minimize the perceived terror induced by a real-life murder fomented by discrimination and prejudice.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 22, 2008 2:52:47 AM

  4. Hermes, You continue to miss the point that misconstruing statistical data was a deliberate attempt by Cloud to cloak his vile personal opinions with the veil of objectivity. It is an old rhetorical trick that is successful only with an audience far less sophisticated than Towleroadies. Yes Mr. "numbers are our friends," we understand that it is in interpreting statistical raw data that arguments are made but that does not exempt the faulty conclusions drawn therefrom from being adjudged invalid. Indeed, Cloud's, and apparently your, opinion that violence committed against gay youth is an insignificant problem is not only invalid--as not supported by the cited data--but also reprehensible.

    The subject is vulnerable gay youth--as exemplified by the assassination of someone who dared to challenge gender conformity--not the "pure science" in which you earned your PhD. (And I must salute you Joe My God: sheer brilliance, Sir!) I hope Hermes that your pristine numbers and regressions provide you with a measure of solace because you surely display a deficit of humanity.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 22, 2008 10:16:43 AM

  5. This is getting old, even for me, and I love a good argument like a dog loves a bone. But for what it's worth:

    Where (Rudy), please tell me where precisely I (or John Cloud for that matter) said that "violence committed against gay youth is an insignificant problem"? Nowhere did I say that.

    What I am arguing for is two separate and largely unrelated things. First, some perspective. Cloud's argument, with which I am inclined to agree even though he made it inartfully (as I noted in my very first post), is that the horror that befell Lawrence King is a very likely misleading lens through which to view the conditions LGBT youth face in our schools today. Rather, while LGBT youth face bigotry and the threat of physical violence in school and that is to be condemned and combatted, the available data are equivocal about the extent of the problem which is not notable for its being worse than the harrassment and intimidation (including the threat or actuality of physical violence) many other kids face in school for reasons having nothing to do with their sexuality.

    It's an argument for perspective, which Cloud then uses as a platform for opposing hate crimes legislation on the grounds that it criminalizes motives as opposed to outcomes and treats different crimes with the same outcomes, e.g., battery or homicide, differently based on the imputed motives of the criminal. Personally, I don't reach the same conclusion as Cloud and am undecided in my own mind on the issue. But I believe there is a very strong case to be made in defense of his position.

    Second point I was trying to make is that ad hominem attacks, including labeling people "fundies," self-loathers, haters, "Log Cabin Republicans," "deficit of humanity" and the like are childish and not the way open-minded people argue over important issues. Neither are broad simplifications of another's argument, e.g., that the problem of violence facing LGBT youth today is insignificant, and baseless appeals to pseudo-science or pseudo-logic good bases for making an argument.

    For instance, I respect JT's position, and I certainly respect his right to disagree with me. As well, I acknowledge that he has a perspective on the issue I do not have as a mental health professional with what appears to be a practice full of abused gay youth. I also happen to disagree strongly with his statements about Cloud's argument. But I have not used specious arguments to advance my case as he does, for instance, when he says that:

    "[c]omparing 13% as a positive versus 87% as a negative and reaching the conclusion that the 13% is more important to consider than the 87% makes McCloud's argument invalid. Basic tests of statistical validity would show that this argument lacks validity. That you apparently agree with McCloud speaks to YOUR unwillingness to change your point of view and YOUR willingness to tow YOUR party line despite reasoned argument."

    There are so many things wrong with that statement that it's hard to know where to begin. But in a nutshell it pairs pseudo-science with an ad hominem attack.

    Let me isolate his reference to "basic tests of statistical validity," about which I know something since I am a statistician. Statistical validity has nothing to do with the validity or not of Cloud's emphasis on the 13% over the 87%. Statistical validity relates to whether the original research, its survey instrument or interviewing process, its sampling methodology, its sample size and demographic make-up, and its data collection processes are sufficient to produce resultin data that are valid for statistical analysis. About those things as relate to the original GLSEN data Cloud was citing I know nothing because I don't have access to the original report. But that's neither here nor there as regards Cloud's use of the data. So in short, despite JT's mishmash of verbal mumbo jumbo and references to "basic tests of statistical validity," the science of statistics doesn't determine the validity of arguments. It helps determine the validity of the data. And the it's up to people to use and critique those data as they see fit. But that has nothing to do with "basic tests of statistical validity."

    No one, at any time in this discussion, has engaged me on the merits of the argument: to wit, that the problem of violence faced in the schools by LGBT youth may indeed be, statistically speaking, no bigger a problem for them than is the problem of violence faced by any other kids who are not gay, e.g., because they are fat, or the wrong race, or smart, or Muslim, or bad in gym class, or won't smoke pot, or whatever else.

    And that's my last word. This has gone on too long for a conversation that has no balance.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 22, 2008 5:55:30 PM

  6. Oops. I sit corrected. I miss-typed when I wrote statistical validity when I should have typed significance. Thanks for pointing out my error. I had things being valid, argument wise, on the brain.

    My simple, face-value assessment is that 87% seems significantly larger than 13%. If you can show me how the 13% who didn't think harassment was important enough to report is more important to take note of, more significant, than the 87% who apparently did, my mish-mash of mumbo jumbo and me will be on our merry way. If nearly 9 out of 10 having experienced harassment or assault worth reporting is actually less significant than the just over 10% who didn't, I'll eat my specious argument. It's been a few years since my statistics classes, so I don't have the formulas handy, as you surely must.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 22, 2008 6:41:46 PM

  7. Hermes, The reason the conversation is unbalanced is that your perspective is skewed. Your inability to draw the inescapable conclusion that you view violence against gay youth as insignificant is a measure of your faith in numbers qua numbers, without the perspective of intellectual judgment. It is only when tempered by humanity that raw data tells one anything important.

    Your demonstrable lack of humanity is hardly an ad hominem attack since your comments so clearly reveal the absence. No, Mr. Numbers-are-our-friends, I do not concede your putative argument for perspective because it you who lacks for same. Dr. Numbers-are-our-friends simply does not like to be challenged by those he defines as lesser beings. Since you define the argument to validate your conclusion it is hardly surprising that you agree with yourself.

    The only person that you have managed to convince is yourself. ND30 dropped out long ago when he realized the vapidity of your rhetoric. Moreover, your verbosity hardly intimidates me. And it is unsuccessful in convincing me that you and Mr. Cloud are not missing a key factor in what makes us human, i.e., rational subjectivity. I sincerely hope that your numbers and regressions provide you solace in the emptiness of your being.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 23, 2008 12:23:51 PM

  8. While I got tired of the dead-end disagreements here, I did post a more complete response to Mr. Cloud's article on my blog if anyone is interested:


    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 23, 2008 1:04:11 PM

  9. JT -- fair enough. I see your point, that it seems odd to emphasize the one in 10 when the nearly nine in 10 are on the other side of the issue. But to be fair, there's nothing about statistics that says the larger number is the more valid. I think we've lost sight of the original context of Cloud's use of this particular statistic. Here for what it's worth is the full original paragraph:

    GLSEN itself has published a great deal of survey data showing that most gay kids aren't suffering the way King did. Though the organization paints a still overall grim picture for young gays, fully 78% of gay and transgender kids say they feel safe at school, according to a 2005 GLSEN report. According to another GLSEN survey released in 2006, only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had been assaulted in 2005 because of their sexual orientation (only 12% — probably many of the same kids — said they had been assaulted because of the way they express their gender). By comparison, according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control report, 18.2% of male students and 8.8% of female students reported being in a physical fight at school in the last year. 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. When they did report the incidents, the response from school staffs was positive about 70% of the time. That's not enough — it should be 100% — but it belies the dire picture painted by gay groups in the wake of King's killing.

    The statistic we've been discussing is a minor, almost parenthetical, part of Cloud's larger argument. Does he make to much of the 13% figure? Probably so. I thought so at the time to be frank. It doesn't really help make his argument and stronger. But to be fair, it's not central to his argument anyway.

    One thing in that paragraph I would strongly criticize (and would have changed if I were his editor) is the use of the word "only" in the third sentence in modifying the 18% of GLBT kids who say they have been assaulted at school. Only would be an inapt word in reference to 1%. I grant al f my critics here that, and can only ask you to take it on faith when I say I earnestly believe that.

    Again,I have never argued that this is an insignificant problem. I am only trying to defend the notion that reason and perspective are required even when talking about issues as personally sensitive for all of us in the gay community.

    As far as Rudy is concerned, you don't have the remotest idea who you're talking to and have no basis whatsoever on which to conclude that I lack humanity or a capacity for reason beyond statistics. Just because I argue for perspective does not mean I am unfeeling. I'm not going to justify your ridiculous claims with any further defense of my person or humanity. But who in the hell exactly do you think you are?

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 24, 2008 8:00:50 PM

  10. Ernie's piece at his blogsite is really excellent. I commended him on it in a cmment I left there. My two cents: his argument there is exactly what a response to Cloud's article should be. I still feel that Cloud's point about perspective is a valuable one, but Ernie makes a good case for why that perspective could be distorted.

    And by the way, before any of you hotheads busts me for not quitting the way I promised two days ago to do, I've been sick in bed with the flu all weekend, and you can only watch Breakfast at Tiffanys and An Affair to Remember so many times in one weekend.


    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 24, 2008 8:26:20 PM

  11. Keep writing Hermes. I can only judge you by your comments. They consistently show someone so caught up in the importance of numbers standing alone that he lacks perspective. Your claims to having a capacity to reason beyond numbers are unavailing in light of your posted comments. You cannot defend what you have demonstrated that you lack.

    I am someone who has disagreed with you and your shining paragon of misconstrued statistics thinly hiding an unfeeling persona since your first comment. Similarly, Cloud's alleged point about perspective is negated by his lack of same.

    All the basis one needs to point out your lack of humanity and corresponding lack of capacity to reason beyond statistics is evident in your comments. Your rhetorical tantrums only buttress that conclusion. Cin Cin!

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 25, 2008 8:28:52 AM

  12. Yeah, okay, Rudy. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 25, 2008 9:53:15 PM

  13. Exactly Hermes/Cloud. Res ipsa loquitor (the thing speaks for itself).

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 26, 2008 7:42:34 AM

  14. And what you continue to make obvious, Rudy, is that your need to be persecuted outweighs any consideration whatsoever of numbers or of facts.

    Posted by: North Dallas Thirty | Mar 3, 2008 2:58:40 PM

  15. I`m sorry if what I am about to say offends you,but....every single major religion prohibits such behavior.Laws enacted my man made it illegal.It was classified as a serious mental illness until recently.It is only a leftest,permissive political atmosphere that has of late allowed it to be tolerated.It`s wrong and the majority of people think that it still is.Understand this,in the future the winds of change will again shift.Be prepared for when it does so.

    Posted by: Ahmed | Sep 24, 2008 8:52:19 AM

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