As a person who once worked for the local school system and had students of all ages under my care, it's really hard for me to think about the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. Sure, there were times when I would have liked to give a few students, especially a few smart-ass teenage boys, a quick trip home courtesy of my foot. Still, after all was said and done, I knew that they were just kids; and even though I sometimes had to use the existing disciplinary procedures in order to correct them, I certainly never wished them any real harm. It's hard to fathom how a person can commit as violent an act against children--young ones at that, as the one perpetrated in Connecticut last week.
As for the reasons why the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy took place or which preventative measures should be implemented--well, those are issues that will likely be discussed for years to come and it's not my intention to talk about them here. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to address how quickly the media began identifying the perpetrator, Adam Lanza, as a Goth. I know that this issue is being covered in other blogs as well, but I'd just like to throw in my two-cents worth on the subject.
In reporting on the Newtown tragedy, some news outlets made a point of it to mention that the shooter had been a Goth. The United Kingdom's Mail Online went so far as to call him a "killer Goth." Looking at his photos, the young man didn't look very Goth to me; but then again, many of us do agree that Goth is more a state of mind, which involves having certain interests in music, literature and aesthetics as opposed to specific styles of dress. According to some media reports, Lanza was a self-proclaimed Goth. Be that as it may, I find the media's desire to stress his so-called affiliation with us as a bit disingenuous. After all, the American domestic terrorist Timothy McViegh was a fundamentalist Christian; yet, the media rarely set out to link his religious beliefs with his abhorrent behavior. It does appear to me that the press, and especially through the tabloids, is trying to sensationalize this tragic story even further by exploiting mainstream society's fear and ignorance of our subculture. Like other Goth bloggers who have written on this subject in recent days, I do take offense at how easily the media sets out to demonize us.
There is one other aspect to this topic however, that I haven't seen anyone else mention. As Goths, we do go out of our way to appear spooky. Let's face it, that's a big part of what we're about. Even I (and I'm hardly in my teens or twenties anymore) still enjoy wearing my more expressive attire.. Oh yes, I have my vampire, skeleton and metal t-shirts, bat and dragon necklaces, skull and studded bracelets, a nose piercing, chains,--and I'm almost always wearing at least some black attire even in my most casual moments.
Since we are, as Gothic people, inclined to have a somewhat ghoulish aesthetic, can we reasonably complain when some folks get a little spooked by us? I'm not excusing the media's attempts to demonize us as they certainly have the resources to learn what we're really about. Still, it's probably just a fact of life that there is occasionally a price to be paid for being different. I don't like it, but this might be one of those times.
Photo source: Darkmus.com