As someone who is goth(ish) I run into people who have all sorts of strange ideas about goths. I’m a big ugly guy so most of that doesn’t get directed at me. Others, however, are accused of being “dangerous” and “juvenile delinquents” or otherwise criminal because of a lifestyle we have adopted as fitting our “inner selves.” The truth is we’re more often abused than abusers (in my case “big ugly guy” shields me from much of that) and even when it doesn’t rise to the level of physical abuse we see the fear, the hatred, and the locked doors. There’s this delightful “Hornbach” advertisement that illustrates it to a somewhat exaggerated effect but which makes the point (while showing the young lady has an absolutely great dad):
The case of Sophie Lancaster is not just a cute advertisement. It is a real-life tragedy. Today is the 12th “anniversary” of the death of her death at the hands of a group of violent thugs.
Sophie was a “Goth” girl in Lancashire England. While walking home on August 11, Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were attacked by a group of youths. The only apparent motive for the attack was that Robert and Sophie were attired in Goth fashion.
They started by attacking Robert. When he was knocked unconscious Sophie tried to protect him by cradling him in her arms. The mob continued their assault, now focused on Sophie. According to witnesses, members of the mob would run over and kick Sophie in the head and jump up and down on her head. So severe were the couple’s injuries that emergency services arriving on the scene were unable to immediately determine which was male and which was female.
At least one of the attackers actually bragged about the attack as if he’d done something noble, saying to friends, “There’s two moshers nearly dead up Bacup park – you wanna see them – they’re a right mess”
Sophie and Robert were taken to the hospital, both in comas. Robert gradually improved with some memory loss of the attack and events leading up to it. This is not uncommon for traumatic injuries that involve unconsciousness.
Sophie, however, was not so fortunate. It was eventually determined that so severe was her brain injury that she would never recover. Her family agreed to cease life support on August 24, 2007 and the life of Sophie Lancaster passed from this world to whatever, if anything, may wait beyond.
Five youths involved in the attack were eventually arrested. It is not known how many others might have been involved. The five were first charged with “grievous bodily harm” but following Sophie’s death the charges were upgraded. Of the five, two were convicted of murder and the other three had the murder charge withdrawn on a guilty plea of “grievous bodily harm”. The five received sentences (after appeals) ranging from four years and four months to life imprisonment with a minimum (I presume, not being familiar with the British legal system, this means before eligible for parole) of fifteen years and six months.
Sophie, of course, is dead forever. There is no appeal on her result.
One thought on “Annual Tribute to Sophie Lancaster”
That Hornbach ad was great – there are a couple in Bratislava. Sophie’s story is so sad – yet also too human.
The Goodness Paradox explains a bit how humans are great, relative to most animals, at avoiding reactive violence. But all too guilty about doing pro-active violence.