The McInerney Plea Deal: Hate By Any Other Name?

When the news came across the wires this afternoon that a plea deal had been reached in the 2008 murder of 15-year-old Larry King, I saw more then one version of the story use the word “closure”.

One has to wonder just what kind of closure the plea deal offers to King and a thousand other kids just like him who grapple with issues like sexual orientation and gender identity, when not even those in the adult world can agree on the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

According to the Ventura County Star, on Monday,” Brandon McInerney, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter with use of a firearm.”

“His victim, King, 15, had been wearing women’s high heeled boots and makeup to school in the weeks leading up to the shooting as he was coming out of the closet and telling friends he was gay. Teachers testified King was becoming increasingly antagonistic and the administration was doing little to control him. Others said he was merely expressing his sexuality and it was King who was being bullied.”

“King had just told another student that he was changing his name to Leticia when McInerney shot him twice in the head,” reports the Star.

Antagonistic is in the eye of the beholder. Do we call it antagonistic when a high school star quarterback displays his “masochism” in order to impress the girls? Do we call it antagonistic when a female cheerleader does all she can to win the eye of her latest prince charming? Of course not, we pat them on the back and send them on their way to the prom.

Larry King will never make it to his prom. Nor will he ever have the chance to be who Leticia King might have been.

During the first trial, prosecutors portrayed McInerney as a budding white supremacist who hated homosexuals and was enraged by King’s sexuality and aggressive flirtations. That trial ended in a hung jury, largely due to the defendants young age.

Jay Smith, former executive director of the now-closed Rainbow Alliance, an advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community tells the Star,”he thinks the LGBT community feels strongly that the shooting was a hate crime, an allegation dropped by prosecutors after the hung jury.”

Because of McInerney’s age most connected with the case feel the plea deal is a good compromise. Or maybe, perhaps it’s just the product of the world we still live in where teenage boys aren’t suppose to dress like girls, or have crushes on other boys and all the other taboos of growing up LGBTQIA, maybe in that world compromise is OK.

One wonders if Larry King would still be alive today if our society believed in true equality for all it’s citizens. Imagine if being LGBTQIA was seen as being no different then being brown eyed or blue eyed. One wonders if McInerney would have shot someone for having red hair over blond hair?

It could happen, but it’s highly unlikely.

The prosecutors in the McInerney case may have dropped the hate crime charge but those of us who have ever looked in the face of someone who has hated someone else just because they are different can tell you no matter what you legally call it, from “protecting marriage” to “giving the gays special rights” hate is still just that.

We only have to look at our adult world to see where the children are learning it.

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