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.
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