Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Broken Hearts & Valentines Day


I'm in Oakland at the annual Episcopal Urban Caucus Assembly where the theme this year is "The Road to Peace" and the panel this morning focused on the impact of violence on at-risk youth. The stories were heart-rending, the statistics sobering and the presenters who work in ministries and agencies charged with stemming the tide were inspiring.

And then I checked my email on the break and found this from my old hometown 'hood of Ventura County:

I don't know if you've heard about the recent fatal shooting of a middle school student in Oxnard, but it appears to have taken on a hate crime ala Matthew Shepherd twist, that is absolutely gutwrenching. At times like these, I'm acutely mindful of the need for Christians to repent and beg forgiveness for the violence we've incited (directly and indirectly) over the centuries against GLBT people. Enough!

I pray for you and the work of Integrity daily. Please remember your old hometown in your prayers and that God may through us to begin some healing work in the midst of this tragedy.

From the Ventura County-Star news report:
A boy shot this week at an Oxnard middle school was pronounced brain-dead Wednesday...Lawrence King, 15, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green School ...was shot in the head about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in a computer lab where about two dozen other students were working on English assignments, authorities said.

Some students have said King was openly gay, although police and school officials have declined to comment on that ... Matthew Puga, a seventh-grader at Green, said King was sometimes teased for wearing makeup and girl's clothing to school. Another seventh-grader, Emmanuel Martinez, said other kids would often pick on King because he dressed and acted differently.

Lawrence King dressed and acted differently -- and now he's dead. A 15 year old child shot in cold blood in a computer lab.

If our hearts are not broken that this can happen in "the land of the free" then shame on us as Americans.

If our eyes are not open to the truth that GLBT people live in fear of their very lives throughout the global communion of ours then shame on us as Anglicans.

And if we do not commit, on this Valentine's Day-of-all-day, to reach out in love and witness to the truth that GLBT people are fearfully and wonderfully made JUST AS THEY ARE -- beloved of God and in the image of God -- then shame on each and every single cotton pickin' one of us. That IS our charge as messengers of the Good News. That IS our call as the Body of Christ in the world. That IS the work we have been given to do in the name of the Prince of Peace and Lord of Love.

So let us ...
  • Pray for the repose of the soul of Lawrence King.
  • Pray for the child who pulled the trigger and took his life.
  • Pray for a road to peace ... that violence may end: in our cities, in our hearts, in our church and in our world.
.
And let us remember, on this day of hearts and flowers, the hearts that are broken because of violence against GLBT people and the flowers that will soon deck the final resting place of the child who was not even given the grace to live long enough to bloom.

Lawrence King, you deserved so much better. May the God who loved you beyond your wildest imaginings gather you now into Her arms of love. And may we, in your memory, recommit ourselves to making this a world where every single beloved child of God is free to be uniquely who they were created to be.

Amen.
.

13 comments:

David Charles Walker said...

Susan,
There's a nice picture of this lovely boy in today's L.A. Times. Perhaps you can grab it for this post?

RonF said...

This kid getting shot is a terrible thing. But all we know so far is that he was gay. There's lots of things that go on in adolescence that could have caused this. Why the rush to label it a hate crime?

tbone said...

ronf - labeling this as a hate crime is what is going to grab peoples attention. this may or may not be an actual "hate" crime, but because this kid was possibly gay, labeling as such will sell more papers and get more people to click on the links...

Padre Tom said...

ronf - i understand your need for clarity, but let's get real. This young person went against the grain of what society accepts as "normal" of how a boy should exhitibit himself. He wore makeup and one report said he had long nails. It is very likely that this is a hate crime. I know the taunting and teasing that goes on by other guys at school. When I was a teen and though I was not out I was called faggot and queer and a lot of other things. I was tripped and then the threats got a lot worse. We live in a sad time when the freedom to express oneself without harming others attracts harm to oneself by others. Look at all of the people in history who were different and were silenced: Martin Luther King, Jr., Matthew Sheppherd, Oscar Romero, Edith Stein, or Ryan Skipper. While we shouldn't be so quick to judge the situation without knowing all of the facts, we must not be so closed to the facts that have been presented thus far.

Roger Kline said...

RonF, the Ventura County District attorney has charged the suspect with a hate crime, so apparently there is some substance to that characterization.

From the Ventura County Star:
School shooting suspect will be charged with murder, hate crime

Thank you, Susan, for your challenging words. I send out my prayers to all affected by this senseless tragedy.

fr craig said...

and pray for some sanity in this country about gun ownership. Why can't we do something to keep guns out of the hands of children??

Jack Sprat said...

Yesterday I was too angered by "ronf" and "tbone" to respond. This is not about sensationalism, people.

I pray for this boy and for the tortured soul who committed the crime. The presence of evil on Earth is surpassed by the Grace of God.

We must take responsibility for all of the people with guns, no matter how far away from them we may be. The presence of lethal weapons in our society is not "someone else's problem."

Holy Spirit, help us!

OKDiane said...

When I heard about this I was especailly grief stricken because I thought about how even now the message of acceptance is being blunted in what is in my opinion a misdirected attempt to compromise what a majority of us clearly see as evil in order to not strain the bonds of affection with people who seem to be more than willing to strain those bonds out of fear of offending an angry God if they don't.

I do commit to reaching out to all in love and witnessing to the truth that all are the beloved of God so that this world can become a place where all are free to be who they were created to be.

uffda51 said...

This young eighth grade murderer wasn’t born hating gays. This was something he was taught.

Apparently he was not taught “Do unto others . . .” or “Thou shall not kill.”

At this point we can only speculate if this teaching came from specific individuals or from society at large. Sadly, he also learned that the American way of conflict resolution is violence, even if the target of the violence is not the cause of the conflict.

RonF said...

Well, Roger, we'll see when the actual evidence for that becomes public. And if it's there, then fine. If he did the crime, he should do the time. But those comments that automatically presumed that this was a hate crime were made before any evidence to that end was public (which apparently it still isn't). They seemed to me to be more aimed at using some poor kid's death to make political points that it was to mourn his loss and that of his family.

Fr. Craig, "why can't we do something to keep guns out of the hands of children?" is a damn good question. I would hope that a thorough investigation of how this child got this gun is undertaken and that the owner is prosecuted for criminal negligence (not to mention the civil suits). Ownership of a gun is a responsibility taken too lightly by some people.

uffda51 said...

“Why the rush to label it a hate crime?”

Ronf, you have now, in two different posts, suggested that this case is not a hate crime. Why? You can’t even bring yourself to describe the event accurately. Your use of language both minimizes the crime and casts doubt on the motive.

This is not a case of a “kid getting shot,” as though he didn’t die. This is not about “some poor kid’s death,” as though he wasn’t executed. This is about the murder of a fifteen year old named Lawrence King, a young gay man. This is not a “he said-she said” case, where the facts remain very much in doubt. The district attorney, who undoubtedly has information that the rest of us do not, has determined that this case falls under the hate crime statute.

Yet you and tbone leaped at the opportunity to share with us that the DA has ulterior motives, and is fact only interested in “political points” and selling newspapers. Why question the integrity of the DA? Why the rush to preclude the probability that this was NOT a hate crime?

I imagine that if this murder proves to be simply the result of one of those “things that go on in adolescence,” rather than the hatred of a gay person, those folks who use the Bible to justify their bigotry against GLBT persons can feel a little better about themselves.

pamelab said...

I just want to say that first my prayers go out to the family and friends who are experiencing such a great loss. Secondly I want to say that too many times in our society we focus on things such as whether or not this was a hate crime. Who cares, because quite honestly I believe any crime committed against another is a hate crime. The person committing the crime hates themselves so much for their own personal indifference they pick on others or in this case kill others. The problem with the world today is that it is becoming too acceptable to display acts of ignorance. When will enough be enough and as a society we recognize we all have differences and that is what makes us special and unique. Hate is hate and when you harm someone because of their personal preference or choices in life, call it what it is. I would be willing to bet that people saying this was not a hate crime would respond differently if it were a member or their family who got shot for let's say "having blonde hair or brown eyes" that the family member made a point of displaying to others. God made us all for who we are and it is up to us individually to meet our maker when our time is done and it is then and only then that "THE ONLY PERSON TRULY FIT TO JUDGE US WILL DO SO!", and for those that are trying to figure out who this person is, I suggest you pray and pray hard!

Darryn said...

when i learned more about this story i was in tears...im not a guy that typically drops tears very often. i was overwhelmed with the grief of this sitiuation, a young kid murdered my another. it is apparent that this WAS A HATE CRIME! I can empathize with the grief that the parents of King must feel, however, i can also feel for the young man who murdered him. His foolish homophobia has lead him to cause so much distruction. The sad thing is this could have been avoided. if our schools did more to talk about issues of homosexuality with our students. if parents werent so hard cast to allowing our instructors to facilitate an "age appropriate" discussion about LGBT people, we could promote understanding and attempt to demystify all of these stereotypes and negative beliefes with compassion, understanding and actual FACTS discovered by our biologists, sociologists, psychologists and even historians and anthropologists. everyone should know and understand that GAYS LESBIANS BISEXUALS AND TRANSGENDER people have existed throughout our human history, societies Great and Small have had a place for them, animals all throughout the world have exhibited homosexual tendenceies, professionals in many different fields have found links that imply that being gay is biologically determined and our american code of ethics supports the idea that every citizen has the right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. It is our responsibility to ensure that all of our citizens get equal protection under the law and all our children can understand that eveyrone (even LGBT people) are worthwhile individuals, derserving of the same rights and privledges as everyone else.

:( *sigh* its just awful that this happened...and that poor kid is now facing prision, for a foolish perception and a bad decision and the presence of a gun.

im afraid of what is going to happen to him, all because of the hate that was taught. his life is now ruined.

its just awful.