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Liisa Ladouceur

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Adam Lanza Was a Killer, Not a Goth

Posted: 12/17/2012 11:26 am

The Newtown, Connecticut killer is not a Goth. And so I shouldn't even be writing this. And yet here we are. Again.

"He was a nerd, genius, Goth": Profile of gun killer Adam Lanza" (Daily Mirror UK)


"Adam Lanza Described As 'One Of The Goths'" (CBS Connecticut)

'Brilliant but remote': Police still hunting for motive that drove 'goth' Adam Lanza to kill 27" (National Post, Canada)

"SCHOOL MASSACRE SUSPECT 'ONE OF THE GOTHS'" (Breitbart.com)

The first I heard of this alleged Goth connection was Saturday afternoon, from someone who suggested it might prove to be good publicity for my book. How you could even think the word "publicity" in connection with this massacre of children, I simply don't know. (And I'm someone pretty prone to macabre thought.)

So I'd like to start by saying that I'm not writing this post to bring attention to myself, or to my work. Rather, because I have something to say about what happens when you link a criminal, especially a mass murderer, with an entire subculture of people he or she has absolutely nothing to do with. How it not only doesn't help to answer the question "why?", it actually causes more hurt, more harm. And most importantly, to flesh out what I tweeted yesterday into more than 140 characters: dear media friends, please stop calling the killer a Goth in your headlines. Not because I'm Goth and it gives us all a bad name, but because it's not the truth.

The fact that the most media outlets who have run with this are generally tabloids or right-wing is not a surprise. That's what they do best, inflame and demonize. And so they picked up on one comment from one rather dubious source. The Associated Press quotes Newtown-area parent Catherine Urso outside a vigil on the Friday night as saying her college-age son knew the killer. "He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths."

And so the wire story goes out and some newspapers decide that of all the heartbreaking, shocking, absurd things about this crime and this killer -- his mental health issues, his mother's interest in doomsday prophecy and shooting guns for just two examples -- what they're going to run with for the headline is the "goth loner" tag. Based on a description offered by someone who does not appear have ever personally met the killer, whose son may or may not have ever spoken with the killer and may or may not have any clue at all what a Goth is or isn't.

The fact that AP didn't bother to check on this, or even add a phrase explaining what Goth is, isn't just a result of tight deadlines and a chaotic environment in those first few hours after the massacre (let's remember media outlets originally mis-identified the brother as the culprit and also claimed his mother worked at the school, which she didn't). Rather, it says alot about how Goth is perceived by the public at large.

Most people do have an idea of what the subculture is, and that idea includes the potential for violence. They got that idea because other messed up school shooters have been described as Goth (namely, the Columbine killers). But those reports were wrong. Just like this one is wrong.

I'll say it again: Adam Lanza was not a Goth. At. All. There are no photographs of him dressed as a Goth. Just because someone dresses all in black does not make them a Goth. That's like saying someone is a jock because they wear track pants. Declaring yourself a Goth makes you a Goth.

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  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows the Newtown Tehcnology Team ID of Adam Lanza in the bathroom at the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows ammunition infrot of a gun safe in the south east bedroom (shooters room) at the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a Bushmaster rifle in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Connecticut State Police Release Sandy Hook Report

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows firearms and ammunition found on or in close proximity to shooters body at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut . A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Pro Gun Control Group Hold Memorial On Anniversary Of Sandy Hook School Shooting

    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Shundra Robinson holds a picture of her son Deno Wooldridge, 18, while speaking at a gathering of gun violence victims and gun control advocates at Cornell Square Park on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting December 14, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Thirteen people, including a three-year-old boy, were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a crowd gathered at the basketball courts in Cornell Square Park in September. Twenty children and 6 adults were killed when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook School. Wooldridge was shot and killed while standing on his grandmother's porch on October 18, 2010. More than 400 people have been murdered in Chicago so far this year, most by gunfire. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a rifle in the master bedroom in the suspect's house on Yogananda St. following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows a Glock 20, 10mm found near the shooter in Room 10 at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Second Report On Sandy Hook Shootings Released

    NEWTOWN, CT - UNSPECIFED DATE: In this handout crime scene evidence photo provided by the Connecticut State Police, shows firearms and ammunition found on or in close proximity to shooters body at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012 shooting rampage, taken on an unspecified date in Newtown, Connecticut. A second report was released December 27, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III gave more details of the the Newtown school shooting by Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six women educators dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at their home. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

  • Twenty-seven small U.S. flags adorn a large flag on a makeshift memorial on the side of Highway 84 near the Newtown, Conn., town line as residents mourn victims killed by gunman Adam Lanza, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. On Friday, authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, a message honoring the victims that died a day earlier when a gunman opened fire at an elementary hang from a bridge near Hawley Pond, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Mourners carry ornaments to decorate the Christmas trees at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Crayons sit on a table outside of a barbershop a day after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Crayons sit on a table outside of a barbershop a day after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Tamara Doherty

    Shop owner Tamara Doherty, paces outside her store just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Tamara Doherty, Jackie Gaudet

    Shop owners Tamara Doherty, left, and Jackie Gaudet, right, meet outside their stores for the first time since being neighbors, just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Kristin Hoyt

    Kristin Hoyt, 18, of Danbury, Conn., ties a balloon to an overpass up the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • A Newtown, Conn., resident, who declined to give her name, sits at an intersection holding a sign for passing motorists up the road from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • A snowflake ornament with the name of 6-year-old Noah Pozner hangs on a Christmas tree at a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, as the town mourns victims killed in Friday's school shooting. Pozner, who was killed Friday when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, will be buried Monday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Twenty-seven small U.S. flags adorn a large flag on a makeshift memorial on the side of Highway 84 near the Newtown, Conn., town line as residents mourn victims killed by gunman Adam Lanza, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life, on Friday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Jamie Duncan, 16, of Newtown, Conn., lights a candle at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A mourner carries a giant Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal to place at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Monday,Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A hearse arrives at B'nai Israel Cemetery with the body of Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in an elementary school shooting, during funeral services, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • People arrive at B'nai Israel Cemetery during burial services for Noah Pozner, a six-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Monroe, Conn. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home on Friday and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Veronika Pozner

    Veronique Pozner waves to the assembled media as she leaves after a funeral service for her 6-year-old son Noah Pozner, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Fairfield, Conn. Noah Pozner was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Twenty seven wooden stand in a yard down the street from the Sandy Hook School December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza, found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Newtown residents Claire Swanson, Kate Suba, Jaden Albrecht, Simran Chand and New London, Connecticut residents Rachel Pullen and her son Landon DeCecco, hold candles at a memorial for victims on the first Sunday following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    U.S. President Barack Obama waits to speak at an interfaith vigil for the shooting victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Eknoor Kaur, 3, stands with her father Guramril Singh during a candlelight vigil outside Newtown High School before an interfaith vigil with President Barack Obama, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    New London, Connecticut resident Rachel Pullen (C) kisses her son Landon DeCecco at a memorial for victims near the school on the first Sunday following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    US President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and began a shooting spree. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A woman covers her face as US President Barack Obama reads out the names of children killed during Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at a interfaith memorial for victims and relatives at the Newtown High School on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and began a shooting spree. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A woman pays respects at a memorial outside of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. On Friday, a gunman allegedly killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents wait for the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Cheryl Girardi, of Middletown, Conn., kneels beside 26 teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a sidewalk memorial, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children.(AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Connecticut State Police officers respond to a bomb threat outside of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Worshippers hurriedly left the church Sunday, not far from where a gunman opened fire Friday inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Ava Staiti, 7, of New Milford, Conn., looks up at her mother Emily Staiti, not pictured, while visiting a sidewalk memorial with 26 teddy bears, each representing a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This photo provided by the family shows Jessica Rekos. Rekos, 6, was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Rekos Family)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A U.S. flag flies at half staff outside the Newtown High School before President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    David Freedman, right, kneels with his son Zachary, 9, both of Newtown, Conn., as they visit a sidewalk memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    A man reacts at the site of a makeshift memorial for school shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. A gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town, killing 26 people, including 20 children before killing himself on Friday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    People wait in line to attend an interfaith vigil with President Barack Obama, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into the school Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. President Barack Obama is to scheduled to speak at the event. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    Residents greet each other before the start of an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into the elementary school Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak during the vigil. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This image provided by the family shows Grace McDonnell posing for a portrait in this family photo taken Aug. 18, 2012. Grace McDonnell was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the McDonnell Family)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This Nov. 18, 2012 photo provided by John Engel shows Olivia Engel, 6, in Danbury, Conn. Olivia Engel, was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Engel Family, Tim Nosezo)

  • Emilie Alice Parker

    This 2012 photo provided by the family shows Emilie Alice Parker. Parker was killed Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 children and adults at the school. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Parker Family)

  • Noah Pozner

    This Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the family via The Washington Post shows Noah Pozner. The six-year-old was one of the victims in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Family Photo)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    This handout image provided by ABC News, shows Nancy J. Lanza mother of suspected mass shooter Adam Lanza at an unspecified time and place. Twenty six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza was found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Family of Nancy Lanza / ABC News / Getty Images)

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121215/us-school-shooting-victims/?utm_hp_ref=homepage&ir=homepage">Lauren Rousseau, 30,</a> had started a job as a full-time teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School this fall. She was killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at the school.

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

    School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, was killed during an attempt to stop gunman Adam Lanza during the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121215/us-school-shooting-victims/?utm_hp_ref=homepage&ir=homepage">Sherlach and school principal Dawn Hochsprung</a> reportedly both lunged at Lanza in an attempt to protect the school's students and teachers. Both Sherlach and Hochsprung were killed.

There is no evidence that he did this, or listened to any Goth music, or participated in any Goth communities online or in his school. In fact, since there are no area Goth kids quoted in any of the news reports reacting to this claim I think there's a pretty good chance that there were no Goths in Newtown for him to a be "one of."

An article in England's Daily Mail quotes Urso (identified as Kathryn because, you know, it's not like spelling the names of the sources right matters) as adding, "He and his brother hung around with a weird little gang." We now know that he and his brother were actually estranged so that seems unlikely. But who cares if it's true or not....because he was WEIRD. A-ha.

You see, shitty sensationalist journalism doesn't just doesn't just make for First World Goth Problems™ like arguing with your parents that wearing black nail polish doesn't make you a Satan worshipper, or getting turned down for a job because the HR person secretly suspects you may be a psychopath. It affects the quality of life for all manner of misfits.

Video gamers. Heavy metal headbangers. Fans of gory horror movies. Geeks of all kinds. All these young(ish) people hanging out in the shadows, keeping to ourselves. We all seem suspicious to some parents, teachers, religious leaders, law enforcement authorities. In the worst of the worst-case scenarios, you end up on death row because you were the weirdest looking guy in town when some really bad shit happened and someone, anyone, needed to be locked up. (See: The West Memphis Three.)

I'm not suggesting there is a Goth witch-hunt afoot, or would be even if the Newtown murderer was a card-carrying member of the Siouxsie Sioux or Emilie Autumn fan clubs. I'm saying that when the media flashes "Goth" and "Killer" in the same headline it does more than just make a bunch of strange kids angry on the internet. It reinforces the notion that one kind of deviance directly leads to another, worse, kind.

It implies that subcultures, no matter how harmless they may seem, are inherently filled with unstable, anti-social people, who are up to no good and shouldn't be trusted. Something less than you, or less than human.

I understand the need to do this. To distance ourselves from what we fear is evil. To say "those people are not me." But the truth is, most Goths and other freaks are not that different from anyone else -- just different from what someone else expects of them. That's all.

The thing with Goths is, we choose to be misfits. Death-obsessed misfits, sure. But not because we hate the world and want to destroy it. Because it makes sense for us, of us. Goth may look evil to outsiders and sometimes we play that up for humour or shock value, but it's really not. In fact, it's a shield -- a weapon even -- against the evils around us. Because evil does exist, I am convinced of that. On Earth. In nature.

How else to account for how over in England back in 2007 five teenagers stomped on Goth girl Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend until they were unrecognizable, until they slipped into comas, and she died -- simply because of the way they were dressed? And how could anything explain why a young man could murder an entire classroom of innocent children -- people's babies, at Christmas time -- without some motive?

You can try to find a way to explain by pointing out how he dressed, who he hung out with (or didn't) or what he considered fun. You can even delve into the dark and complex topics of gun control and mental health care in America. But all you're doing is distracting yourself, and worse, fueling the culture of fear.

No, all we can really do is to counter evil with love. And that doesn't come from focusing on our differences, or stirring up hate for young people who dress funny and act strange.

No doubt over the next few days and weeks every aspect of Adam Lanza's life will be dissected. (Not to help heal the hearts of a community, a nation, or to prevent further tragedy, but to feed the 24-hour news cycle.)

And it's possible we may discover he had a Goth phase. Maybe there's a Cure album under his bed or an actual plastic skeleton in his closet. At that time, we can talk about it. Until then, live and let live. Oh, and fact-check.

Peace.

 

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