Friday, 5 April 2013

Goths and hate crimes

You shouldn't be attacked for looking like this
- or any other way
There was a wonderfully cringe-making piece on the often glorious Channel 4 News last night, covering the move by Greater Manchester Police to consider attacks on goths, emos, bikers and goodness knows what cultural groupings as hate crimes, putting them on a par with racist attacks. The cringe-making part was Jon Snow saying he would like to dress like a Fearless Vampire Killers band member who was one of his interviewees - but the interesting point was made by a journalist present. He was doubtful about this move because it was making an artificial distinction - and I think he was spot on.

The thing is yobs (as the journalist labelled them (and, no, he wasn't from the Sun, it was a broadsheet)) will attack anyone for looking different. It all depends on context. No one is going to attack someone for dressing like a goth at an a concert for a band that has that particular look. But they might have trouble if they turned up in a suit and tie. When I was at school I was twice attacked for wearing my school uniform. Not just verbal abuse (there were plenty of examples of that) - once a punch to the jaw on a crowded railway station (no one took any notice) and once having stones thrown at me in a quiet suburban street

The fact is that literally anyone can be attacked for looking different. For their age, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they behave. For having red hair. This is as old as the hills. I'm not saying it is acceptable - of course it is to be abhorred and punished. But to single out particular groups as a 'hate crime', implying that somehow attacks on other people for exactly the same reason are less significant is a serious mistake and should be avoided at all cost.

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