Monday, March 03, 2008

That Dreadful Valentine's Murder

If you have not read or heard about the murder of Lawrence (Larry) King, I regret having to mention it. We should and we must.

He was a bright, gentle, sweet 15-year-old eighth grader in Oxnard, California. He had declared recently that he was gay, he asked asked another boy to be his valentine, a boy whose response was to bring in a gun and murder Larry with a shot to the head in the classroom before the other students.

I dread the certainty that some right-wing radio and blogger types will try to wring a blame-Larry angle out of this or claim that violence and even murder of openly or suspected gay youth and adults is too rare to mention. Instead, let us be aware:
We'll probably end up knowing about the background of the murder, what he might have been thinking, how he came by the gun and more. Meanwhile, coverage such as DeGeneres' helps make it plain that we can all work to prevent the forces what would lead anything to think such assaults could in anyway be justifiable.

It's worth noting too that the executive director of Women in Media & News, Jennifer Pozner raises a key question about the treatment of Larry's murder. On WIMN's Voices, she writes:
I applaud Ellen DeGeneres for taking two and a half minutes of her usually-light-and-airy daytime chat show to address this incredibly serious, deeply important issue. Yet I wish she didn’t feel the need to qualify doing so with the pretense of being apolitical. Ellen’s statement was rare not only for her show but for television in general, which trades in superficiality over all else. By coming out so publicly eleven years ago, this entertainer has helped change the media landscape and has affected palpable change in the culture, and while I understand that she might still be a bit shellshocked from he backlash she experienced in the ’90s, I don’t think she needs to play it so close to the vest now...There is a place in daytime TV for a little bit of intelligent engagement, a little bit of politics, sprinkled amid the celebrity worship.

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