Brynn Craffey

R.I.P.

Filed By Brynn Craffey | February 13, 2008 11:40 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: bullying, homophobic behavior

Lawrence King, the eighth-grade boy was shot and wounded by a classmate at E.O. Green School in Oxnard Tuesday, has been pronounced brain dead, authorities said this afternoon.

Oxnard police released a statement this afternoon saying King had died.

[Full story.]

May Mr. King rest in peace, and may his family and loved ones find solace in this terrible time of needless, horrific and incomprehensible loss.

I spent eight formative years in the Ventura area when I was growing up, living and attending high school roughly 20 minute’s drive from where this tragic shooting took place.

For those who don’t know, Ventura is Oxnard’s county seat. And while I understand that such a heartbreak could take place anywhere—or at least anywhere guns are readily available—knowing the area the way I do, I’m sadly not surprised this tragedy happened in Oxnard.

I sometimes tell friends that I’m surprised I made it out of Ventura alive. While I’m referring more to the risk of suicide than to murder, in this case the genesis of the each would have been similar: being queer in Ventura was akin to being a round peg trapped in a community of happily oblivious squares. Totally checked out and barely conscious that a larger world existed, I couldn’t imagine cities like San Francisco or Berkeley, where oddballs like me sat in cafes and passionately discussed art, literature, politics, history, and other such reviled-in-Ventura-especially-among-young-folks topics.

Ventura was—and possibly still is, despite the current prevalence of trendy coffee shops—a place where difference was reviled if not outrightly punished and complacent conformity greatly rewarded. I’d never lived in a more progressive location so like a gill-less fish in water had no idea why I was drowning. Looking back, I marvel I got out more-or-less intact and I thank the goddess-of-my-lucky-stars that I wasn’t born male and forced to grow up there. If I had, I can almost guarantee I’d be dead, in prison, living on the streets, or institutionalized now.

Masculine girls can fade into the woodwork and are usually fierce enough to defend themselves if picked on. Effeminate boys, on the other hand, walk around with bull’s-eyes on their backs that draw in every sadistic, insecure-about-his-masculinity asshole for miles, be they the kid’s own father or his jock heads-up-their-asses classmates. And for some twisted societal reason, femininity tends to take the blows rather than physically fight back.

The facts in this sad case remain sketchy, so I may be totally mistaken that Lawrence King was a sweet sissy boy struck down before he had a chance to really live by a warped tormenter with a gun in a place where bullies and available handguns abound.

Sadly, though, having lived nearby where he died, that’s exactly the picture I have.

[Crossposted at Dispatches.]


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I was moved from a fairly progressive city, to the boondocks, and had all sorts of problems with bullies in high school. Even though I tried to hide things, apparently some mannerisms and the like must have slipped through. At least back in the 70's, they just tried to beat you up, rather than shooting you.

This is just too sad. The parents of the killer need to face prosecution for having a gun where the kid could find it and take it to school.

This is a very tragic situation. It would be interesting to see what facts come out in the trial.
As for the gun, it might have been secured. It is hard to keep a 14 year old away from something that he wants to get at.
Those laws are more for smaller children. The only the parents could have prevented it was to have a locked safe and carried the keys with them or store the gun in another location.
Then again, they may have left it sitting out. Who knows. These are the facts that will come out in the investigation and trial.

My heart goes out to this family. I hope the coverage brings out the fact that this child was bullied because he was gay. Not just say he was bullied. With the right wing nutters challenging SB777 because they don't believe anything gay should ever be brought up in school. This is a horrible example of what might have been prevented if parents and students could understand more about being Gay.

Ye Olde Fart | February 14, 2008 5:01 PM

We share similar experiences. I grew up in Manchester NH. Gays didn't exist there; at least, it was never mentioned.
Once in the seventh grade I was attacked by a bunch of boys in the school yard who broke one of my upper front teeth.
Once I got home, I explained to my dad I had slipped on the ice and broke the tooth. The true reason would have made things worse.
I'm 73 years old now, and I've always kept that broken tooth as a reminder.
My heart goes out to Lawrence King. God bless him.