Yesterday morning, a man murdered more than two dozen people, 20 of them young children. After such a horrifying event, I struggle to hang on to that last bit of hope for humanity. After the irresponsible reporting of the event, I have no hope left for most American news media. In their lust for ratings, their rush to throw the sharpest hook to grab viewers, they got nearly everything wrong. They spent half the day releasing all sorts of rumors and hearsay (conveniently called "unconfirmed reports" as if that eliminates their culpability). The stories contradict each other, and in many cases, themselves.
Whenever I hear about senseless acts of violence like yesterday's rampage, I react like any decent human being would - with sadness, disbelief, and questions of "why?". But ever since the Columbine school shooting, when the killers were wrongly labeled goths, I also can't help but think, "Please don't say the killer was wearing black." Because if he was, some uninformed person is likely to call him a goth, and the American media will once again seize upon the opportunity to demonize goths.
Early in the afternoon, I read a story that began, "A teacher's son, clad in black..." Oh, no.
Then, with a map of the school and pictures of guns, "Before 9:30 a.m. gunman, wearing all black..."
And then I read exactly what I was hoping not to read - some totally uninvolved person calling the killer a goth. Some random woman said her son knew the killer; she said her son said he was "very thin, very remote and was one of the goths."
Does it matter to the media that this woman was not even involved in the situation, that she was just a random person attending a vigil? Does it matter that her words are second-hand hearsay? No, all that matters to the media is that her words make for a jucier story.
All that's left is to fervently hope that the media do not seize upon her statement to issue condemnation of goths. It might restore the tiniest bit of hope if they instead focus on the issues that really matter; say, efforts to prevent yet another such tragedy.
It would be great if goths don't have to once again defend themselves from misinformed people who believe that black clothes = goth and goth = evil. But if they do, I hope they will do so with the intelligence, maturity and class that I know them to possess.
I understand that when something like yesterday's tragedy happens, people try to find a way to make sense of it. They want some explanation of how a human being could be so cruel and unfeeling. It's comforting when they can use a stereotype to explain a killer's behavior and say, "Oh, THAT's why he did it." It's hard to blame traumatized people for believing what the media is feeding them.
But it's harder to bear the unfounded animosity that is too often heaped on goths. Goths are people, and they're just as horrified as anyone by a heinous crime such as yesterday's. (Having been in bed sick all morning, I first learned of the shooting via pained posts on an online goth community.) No one - whether dressed in black, sporting on orange spray tan, or dripping with diamonds - no one wants to see children murdered. I hope that is never questioned.
To anyone who might happen to stumble upon this blog post, I would like to say that I don't judge all Christians by the actions of Jim Bakker and I don't judge all coaches by the actions of Jerry Sandusky. I would ask that you not judge all goths by the actions of one black-clad man.
My deepest sympathies are with those who lost a loved one yesterday.
This is the article containing the quote I referred to.