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?