What's behind savage beatings, killings of metal fans?

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In what appears to be part of a recent uptick in prejudicial attacks on the heavy metal community, 16 year-old metal fan Ben Moores was brutally kicked and beaten by a gang in Lancashire, England.

Moores believes he was attacked because of his style of dress, taste in music, and long hair. He was assaulted near a supermarket in the small town of Waterfoot, where fifteen 'gangsters' stamped on him, punched him, pulled out clumps of his hair, and hatefully called him "mosher," and "freak."

"They were doing it because of the way I look; because I've got long hair and I like metal music," Moores told Noisecreep. "It's all because I dress a bit different and have different interests."

Though he survived without life-threatening injury, Moores suffered severe bruising to his head and body, and is missing patches of hair. "When they got me on the ground, I thought I was going to die," he said. "There was no stopping them; they wouldn't let me up. I had blood all over my face by the end. When I was getting kicked and stamped on my head and on my wrists, there was nothing I could do. Thinking about it now makes me shiver in shock."

Moores enjoys metal, an often-misunderstood music genre that is falsely believed by the misinformed to perpetuate hate or violence.

Moores was not the first 'metalhead' to be attacked for his fashion and beliefs. In fact, just two miles away from where he was attacked was the place where, in 2007, a gang savagely beat 20 year-old 'goth' Sophie Lancaster to death, while her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, suffered permanent brain damage. The couple was ambushed and simply attacked "for being goths."

Lancaster's mother, Sylvia, commented on the recent attack on Moore, noting, "It's disgraceful, what has happened. The fact that young people gang together like that and think of it as fun is just wrong. People have no right to do this -- it's beyond me why they think it's okay." Sylvia was deeply saddened to know that, nearly five years after her daughter's death, "there have [still] been no lessons learned."

"We were proud to know our daughter," Sylvia had said of Sophie. "She was a beautiful girl with a social conscience and values which made her a joy to know. The thing that makes me most angry is that it is seen as an isolated incident. These attacks are far from isolated. Just because you follow a different culture, you are targeted; you are seen as easy pickings."

Seven of the fifteen who attacked Moores - ranging in age from 14 to 18 - were arrested in connection with the incident.

Members of metal communities and underground subcultures are also at risk elsewhere. In the Middle East, Iraqi youth who identify with heavy metal are being targeted and killed by extremist death squads.

Death squads circulated flyers throughout Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, warning that those who "dressed metal" would be killed, and that "God's punishment" would rain down upon them. They also associated some metal fans with the LGBT community, making similar threats to gay teens and young adults.

Thus, for gay men in Iraq, the threat has been just as serious: Militias have killed more than 50 people who led alternative lifestyles in the past week, according to reports.

"What do you see about me that is so wrong?" said one Iraqi youth who did not want to be named. "I'm a normal guy. But I almost wish I could die, rather than live like this."

These developments come just weeks after the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party's newspaper were attacked and ransacked by Iraqi federal police.

In response to the intolerance that metal fans and other alternative youth face, Sylvia is campaigning for attacks against people based on appearance to be recognized by lawmakers as hate crimes, and addressed appropriately.

In 2009, she made headway in this regard: After meeting with the London Justice Minister, Sylvia was told that although Straw could not alter the hate crime law itself, he would propose changes to sentencing guidelines for judges.

Kate Conboy-Greenwood, manager of the Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred, and Intolerance Everywhere (S.O.P.H.I.E.) campaign, remarked, "What we are asking for is that when it comes to sentencing, judges are given guidelines to treat attacks like those [on 'goths' and metal fans] as they would if it were a racially motivated assault, or a homophobic incident.

"People from alternative cultures need to know that there is protection in the law."

One of the Iraqi youth being persecuted, Noor (20), said her style was simply about "self-expression," and that, due to the hatred she was exposed to, she and her family have fled north. She didn't know when she would feel safe enough to return.

"Is this what we get," she said, "because we dress in black?"

Photo: Sophie Lancaster, a goth, was kicked and stomped to death by a mob of youths, due to dressing differently and belonging to a misunderstood and feared subculture. Lancashire Police/AP

 

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  • I'm a Portuguese girl that listens rock, metal, screamo and (don't laugh) classic music (in moderated doses, and it's not all compositors). But, in my village, it's not "right" for a girl to listen any of this. Classic music is for old people and the other ones are for boys. Here, girls normally listen Brazilian music (kizomba and kuduro). I don't like that because every song has the same rithm (I think that's is the word). But I don't discriminate. But I constantly hear from other girls that my music is s*@# and their music is better. Why? Aren't all music after all?
    Also, I'm an alternative girl. I dress in black. I have purple and blue pieces of hair. I like terror movies. I like zombie movies and books. I like a good mistery movie. But, here, this is not the kind of stuff for a girl. Girls normally said to me that I will never be loved if I don't change my appearence AND my tastes. I don't get it. How is it hurting everyone else?

    Posted by Morcega, 06/18/2012 2:51pm (3 years ago)

  • How ironic that the 'appropriate response' to targeting the 'violence' metal 'causes' is, of course, violence.

    Posted by B., 04/27/2012 10:19am (3 years ago)

  • I don't know what to say.
    But I'll say this; the youth are given and sent a message from the white elite ruling classes--unless it's coming from a fundamentalist view of life--the message is, exploit, make war. Violence is the path.

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 04/18/2012 5:07pm (3 years ago)

  • Great article Blake. It brought back some memories I'd like to share.

    Back in the early 1960's my brother and I became the first on our block to get hold of the first American album of the Beatles. While we were listening to it our father entered the room, stood for a few minutes and then said in disgust as he was leaving, "That's not music, that's just noise!" I turned to my brother and said, "I hope I never get so old that I can't appreciate good music."

    Fast forward about 25 years. I'm in my car with a colleague and in the back seat is my oldest son. He had just returned from a rock festival and had a tape of a group he heard there for the first time. He handed me the tape and asked me to play it. It was pure metal. When we got to our destination my son jumped out of the car and my colleague asked, "Did you understand a word on that tape?"

    I responded, "Of course not. That's not music. It's just noise!" Instantly my memory of my father's words came back to me and I exclaimed to my friend, "Oh @#%&, I've become my father!"

    That experience was a wake up call to remember to be more tolerant of the values and tastes of others.

    Posted by Rev. Paul White, 04/18/2012 10:49am (3 years ago)

  • Really good article Blake. I wish this was a new trend, but it isn't. I knew so many in my youth who were attacked or accosted in many ways because of their choice in dress and music.

    The best thing to defeat ignorance is always awareness.

    Thanks for playing a part in that.

    Posted by Joy, 04/17/2012 6:58pm (3 years ago)

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