A few weeks ago on a Chippewa reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota a boy named Jeff killed his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend, seven others, and finally himself in a tragedy the likes of which had not been seen since Columbine. But there is more to these tragedies than meets the eye. A whole other layer of melancholy is lurking right in front of you, in American schools.

In the 50’s a movement of Nazi’s in America began. It still, unfortunately, exists today. These people are called Neo-Nazis. They inspire hate and ignorance. Many young people today are drawn to them through their own hopelessness. Two of those drawn in were the shooters from Littleton, Colorado. They killed 13 people and themselves during a rampage in 1999. The horror of this new trend was needlessly scapegoated, and wrongly, at that. Those boys were labeled as “goths” as well as “nazis.” Thus a wave of persecution began.

Before Columbine no one outside of schools and Bauhaus concerts knew about the goth subculture. After the media blatantly (and loudly) accused this subculture as the route of these deaths things changed. Stereotyped as, and I quote, “morbid,” “freaks,” “often satanic,” and even “potential murderers” by the media, goths began to feel the heat, “You couldn’t walk around town with black dyed hair and eyeliner without some shop clerks profiling you or having a couple of kids try to start (a fight) with you.”

Though much more qualified, Daniel J. Monti, a Sociologist at Boston University says that “I think it’s simpleminded on the part of people to pay so much attention to one particular set of students because of the way they look and the way they dress.” Many guidance counselors apparently had a different opinion. An essay about goth life after Columbine by a high schooler said that guidance counselors were pulling kids who vaguely resembled “goths” out of classes for interrogations. These kids were dragged out to trailers being used during construction that had no intercom system and were questioned like common criminals.

Why do you dress like this?

Have you ever thought of using violence?

Huh huh? Have you? Have you? C’moooonnnn.

Now the most important thing to remember is that these people had no reason to suspect anything except for the way they dressed. This is no less discriminatory and morally wrong than interrogating every Muslim in an airport. In fact it could be even worse considering those guidance counselors’ job is solely to preach against discriminations and prejudice. These interrogators were so vicious and unnerving that the population of twenty or so black dressing free thinking people were beaten into submission so that only two remained. The first was a new kid, the other was a martyr.

There is another martyr who I feel must get her say. She was a martyr in the sense that there is no other word, she was also a Wiccan. Wicca is a religion that has millions of practitioners world wide. They use a lot of mysticism and communications with nature and “magic” in their religion. Some people do not approve of it, but then again some people don’t’ approve of Buddhism or Islam too. A fair amount of these “non-approvers” went to school with a 12 year old girl named Tempest Smith, Every single day she was rentlessly and viciously teased by these people to the point where her life was unbearable. Nobody, not even teachers, peers, or counselors did anything, not one tiny little thing, to make the harrasment stop. They sang hymns at her, laughed at her, called her names, and emotionally totured her until she could no longer stand it and hung herself. I doubt this ever would have happened without the hysterical witch hunt that ensured after the beginning of shootings.

In Ohio a boy was arrested for wearing an Insane Clown Posse t-shirt. In Salt Lake City a boy was suspended for wearing a “gang affiliated” shirt. The shirt simply said “vegan.” Valdosta High School in Georgia is one of scores of schools which banned all of goth culture. Dozens of schools banned pentagram necklaces, which are used in Wiccan religion as a symbol of the 5 elements. A girl was suspended for creating an outside school “witches” club with a “secret code,” she was 10. Many schools flagged goths as “potentially violent.” In our very own Leavitt a guidance counselor, who no longer works there, harassed my sister based on the way she dressed. She was involved in after school activities, was well behaved, bright, and an honor student.

In conclusion I feel we all must simply remember that rudimentary moral, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Thank you and good night.

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