Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ideology, the Schools, and Murder: The McInerney/King Case - By Noel Anenberg (Read this NOT as an independent event, but ask: How did we get here? - CL)

On the morning of February 12, 2008, Brandon McInerney, 14, a good student and athlete at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, left for school with his mother’s .22 cal. pistol in his backpack. Brandon entered Computer Lab, took a seat directly behind 15-year-old Larry King, a transgender boy who suffered from ADHD and a reactive detachment disorder. Larry, AKA Latisha, was unable to form close relationships with the serial foster parents appointed to care for him. At approximately 8:15 that morning, Brandon shot Larry in the back of the head. Larry died two days later.  
Mass media outlets and social media cast Larry (Latisha) King as a martyr of the Gay Rights movement and Brandon as a hate-filled Neo-Nazi. Larry was buried. Brandon pleaded guilty to 2nd -degree murder and received a twenty-one-year prison sentence. It was, it seemed, an open and shut case. Good vs Evil. Neo-Nazi killed innocent gay kid. But, the facts of this tragedy -- that befell both boys -- reveal quite a different story. 
Larry King’s father had abandoned King, his brother, Rocky, and their drug-addicted mother who was declared unfit to keep them by the courts. Both boys spent their formative years being passed from one foster home to the next. Larry was later adopted but when child services charged his adoptive father of abusing Larry, Larry was placed in a group home. Larry/Latisha wore high heels, lipstick, and feminine clothing to class at E.O. Green. A state of California anti-discrimination law prohibited A.O. Green’s administration from reining in King’s distracting behavior. 
Brandon McInerney’s mother was at the time of the shooting a drug-addicted “meth head” incapable of loving and nurturing her son. His father, an addict, was an abusive man who shot Brandon’s mother with a .45 caliber pistol when she accused him of stealing Brandon’s ADHD medication. (On a happy note, Brandon’s mother has been sober for some time, works as a drug counselor, and has developed a close relationship with her son. Both Brandon and his mother, according to emails I have received from her, are working hard to put the past behind them and build new lives.)  
Beginning one year prior to Larry King’s death, Larry began sexually taunting Brandon in the schoolyard. While Brandon was standing with friends, Larry would parade by in drag, pucker his rouged lips, blow Brandon a kiss,  and shout things like, “You know you want me!” and “Love you, baby.” Larry’s harassing behavior was uninvited, unwanted, and caused Brandon to suffer humiliation. Then, three days before Valentine’s Day, 2008, while Brandon was in the school gym playing basketball with friends, Larry, in drag, walked up behind him, kissed Brandon on the cheek and asked Brandon to be his Valentine. How much sexual abuse is a healthy 15-year-old heterosexual boy without any parental support, school administrative protection, and/or faith supposed to endure? 
E.O Green’s faculty and parents had split over what to do. Some felt Larry’s dress and behavior were disruptive and asked the E.O. Green vice principal, Joy Epstein,  a lesbian and gay rights activist, to intervene. Others, disregarding Larry’s personality disorder and troubled past, supported Larry’s borderline behavior.  Some of the female faculty members gave Larry feminine accessories and coached him on dress and demeanor. They lobbied Joy Epstein on Larry’s behalf. 
Ms. Epstein, in service to her cause and in complete denial of Brandon McInerney’s right to protection against sexual harassment by another student, refused to call King in and discipline him for sexually harassing Brandon. Both boys were left adrift in a maelstrom of parental neglect, pubescent stirrings, and bereft of a caring adult who would -- without bias and with common sense -- look after their well-being and the well-being of the other students. After the shooting, after Larry’s burial, and Brandon’s incarceration, the school district rewarded Joy Epstein with a post at another school where she continues to pursue her professional goals and lobby for gay rights. 
“If” McInerney was a girl and “if” King was a heterosexual boy harassing McInerney, would Joy Epstein and the school district have acted to stop the sexual harassment of a girl by a boy? 
Brandon McInerney was, prior to Larry King’s harassment of him, a good student and an accomplished athlete.
Were it not for one boy’s death and the other’s incarceration, this story would read like a comedy of errors. Instead, it is a tragedy of national proportions. Across America young boys are being made to accept all forms of sexual behavior when in fact they are not emotionally or psychologically equipped to do so. The very idea that the State would protect the rights of an eighth-grade child to parade around campus in drag is inane. Issues of sexual orientation should not be worked out on school campuses. Children with these complex issues should work on them privately so that  a healthy learning environment may be maintained. 
Boyhood is and has been under attack for some time. All boys, especially white boys, are rebuked for their masculinity. They watch as girls are told they are special. They are told they are privileged, guilty, and must atone for their sins as if they are themselves were white supremacists. The expectation for white boys is that they should get in line behind girls, children of color, and illegal immigrants. At the same time these boys are exposed to video games that show far more blood and violence than that depicted in a chase of the Roadrunner by Wile E. Coyote. Is it any wonder that some on the fringe are reacting violently? 
If we want to stop boys from killing, the assault on boyhood must come to an end.
Noel Anenberg, author of THE DOG BOY and THE KARMA KAPER, is writing WHY A BOY KILLED, a crime novel to be published in late 2020.