July 25, 2008

Newsweek on the Lawrence King Murder

The cover story on this week's edition of Newsweek magazine was an investigation into the background regarding the murder of high school student Lawrence King back in February.

Click here to read the article.

Over at Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kinkaid was very disappointed with the nature of the article and the writer, Ramin Setoodeh, who was assigned to it:

To Setoodeh, Larry was the primary source of disturbance on campus. He wore makeup and “thought nothing of chasing the boys around the school in [high heels], teetering as he ran.” He was “a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon”. “He went to school accessorized to the max” and would “sidle up to the popular boys’ table and say in a high-pitched voice, “Mind if I sit here?””

If there were any residents of Oxnard that didn’t view Larry as a prancing mincing menace intent on wreaking havoc on all around him, Setoodeh didn’t seem to find them. He found instead an attorney with a “gay panic” defense, a litigious adoptive father who resents the gay community for caring about Larry’s murder, and several teachers who objected to his effeminate ways.

In short, there’s very little in the Newsweek article that would not seem more at home on World Net Daily or a press release from the American Family Association.

Setoodeh may have let inexperience and limited input sway his judgment into writing a hit piece on the victim. He is, after all, an odd choice for an in depth article about social interactions in an elementary school. His prior articles appear to consist primarily of celebrity interviews and entertainment commentary.

But though Setoodeh had not written substantive work for Newsweek before this, it is not the first time that he has shown awkwardness around the subject of homosexuality.

I don’t know Ramin Setoodeh’s orientation or his personal tastes or biases. Nor do I know his reasons for writing an article that serves as little more than a press release for the defense on this murder case.

But whatever his motivations, it is clear to me that he was tragically under-qualified for the job and his lack of experience showed in his use of language and in his final product.

Unfortunately, I concur with Kincaid's take. While this article certainly doesn't condone the act of murder, in my opinion there was a strong element of "he asked for it" throughout the piece.

If Setoodeh had written that about a woman who had been raped and then killed, he'd probably be unemployed, and likely deservedly so.

Sadly, that approach still seems to be okay when the victim is gay, especially one who had the nerve to be flamboyant about it.

1 comment:

  1. This "news" article was tragically disapointing. Setoodeh refused to even touch the core of the problem which is the paramount value our society places on male heterosexuality and how that translates to young boys who are expected to prove their masculinity at all costs. Any challenge to male heterosexuality is perceived as a vicious threat to the natural order. Notice that none of the girls who asked boys to be their Valentine ended up dead. Was it really such a difficult task for a professional journalist to simply ask, "why?"