Sunday, March 2, 2008

Political Safety Netting

The Occasional Rufus, a blog I read often, recently posted a piece about Larry King -- the young boy who was shot and killed in California because of his gender identification and sexual orientation -- in which he stated that politicians should not make statements on how they feel about hate crimes:

Do we really need candidates for any office to say this is wrong? Other than a select few nut-jobs out there, does anyong think this was OK? And would those nut-jobs give a damn if Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama -- candidates the people in question certainly aren't casting ballots for -- issued statements saying that it's not OK to kill a 15-year-old kid because he's gay?

Furthermore, doesn't it sound a little strange to say that? That it it's not OK to kill someone because of X, Y or Z? Would it have been any less offensive if King had been killed because he slept with the shooter's girlfriend? Should Clinton release a statement saying adultery is no exuse for murder? Does Obama need to say it's not OK to kill people because you want their money? Or because they're ugly? Or because they're in a rival gang?

What? As an advocate for social justice, I have to disagree because trickle down effects are real, and not having the head of a heteronormative country come out in full support of making our world safer, simply perpetuates hatred. More, Larry King was not shot because he was a "rival gang" member who was gay. The fact that he was not straight was not an afterthought for the person who pulled the trigger, who mind you was also a young kid and who no doubt adopted his homophobia from the macro forces in his life (i.e. the media, and political outlets). He sought his demise because of this hatred, this fear.

I responded:

"Do we really need candidates for any office to say this is wrong?"

I say YES.

Why? Because murder against an individual is one thing, but crime against a person who falls outside of the normalized culture is a social and institutional issue.

Being killed for having a non-heterosexual identification is not the same as sleeping "with the shooter's girlfriend." It's an absurd comparison because we are talking about a whole demographic that is being marginalized and eliminated because society cannot deal with folks who fall outside of the standards set up by this heteronormative, gender binary world.

Larry King was killed because our citizens and politicians don't help to foster a safe environment.

What people fail to realize is that it's not about forcing politicians, et. al, to change their moral fabric, or to take public stands on how they feel PERSONALLY, but rather, it should be about how to allocate more resources towards the freedom to identify as one pleases without fear of being marginalized, or in this case, sprayed with bullets.