A few other responses to the murder of Larry King

From Patricia Nell Warren:

The fact is – when school administrators find bullying going on, they often refuse to see the speeding train coming straight at them. Yet they usually get advance warning on a bully or clique of bullies and who the victim is. But they fail to act immediately — to suspend the problem students and get them out of the school without any delay. Why? Because they don’t want to deal with the angry parents of one bullying kid, or the parents of an entire bullying clique, especially parents with political juice. They also don’t want to deal with local church conservatives who insist that protecting LGBT students is equal to saying that homosexuality is OK. Not to mention the fact that every student not in school that day is ADA money that the school doesn’t get. Teachers, too, are often afraid to speak out against bullies, because they know that teachers are assaulted at school as well.

Big Mouth at Big Queer Blog on the non-mysterious way that no journalists ask, in anguish, “why?,” when a gay kid is shot:

Look, I don’t think for a second that music or clothes make a killer. I also realize that there are plenty of bipolar folks in the world that wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s not that I want these connections to be made; it’s just that they always are except when it’s a gay kid getting killed. How can we not see the silent implication here?

Meanwhile, from the insano-Christian Right: Michael, in the comments of California Catholic Daily, wrote:

What an incredible tragedy for all concerned. However, as Bishop Fulton J. Sheen has noted, “Love is not tolerance” and, “a cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth.” This situation calls for so much more than “tolerance” . At a time when young people are becoming aware of their own sexuality, a confused, apparent young teen aged boy is allowed to come to the school environment dressed suggestively as a member of the opposite sex. Who allowed this? Was it the home where he was being cared for, the school,etc. Obviously,he was troubled and needed help..indeed his behavior cried out for it. That this behavior was confusing and threatening to other boys, going through the so-called latency period of their own sexuality is not unusual or unexpected. He should never have been allowed into the school environment in the first place. His apparent dress was begging for a confrontation, it appears, and the home and the school allowed this to happen. Why? This situation should not have been “tolerated”. It should have been addressed and stopped before it led to this tragedy.

To be fair, several other comment-writers there scolded Michael for his comment. Then “John L. Sillison” wrote:

I don’t see homosexuals going after the killers of American troops who are fighting and dying while trying to protect the free world. I don’t see homosexuals organizing to keep old people from being euthanized. Where are the homosexual lobbying efforts to stop abortion? There is a kind of political alliance between homosexuals and blacks … but what about alliances between homosexuals and Mexicans, Asians, Indians, Native Americans? Why can’t homosexuals stand up for themselves? Why is it so hard for them to persuade so many other people that they deserve to have greater political power than anyone else?

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17 Responses to A few other responses to the murder of Larry King

  1. 1
    Thene says:

    John L. Sillison is clearly sat under a rock, a heterocentric rock at that. I mean, god forbid that any of those blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Indians, Native Americans or old people might be queer. He also seems to know everything about all these groups of people, and knows that no queer people are involved in activism in these areas. He knows these things because everyone is straight and cis unless they’re agitating otherwise. Guh. :/

    Patricia Nell Warren has a point, but she’s missed out the part where the administrators are as likely to be homophobic as anyone else is.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    I’m not aware that school administrators do a poorer job at dealing with bullying of homosexual kids than they do of any other kids. They just do a shitty job of dealing with bullies in general.

    Forget the bull about not wanting to deal with pastors of conservative churches and all that. Here’s the key:

    Why? Because they don’t want to deal with the angry parents of one bullying kid, or the parents of an entire bullying clique, especially parents with political juice.

    That’s it in a nutshell, right there. My wife was a teacher, and she got out not because of the kids, but because of the parents. God forbid someone should call their kid to account because of his behavior. They’ll go to the school and essentially bully the principal and teachers into staying away from their kids (gee, I wonder where the kid gets his or her pattern of behavior from?). And if they’ve got any money the lawyer talk comes up real quick (in my neighborhood, they may very well BE a lawyer).

    A gay kid getting bullied makes for a good media story. But that doesn’t mean that gay kids are getting bullied because they’re gay, nor does it mean that gay kids are getting bullied disproportionately. Lots of kids get bullied for lots of reasons. I got bullied because I was the smartest kid in the school. It only stopped when I shot up 6″ in height in as many months in junior high. I never went to the school administration because a) they’d be ineffectual and b) the bullies would then double their focus on me.

    I’ve had to deal with bullying kids in Scouts. When I call the parents they’re always in denial. When they start in on me I remind them that this isn’t school; we can and will just toss their kid out – there’s no right to be in Scouts. I’ve got to jump on it quick, what with the axes and knives and ropes and staves and such we use. But the parents can be a real piece of work. I had one kid who retaliated against an insult with really out-of-proportion physical action. When I confronted him he told me “My dad says that if anyone ever does anything bad to me, I should do something a lot worse to them.” I talked to his father and he confirmed this. Didn’t see anything wrong with it, either.

    So, how do you solve this? Toss the kid out of school, or send him to some alternative school where the staff is sufficient and sufficiently trained to deal with this. Consider charging the kid with assault if he or she assaults someone and you’ve got witnesses. Should Mom and Dad threaten to call the lawyers, the school administration should say “Go ahead!” And then the school board should back them up, and tell the parents the same thing when the parents threaten to sue the school board. Then don’t settle – take it to trial. After a couple of these, maybe the parents will start actually disciplining their kids.

    My son started feeling his oats in 5th grade. I got reports from the school that he’d been shoving around some kids. My response was, “Thank you for telling us. We’ll try to deal with it.” We told him how unacceptable this kind of behavior was, and that we weren’t interested in hearing that the teachers were lying or conspiring against him. Then we cut off TV, the computer (except for homework) and all visits to or from friends. We told him that if we had any more reports he’d really be in trouble. We also took him around to all the teachers during parents’ night and in front of him gave each of them all our phone numbers (work, cell, home) and told them that if they had any problems they should call us any time of the day or night. The TV affected us too, since we only had one and our house isn’t that big so him not watching TV often meant that we didn’t watch TV.

    After 5 months he figured out we were serious. There were no more problems.

  3. 3
    Kit Kendrick says:

    I don’t see homosexuals going after the killers of American troops who are fighting and dying while trying to protect the free world.

    Because it’s not as though there were homosexual’s trying to join the Amercican troops who are being kept out…

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  5. 4
    tariqata says:

    RonF – having been in high school not all that long ago, I have to say that although kids are bullied for all sorts of reasons, in my experience, gay students and students who didn’t conform to gender norms – particularly boys – were definitely targeted in a specific way because of their demeanor and/or dress and/or orientation.

    Incidentally, my younger sibling has yet to finish high school because of that particular kind of bullying, and fear of what it might lead to.

  6. 5
    RonF says:

    In my experience (and from what I hear, it hasn’t changed much), being a) male and b) interested in academic achievement seems to violate gender norms.

  7. 6
    curiousgyrl says:

    Ron, I don’t understand why admitting that nerdy boys get bullied disproportionately necessitates denying that gay boys are disproportionately bullied. Its very odd.

  8. 7
    RonF says:

    Hm. Can you back up that accusation of what I did? I never said that.

    Kids get bullied for lots of reasons, most stemming from a) they’re different in some fashion from whatever the local cultural norm is, and b) they’re perceived as an easy target (I didn’t get any dumber between 7th and 8th grade, but I got a lot bigger). Being gay is one of them, but that doesn’t mean that we can automatically make a bunch of presumptions regarding the reasons why an individual homosexual kid has been subjected to violence. Maybe it’s because they’re homosexual. Maybe it’s because they’re physically weak and an easy target. Maybe it’s because they’re smart. Maybe it’s because of any one of the numerous other factors that kids get bullied for.

    Then there’s the possibility that it’s not bullying, it’s something personal; the gay kid did something that (justifiably or not) pissed off the other kid and they responded in a disproportionate fashion. So while considering that a gay kid who’s been subjected to violence was being bullied because he or she was gay might well be the way to bet, immediately raising a hue and cry that a given incident is an example of anti-gay extremism doesn’t command my sympathy until the actual facts of why someone did such an act are known.

    I’m also not particularly convinced that bullying someone because they’re homosexual is particularly more heinous than bullying them because they’re a geek/dresses differently/etc.

  9. 8
    curiousgyrl says:

    . But that doesn’t mean that gay kids are getting bullied because they’re gay, nor does it mean that gay kids are getting bullied disproportionately. Lots of kids get bullied for lots of reasons.

    Do you think that gay kids are disproportionately bullied? Do you think gay kids are often bullied for being gay? I think both, because that is what gay people say about their experiences in high school, and because i observed that to be the case in my high school, despite the fact that it was an arts school known district wide to be unusually “tolerant” of out gay students. Human Rights Wach reports that gay teens are more likely to suffer harassment and violence and are more likely to commit suicide and run away. Suicide is the leading cause of death for gay teens.

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/uslgbt/Final-06a.html#P765_127208

    Its true that we cant prove what characteristic made king a target. Because he was a person with many characteristics that might even have been opaque to him (for example, I cant tell if a cab driver who threatened to rape me last week did so because I am a woman or because I was with my girlfriend; wait, hey, it was probably both) . I think we have to base our opinions of whether or not the murder was based on King’s sexual orientation on his classmates’ statements that he was tormented by his murdere and others for being feminine and for being openly gay.

    As for a “good media story” and “raising a hue and cry” about gay bullying; this was, of course, not bullying but a school shooting/murder. The event itself would generate a hue and cry without homophobia as a main motivation.

    But I think that gaybashing in high school that is less extreme than murder still deserves attention. I believe that gay and queer people are oppressed inside and outside of high school, fighting that oppression means drawing attention to it. It doesn’t mean supporting bullying against geeks, straight women or anybody else.

  10. 9
    Sailorman says:

    There may well be other groups who are bullied to an equal extant as are gays. But let’s cut around the “may be” stuff: do you actually think that gay youth, as a group, are more likely, equally likely, or less likely to get bullied than most others kids? I personally think it’s more likely, based on the experience of the gay folks I know and on my own experience in school. If you disagree I’d like to know.

    I’d also note that gay people don’t choose their orientation. It seems problematic to bully someone in pretty much any circumstance, but it seems doubly problematic when it’s not under their control, so there’s not a thing they can do to make it stop. What’s a gay kid supposed to do, “turn het?”

  11. 10
    RonF says:

    Assault on the basis of sexual orientation certainly deserves attention. Whether or not an apparent sexual orientation of homosexuality gets you bullied/assaulted more or less often than other characteristics is not something that I have a lot of personal experience with and is not something that I’ve seen any studies on. I’ve only seen one kid in my Troop that I ever suspected was gay. During a discussion he spontaneously brought up the subject and told me how much he disliked gays. I told him that was not a proper attitude, that Scouts are to tolerate people’s choices and/or any actions they take within the law, whether or not they themselves believe that they are correct. Frankly, I think the kid was in denial. At any rate, I’m not going to substitute speculation for an opinion/argument.

    As far as one’s sexual orientation not being under one’s control, there’s a lot of speculation but not a lot of scientific consensus on exactly what the etiology of homosexuality is. The genetic influence, seems to be lower than other personality characteristics that people are expected to control or suppress.

  12. 11
    curiousgyrl says:

    Ron F

    Taken together, your comments suggest that you think assault on the basis of sexual orientation “deserves attention” but only if it is directly provable that a given assault was based on homophobia, via some kind of direct insight into the mind of the attacker.

    Whether or not an apparent sexual orientation of homosexuality gets you bullied/assaulted more or less often than other characteristics is not something that I have a lot of personal experience with and is not something that I’ve seen any studies on.

    I don’t think its relevant whether being queer and visible or out draws more violence and abuse than “other characteristics” that draw violence and abuse, but I am sure queerness draws more violence and abuse than NOT being queer. That seems like the relevant issue. If, for example straight nerds are bullied more than queers, that may well be, but nerds are bullied for their nerdy qualities not for their straightness, and it doesn’t seem relevant to a discussion of queerbashing, or at least its a bad reason for concluding that this hideous incident “doesn’t command [your] sympathy.”

    Also, w/r/t bashing and abuse, I don’t thin it matters whether queerness is chosen or not. ( I think it can be both, and that the opposite of genetic isn’t necessarily ‘freely chosen.’)

    Finally, I am not sure what the scouts anecdote was intended to illustrate.

  13. 12
    RonF says:

    Taken together, your comments suggest that you think assault on the basis of sexual orientation “deserves attention” but only if it is directly provable that a given assault was based on homophobia, via some kind of direct insight into the mind of the attacker.

    No. I think any assault should be investigated and prosecuted. I think that the fact that a homosexual was the victim should not automatically lead to the assumption that the assault was based on the victim’s sexual orientation, although certainly if the victim is homosexual and the perpetrator is not it would be a logical consideration to pursue during the investigation. My issue with this was that in the postings I read about this in a couple of blogs this was immediately held up as an example of assault based on the victim’s sexual orientation before any facts regarding the matter were made public.

    … or at least its a bad reason for concluding that this hideous incident “doesn’t command [your] sympathy.”

    Now there’s a creative twisting of my words.

    I think it can be both, and that the opposite of genetic isn’t necessarily ‘freely chosen.’

    Agreed.

  14. 13
    curiousgyrl says:

    What evidence that the crime was based in homophobia would be sufficient to make the case appropriate for political attention and discussion, to you?

  15. 14
    RonF says:

    Has the assailant ever given previous evidence of having an unreasonable fear of homosexuals? Did he make any comments during the assault? Did the assault have any sexual components (blows to the genitalia, sexual assault, etc.)?

    How, in general, is motive determined in a criminal case? The same rules in general should apply here, fitted to the specific type of motive that would make this a sexual orientation based crime?

  16. 15
    Schala says:

    I’d like to add that, wether the child (or teenager) in question is gay or not (though in this case, I think it was said he was openly gay), it’s the assumption of others that the child is gay that promotes violence, and not the actual sexual orientation. A straight-acting gay (perceived as sufficiently gender-conforming) who’s not open about being gay will get pretty much no attention due to this – but for many it’s not an option that they can sustain to ‘act straight’ for any length of time. Perhaps due to their personal integrity and morals (not religious, but personal moral code), perhaps because they don’t give a damn about conforming (too many sheeps in the world who blindly conform without questioning if they really like to do what they do), maybe they also just want to be seen as their real self (ie genuine) whatever this involves.

    During my time in school, I was bullied because I was perceived as gay, because I was near the top of the class, because I was small and an easy target and because I had no support from others (my brother helped a few times, when he was there, but we never went to the same high school, so he only helped a portion of elementary).

    I can tell you that my being near the top of the class was an issue to some, but not necessarily on it’s own. Many of those others were part of the ‘cool kids’ cliques, and had to fear nothing. Heck some of them were bullying me openly. I also wasn’t nerdy, since I had an intense boredom associated with studying, but an excellent memory, I just didn’t need to study (though as a result, my grades were not perfect, just “pretty good”).

    Being small and skinny, well that was one of the major issues making me a target of choice, though through baggy clothes I was able to hide much of it. The clothes made me seem taller and bigger.

    I’ve been openly bullied about being perceived or thought to be gay. Although I gave no evidence of a liking boys, did not make any advances to a boy in any way, and never dated (anyone) during high school. I also denied being gay whenever questioned (Heck I didn’t even know what being gay was at the time). My perception was that I was probably too feminine, or giving a ‘weird’ vibe, per conformity or masculinity. Then comes in the smallness and skinnyness, and my lack of desire to retaliate, making me a prime target.

    If people think they can get away with it, they’ll be more enclined to do it than if they feel they’ll get sufficiently punished for it, and I’ve yet to see measures taken by schools to stop bullying effectively.

    I can’t say I was bullied for being perceived as transsexual or transgender, because, I didn’t know what those terms meant at the time, and my clothes were more or less conforming to my birth certificate sex. I took no measure to be perceived as feminine, and actively distanced myself from anything that I thought might be perceived as feminine, in case someone very clever deducted from it that I “wanted to be a girl”. My actions and mannerism were not something I was aware of, nor did I seek to conform to stereotypes (heck I didn’t even know most of them), so those were probably the ones giving me a ‘weird vibe’.

  17. 16
    T.M.B. says:

    I read an article yesterday regarding a family suing a bully and possibly school administrators and now this tragic incident. I agree with RonF, lack of accountability is severely lacking in our society. I would encourage any parent or guardian to remove the child from school, serve written notice on the school and the superintendent of the school district citing physical assaults or abuse by bully. My husband and I spent months trying to get the principle of my son’s school to take action against a bully. We encouraged our son not too engage the boy himself but to do the right thing and ask for intervention. We had to replace his $ 400.00 pair of glasses after being punched in the face. The school did nothing. Then his hand was purposely smashed and broken, again, nothing. Finally we sought out legal advice, served written notice and a demand letter and withheld him from school until all demands were met. Otherwise, we would go to court. My son was back in school in two days. The bully was removed from all of my son’s classes, the bully’s lunch hour was changed and a “school induced restraining order” where the bully was not allowed within 25 feet. These demands became a foundation for how that district handles bullying cases. What we had on our side was the fact that the state will not allow me to abuse my son, then no one else could and that I had a legal obligation to protect my son. My lawyer never even had to send a letter.
    As for the loss of life for Larry King, what an absolute horrific end for this poor soul. I feel rage and shame for this to have happened. In no way did this guy do anything to warrant such an action. Regardless of his sexual orientation or how he dressed or what jewlery he wore. I feel so sorry for his families loss. Religion and Politics have been a central issue to most of the violence through the centuries. For the most part, people are stupid, ignorant, and bigoted. Once God is brought into it, there’s the handy dandy excuse we all love to hear. However, no one sin is supposedly worse then any other. And what about God being the only one to judge. Hypocrites. As for politics, DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL for the military and no legal representation for partners or families that don’t follow the status quo. This is the war on two fronts, and by the way, what are we at war for in Iraq? Freedom from oppression! The young man who murdered Larry King is no better than a terrorist!