Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tragedy in Ohio

I'm sure by now most have heard about the latest school shootings that took place this week in Chardon, Ohio.  It's unfathomable how this could continue to happen and when it happens near your own community, the unreal aspect of it gets amped up.  I will never understand the mindset that thinks walking into school with a gun and shooting as many kids as you can is ever the right thing to do.  On Monday, TJ Lane thought it was, which right there tells you something is wrong with his mindset.

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.


  1. I read about it just today. And I couldn't be troubled more. What I don't understand is where did we go wrong in raising kids and are we creating such a terrible atmosphere around the children that will make tomorrow that this is happening. We need to stop judging and start seeing where did we make our children suffer so much so do something like this.

  2. Doesn't the kid's Facebook page say that he listened to Adele? Lets blame her! When I hear her music I wanna kill people too...

  3. I think that such stereotypes somehow reassure people. What is a bit different is bad. No need to challenge your beliefs, stereotypes can explain everything.
    What I can't get my head around is how children/young adults can get guns in a school so easily. That is simply beyond me.

  4. I totally agree with you. The media always has to have a "reason" and are so quick to rush to judgment. When you have a person who kills other people, I don't think that even if they told us why that it would make sense to a rational person. They need to stop trying to find adjectives to explain a behavior....except nuts!

  5. Sensationalism at its worst, or its best, depending on how you look at it. Thank you for sharing this very sad story, made all the sadder by Fleming's misdirected anger. Hopefully your post will change a few hearts and minds.

  6. I agree with Muriel. Sterotypes let people wrap things up in a neat little package. Further it allows those to play the us vs. them card and remove themselves from any social responsibility.

  7. The one common thing about countries all around the world - how the media is dominated by sensationalist reporting. What angers me is this: obviously enough people watch it, listen to it and read it WITHOUT questioning, for them to continuously keep publishing the same crap over and over again.

  8. I have read the Daily Mail online for years and I am struck by the complete trash they have been publishing over the past few years. I am astonished at the substandard level of writing in what is supposed to be an internationally respected publication. I understand the need to attract readers, but when an article is this poorly researched and thought out, it only adds to the heartbreak and pain that all of these students and their families are going through right now. I agree with the assertion that people need to take responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of their children. But a little respect and a lot of compassion and kindness are desperately needed too, especially right now. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head again, Lalia, as usual. Love your take on this and wishing you nothing but the best as you continue to inform, enlighten, entertain and impress all of us.

  9. I can understand your frustration and anger and I wish you could write that Mr. Fleming for his ignorance. This is really sad and further makes me angry when the pro-gun movement always posts stuff like "Guns don't kill. People do." I always can't decide where to even begin with my arguments to show that all that bothers me on so many levels. *sigh*