Why I Didn’t Make Mark a Goth

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It was never my intention to make Mark, the main character in my book, “He Was Weird,” a goth. My main reason for this was to go against stereotypes about school shooters being goths. That they were all ‘weird’ for the way they dressed and for listening to music like Marilyn Manson. I wanted to stamp my thoughts that anyone who has been bullied or teased mercilessly like Mark was in the story, can snap. It didn’t matter how they dressed or what music they listened to.

Marilyn Manson- He didn’t inspire Mark in He Was Weird

In fact, I went in the other extreme in regards to “He Was Weird.” I made him a Born Again Christian who only wanted to please the Lord. The only music he listened to was Christian Rock. None of these fit the stereotype of what a goth is. That’s why that instead of ‘Satanic’ lyrics making Mark snap and shoot up his school, it was religion. Mark took his inspiration to carry out his shooting from the Bible itself, Deuteronomy: Chapter 20- verses 16 and 17. You see, anything can inspire a person who is beaten down and abused to get their revenge. It can be films, music, video games, books or anything other form of media that one can imagine. After all, most Western Christians believe that Muslims can commit terrorist acts by being inspired by the Koran, so why can’t someone shoot up the school be inspired by the Bible?

Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra’s speech on school shootings gave me further inspiration to make Mark a Born Again Christian instead of a goth. One commentator’s statement about Goth gangs had him practically rolling on the floor laughing. Obviously, he agrees that the goth culture wasn’t to blame for school shootings. Furthermore, he highlighted how after Columbine, the religious community in America all began pontificating how the lack of religion caused the Columbine shooting. That such a tragic thing wouldn’t have happened if the ten commandments were hung up in every school classroom. Well, Mark knew the commandments and read the Bible religiously, (pun intended) and still he went off and shot up his school.

Columbine Shooting- Would the ten commandments have stopped this?

Late in the story, I do offer a religious viewpoint on what might have caused Mark to shoot up his school. His pastor explained that God had plans for Mark but Satan knew this too. Therefore, to thwart God’s plan, Satan sent misery upon Mark with all the abuse and bullying. Furthermore, Satan used scripture, the verses in Deuteronomy, to confound Mark and get him to commit his atrocity. Funny thing is that none of those who have read “He Was Weird” has commented on that part. I wouldn’t mind hearing people’s thoughts on that.

The most basic reason why I didn’t make Mark a goth was that when I went through the similar hell in real life as he does in the book, goths didn’t exist. While, I set “He Was Weird” in modern times, the hell I experienced occurred in the early 1970s so I had no idea at that time what they were. Now I could have made him a goth to bring the story more into modern times, the reasons I already stated above was why I didn’t.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502824722&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goths in School Shootings?

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Columbine Shooting- He looks more like a commando than a Goth to me

Following on from previous post, “Bullied For Being Different,” I would like to write about how the Goth culture, along with Marilyn Manson, gets blamed for school shootings in America. When the Columbine tragedy occurred in the US, many people, especially on the right, blamed Goths. One politician even warned about “the onset of Goth gangs’ and how they were even more dangerous than traditional gangs like the Cripps and the Bloods. But are they?

As you can see from the photo, the two Columbine Shooters don’t exactly look like Goths. In the investigation after, it was found that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not of the trench coat wearing brigade or Goths. In fact, they weren’t Marilyn Manson fans either. However, the unfortunate case is that it is easy to blame the Goth culture out of intolerance than to find out the real causes as to why they did it.

Marilyn Manson-

One backlash from the Columbine shooting was that it was used as an excuse to wage war on ‘weirdoes’ and other non-conformists. Schools all over America began profiling their pupils with the intention of kicking out those who they believed to be potential trouble makers. Naturally, Goths were prime targets in this witch hunt. As a result, anyone wearing a trench coat or listening to Marilyn Manson was considered a potential trouble maker and dealt with by being sent for counselling on the one extreme to getting kicked out of school on the other. The question is, are schools acting in the proper manner, being paranoid or just wanting to justify their intolerance to those who don’t conform to standard dress?

In the books about school shootings which I often feature on here, Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes,” Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the late Nancy Garden’s “Endgame” and my own book, “He Was Weird,” none of the school shooters are Goths. The closest is possibly Peter, the shooter in “Nineteen Minutes,” who listens to music similar to Marilyn Manson. Of course, when the media gets wind of that, it is used against him. Grey, the shooter in “Endgame,” plays the drums and because he has an interest in music, was obviously driven by music to commit his shooting. Note my hint of sarcasm here. Even Kevin in the book that bears his name was not a Goth and his musical interests are not known. Only the reader gets the impression gets the impression that something isn’t quite right about Kevin because to his school peers, he blends in perfectly. As for my own novel, Mark is definitely not a Goth and it is clear from the investigation that music had nothing to do with his killing spree.

With the exception of “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” we know that the shooters in the other books are all victims of bullying. However, in each story, the bullying aspect is downplayed, even denied in the case of “Endgame” by those in supposed authority. It is far easier to blame other things like music and Goth culture for school shootings than to find out what really caused some troubled kid to snap and commit carnage on his school.

The last thing I have been contemplating is the fact that a lot of what happens in America gets reported on British media. Columbine made big news in the UK and was why when news of Mark’s shooting in “He Was Weird” goes out, I write about it being in a British TV newscast. American intolerance of certain cultures is also well known in Britain and that leads me to wonder that if that somehow influenced the intolerance of those who killed Sophie Lancaster for being a Goth. Before anyone jumps on me for making outlandish associations, when I worked as a supply teacher in a high school, I was asked by many pupils who upon discovering I was American, if I was in a gang or had seen a drive by shooting. Right or wrong, the media can have a big influence.

Sophie Lancaster

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501920803&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullied for Being Different

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Sophie Lancaster

A few weeks ago, I happened to be flipping through the television channels when I came across and interesting programme being shown on BBC. It was called, “Bullied for Being Different,” about the murder of Sophie Lancaster in Manchester, England who was attacked and kicked to death by a group of teenage boys for dressing like a goth. The show was very well done and it provoked a lot of thoughts within my mind and I have been pondering over them for the past couple of weeks.

Back in the intolerant times of 80s Reagan America, I was often bullied for dressing different. Okay, I wasn’t subject to or threatened with any physical violence but I was teased and excluded on account of my dress sense, which didn’t conform. Eventually, I came to the UK thinking that it was going to be a utopia of tolerance. Okay, I was wrong about it being a utopia. I was in college about a month when a few individuals made some comments about my dress sense. One person made a lot of homophobic remarks because I was wearing a leather biker’s cap. At the time, that was a major homophobic British stereotype. However, that instance was the exception than the rule. For the most part, I was able to adorn my heavy metal dress sense and do so without any grief from others, unlike being in America. For the most part, Britain is still much more socially tolerant than the US.

I loved these boots and wore them most of the time

In spite of what I think, there are many Americans who think it’s the other way around. When I mentioned that I was going to England, some advised me to take out my earring and leave my boots (above photo) at home. When I told them that I had been to England three years earlier and wouldn’t need to do so, they looked at me with disbelief.

Now, I don’t know if the Sophie Lancaster killing made the news in America. If it did, it would have been used against American youths who are teased and harassed for dressing in such a way. I can hear some American man saying to a goth, “You think you have it bad here, you’re lucky you’re not in England. They’ll kill you for looking like that.” It doesn’t matter that the murder was more a one off and although some people who dress different get stick, Britain is still more tolerant of different dress senses than America. Unfortunately, we have cases of the few who are intolerant taking it to the extreme and that’s what happened in Sophie’s case.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to sugar coat this horrific act which occurred in 2007 just because I think Britain is more tolerant than America. It was a despicable attack and those who carried it out didn’t get long enough sentences in my opinion. What I think the Americans would have got right in this case was that the perpetrators would have gotten longer sentences. Of course, the skeptic in me would wonder had this attack occurred in America, would it have gotten to trial and would the victims be taken seriously. After all, in the mind set of many, Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend would have been asking for trouble on account of the way they looked. After all, in school shootings like Columbine, the goth culture gets blamed almost immediately. I’ll be writing more of that in my next post. In short, intolerance sucks and no one should be bullied or harassed for being different, anywhere.

To buy He Was Weird go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501440478&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Interest or Obsessions?

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What is normally found with people who have Asperger’s Syndrome is that many are really focused on their personal interests, sometimes to the point where it looks like an obsession. From my experiences, many of the people I work with have their own interests and can become very obsessive over them. Take the two service users I work with most of the time. One likes to read the Teletext pages on his TV to keep abreast of world news and he has a ritual in town where he counts cars. The objective of this is only clear in his mind. The other gentleman has different interests and can border on obsession. He is interested in wars, especially both world ones, naturally disasters and attacks on humans by large predators. I’m talking sharks and crocodiles mainly. He helps to satisfy these interests by purchasing DVDs, post cards and models and if we didn’t keep it in check, would spend all his money on it.

I realized many years ago that my interests have sometimes bordered on obsession, especially when I was a lot younger. Like my client, I too liked war. In fourth grade it was the Native American wars with the US Cavalry and one George Armstrong Custer became a hero of mine. The war interest re-established itself inside my mind in my last three years of high school but this time it was World War II. I began collecting the Time-Life books on it, which I still have.

General George A Custer

However, my interests came and went, sometimes with the school year. In fifth grade, war changed to sports and that changed within itself when I hit sixth grade. My fifth grade interest in American Football gave way to ice hockey. While I still loved those sports in seventh grade, they took a back seat to an interest in the solar system after learning about it in school. I especially have a fondness for the planet Uranus, don’t ask where that came from. Thanks to the film in 1975, my freshman year in high school was spent in what some called obsession of Rollerball. And for those who read my 80smetalman blog, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had an ongoing love for music, at least hard rock and heavy metal anyway.

My favourite planet other than our own, Uranus

While these interests came and went, they never left my mind totally. My fourth grade interest in General Custer laid dormant in my mind enough for me to write my junior year history essay on the Battle of Little Big Horn. He also propped up when I watched a documentary on the Civil War and was quite pleased that he played a role in the Union victory at Gettysburg, even if it was done by a series of reckless charges. World War 2 interest has always remained with me although like most of America in the 1980s, I too was fascinated with the Vietnam films. I still enjoy watching “Rollerball” and love American football and ice hockey. However, my interest in the planets in our solar system is the most recent one to return.

Of course I can say that my interest in it never left. It made a strong comeback in 1999 when the BBC aired and eight part series called “The Planets.” I really enjoyed that series despite being a little disappointed that NASA found my favourite planet boring when Voyager II flew past. But as it’s the rule with the BBC, if I really like something they show, they never show it again. Recently, I finally purchased the series on DVD and am watching it again. It might be out of date by now, for instance, the planned Cassini mission to Saturn has happened in 2003, but that hasn’t stopped my enjoyment of it. Plus, whenever I get the chance when supply teaching, I will teach a lesson about the solar system.

The problem with having strong interests is how the ‘rest of the world’ perceives it. In school, I was often ridiculed and even bullied for having these strong interests. “Is that all you think about?” was a standard question asked of me a lot during this time. People’s justification for their intolerance and bullying was that my constant talk about my interests annoyed them. However, what I should have said to them back then was their slight ‘annoyance’ was no excuse for violence or threats of it. In many cases, these so called annoyed people simply let it annoy them as an excuse to bully. A simple, “I’m not into that” would have stopped me from talking about it.

I wonder how many people with Asperger’s Syndrome were bullying victims because of people’s ‘annoyance’ with their interest or obsessions. I know Mark was in “He Was Weird” and like when I went through at the time, the adults blamed him for going on too much about his interests. That’s a big trait of someone with ASD. They are interested in it so much, they want to talk about it. Those in the ‘normal’ world need to understand that and while they have every right to not be interested in the interests of another, bullying, intimidation and violence is not the way to get them to stop.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500801442&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

Patterns of Abuse | How To Recognize a Mind Fuck?

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This Hits the Nail on the Head for Me

 

American Badass Activists

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Fuck being a victim, or continue experiencing abuse after it’s spotted.

If I can recognize it, and when I do recognize it, done. No apologies. And an extra go-fuck-yourself automatically included. Free of charge. 

The trick is how to recognize an abusive relationship when Autistic (or Neurodiverse) traits make it not understood until far too late.

Cutting ties to an abusive person includes a few consistent patterns in my experience — actually all my past abusers from childhood to recent (physical, sexual, emotional or gaslighting type) shared these traits:

IMG_0257I’m to blame. They are the victim and I’m the one that caused the issues and at fault for the abuse. If the abuser suffers any consequences for their behaviors, that’s some fault of mine they had to suffer.

The abuser is always publicly, loudly, quietly, always the victim. Someone is always at fault for their behaviors and no responsibility is…

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Good Parenting Skills?

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Today’s post is inspired by a comment made on my previous post when I talked about bullying as portrayed on television. David Prosser, I hope he doesn’t mind me naming him here, pointed out that parents teach their children how not to be victims of bullying but not how not to be bullies. David’s words of wisdom were spot on! Plus, it gave me food for thought about parents and bullying.

Absolutely true that parents teach their children not to be victims but not how not to be bullies. However, from my experiences, some of which I highlight in my book, “He Was Weird,” parents seem to like the fact that their children are bullies. They seem to wear this fact as some sort of sick badge of honour. Some even go as far to think that their offspring being bullies is a good reflection of their parenting skills. Their justification is that they have taught their children how to stand up for themselves, wrong! 

There is a major difference in standing up for oneself and being a bully. The two certainly don’t go hand in hand. Some of the best people I know who know how to handle themselves can do so without being a bully and more importantly, using their words instead of their fists. This is what parents should be teaching their children, not teaching or encouraging them to be bullies.

I have seen many instances when the parents of bullying victims have tried to address a bullying issue with the parents of the bully and the bully’s parents either dismissive or even patronizing over it. One famous response a bully’s parents has used is “You should teach your child how to fist fight.” So does mean if the victim, next time they’re bullied, picks up a baseball bat or even a gun and seriously harms or kills their bully, the bully’s parents will think that’s all right? I don’t think so. What needs to happen is for the bully’s parents to take a stand in encouraging their child in not being a bully. Linking it to that “Criminal Minds” episode, I believe that those murdered parents and the murdered teen would still be alive if the parents had taken a pro-active stance in teaching their child it is wrong to be a bully.

I have experienced this. In one of my worst instances of being bullied, my mother had the parents of both tormentors into school. One of the parents was reasonable about it but the other, a successful lawyer, was very dismissive about the entire affair. As far as he was concerned, his son could do no wrong and I was to blame for what happened to me. Yep, that bully’s parents also used the age old tactic of blaming the victim. What is needed here is more education, both to adults and children. It needs to be drummed home that all bullying is wrong and it’s not a status symbol if your child is a bully.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499885767&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Bullying As Seen On TV: Criminal Minds Part 3

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Some of the team from Criminal Minds

Not long in the past, I wrote a series of posts about bullying and school shootings as portrayed on television. Two of those posts were inspired by episodes of the hit American TV series, “Criminal Minds.” It was always my intention to write a third post from that series as the season of “Criminal Minds” that has just ended had a very good episode involving bullying. However, I had to wait for it to become available on Sky Box Set and recently it has. So, now I’m going to write about it, way hey!

In the most recent episode about bullying, the Criminal Minds team, officially called the BAU, get a case about a family who was murdered except for the teenage girl. At first, the team think it’s some kind of organized crime hit or a killing by a jilted love because the mother is having an affair. Not long after, another family is murdered only this time, the teenage son is allowed to live. It is at this point that the BAU come to the conclusion that the survivors of both family massacres are the intended victims. Someone wants both teenagers to suffer. A check through the school records show that both teens were accused of being bullies although nothing is put down on their permanent records. The school counselor is suspected as he was a former bullying victim and thought of as a joke by most of the school. Then things take another turn when, instead of the family, the teenage boy is murdered. Seeing the brutality of the murder leads the BAU team to reconsider the killer and established that it is not an adult but a bullied teen.

Cue the killer! We discover that he was a bullying victim and belongs to a group of other teen bullying victims calling themselves ‘The Anti- Terrorist Squad.” Note here, the programme does very rightly liken bullies to terrorists because for the victims, that is exactly what they are. The killer tells the group that he was the one who murdered their bullies and their families. However, most of the group doesn’t see him as the hero he thought they would. As a result, he takes the group hostage at gunpoint and marches them to the outdoor basketball court where law enforcement arrives. It is then we find out that the killer suffered a horrendous bullying incident when he was tied to a pole at those same courts, had a basketball thrown at his head, to the amusement of onlookers and left tied there til the morning. When he was found, no action is taken against the bullies. I say, no wonder he snapped.

I wonder what would have happened if the bullying I suffered during those three years was as bad as that. That I was tied to a pole and humiliated and abused like that. Unlike the killer, whose father was an alcoholic, my mother would have noticed that I hadn’t come home. When phoning my friends did not reveal my whereabouts, she would have phoned the police and in a small town like that, I would have been found.

If this had happened to me, I wonder what outcome there would have been on those who did it to me. Knowing my mother, charges would have been pressed and arrests made. However, some of those kids’ families had money and would have lawyered up and probably would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist. Some of the not so rich kids might have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law but what sentence would they have received? As for me, I probably would have been made more of a target for ‘getting my mother involved’ and getting so many kids in trouble. The bullying might have been worse in one sense as supporters of the bullies would have gone after me for their friends. Hopefully, that would have been the final straw with me living in that town and I would have moved out sooner, thus a silver lining there. But what baffles me is the fact that kids can do this to others while feeling totally untouchable. Again, is it any wonder kids snap and shoot up their school?

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499199984&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

Music Can Soothe, Even in a Crowd

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Three weeks ago, I went to the Download Festival. For those who don’t know, Download is a huge three day heavy metal festival that takes place every year at Donington Race Track in the UK. I had a great time over the three days, enjoying some magnificent musical acts as well as a wrestling event on the Saturday. I saw bands, I’ve grown up with or have been listening to for ages as well as bands who I had never heard of but impressed the hell out of me. I won’t go into details about the festival but if you want, you can read all the details on my 80smetalman’s Blog.

The Download Festival

What I’m going to write about in regards to Download is a self discovery I made about myself that weekend. Normally, I get very anxious in huge crowds. Many people with Aspereger’s Syndrome do. While I can control it, being in a crowded super market does send the anxiety levels up several levels. What can really send it up very high is when I’m in a crowded aisle and can’t find the item I am looking for. If I can’t find what I am seeking straight away, it’s not unusual for me to leave that aisle and come back later when it’s not as crowded.

It would appear to be obvious that at a festival with tens of thousands of people, my anxiety levels would have gone through the roof. They didn’t. In fact, they stayed quite low, even during the Saturday Night Headliner, Rob Zombie, when everyone was packed in so tight, they could hardly move. My only worry was that I wasn’t able to take as many pictures of Rob as I wanted to because I could hardly move. So the question is: Why I wasn’t so anxious then?

My answer to this was the fact that I was enjoying the music. Rob Zombie not only delivered some great music, he also had a kick ass stage show. The fact that I was enjoying myself with the music I love so much overrode any anxious worries about being in a crowd. This happened a lot throughout the weekend. Enjoying a weekend of great music, I had no anxieties about crowds. Even crowd surfers, although a nuisance at times, didn’t send me into overload. It has been said that many people with Asperger’s Syndrome or what has been called ‘pure’ autism can find relief in music and that music and help soothe their anxieties. I found it true in my case during this weekend.

I did have one anxious moment on the Sunday. After one of the bands finished, I was supposed to meet my stepson and his friend. Failure to locate them combined with walking around and through a massive crowd did begin to send my levels up. There was no music going on at the time to calm me down either. Fortunately, I did find a seem in the crowd and went through it and not long after I found my stepson and therefore, avoided any mental catastrophe. If I did have a meltdown, it wouldn’t have lasted long because the next band would have been on stage soon enough.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498766467&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Humble Thank You

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Thanks to all of those who visited my last post about heading north. Even four likes makes me feel good to know that there are others out there who can empathize. Having returned from Grimsby, I can say that my mother in law is as well as can be expected. However, her dementia is severe enough that she will probably never return to her home and will live out her remaining days in a nursing home. In her case, that’s not such a bad thing. But thanks to all who shared their concern.

Heading North

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It’s been a roller coaster fortnight for me. Last week I had all the heavy metal thrills of going to the Download Festival, this week my wife and I have received news that her mother has been sectioned by social services for 28 days. Naturally, this has had a devastating effect on my wife and I’m doing my best to support her. However, it hasn’t left me time to write and at the weekend, we’ll be heading North to Grimsby to see my mother in law. Thank you all for your patience and hopefully, things will return to normal next week.