My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Media Speculation around the Connecticut Shooting

The media speculation surrounding the shooter's motives is getting out of hand.

I have an abnormally high IQ and was skipped a year at school; I also had mental health difficulties as a teenager (predominantly due to severe abuse as a child) and social difficulties of an as yet undetermined cause (it has been suggested that I may be on the Autistic spectrum, but testing as a child seemed to point otherwise, yet more recently the suggestion has been revived) my entire life. I am quiet and shy with strangers, and incredibly outgoing with friends. I appear strange due to my eccentric dress sense and unusual interests and hobbies. I even like weaponry (swords, and bows specifically).

I have not, and will not, murder anyone.

I should not have to point that out!

All the press is doing is making it worse for young people who are, for one reason or another, different and find it hard to fit in. In several cases of school shootings, the perpetrators have felt outcast and bullied and the shootings have been their (terribly cruel and unproductive) way of railing against the word. Promoting this distrust of those who are different is more likely to fuel another shooting than prevent one. Yes, it is important if an individual is showing signs of being an immediate danger to themselves or others that they get the suitable help, but being different is not in and of itself such a sign.

I would like the speculation to end until whatever the actual reasons for the shooter's behaviour are revealed. It is understandable that in the wake of what happened, that people scramble to find some kind of explanation, something to answer the "why?", but in the vacuum of knowledge left by the perpetrator's suicide, it is not right for the press to be promoting hearsay rather than fact.

I am especially upset by the suggestion that the shooter was Goth. There has so far been no evidence to substantiate such a claim, and after what happened with Columbine, I am concerned about misidentification of the individual as a member of a subculture they are not part of, and the repercussions against Goths that might occur (such as the incidents I have heard of people being called in for interrogation based on their sense of dress, and of heightened bullying). There are already a lot of misinformed people when it comes to the Goth subculture. It may turn out that the perpetrator was a member of the subculture, but even him being Goth will not have been the reason he did this; violence is not part of our subculture, and pointing out any subcultural affiliation is sensationalism, and harmful sensationalism based on existing negative misinformation about the nature of Goth.

The incident is being used as a platform upon which various political ideologies are debated, from the nature of mental health care in the United States of America to whether there should fewer guns or more guns there, and the details of gun control (which I gather varies significantly between states.) to the role of the media and the internet in the glorification of violence, and in this debate, I think something very important is being lost:

A tragedy has unfolded in which 20 children and 7 adults have died, many families are grieving, many mothers and fathers have now outlived their sons and daughters. People have died, people are hurting. That is the important thing. I do not wish to name the shooter because I feel that in naming him, he is getting posthumous infamy, and becoming the centre of media attention, when the centre of our attention should focus on those who have been hurt. That includes the shooter's family - his brother, his father, as they have to deal with the fact that the shooter killed his own mother first

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for this article. I was thinking about writing a post about the same subject matter, but I feel you wrote this eloquently and anything I would write would only mirror you.

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    1. Just because you feel I may have said it better should not stop you saying it in your own words; I feel that the more people from within the Goth community who point out that there is nothing inherently murderous about our subculture, the better.

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  2. Very well put and excellent article, I don't think the media should concentrate on the shooter, it his victims who should be remembered. I also agree that his family is among those victims although they will probably be persecuted for his actions.

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    1. I hope his family are not persecuted, but sadly I think that his family will be blamed by those who think they are responsible for this young man's mental illness. It should not be forgotten that his first victim was his own mother.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I won't forgive the media for identifying the shooter.

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    1. It angers me that they named the shooter before they named the victims. They should have waited until it was reasonable to release the names of the victims, waited, and THEN released the name of perpetrator. I think it is important that a public and transparent inquiry is lead into these sorts of incidents by the authorities, and that lessons are learnt and seen to be learnt so that the public can have faith that the authorities are trying to prevent it happening again. That said, the media focus and speculation over the shooter is appalling, and is granting him infamy and immortality-via-history, while the names of his young victims will be comparatively unknown.

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  4. I dont think its a bout the one person that murder its about the system where weapon is so easy to get..to get health insurances you have to pay a lot of money, but for a gun you just visit walmart..

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    1. I think you do have to have a permit before you are allowed a firearm. Yes, they may be available in American supermarkets, but you can't actually buy one without a permit. The shooter actually tried to buy a rifle and couldn't, which could be why he chose to steal his mother's guns. The strictness of controls on firearms does vary between states. That said, I cannot see why the civilian ownership of modern military style rifles is allowed - they are not of aesthetic value, they are not designed for hunting, and while I presume they are a lot of fun at the shooting range, they are not traditionally target shooting weapons.

      It is also not a uniquely American problem, there have been school shootings in Germany, Finland, Canada, Australia, Scotland, Argentina, India, etc. etc. Gun controls vary widely between this countries.

      I live in the UK where there are strict controls on firearms, and soon in Scotland they will introduce licensing for air-rifles, and it has not stopped crazy people using firearms for rampages, such as what happened with Raoul Moat and his personal vendetta against the police. In Cologne someone used a flame-thrower in a school massacre, and on several occasions people have tried using explosives. When the insane and the evil-minded decide they want to perpetrate mass murder, they can find some rather creative ways (the London Nail Bombings against immigrant and LGBT communities come to mind).

      I do, however, think that it is wrong that in any country it is cheaper to get weaponry than healthcare. Personally, I think that the UK's National Health System was a brilliant idea (if not necessarily run to its best potential) and wish that it was like that in America.

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  5. Looking over some of the media stories I've seen on this topic, the perpetrator apparently self identified as Goth. Some of those media organs however, are obviously tabloids.

    That said, I have to ask the question, so what. A week or so ago a NFL football player was responsible for his friend's death due to an auto accident that came about because of his intoxication. Does this mean that all American football players or athletes are drunks? Nobody is even making that suggestion, so in my opinion a mentally disturbed person who happens to be Goth does not reflect upon the rest of us and I wish that the media would stop insinuating that it does.

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    1. In all the media reports stating he was Goth that I have read, this has been from the mother of a young man who went to school with the shooter. In all the school-age photographs of the shooter released he is certainly not dressed in a Goth style, even if his dress sense was certainly non-mainstream; it is more classically nerdy than Goth. That said, not all Goths wear their tastes. The description of him being Goth seems to be based around him being pale and wearing dark clothes; that is not the definition of Goth. Unless I see evidence of him being involved in the music, fashion and broader Goth subculture, I will presume that is an erroneous (but not necessarily malicious - I think that is important. It can be hard for those outside of particular subcultures to identify them and there is often confusion between Metal, Emo and Goth subcultures and other forms of dark and alternative self expression) misattribution that has been grasped upon by the media.

      Your last point is particularly important; when a member of another group acts irrationally and commits a crime it is not often insinuated that this is reflective of that group, but with Goth (and a few other groups that are viewed with distrust by the mainstream, such as Pagans) there is inference that it is somehow reflective of the group.

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