WHY HAVE SOME PEOPLE CALLED ME A “HEARTLESS MONSTER”?Filed under Sexuality & Gender on September 15th, 2011 by Michael L. Brown
When I wrote the article, “Did Gay Activism Play a Role in the Murder of Lawrence King,” I knew the reaction would be shrill and almost hysterical. I also knew that most of the attacks would not even deal with the substance of the article. Sad to say, but on both counts, I was not disappointed.
Alonzo wrote, “Dr. Michael Brown is truly a heartless monster!” Similarly, Brandon said, “You, sir, are a monster. . . . It is a shame that you [evangelical Christians] cannot be the victims as well as the perpetrators: that would save the rest of us a lot of grief and despair.” Dave stated, “You are an idiot. You are a bigger reason for this type of crime than any gay rights activist. . . . You’re a narrow minded, ignorant bigot.” (I took the liberty to correct any typos in the comments cited.)
According to Jari, “The level of sheer satanic evil demonstrated in this ‘article’ is mind boggling. If there is someone contributing to anti-gay violence, suicides of gay teens and yes, murder of this poor kid it is people like Dr. Brown and their message of hatred and venom.” Similarly, Denise claimed, “Yeah, Dr. Michael Brown is an activist . . . actively encouraging and supporting the murder of children,” while Jonathan wrote, “What a worthless stain on humanity you are.”
Over at the GoodAsYou.org website, Jeremy could only find one word to describe the article, namely, “Monstrous,” while Chrislove at Daily Kos referred to me as a “viciously anti-gay personality,” encouraging readers to continue reading only if they had the stomach. Brent commented, “I have no words for this evil article,” and Veda seconded with, “Evil and disgusting.”
Limelight asked, “Who Is the Greater Monster? Mr. Brown, or young Mr. McInerney [the murderer of Larry King]?” According to Steven, “Michael Brown is one sick . . . oh, h-ll, there aren’t enough expletives in the world to describe what he is.” Finally, David wrote, “You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m sure the young people in your family are ashamed of you already.” (Note to David. Quite the opposite!)
What did I write that caused such outrage? It was that gay activism was complicit in the senseless murder of Lawrence (“Larry”) King. This, apparently, was more than many people could bear to hear.
JUSTIFYING THE MURDER?
Some commenters claimed that I said Larry’s killing was justified or that I was defending his killer. God forbid! To the contrary (and all in the space of less than 850 words), I stated that “under any circumstances” this was “a totally unjustifiable, horrific and deplorable act,” speaking of Larry’s “terribly tragic death,” twice referring to it as being carried out in “cold blood,” four times referring to it as “murder” (including in the title of the article), and stating at the outset, “Of course, there is only one real killer, Brandon McInerney.”
In spite of this, Ezra wrote, “The kid is gay and therefore must be punished? He ‘flaunted’ his sexuality and therefore must be stoned to death? He ‘flirted’ with other boys and therefore must be shot down in cold blood?” Coming from another angle, Scott stated, “Notice how Dr. Michael Brown says he is a Jew [this is printed in my bio at the OneNewsNow website], but is defending an anti-gay bigot who bedecked his bedroom with Nazi symbols.”
Could someone please go back to the article and tell me where I wrote a single syllable in defense of the murderer or in justification of the murder?
Yet Derek went even further, claiming that I am “someone who had to twist himself into a knot to avoid explicitly saying, ‘I think it’s a good thing that boy murdered that gay kid.’”
I guess calling Larry’s murder “a totally unjustifiable, horrific and deplorable act” and describing his death as “terribly tragic” was not clear enough.
BLAMING THE VICTIM?
A constant refrain was that I was blaming the victim. Willa wrote, “The spinelessness of this article is typical of the ‘blame the victim’ approach,” while the Daily Kos article was entitled, “Larry King, the Anti-Gay Right, and Blaming the Victim: Or, ‘Murder is Wrong, But…’”
James stated, “It’s time for you bigots out there to take responsibility and stop blaming the victim,” and Craig exclaimed, “Oh good GRIEF! This idiot is blaming King as if he were the female in a rape case. ‘She ASKED for it!’” Ezra commented, “I say good show! Let’s keep blaming the victims for being victimized!,” while Ian wrote, “Talk about taking blame the victim to an extreme . . . .” And Jeff said, “Next Brown will be blaming rape on women.”
Remarkably, not only did I not blame Larry in the article, but I specifically referred to him as a victim, stating that “gay activists . . . have made Larry into a martyr for the cause of gay activism when, in reality, he was more a victim of gay activism.”
When you call someone a victim, you are not blaming them! And when I spoke of his troubled upbringing, that was not to demonize him but rather to create sympathy for him.
Later in the article, I also asked if it was “fair to Larry” for school administrators not to step in when teachers reported that his dress and behavior were causing disruption among the students. My whole point is that the school should have been addressing this situation if they saw problems, for his sake and for the sake of the other students.
IT’S ALWAYS HOMOPHOBIA!
While there was outrage over my argument that gay activism played a role in Larry’s murder – something that others have argued, including Larry’s adoptive father – none of the critics had any problem with GLSEN’s contention that “homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life.” Instead, my article was described as “religious based, homophobic nonsense,” while Zachary simply stated, “I can’t stand homophobic people.” Brittany posted, ‘This guy is clearly a deluded homophobe,” Trevor said, “I don’t think I have ever read a more clear cut case of homophobia,” and Ian even wrote, “Wow, reading this article made my head hurt. So the killer’s homophobia did not contribute to the victim’s death it was actually the victim’s homosexuality that caused these horrible events.”
Let’s sort this out. I trust we all agree that cold-blooded murder is cold-blooded murder and that Larry’s killing was “a totally unjustifiable, horrific and deplorable act.” It is also my view that, if Brandon had even punched Larry in the face (rather than shot him twice in the back of the head!) that too would have been unjustifiable. If you are being taunted or sexually harassed, it’s best to simply walk away and, if needed and possible, report the matter to your authorities.
But is it “homophobic” if a straight teenager is upset when a gay teenager openly flirts with him or tells others that they are dating or chases him down the hallway while wearing high-heels and make-up? (There are different reports about how much of this happened between Larry and Brandon, but again, Larry’s adoptive father believes that Larry did sexually harass Brandon, while that was one of the factors that contributed to 7 jurors voting for voluntary manslaughter rather than first or second degree murder.) The politically correct view seems to be that straight guys are now required to be indifferent to gay male flirting (or even harassment), otherwise they are “homophobic.” Talk about overusing an already overused word!
Brandon was obviously a tragically violent, troubled teenager, and for all I know, he was someone who hated gays. He might have been a classic example of a “homophobe.” But that doesn’t mean it is homophobic for a straight guy to have a problem with a gay guy’s sexual interests in him or romantic flirtations with him. The problem – the horrific, deadly problem – was Brandon’s reaction.
FLAUNTING GAY SEXUALITY IS EQUIVALENT TO SKIN COLOR
There was a common line of thinking among the critical comments that went like this: A) Larry’s behavior and actions were perfectly fine and unobjectionable since it was part of his gay identity. B) Being gay is something you’re born with and you can’t change, just like being black. C) Therefore, Larry’s murder was no different than the lynching of a black man.
In keeping with this, Jimbo wrote, “I suppose, with this logic we should blame the black man for flaunting his color before his lynching,” while Stephanie argued, “It’s like saying, ‘Well why didn’t we keep segregation laws in place, because a lot of black people got hanged in response to desegregated schoolsl, we should have just kept things status quo so there were no problems.’”
Jonathan had a more clever approach, commenting, “Breaking: football coach blames anti-intellectual bullying on MENSA activists.” (Question for Jonathan: Are you saying that a teenaged boy wearing women’s accessories and make-up and taunting straight boys is similar to being a Mensa member?)
Bernard also had a clever, sarcastic post: “This guy’s absolutely right. I know that growing up as a Jewish kid in Arlington, Virginia, then headquarters of the American Nazi Party, I was lucky to have parents who always warned me never to disclose my Jewish affiliation to anyone. Really, what business was it of theirs? If I missed a high-holiday service here and there, played softball on Saturdays, brought ham sandwiches to school–it was a small price to pay to ensure that I didn’t make anyone so uncomfortable that they felt inspired to beat me, burn a cross on my lawn, or break my windows. I never forgot that I lived in a majority-Christian country, and that therefore, any hatred anyone showed me was just a confirmation of their basic values, and any toleration they displayed just a demonstration of their ultimate superiority. In fact, I’m happy to say I had the smarts, even at that young age, occasionally to kick a Jew in the face a few times myself–just to throw the Nazis off the scent. I’ll never understand why minorities are so resistant to a little common sense. Why can’t we just go along with the crowd?”
But once again, they’re missing the point. First, just to remind us of the facts, there is no conclusive proof (quite an understatement) that anyone is born gay, while there is ample proof, scientific and anecdotal, that some homosexuals become heterosexual. So, being gay is not innate and immutable, and gay is not the new black, contrary to popular opinion. And how can romantic attraction and sexual behavior be equated with skin color? Second, and more importantly, there were three main issues here, Larry’s disruptive behavior (which was certainly his choice), the school’s failure to take action, and the irresponsibility of gay activists.
To carry out the analogies here, the situation we’re discussing would have been the equivalent of Jewish parents encouraging their kids in a Nazi school district in Germany to come out boldly as Jews and to chase Nazi kids down the hallways while wearing large Stars of David. Would anyone question for a moment that the parent’s encouragement would have been totally irresponsible? (To be clear, I am not comparing being Jewish to being gay, nor am I comparing wearing a Star of David to sexually harassing someone, nor am I comparing our schools to Nazi school districts. I’m simply carrying out the analogy.)
It’s one thing, say, for a black man to decide he wants to expose racism by sitting at an all-white lunch counter, knowing that he might risk his life. It’s another thing entirely for black parents to tell their kids to go play basketball in a white supremacist neighborhood, wearing “Black is beautiful” tee-shirts. That too would be terribly irresponsible, and yet that’s similar to what some gay activists do, encouraging kids to come out in their schools while at the same time telling us how dangerous the schools are. (To be clear again, I am not comparing being black to being gay, nor am I comparing wearing a “Black is beautiful” tee-shirt to sexually harassing someone, nor am I comparing our schools to white supremacist neighborhoods. Again, I’m simply carrying out the analogy.)
Scott opined, “Dr. Michael Brown is making the same argument people make when they say that a girl was asking to get raped because she was wearing a mini-skirt.” Actually, my argument would be this: “If parents were telling us that the schools were not safe for suggestively dressed girls, then they shouldn’t be encouraging their daughters to wear mini-skirts.” And no one said that Larry was asking to get killed! In fact, that’s one of the issues I have with making him into a gay martyr. We can safely assume that the last thing he wanted was to be murdered and that he never thought to himself, “My behavior might get me killed, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.”
And how do you think gay activists would have reacted if a straight kid was harassing a gay kid, spreading rumors about him to the other kids, and chasing him down the hallway while wearing a “Straight is better than gay” t-shirt, to the point that it was disruptive to the other students and complaints were filed by other teachers, asking the administrators to step in. Yet the administrators replied, “We don’t want to violate the civil rights of the straight student,” after which the gay kid finally got so upset that he killed the straight kid. Do you really think gay activists would not be in an uproar over this, even painting the murderer as a victim himself, even while recognizing that he was guilty of a heinous crime?
Not only, however, were these points not grasped, but extreme comparisons were made, like this one, by David S.: “I want you hypocritical ‘Christians’ to imagine the roles were reversed. Instead of Larry being Gay, he was Christian. Instead of trying to kiss the boys, he was trying to minister to the boys. And instead of being MURDERED for his homosexuality, he was MURDERED for his Christianity. The Christian community would be furious about his death. And believe it or not, so would I. I’m furious over the bigotry and hatred this nation has bred, whether it be from the LGBT community or from the Christian community. I’m not bashing all Christians, just the ones who can’t see past the spine of their Bible long enough to realize what they are saying and what they are doing!”
While I certainly appreciate (and resonate with) his renunciation of all bigotry and hatred, wherever it is found, can anyone seriously compare a Christian boy trying to minister to other boys to a gay kid (or straight kid) sexually harassing other kids?
Finally, Dirk (who is obviously gay) wrote, “And none of us have ever ‘encouraged’ young LGBT kids to come out ‘earlier and earlier’. That monstrous lie comes from Brown’s need to paint all of us as pedophiles – it is absolutely untrue, and just an attempt on their part to get more people to hate us.”
Dirk, may I ask what rock you’ve been living under? From GSA’s (Gay Straight Alliances) in middle schools to GLSEN’s (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network’s) school curricula, and from younger and younger openly gay characters on TV to the fact that kids are coming out at younger and younger ages – you’ve got to be kidding me. This is anything but a “monstrous lie.” As for “pedophiles,” who in the world brought that up in this context? And what does encouraging a young person to “come out” have to do with pedophilia?
This is just a sampling of some of the negative feedback to my article, but enough has been said to make clear that, with rare exception, these posts represent reactions more than responses, barely even touching on what the article was actually about. What then was the purpose of writing this controversial article?
* * *
It seems that every week, we hear another tragic story about an LGBT teen committing suicide, and anyone with a beating heart should be troubled over these reports. (Note to my critics: Despite your perceptions and accusations, my heart beats strongly, and I too have agonized over these young lives cut short. I believe, however, that the best approach to bullying, which occurs for a multitude of reasons, is to teach how wrong bullying is, rather than teaching that gay – or, say, obesity, which is another major cause of bullying – is good.)
The story of Larry King is, in a way, more tragic still, since he was the victim of a brutal shooting in what should have been the safety of a classroom. But gay activists have made a serious error in making Larry into a gay martyr (Newsweek even referred to Larry’s murder as “the most prominent gay-bias crime since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard”), and that is one reason I wrote the article, knowing full well that it would produce such ugly reactions.
In the months before Rosa Parks became a national symbol for the civil rights movement, there were other black Americans who stood up to oppressive white racism. One of them was a younger woman who also said enough is enough and took her stand, but when it was learned that she was pregnant out of wedlock, civil rights leaders immediately realized that she would not be a good poster girl for a national movement. In fact, she might have even played into the negative stereotype of white prejudices.
Yet gay activism is so committed to the mantra of, “This is who we are, we have the right to express ourselves however we desire, and we are always the innocent victims,” that it drew the completely wrong conclusions from Larry’s cowardly killing. This should have been a time for introspection, for asking whether, by wanting to protect Larry’s “civil rights” (this term actually came up in school discussion about his behavior), “pro-gay” administrators neglected the needs of the other students. (Remember that other kids, who did not lift a finger against Larry, were also troubled by his dress and behavior.)
In fact, gay activists have also been irresponsible by pressing whole schools to revolve around the needs of a transgender-identified child who is allowed to use the bathroom and even locker room of his or her perceived gender. They fail to ask, “Is this fair to the other children? Does the ‘right’ of one, struggling student trump the rights of the other students, many of whom are upset and even traumatized by this? And should they be reprimanded for having an issue with ‘the boy who wears the dress’ or ‘the girl who has a penis’”?
Gay activists should have also asked whether they were acting in Larry’s best interests. After all, much of his behavior was not typical for gay teens (in fact, many believe that he was actually “transgender,” which further underscores the fact that he was trying to understand his own “sexual identity”), and he could have gotten along fine while using a little more restraint. But as long as gay activists remind us about gay suicides and the “unsafe” nature of many of our schools, they need to be more wise in their counsel to kids about “coming out.” (I’m not addressing the larger question of whether kids should stay “in the closet” and wait until they’re older and are more certain about their sexuality, or come out and explore their sexuality at the youngest possible ages, or do everything in their power to overcome same-sex attraction. I’m simply saying that, by their own admission, schools are not always “safe” places for kids to “come out.”)
And why is it that any criticism of gay behavior or expression is immediately branded as “hate”? Is constructive criticism never possible? Would it have been right under any circumstances to have counseled Larry to modify his behavior or dress, or would all such counsel immediately be rejected as “homophobic”?
The bottom line is that Larry’s murder should have prompted some soul-searching among gay activists. At the least, they should have said, “We should be more careful.” Instead they said, “We have another martyr.” And that is a real shame.
Michael Brown is host of the daily, syndicated talk radio show, The Line of Fire, and author of A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.
Tags: bigotry, bullying, gay activism, homophobia, homosexuality, intolerance, lawrence king, murder, safe schools
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