Gothic Council on Gothic Hate Crime

There was another random attack on United Kingdom goths last week. Melody McDermott, 22, was knocked across a tram by a head butt delivered from Kenneth Kelsall, 47. Kelsall then proceeded to punch and kick the downed McDermott while his accomplice, Gareth Farrar, attacked McDermott's companion Stephen Stafford before the two attackers ran off.

McDermott suffered a fractured eye socket while Stafford needed stitches for an ear injury. The attackers both pleaded guilty to assault and will be sentenced on July 2. The attack is an eerie mirror of the one that befell Sophie Lancaster in 2007, save that Lancaster didn't survive the beating delivered by a gang of thugs that celebrated having "done summat [something] good" in beating down the gothic teen.

The day after Memorial Day seems as good as any to summon the Gothic Council to debate what could be considered a rise of hate crimes against goths, and if so why. Joining us this week are fashion designer Batty, co-founder of the Age of Decay festival Alethea Carr, blogger at Night's Plutonium Shore Sarah Fanning, living historian Morrighanne Burns, author of Starblood Carmilla Voiez, artist Ugly Shyla, and Webmistress at Morticia's Morgue Becky Plexco.

Batty: Just at a glance, I don't think anyone will ever answer why people do these things. Some people are inherently evil and fucked-up in the head, and it will never change, sadly. Goth or not, hate crimes against anyone are usually done by those type of evil bastards that no one can ever figure out and who will never listen to reason because they have none themselves. Bad eggs.

Alethea Carr: People who are capable of that level of violence often need only a target, and goths are walking, big, black targets, very visually set apart from the crowd. All any predator needs is someone separated from the herd. Also, I think goths can be perceived as lower-risk targets because other people may be less likely to defend someone who looks "evil" or "scary" than to defend a more obviously innocent victim.

It's also possible that the attackers and the general public may feel goths are asking for it by deviating so heavily from the aesthetic norm. Barbaric thinking, yes, but society is only recently removed from those same sentiments against women being raped or gay men being beaten.

Batty: I have to agree with Alethea. Being goth is just a trigger for these people and they are looking for one. It could have just as easily been a punk, a hippie, a drag queen, anything that stands out. These people are just ticking bombs waiting for something to set them off. Living in Texas sure seems to cure a lot of this behavior, because we can easily carry guns and no one seems to really mess with anyone half as much out of fear of getting shot.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner