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McInerney sentenced; King’s adopted father conveniently blames the money source

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

December 20th, 2011

As anticipated, Brandon McInerney was sentenced to 21 years in jail – with no parole opportunities – for his cold blooded murder of fellow classmate Lawrence King, a 15 year old gay boy.

I will never forget this story. But not just because Larry King was murdered.

Because as foul as King’s murder, was his character assassination. With King no longer alive to defend or explain himself, those with an interest in casting him in the role of ‘evil homosexual vampire’ faced little opposition. Instead, a chorus of defenders of the neo-Nazi sociopath – from sources that still leave me amazed – leaped at the opportunity to portray Larry as a predator who (as jurors put it) “tormented McInerney to the breaking point” by flirting. Oh, clarification: “aggressive flirting”.

To be honest, there have been times during this ordeal that I have felt like I am the only person attempting to speak on Larry’s behalf.

The first to hint that King got what he had coming was Ramin Setoodeh, a Newsweek gossip writer who went to Oxnard, spoke with the defense counsel and some homophobic teachers and then breathlessly told the world that Larry “flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon.” Why? It’s hard to tell. Maybe laziness, maybe he was gullible. But to me, Setoodeh seems to be the sort of effeminate gay man that can’t wait for the opportunity to demean some gay guy one lisp more effeminate than he is. And this was his big break so he really needed something juicy, girl!

Then came the defense counsel who went on full scale public image campaign to downplay the fact that McInerney had tormented King for years, was dabbling with neo-Nazi ideology, and had publicly threatened to kill King. He clearly broadcast his intention to conduct a full-on gay panic defense, and that is what he did, both in the press and in the courtroom. He painted a picture of tiny Larry King leering and sexually assaulting the much bigger, much stronger, much more popular athlete. And, aside from the prosecutors, no one called him on this absurdity.

The newspapers jumped in playing up King’s gender play, never omitting a reference of King showing up in school in “women’s boots” and “full make-up” while avoiding the fact that the school had a dress policy that King adhered to faithfully. In fact, they seemed to forget that King showed up in school with eye make-up only and that occasionally, and that a teacher counseled him to tone it down. Catherine Saillant, the LA Times reporter covering the story, invariably goes for titillation and context is her victim. Were King alive – or were there anyone alive to represent him – he’d have a good case for libel or at least for editorial restructuring. But like it or not, homophobic snickering – especially that which includes non-gender-typical behavior – sells newspapers and without anyone to demand honesty the pattern continues.

GLAAD, the one organization that exists for the purpose of opposing defamation, had other priorities. It was busy being very very careful that gay-supportive allies are sternly lectured about using the word “fag” and nagging pro-gay businesses about advertising on Fox News (it’s biased, you see). From my search, this is what I found that GLAAD had to say about the deceptive news coverage and the snicker snicker chuckle chuckle way in which Larry was presented as though he were Charles Busch in a classic role: ” … ” I guess it just wasn’t as important as tsk tsking Glee for using the word “tranny” (maybe they should have said “chasing the boys around the school in high heels, teetering as he ran” instead; that seems to be okay).

And much of the rest of the gay community felt sorry that a 14 year old was facing a possible life sentence. So no one wanted to fan the flames. It’s a tragedy for everyone. Poor Brandon was a “victim” too. Well… at least ’til the Hitler books and Nazi propaganda turned up and then there was mostly just silence.

But the greatest betrayal has been from King’s “family”. I put family in quotations because these people have not ever behaved in a manner that reminds me of family – not even my severely dysfunctional family. Greg and Dawn King, who adopted Larry at age three claimed he Larry never bonded with them. And in November 2007 he was removed from their home and placed in a group home after he complained that Gregory King was physically abusive.

But while a living Larry wasn’t much value to the Kings, a dead one was a good source of cash. And, indeed, the Kings happily sued everyone in sight from the school to his social workers. Their theory: Larry’s flamboyance was the reason he was killed so anyone who didn’t stifle him is to blame. From all I can tell weighing Larry’s reputation against a big check was not a difficult call for them; they were named “King” and they wanted to live like it.

Yesterday Greg King was back in court in full swing: (from the Hedda Hopperish LA Times coverage by Saillant)

The father, though, reserved his harshest words for the Hueneme Elementary School District, which operates the junior high school where his 15-year-old son was shot twice in the back of the head on Feb. 12, 2008, by McInerney in front of stunned classmates.

Educators knew that his son had a history of acting provocatively for attention, yet they did nothing to stop King after he started going to E.O. Green Junior High School in women’s high-heeled boots and makeup and began aggressively flirting with boys, the father said. The middle school student had been removed from his home for unspecified reasons and was in foster care.

Instead of protecting him from his “poor impulse control,” King’s father said, “they enabled and encouraged him to become more and more provocative,” putting him in an unsafe position.

Though he holds McInerney responsible for shooting his son, King said the school’s response since the shooting has been despicable.

District leaders have made no changes in policy or procedures, saying they are unnecessary because the school’s staff followed the law in allowing Larry to augment his school uniform with women’s accessories. To date, no formal changes have been made, although the school district paid $25,000 toward a $255,000 civil lawsuit settlement for King’s family.

I’m sorry, Larry King.

Your life sucked. Your school sucked. Your parents sucked. And now you’re dead.

I wish I could say that we have learned something or grown somehow or that it wasn’t all in vain. I can’t.

But I do care. If no one else out there says it, I will. I care that a kid was picked on and had no family to turn to. I care that he was the target of another boy whose heart was dark and who delighted in torment. I care that his solution was to fight back the only way he could, by mouthing off and challenging convention. And I care that this showed tremendous character for refusing to be the victim, for refusing to cower, for refusing to let someone else’s hate fill him with shame.

And I care that one day that kid showed up in school – wearing boys shoes and no accessories or make up, incidentally – and sat down in computer class. And I care that someone being schooled in formalized hate pulled out a gun and put two bullets into the back of that kid’s head because he dared to show no shame . And I care that after that kid, after you Larry, were executed and after your lifeless body was buried, that it wasn’t enough. That adults executed your character for their own financial gain.

I won’t forget you, little effeminate boy who somehow – when those who are supposed to care and support you failed you – found the courage to be yourself and then were attacked, killed, and then maligned for it. I won’t forget you.

Comments

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Ben M
December 20th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, thank you very much for this. I too have watched with utter horror as this whole sad case unfolded. The whole thing made me sick. I, too, will remember Larry King.

Stefano A
December 20th, 2011 | LINK

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

I, too, have followed the media closely on this with great disgust and am another who will not forget.

Jason
December 20th, 2011 | LINK

I too will remember you Larry. Thank you for your post.

Bryan
December 20th, 2011 | LINK

Those last 3 paragraphs brought me to tears

Rob in San Diego
December 20th, 2011 | LINK

I remember clearly the day his death was announced on here and I called up my local progressive radio station and ranted for a good 5 minuets or so. I was furious, I screamed and yelled. Of course Brandon is a hero to a good majority of the hetero lifestyle. And before someone starts yelling at me, I said “most” not all.

Most people are never going to accept us, kinda like the various sex scandals going on involving teenagers. Take Penn State, everyone says “shame on you for having sex with those boys”, yet take 2 weeks prior to the release of that news story when it was announced that teenagers were having sex with their female gym teacher. I was reading comments like “way to go”, “wish I were you”, and “your Dad is so proud I bet he wishes he were you.”

Erin
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

The heartless way people have viewed this case sickens me. What a cute kid. You didn’t die in vain Larry. Your story drives me to encourage my closeted friends to come out. You will drive me to never back down from anti-gay bullies, and to keep fighting for the dignity of gay people anyway I can.

Michael DeSelms
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Yes..as I..I have been following this from the start. I am appalled that he can only get 21 years. Yet here where I live (Long Beach Ca.) a person just recieved 155 yrs. for killing an honors student. I do not understand Americas justice system anymore. Brandon was a neo-nazi punk who killed a boy just because he was gay. Well now he goes to prison. Potective custody? Perhaps. Put him out in the yard as a young one? Justice can only be so cruel. The latter gets my vote. I will also blame the school. They knew of the ongoing problems and did nothing. Includeing the teacher that gave Lawrence a prom dress. Time will only tell if justice really gets served.

andrew
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

The whole thing is horrendous. King, who was picked on and abandoned, fell back on the only weapons he could identify – his classmate’s clear homophobia. Kids don’t “wield” that like a weapon out of the blue… look to the utter absence of family support, and what I’m frankly certain was a systemic failure of the school system to address issues of bullying over years / decades in this and probably scores of other cases. King figured out how to make his tormentors squirm. The adults’ argument that such was justification for his death is shocking.

True, we can’t put out heads in the sand and pretend that King didn’t lash out, but I think it’s a far cry to put the two in some kind of equal standing with a natural quid-pro-quo ending in Kings murder. It’s just unfathomable that anyone could suggest that gay panic defense somehow becomes applicable in high school. What really gets me is how the response of the adults was inadequate then, and it’s been reprehensible since.

I do want to engage in what I think many might consider sympathy for the devil. Kids don’t usually develop a fondness for neoNazi literature and become violent in a vacuum. Much as King was abandoned, it’s pretty clear that adults here failed (if not abused) McInerney over years as well, and he was clearly raised with ideas (my guess: homophobia, nazism, and worse) that shock the conscience… King paid the highest price, but we’re also seeing a 14 year old kid – biologically incapable of thinking as an adult, and unsupervised by those who were – whose life is f**ked. Where does a kid get the idea that a flirty boy is SO mortifying that his only choice is to shoot him? Where does a kid get his hands on neonazi literature, a gun, and bullets? How does this interaction between these boys go on for so long without them being separated, counseled, carefully observed?

So, these adults create a monster (and it takes a village to raise a monster) who hasn’t even had a chance to completely form a frontal lobe and learn impulse and emotional control, and then he’s tried as an adult (so the adults can all cluck and absolve themselves of the guilt), as though he weren’t closer to the weaspon fashioned in the hands of the failed caregivers around him.

No, Larry is dead, McInerney will do the time, and the adults will all wander around signing book deals and suing each other while the media pontificates.

It just pisses me off that there are no adults doing time here. I am, frankly, curious to see what happens with Mr. McInerney as he does grow up to become a man – whether he comes to appreciate with his eventual adult mind what he did, or whether, as the majority of the adults here suggest, he’s truly the lifelong sociopath, unredeemable. Or whether, in fact, prison finishes the job already started. Totally f**ked.

bls
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for this. I haven’t followed this case very closely, but this is a very powerful piece that says a lot of things that need saying in this world….

Leo
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for this powerful, heartfelt summation of this whole miserable debacle.

James
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thank you Timothy,
your heart, and your ability to express it, is one of our greatest assets, and I’m proud to be one of your readers.

StraightGrandmother
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Poor kid, poor, poor kid. It breaks my heart. Powerful well written commentary Timothy.

carol
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thank you for this beautifully written story. I parent a young gender non-conforming kid and do appreciate your honoring the life of this youth.

TwirlyGirly
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

When this story first broke, I asked myself what the reaction would have been had Larry been a girl. Middle school girls can be quite aggressive when they have a crush on a boy – writing the boy’s name all over their notebooks (enclosed in a heart), leaving notes in their locker, calling them just to hear their voice (and then hanging up), etc. If a middle school boy came to school and shot a girl because they were the object of their “unwanted attraction,” would ANYONE blame the girl? Would parents claim the shooting was the fault of the school, for not demanding the girl “tone it down?” Would people rally around the “poor boy,” for being the object of “unwanted attraction,” implying shooting the girl was an appropriate and reasoned response, and that he was left with no other choice? OF COURSE NOT.

EVEN IF Brandon’s (and his attorneys) claims of Larry’s behavior and demeanor towards him are correct (and all evidence points to gross exaggeration and plenty of fabrication on their part), the fact remains killing the person who is attracted to you, regardless of their gender, is never the appropriate response to an unwanted attraction. The only exception being if you fear for your life because someone is stalking your home, peering into your bedroom windows at night, AND you are in imminent danger – after all other LEGAL means to resolve the issue have failed. That certainly was NOT the case with Brandon.

BlackDog
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Personally, I’m a straight guy and the whole situation makes me fucking sick, and yes I’ve been following it (mostly on here) since I first heard of it.

It sounds like most of the adults in this situation couldn’t be trusted to raise fancy rats, much less kids. Where the hell does a fourteen year old get his hands on a handgun, unsupervised? I had guns when I was that age (still do) if my guns (rifles) had gone anywhere near my school or even out of the house without permission or a damn good reason I’d of got in so much trouble it wasn’t funny. Of course, this was back in the 80′s/early 90′s when kids fought with their fists, too.

Not to mention, being raised around guns and knowing to treat them seriously, and having had not only religious people raising me but military veterans I was raised to believe life is sacred and you don’t hurt somebody without reason anyway. I got into my fair share of fights, got in trouble for ‘em too. Would’ve never thought to murder someone, ever. My guess is, if this situation had been given half the (often resented) care my upbringing was it wouldn’t of happened in the first place.

It seriously sounds like most of the adults involved didn’t give a damn about anybody but themselves.

You’d think, given the reputation of American prisons, that the anti-gay people would desire to avoid committing crimes at all costs. I have a feeling that what happens to that kid probably won’t improve his attitude much, but he was the one who made the decision to take that gun to school and to use it, and to murder somebody who didn’t have it coming.

I hope he has fun in what will almost certainly be his personal hell. I bet it won’t take long for the thought “maybe I shouldn’t of done that” to cross his mind if it hasn’t already.

I just wish some of the adults who let this happen could be in there with him.

BlackDog
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Sorry for the rant, this situation (and all the other bullying issues out there) make me mad as hell.

I grew up in a small ass redneck town, and parents and teachers clamped down on bullying and shit, it simply was not tolerated. There weren’t any laws to make that so, just the concept of respect being enforced.

What the hell changed?? Not to advocate violence here but behavior that would’ve gotten someone beat up when I was a kid seems to be tolerated these days, even in the workplace.

Priya Lynn
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Rob said “Most people are never going to accept us.”.

Rob, most people DO accept us. Start keeping track of some of the polls on LGBT people.

TwirlyGirly, well said. You hit the nail on the head again.

Bob
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for a terrific piece. I agree and felt the same throughout this tragic process. I wrote to the LA Times and the reporter frequently to complain about what I believed to be biased coverage never to hear a word in response from either. Again, great piece. Larry will not soon be forgotten.

Ben Mathis
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

I thought you were sincere till I saw you also used his death as a platform to push your anti GLAAD agenda, and your pro Fox News agenda as usual. Get your conservative whining out of this otherwise reasonable tribute. Tranny is absolutely offensive, as is fag. I’m sorry your rich white male privilege has prevented words from every harming your ability to work and live, but there are millions of disenfranchised people the world over where that isn’t the case.

Ben In Oakland
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Bang on as always, Timothy.

And they wonder why we are so pissed off?

Regan DuCasse
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thanks Tim. The msm portrayal and BETRAYAL of young Larry is despicable. And yes, his so called adult guardians are worse.
I had the pleasure of working ALL DAY with a young woman who knew Larry for a YEAR up to his killing. She was his teacher/counselor in his group home. Once she saw how she could trust me with a discussion about the boy, she let loose and told me EVERYTHING about him, her relationship with him and her fury at the defamation of his life, demeanor and attitude.

In NO uncertain terms, she repeated several times that Larry simply WASN’T ashamed, and why should he be?
She said he was essentially a NICE kid, funny and liked attention. Because he wanted to be and COULD be quite a performer.
A ham, actually. And she said his singing voice WAS beautiful. It would stop people, and they’d listen. He had admiration for all kinds of rock and r&b stars, ALL of whom are flamboyant, right?
Unrestrained in how they talk to their fans, AND their detractors.
UNASHAMED.
If Larry got crap, sometimes he’d throw it right back. Teens ARE obnoxious and difficult, sometimes insufferable, but Larry wasn’t that way to the ADULTS he knew.
He had a hard time being loved by the people who should have done so without conditions.
So he developed a bit of the ‘good little boy’ syndrome with adults. But those adults who respected his talent and knew how to direct it, indulged his hamminess, enjoyment of dressing up because successful shy singers don’t really exist. And few male performers have never done drag. Even highly successful ones.
A drag outfit was STRICTLY for practice and on his own time. NEVER done at school.
But to hear the press and the gossips, he didn’t wear a uniform, but full drag to school.
As for the women’s boots. They were brown suede with a medium, two inch heel. You couldn’t really tell they were for women.
But Larry being small, those were the only kind that would fit him and give him more height.
Larry, was a ham. There were girls who liked him a lot (he was harmless and enjoyed hanging with girls), other kids who respected his talent. He could be obnoxious with other kids, which is normal for a teenager.

His teacher couldn’t help the tears that fell down her face as she was telling me about a boy she realized she loved.
Not only because he needed it and deserved it, but because it was hard not to love him.
The school underestimated and didn’t prepare for the threat that McInerney was.
Larry never was a threat, so there was no need to restrain HIM, not for ANY reason.
Yet, the onus of restraint, of complaints about Larry’s behavior is on Larry.
So stupid and ridiculous it’s mind boggling.
A boy who sang, wore lip gloss occasionally and guy liner twice, but was exceptionally gentle with bugs and wouldn’t literally, hurt a fly…well…his defamation as the aggressor, instigator and someone responsible for his own execution only makes sense to the most committed and ludicrous bigotry and stereotypes about gay males.
That are contradictory in their own terms.

I haven’t kept in touch with Larry’s teacher. But her pain is genuine and I doubt there is much faith she can have in a justice system or media that admonishes the slight, harmless victim of a bully, while defending and rationalizing the actions of his killer.
She told me that Larry liked her a lot right back, and hugged her at every opportunity. She herself is a very pretty young woman, kind and smart. A good influence on Larry,no doubt.

He attracted the love he deserved from adults who understand gay or transgendered children.
Sometimes UNLOVED and abused children like McInerney are jealous of that.
Doesn’t matter and I don’t care.
He’s still alive, will have a life to own and be accountable for when he leaves prison.
Far more than Larry got. And the potential of Larry lightening the hearts of many is lost.
Oh, how our society trades down that way, and doesn’t or won’t realize it.
Damn.

JohnAGJ
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Another good job, Timothy. Thanks.

Reed Boyer
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thanks, Regan DuCasse, for your portion of the back story on this.

And thanks, Timothy Kincaid, for your portion of the back story, as well. I hadn’t heard or read any of the details of the foster situation elsewhere, so it came as a surprise. As well, thanks for reminding me that I loathe Ramin Sedooteh.

Sir Andrew
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

I didn’t have the time to read every post, but I’m hoping against hope that there’s not one in the bunch that didn’t find your observations thoughtful and caring and a statement long missing from the national commentary.

While watching this drama unfold, I found myself disturbed by many of the things you pointed out (Yes, GLAAD, I’m looking at you). But I was more bothered by the suggestion that flirting, even aggressive flirting–whatever the hell THAT is–was somehow justification for a bullet through the brain.

How many straight boys would be walking the streets today if this were to apply to them?

I wonder why teachers should have been required to get involved with the churning hormones of a gay boy when they would never consider such involvement with a non-gay boy. Or girl.

It would have been nice had there been a teacher to teach Larry better socialization techniques. But his lack of finesse and subtlety in firting, as well as poor impulse control–something I’m sure none of us or any of his detractors have ever had a problem with; I know I certainly haven’t (ouch! my sarcastic tongue is buried so far in my cheek I just accidentally bit it)–was surely not deserving of so dramatic a “cure”.

As for anti-social behaviour, which the other side suggests flirting has suddenly become, why wasn’t anyone working on McInernry’s decidedly desperate problems interfacing with others. He was a bully, plain and simple, and it wasn’t addressed. Larry fought back against the physical attacks by hitting his tormentor with challenges to his own manhood. A good tactic? When your young, small, effeminate and can’t fight, then no. But those who should have been his champions were nowhere to be found.

This was a horrible tragedy, and will continue to be one for as long as McInerny is locked up and being turned into a worse bigot than he is right now; and as long as there is anyone alive who remembers Larry and wonders what great things he might’ve contributed to the world had he been allowed to play out his life like the rest of us.

I, too, will always remember this poor little boy. And I too will mourn the civility that was once a part of our world, but which is now gone with the wind.

StraightGrandmother
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Thank you Regan DuCasse, you have a righteous and powerful voice!!!

I am always touched to read comments by other straight people like myself, thanks to all.

Pearl Price
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Well said! Were I to say anything else, it would be while screaming in rage and using words that would shame my Mother. So I shall simply say — well said, well written!

College Jay
December 26th, 2011 | LINK

I appreciate this article. At the same time, McInerney is a victim here, too. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about him in that way, and if we were talking about adults I would never think a sympathetic thought for a criminal.

But we aren’t talking about adults. We have to remember that these were children. A 14-year-old doesn’t just become a homicidal bully out of the blue. Bullies are created, not born, and I wish there was some way to give the forces who created McInerney time in prison, while giving McInerney the professional mental health help he needs.

And I wish there was more sympathy for him. It’s very easy to be caught in the emotion of this story and to be joyous about justice being served, especially after such a hard, bitter battle. But I think a lot of us forget just how young 14 is. This is a situation where the lives of two children were destroyed by societal bigotry and greedy, selfish adults. I suppose part of the tragedy is that there really is no such thing as true justice in a situation like this.

Priya Lynn
December 26th, 2011 | LINK

Jay, people are evolved to live in both social groups and a nasty natural world. Nastiness to an extent is a part of all human nature. Mcinerny was a nasty person and he got what he deserved. He was not a victim, and no one should feel any sympathy for him.

College Jay
December 26th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, with all due respect, your comment makes absolutely no sense. If nastiness is a part of human nature, then you can’t fault a nasty person for their crimes. Are you saying we should we just euthanize children who show signs of violence? Because that’s the logical implication of your statement, and your severe, monstrous lack of empathy.

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