Saturday, February 23, 2008

Boy’s Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town

Our good Integrity friend down Tennessee way, Nancy Mott, points us to this tragic tale in today's New York Times about the hate crime murder of Lawrence King, a gay teenager in California. Nancy writes to say she wonders whether our church will speak up. Well, will they? Sure they will. Sure they will.

The New York Times
February 23, 2008

by Rebecca Cathcart

OXNARD, Calif. — Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church here on Friday to remember an eighth-grade boy who was shot to death inside a junior high school computer lab by a fellow student in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex,” the Rev. Dan Birchfield of Westminster Presbyterian Church told the crowd as he stood in front of a large photograph of the victim. “Larry was a masterpiece.”

Read the whole sad thing here.


Curious George said...

I was struck during the initial reporting of this story by the local police and school spokespersons' saying that there was a "personal conflict" between the victim and his killer. This points to a kind of ethical myopia to which we often fall prey when we look on situations of oppression or victimization and misread them as simply "ugly conflict," thereby placing the victim on the same footing with the victimizer.

I mourn the killer's situation almost as much as that of Lawrence, but I think it is right it be tried as the hate crime it is. But, in some ways, it seems sadly convenient for those adults in whose care these students were placed and who did not respond to the bullying for what it was in time, instead of just chalking it up to "personal conflict" among individual adolescents.

The danger now is that those--we--adults will chalk the blame up to the individual killer, and not recognize how their/our "neutrality" and consequent failure to intervene effectively contributed to the crime.

In the words of Arbp. Desmond Tuto, "If you say you are neutral in a situation of oppression, you are on the side of the oppressor. If an elephant is standing on the tail of a mouse and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

Priscilla, Queen of the Beach said...

Another teen, Simmie Williams, a 17-year old transgender in Ft. Lauderdale, was shot and left lying in his own blood last night. Our children are dying.

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy