Monday, August 18, 2008

Brandon McInerney: How the Hate Happened

As most people who follow the news know Brandon McInerney allegedly fatally shot fellow student Lawrence King on February 12, 2008 after finding out King had a Valentine for him.
Weeks before the shooting, the teasing intensified when Larry came to school wearing high-heeled boots, makeup and earrings along with his school uniform of pants and a shirt. Larry told friends he was being teased by fellow students because he was gay. Still, he insisted on being himself.

"He said, I'm proud. I don't care if other people tease me,'"

McInerney's history of family turmoil may have contributed to this violence, however, some individuals suggest that McInerney was stalked or harassed by King. This is a point of opinion that needs to be clarified with facts before anyone should take any value in it. The closest thing I can come up with to support this is a quote from the Ventura County Star:

"But some at the Oxnard junior high school had seen Larry, 15, teased by students in the weeks before the shooting for being gay and wearing high-heeled boots and makeup. Some witnessed confrontations between Larry and Brandon, with Larry teasing Brandon and saying he liked him."

This as well:

"Larry didn't just take it. If kids didn't want to have contact with a gay person, Larry would chase after them."

I have seen these types of confrontations before. GLBT people aren't likely to be the aggressor when they have already been bullied, and the evidence that King was bullied is heavily documented. Remember this saying?:

You can only beat a dog so much, then it will turn and bite you.

In my opinion Larry King did the same thing many of us in the GLBT world did at one point or another in our lives, he stood up for himself. It sounds like he gave a little back to someone who had abused him in the form of public embarrassment by embarrassing McInerney back. Those who wish to nay say over this, bring your proof.

The facts in McInerney's childhood are verifiable and paint a much clearer and more probable cause for the shooting.
"Brandon spent most of his childhood and where his parents had some of their most violent fights, according to divorce and other court records. Brandon was 6 when his parents separated, but problems between Kendra and William McInerney started before Brandon was born. Kendra McInerney, Brandon's mother, claimed a night of partying in 1993 ended in a fight and William shooting her in the elbow, breaking it in several places, according to court records. Still, they married later that year, and Brandon was born in January 1994. In 2000, William pleaded no contest to a domestic battery charge against Kendra. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to attend domestic violence classes. Kendra claimed that in September 2000, William choked her "until she was almost unconscious" and dragged her by her hair during a fight about prescription drugs, according to court records. The medicine belonged to one of Brandon's half-brothers. Each parent claimed the other was taking the boy's pills. During the fight, Kendra said, she called out for her older sons to call police and leave the house. She later told officers there had been numerous other incidents between her and William, but she had not reported them, according to court records."-Ventura County Star

As if this was not bad enough it actually gets worse:

"In December 2001, Brandon moved into his father's house full time, after William filed for a restraining order to protect himself and Brandon, saying Kendra had 'back-handed' Brandon more than once and scratched him on the chest, according to court records. An argument also once escalated into a car chase when William went to pick up Brandon after school at the Silver Strand house. He found people 'crashed' in the front room of what he described as a 'drug house.' William claimed in court records that Kendra chased after him and Brandon, veering toward him and nearly forcing him into oncoming traffic. It was about six weeks before Brandon's eighth birthday."-Ventura County Star

Brandon joined the Young Marines — the Marine Corps' equivalent of a JROTC program — several years ago and became a leader in the group, which disbanded last summer.

Otte said he never witnessed Brandon showing a short temper and that he would have been kicked out of the group if he had bullied other kids.

But others said Brandon would use his physical prowess to intimidate others.

Conni Lawrence said her son has known Brandon since the second grade, and over the years she saw him alternately be charming and a bully. "Brandon picked on what was different," she said.

"A lot of people picked on him," said Madison Norton, 12. "Some people would walk up to him, and he'd say something back. It would be random, like at lunch — What's with the makeup' — weird stuff like that."

Hailey Day, 13, said she regularly heard Brandon calling Larry derogatory names the week before the shooting. She would tell him to stop, and Brandon would walk away.

Even more disturbing was Brandon's fascination with guns and Nazis:

Brandon knew all about the Nuremberg trials and all the names of Hitler's deputies. When other kids asked him how he knew so much, he replied casually, "Don't you watch the History Channel?"

Much to the surprise of many in spite of this being a hate crime the GLBT community and other progressive groups have come to the aid of this obviously confused child in an attempt to see him tried as a juvenile rather than an adult.

"That coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Equality California, Gay Straight Alliance Network, Lambda Legal, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Transgender Law Center."

Here is what I think was the catalyst for the violence:

"Brandon's friend Lauren said the rumors about Larry 'hitting on' Brandon were heating up. Kids were joking that Brandon must be gay if Larry was acting that way toward him."

Going forward we should try to extract as much understanding of what went wrong as we can and apply it to the future. We should remember that some people, especially children, are impressionable. Brandon McInerney was not the only one who acted violently, and he was hardly the only peer who was hateful:

In the sixth grade, a girl started a "Burn Book"—an allusion to a book in the movie "Mean Girls," where bullies scribble nasty rumors about the people they hate—about Larry. The Larry book talked about how he was gay and falsely asserted that he dressed in Goth and drag. And it ended with a threat: "I hate Larry King. I wish he was dead," according to one parent's memory of the book. "The principal called my wife on the phone and she was crying," Greg says. "She found the book, and said we needed to do something to help protect Larry." His parents transferred him to another elementary school, hoping he could get a fresh start before he started junior high. -Newsweek

Larry King has left an indelible "impression on the world as a kid who insisted on being himself, even if it meant being ridiculed." As someone who champions people's rights to be themselves I have a deep respect for such bravery, but I also have compassion in my heart for those out there like Brandon McInerney who live troubled lives that lead to violence and self destruction. In this instance there are two victims, not one, and the courts should remember the litigating circumstances around this incident.

The thing I find the school liable for is not intervening in this situation earlier and giving the troubled kids the diversity counseling they needed. Schools should be a "no place for hate" and have zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. Perhaps if children were taught in that type on environment we as a society would come a little closer to the "promised land" Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of.

Let us Live as our heart tells us, Love our neighbors without conditions as they are, and Learn what we can from each other, making the life experience all the richer.



Blondie Writes said...

You did a lot of research. Great post with some great information into the saga of Larry and Brandon.

denise stafford said...

The murder of any 14 year old is unjustifiable. But similar tragic events have happened since time immemorial. Schools share some blame lacking educational programs directed at the issue. But programs advocated by the GBLT deny natural realities and exacerbate the situation.

Assaults of lesbians by natural females resulting from sexual advances are rare. Natural females view advances by lesbians as either amusing or flattering and serious conflict in this area is minimal. Gay-‘straight male’ contact is something quite different.

Throughout the animal kingdom aggression and competition defines male sexual behavior. It is a deadly serious area of natural behavior. The sexual identity of heterosexual males is ultimately the most important aspect of their existence. Threatening or compromising this identity is the single cause of violence against lesbians and gays by male heterosexuals.

Nature dictates gays will remain a minority and educational programs should be structured thusly. The programs should not target heterosexuals but gay survival in the natural world. Had Brandon hit Larry a non fatal blow up beside the head with a club in response to his loathsome advances this case would have powerful educational value. It would serve exemplary to gay males the seriousness of approaching potential partners. Teen lesbians could benefit in learning the consequences of intruding on natural relationships without the physical trauma of experience; having their teeth knocked down their throats or their female bones snapped like twigs by enraging the awesome physical power of the human heterosexual male who, by natural design, will continue to dominate the species. It’s just common sense

John said...

"Natural Females"???

I've seen lesbians naked, and I'll tell you, they are quite natural.

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

Denise, what I find common sense is that you excuse yourself from the situation when someone embarrasses you. If they embarrass themselves you have the additional option of ignoring the emabarrassment and "being French" about the affair.

I can't imagine an educated grown adult trying to justify homophobic violence. Not only is that irresponsible, it's vulgar.

The boy had his right to self-expression, and the other boy teased him over it. He teased back, there was no need for violence, and there is no justifying it.