A 16-year-old UK boy has been sentenced to prison after hitting his sister in the head with a hammer. Some say his interest in horrorcore rap and the occult led him to attack. Photo by Flickr user bitzcelt.
A UK teenager will spend the next 4 and a half years behind bars after attacking his 18-year-old sister with a hammer, hitting her in the head 13 times. She was knocked unconscious, but made a full recovery.
To make matters worse, his sister’s name was first on the list of many people the teen planned to kill, including other members of his family, schoolmates, and people he knew through his family’s church.
In court, the jury heard how this teen calmly attacked his sister, “in a … manner which was chilling,” while their parents watched television downstairs. He meticulously planned other attacks, particularly on classmates. The judge would not release his name to the public, claiming the “publicity would increase his narcissism.”
Once again, we have a violent teen with all of the hallmarks of sociopathy. Shouldn’t that be enough? It wasn’t. The court also had to hear about the boy’s interests, as though they were relevant to the case:
The court was told that the boy was brought up as a strong Christian by his family but rebelled against the faith and developed an interest in the occult through listening to “horrorcore” music, a type of hip hop with lyrics on horror-influenced topics.
It’s true that horrorcore rap is influenced by horror fiction. There are songs inspired by films such as Child’s Play and Halloween, among others. For the most part, horrorcore is not a popular genre, but some acts — the Insane Clown Posse and Eminem included — have made big names for themselves. These guys are the Alice Coopers and GWARs of the rap world. The genre unwittingly linked itself to real-life violence when one horrorcore musician, Syko Sam, allegedly bludgeoned four people to death in Farmville, Virginia in 2009.
Horrorcore rap is meant to be fun in the same way watching a scary movie is meant to be fun. All of us like a little thrill now and again — even teens. And there’s not a shred of evidence that this music makes people murderous. There’s not even any evidence that horrorcore would lead someone to be interested in the occult — not that there’s anything wrong with being interested in the occult, either.
Prosecuting attorneys do their best to cast doubt on a defendant, if they think doing so will secure a conviction and prison time for that defendant. Anything to make an attempted killer look bad — including music or spiritual practice — is fair game. But that doesn’t make it relevant to the crime. All it is is character assassination, particularly once the press picks up on it. And, since this particular teen’s name is not associated with the accusations, the effect is to cast doubt on every other teen who listens to horrorcore or explores the occult. Nevermind that 99% of them will never pick up a weapon with the intent to harm another person. It’s no wonder we don’t trust our teens.
What do you think, readers? Should attorneys be barred from questioning the character of a teen accused of violence? Why or why not?