Saturday, March 08, 2008

Hate Crime

One of the grim aspects of studying digital rhetoric involves looking at In Memoriam web pages that commemorate the lives and deaths of individuals. As I describe in the upcoming Virtualpolitik book, murder victims more frequently have such pages, some of which are designed to seek justice or publicize the need to intervene in certain social ills. I've come across such pages for a classmate at the tony private school that I attended as a child or for former students at the youth center where I once worked. The recent murder of gay teenager Lawrence King by one of his tormentors in an Oxnard school has been commemorated in two very different websites. Lawrence King Memorial, which was established by the boy's uncle, features family snapshots and gratitude toward those who arranged for the funeral service, supported the fund established in his name, or expressed support as well-wishers. Visitors may also visit the guestbook with over 170 pages of comments, many of which came from people drawn to the site through a Remembering Larry Facebook group. In contrast, Remembering Lawrence King from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network foregrounds advocacy on public policy issues. It prominently lists its affiliated MySpace and Facebook pages and encourages users to "Register Your Remembrance Event."

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