Goth culture blackened by Russian newspaper


In general, goths adore cemeteries — they don’t vandalize them. But three Russians are going to jail for doing just that. Photo by Flickr user R.I.Pienaar.

Three so-called goths have been arrested in the Russian City of Rostov-on-Don for allegedly destroying 40 tombs in the Severnoye Cemetery, one of the largest in Europe.

According to press reports, the suspects were participating in an event called “Night Walks in the Cemetery” on April 18 and damaged many graves, including those of soldiers. The trio is being charged with desecrating the dead, for which they can be held for up to three months.

While it’s true goths and cemeteries tend to go hand in hand, it’s highly unusual for someone who’s part of this movement to harm such a place. As the author of Ultimate Goth Guide put it:

I just can’t understand why members of a subculture who, on the whole, find cemeteries a beautiful, welcoming and peaceful would choose to damage about 40 — yes, 40 — gravestones, including those of soldiers.

A sarcastic well done to these three idiots, who have not only brought further shame and suspicion on Goth culture in a country where legislation to outlaw Goth music had already been considered, but have now put those of us who do enjoy spending quiet, peaceful time in cemeteries, doing harm to nothing and no one, also under suspicion.

As you can tell from the many, many comments on that post, goths all over the world are shocked by this behavior. Goth culture has suffered some serious setbacks over the years — most notably after the Columbine shooters were mistakenly labeled as goth by the press.

The fact that these specific perpetrators are goths had nothing to do with the alleged crime. They destroyed graves because they’re vandals, not because they’re goths, and playing up the goth angle in a newspaper article only makes readers think goths = vandals.

What that does is paint the millions of peaceful, cemetery-loving goths with the same brush. These people, who would probably make up the bulk of cemetery-preservation societies someday, could find themselves ousted from places they love and protect. Worse, the public once again gets the idea that goths are criminals, an association that can have dangerous consequences.

Take Alexandria Boring, who was convicted in 2006 of murdering her mother. Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned her conviction, saying character smears contributed to the jury’s erroneous decision to convict her of murder:

State attorneys used as evidence photos of the teen with dyed black hair and dark makeup, a document with the word “curse” that was to be read over a black candle, handwritten quotes on her bedroom walls and inscriptions that a prosecutor claimed were quotations from the founder of the Satanic Church. The evidence was “clearly integral to the state’s strategy of portraying appellant as a deviant capable of murdering her mother, in the absence of any other evidence suggesting she had a violent or angry nature,” said the opinion, written by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.

When goth = criminal in jurors’ minds, and when jurors are presented with a “goth” accused of a crime, it’s all too easy to find that person guilty — even if they aren’t.

When you’re reading a news article about criminal activity, how much do you want to know about the alleged suspect? Do you want to know how they dress, the music they listen to, or what faith they hold? If so, why?

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6 responses to “Goth culture blackened by Russian newspaper

  1. Because it has to be how they dress or the music they listen to that caused it, not the fact that they’re just drunken hoodlums.

    What’s particularly odd is that any judge would take clothing and music into consideration since they clearly see drunken sots come through on a regular basis dress in any number of ways. And my FIRST thought was “Has the media never flipped through the weekly mugshots at the Smoking Gun? If we’re going to blame people’s behavior on their clothes, well boy do I have something to show you!”

    • I don’t know how judges operate in Russia. Here, I hope they would overlook appearance. On the other hand, juries in this country don’t seem to be able to get PAST someone’s appearance if it’s in any way uncomfortable for them. See also: West Memphis Three…

  2. “When you’re reading a news article about criminal activity, how much do you want to know about the alleged suspect? Do you want to know how they dress, the music they listen to, or what faith they hold? If so, why?”

    I would only care to know about pertinent information about a suspect and I don’t consider sartorial, musical, or faith choices to fall into that category. Specific past behavior might be considered important.

    And speaking of cemeteries, my mom is the biggest lover of cemeteries I know and there is no way anyone could ever, in any way shape or form, confuse her for a goth. She could spend days wandering randomly around cemeteries. I confess I never saw the point, myself. Now the Neptune Society Columbarium (http://www.neptune-society.com/who_we_are/columbarium.html) is another story. That place is fascinating.

    • Goths certainly aren’t the ONLY ones who would be interested in cemetery preservation, but they certainly do appreciate them. I like them, too, but less for the general notion and more for the statuary, particularly in Catholic cemeteries, which is often beautiful and full of symbolism.

  3. People who reject society, dress like the dead, and listen to bizarre music should be examined closely. There is clearly something wrong with these people. Has the Goth subculture been a positive influence on society? No, it has not. Has it inspired people, either directly involved with this travesty of a movement, or outsiders attracted to its deranged aesthetic, to commit disgusting acts against property, animals, and even people? Yes, many times more than the media can even try to site. Members of this subculture should be monitored for subversive or otherwise dangerous activity and be promptly removed from the streets.

    • You seem to know nothing of the goth subculture. Where do you get your information from? Goth is not an obsession with death, and how is the cure strange music? If I remember correctly, bands like the cure and depeche mode were popular mainstream bands at one point in time. ( both aforementioned bands are goth rock)

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