21 February 2008

Lawrence King

This was an underreported story that completely escaped me until today - even though this happened in my home metropolitan area, right before I came to Orlando.

Last week, an eighth grader by the name of Lawrence King was shot in the head by a bully at his school in Oxnard, California. He was declared brain-dead, and the incident was determined to be a hate crime, due to King's openly gay sexual orientation and sometimes feminine gender expression. King had complained of harassment by the school bullies and jocks to the school authorities, but they did not pay attention until it was too late.

Vigils have been held across the state in King's memory, and state legislators have introduced a new bill requiring more diversity training for the students. The emphasis this time is not only on remedy, but prevention of similar future tragedies.

I know how homophobic Southern California is, from my personal experience at all levels. Not only are the white natives of the John Birch Society types - especially so in outlying areas and Orange County - but the immigrants come from the most despicably homophobic nations on the planet. Of course, there are tolerant areas like West Hollywood and Santa Monica, but they are little bubbles at best.

And as much as I harbor a huge distrust of the anti-motorist and anti-business liberal Democratic ideologues of Northern California, this is where I do need their assistance, namely in shoving their more enlightened values of tolerance and acceptance down the southerners' barbaric throats. Something must be done this time, to combat the hate-filled lobby of powerful religious and socio-political groups throughout the state that have passed Proposition 22 and almost passed other barbaric laws.

It's sad that it took another death (King will be taken off life support once his body organs are donated) to make these urgent changes happen.

Lawrence King memorial
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