Three kids are now dead. Two more still in the hospital with injuries and TJ's life is over. I have nothing but sympathy for all involved.... the terrorized students, the parents and families of the injured and dead children, the parents and family of the shooter, and even some for the shooter himself. I guess I should really say I have mixed emotions where TJ is involved. I feel badly that he thought he had no other recourse for his angst. That is sad. But on the other hand, I'm glad for once that the shooter didn't turn the gun on himself and leave so many questions behind. He is alive and now he has to answer for what he did. He will be tried as an adult, which I think is the right thing to do. He is 17 years old and old enough to face the music.
Which nicely segues me to something that bothers me about instances such as these. The media. The media are quick to portray anyone who acts out as a "punk" or a "goth" and this time is no different. The media has been describing TJ as a loner. He's not. Kids at the school have said he has friends. The media has described TJ as a goth. Also not true. Articles like this one, from Thomas Fleming of the UK's Daily Mail, boggle my mind. It's loaded with stereotypes and misrepresentations. "Victim of bullying" means he's homosexual? Since when? Maybe I'm out of touch but there are lots of reasons kids are bullied, it's not exclusive to homosexuality. True he is quick to say that TJ was not homosexual but why the generalization?
And then there is this quote from the article....
Unfortunately, millions of American kids, at one point or another in their teens, adopt the Goth look, and while it usually means they are taking drugs, playing violent video games, and mutilating their bodies, few of them become killers. Why school officials and parents permit children to advertise their self-destructive inclinations is another matter, one that goes more nearly to the heart of what has gone so terribly wrong in American life.There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin. It's unfortunate that kids turn to something that makes them feel better about themselves? Yes, that's exactly what goth and punk did for me. I didn't take drugs. I didn't, nor do I now play violent video games. I have never mutilated my body or become a killer. I found kindred spirits, music I could relate to, friends for life. I found something I had been searching for. I would like to tell Mr. Fleming that it's not "unfortunate" for kids to be themselves, what is unfortunate it that closed minded assholes like you make it more difficult for them to continue to be themselves and try to live up to a standard that you and others like you seem to put in place. It's unfortunate that tragedies such as what happened in Chardon end up being a platform for the Thomas Fleming's of the world to put down what they do not and never will understand.
He makes many more ignorant and stereotypical comments in his article, but I'll let you read it for yourself. Every time I read it and see it again, I get more angry. Angry because he's stupid and uninformed. Angry because he, and others like him, make it seem like as long as there are goths in the world, kids in schools aren't safe, hell no one is safe! Why can't the media just say what it really is... the boy is troubled. Seriously troubled. Whether it be a mental condition, because he is bullied, because he comes from a broken home...whatever it is. He is troubled and he was already a student at a school for "at risk" kids. So authority figures know that he is troubled. Did they know he would go on a shooting rampage? I'm sure not, but if they happened upon his Facebook page, they might have had some idea that his problems run pretty deep. Maybe instead of focusing on how he looks they should focus on how a 17 year old got a gun in the first place and got into a school with it. Instead of trying to change all kids into little carbon copies of each other, maybe if ignorant fuckjobs like Mr. Fleming embraced diversity and differences in children, less of them would be bullied for those differences.
Let me make this perfectly clear, I am in no way, shape or form giving TJ Lane a pass for what he did. You do the crime, you do the time. I'm just so angered that the media always jumps to the same, often false, conclusions. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. I hope that this will be the last time we ever have to hear about such a senseless tragedy.