Five months ago, we sent Ramin Setoodeh to California to investigate the murder of a 15-year-old gay student by one of his classmates. The case, with its echoes of the Matthew Shepard killing, had made national headlines. Another hate crime inflicted on a kid because he was gay. But when Ramin came back from his trip, he said something I like to hear from reporters: the story was far more complicated than it had first appeared. The most compelling stories— the ones that provoke and make you think —are always multilayered and complex. That is certainly true of the sad case of Lawrence King, whose death is the subject of our cover this week. Ramin's deeply reported narrative is the tale of two troubled teens, Larry King and Brandon McInerney, whose paths crossed tragically in a California school gripped by conflicting social forces. In a culture that is far more accepting of gays than it once was, Larry was part of a growing phenomenon of children coming out at younger ages. But junior highs, like E. O. Green in Oxnard, can be brutal proving grounds where insecurities, identity issues and sexual precociousness form a combustible mixture. Larry, who had come out when he was only in the third grade, had experienced bullying and abuse over the years. By the time he entered E. O. Green he had become highly assertive, even taunting, in his sexuality—behavior that perhaps played a role in the ensuing violence (as if anything could be said to justify murder). Some now question whether school administrators could have done more to prevent the killing. Larry King was in some ways a disturbed kid, who wielded his sexuality as both a weapon and a shield. So while his life—and its terrible ending—is in some ways an extreme case, it also points up a larger reality: schools are caught between their desire to protect legitimate sexual expression and their obligation to prevent inappropriate, and potentially harmful, behavior. This is difficult terrain for teachers and administrators to navigate. Maybe Ramin's exploration of the issues can help.
This week, Barack Obama makes his first international trip as the putative Democratic nominee. As a relative newcomer to the world political stage, he will have all eyes on him. But Fareed Zakaria argues that Obama already has an evolved and well-thought-out world view—one that places him squarely in the realist camp of some former presidents, including George H.W. Bush. On his global tour, Obama will meet with leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories—a region where any false step can spell political danger. Special Diplomatic Correspondent Lally Weymouth's interview with Dan Gillerman, Israel's departing ambassador to the United Nations, reminds us again how fraught that troubled part of the world remains.
Bad economic news continues to cascade from one sector to the next. In light of the potential bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Daniel Gross looks to history to assess the government's response to the current financial crisis. He asks, in effect, is this 1933 or 1989? Will this turmoil inspire a fundamental reshaping of the relationship between Washington and Wall Street—the kind of massive and permanent government intervention in the economy that followed the Great Depression? Or will it be a limited and more temporary response similar to the one that came in the wake of the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980s? Prescriptively, NEWSWEEK's Business Roundtable, including Robert Rubin, Robert Reich and Larry Lindsey, weighs in on how to solve the economic crisis.