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Saturday, 7 July 2012

The anti-Goth grant

This is very old news now, but when I found out about it I could hardly resist sharing it with you guys. Frankly I think it's a bit potty - not to mention, as usual, a HUGE overreaction to a basically harmless subculture - but evidently there are people out there who take being anti-Goth very seriously.

Many of us were shocked and indignant when the news ran about Russia's intentions to outlaw Goth fashion and music in schools and government buildings. I find it even more surprising that something similar could happen in the good old US of A.

A youth group in the town of Blue Springs, in Missouri, applied for - and more startlingly, received - a $273,000 grant to 'combat' Goth culture. The grant was secured by the group's leader, Reverend Sam Graves, back in 2002.

The New York Times reported that approximately $118,000 of the money was intended to be used "for therapy, assessment and case management, and the plans also included a series of town meetings to discuss the issue." (Don't you just love being described as an 'issue'?) They added, ""It never happened because referring someone for looking, acting Goth is not a concept that ever got embedded in people's heads,'' project manager Allyce Ford said of the therapy proposal."

Laughably, a large proportion of the grant was returned unused after officials failed to identify what the problem with Goths might actually be. The Examiner said, "Officials concede today they never found much of a "problem" at all associated with the Goth culture, and instead have developed a new understanding and acceptance."

The town hall meetings, by the way, also never took place due to a 'lack of interest' in the community. I suspect that there were a few local Goths who would have been quite 'interested' to have a gentle word with those involved.

Whilst there are parts of this story that are kind of amusing, the fact that a few Goths minding their own business in a relatively small town were considered to be some kind of threat to society, and that people's tendency towards 'Gothness' was deemed to potentially require therapy (exCUSE me?!), are fairly horrendous.

However, interestingly, the focus of the grant changed during the process - rather than being used to "combat" the Goth "problem", the training sessions ended up leaning more towards teaching acceptance. Allyce Ford was quoted as saying, "You have to admit if you saw one, two, three, four or more people dressed in traditional Goth, it would be discerning. Those kids have every right to be there. I hope the lessons you're teaching are tolerance and understanding," and Eric Johnson, the assistant city administrator claimed that dispelling stereotypes about Goths was "part of the goal. If we were able to accomplish that, we are able to accomplish something effective.''

Source

19 comments:

CherryPie Suicide said...

What's more disturbing is that these are church kids...do unto others etc.etc., God loves everyone...what happened to that?

I'mma preacher's daughter. And I still attend church occasionally. See what they make of that ;)

Tools.

D.F. Melancholine said...

Oh dear , I wasn't aware of this.
This is just preposterous,I can't seem to wrap my head around this one.:S

Anonymous said...

You must bear in mind that the Columbine Massacre happened in mid-1999, with some subsequent (though not as large-scale) incidents at other American, "small-town" schools. I believe that this grant was procured out of genuine, albeit misguided, concern. I actually wish they would "research" some "real" goths, along with some socially inept loners who just happen to wear all black; then maybe people will see what goth actually is. I'd be the first to volunteer. The blame actually lies with the liberal mainstream media in the US, since they are the ones calling all the black-clad, homicidal teens "goth".

TanteFledermaus said...

Is it bad that I now want to try to secure grant money to combat fashion choices that I think are dumb? Can I start with Uggs and booty shorts?

MissGreenEyes said...

That is unbelievable, what a disgusting waste of money that could be put to ACTUAL use somewhere! Mindboggling.

AsylumAlice said...

It seems the United States has a reputation for hypocrisy. I'm generalizing, but typically, although we claim to be a "melting pot" new ideas are usually met with overreactions and anything that is different is usually "bad." Things just aren't really accepted here...

Anonymous said...

Regarding the needing therapy thing: I am still certain that one of the main reasons my mum turned against my gothness was a friend of the family who is a counsellor at a mental clinic telling her that being a goth led to depression and sometimes drug use and mental illness. The woman was supposedly a professional and should have known better. Thanks maybe in part to that woman, I had nearly three years of hell from my parents. No, they didn't get wise, I moved out. They started to appreciate me more after that, though. Escpecially since my non-goth older brother has yet to get his life together.

Cherry Divine said...

This piece is just utterly mad. Goths are peaceful and more ordinary than ordinary people. What a load of idiots these church leaders are. They do not understand Goth, and so they are lashing out, and bullying a sub-culture that will never die nor surrender. More money unwisely wasted, when it could've gone to much better uses.

Alexandriaweb said...

WTF 0.o

Daniel_8964 said...

Unfortunately there are ignorant people who are afraid of something that they don't understand. It doesn't cost anything to research the subculture and is more crucially educational than close mindness and ignorance. Sad people are very sad indeed....

LovleAnjel said...

I live in Missouri (woo me) on the other side of the Kansas City metro area from Blue Springs. A few years ago I was shopping at Old Navy when two nervous teen girls approached me. They asked me questions about my experience at school, if I had trouble with my parents, if I felt sad a lot... to which I replied that I really liked school, had lots of friends, I get along with my parents great, and I have a job I love that pays well. They seemed a little confused, but eventually were chatting happily about their church and invited me to join. I said thank you, I already attend a different church.

They must have been sent on a mission to "help" goth teens. I hope I blew those preconceptions out of their minds. It was also very flattering, because I'm in my thirties and they assumed I was young enough to be in high school/college and still living with my parents.

Morcega said...

May I laugh? It is the only thing I want to do after reading this. I think that made them learn a good lesson. After knowingn what they were trying to ban they understand that they were acting wrong. Applauses to that people! Because we have to admit, some people didn't change their mind ever after knowing the people in question (goths). I believe you understand what I'm trying to say. They change their mind. A lot of them don't.Of course it would have been better if they didn't all this mess, but, since they did, I think it was good to see that their mind change. Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Did they actually go through with the goth clothing ban in Russia ? I keep hearing conflicting stories.

Anonymous said...

Again, people, you *must* take a look at the circumstances surrounding this "research". First of all, the Federal government would *not* have granted this money if the *only* reason was to keep teens from dressing in an alternative manner. The money was granted to combat violence. In the recent years prior to 2002, there were several incidents of teen violence commited by those the liberal media deemed to be goths, due to the fact they dressed "weird". I realize many of you are fairly young, so you may not have a memory of any of this; many others do not live in the US, so you also have no memory of this. I can personally think of three high-profile incidents off the top of my head, in specific detail, though I'm quite certain there were more. All occurred within a short span of time, and was something noone was prepared for, so of course authorities werre going to attempt to find a common thread. All of these teens & young adults happened to fit into one category. I'm also quite certain if it were several groups of jocks & cheerleaders committing such acts of violence, they would have been the chosen target group for "research". This is why many (older) goths are so defensive of what goth "is". We don't want to be lumped in with teenage, socially inept idiots who sit around whining because they're being bullied, and decide to retaliate by shooting up their school.

Second, as I don't live in Russia, I don't know what the motivation is behind the ban. It could be something so simple as it goes against a strict dresscode. That's reality; there will be many times, no matter where you live, that you may be asked to "conform". It really isn't the end of the world. I keep reading (here & elsewhere) that goth is "whateverr you want it to be", so why should it matter what you wear? I've had *many* jobs over the years in which I had to wear a hideous uniform, but it didn't change who I am. It's not like Russian authorities are banning goth clothes on the street. If you're in school, you're there to get an education, not make a fashion statement, and change after school; if you have business in a government building, take care of what you need to, leave, and change your clothes (it really is that simple). Goth fashion has gotten fairly immodest for some, which could also be the reason for the ban; it can be disruptive in school, and even offensive to older people. Yes, people have the right to dress as they want, but others have the right to not feel disrespected. Many older people are set in their ways, and we need to be conscious of that. As I've said before, why does it matter if the grocery clerk or librarian sees you in your finest goth clothing? Save it for appropriate situations, like clubs or shows.

Finally, once authorities realized there was no connection between goths & violence, they gave most of the money back. They could have kept it, and ran up their own salaries until it was depleted, but they didn't, which tells me their intentions were for the good of society.

I apologize for the long rant, but it really hits a nerve when I read or hear people whining about such trivial matters, when there are so many bigger issues in this world.

Amaranth Darkwraith said...

@Anonymous^^ -- The Columbine kids, yeah, they weren't Goth. They were Mansonites. You can go on making excuses for people in the government, or you can see the people for what they really are: hypocritical cowards who think that we (AKA Goths) perform witchcraft and devil worship in our spare time. Ask anyone in a generic public school what "Goth" is and they will tell you, "Those Satanist weirdos who wear black and drink blood." Just because YOU aren't discriminated against doesn't mean that all other Goths can call themselves so lucky.
And just because we can't do anything about the big problems in the world doesn't mean we can't feel irritation and anger about the smaller ones. You try solving world hunger and then get back to us.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, where does it state the Columbine kids were goth? It doesn't. By the way, they weren't Mansonites, either. However, mainstream society *perceived* them as such, which is my point. Perhaps if *anyone* took the time and effort to "research" goths, as well as these socially inept losers, the two groups wouldn't be lumped together as one.

As for discrimination, you have no idea what I've experienced. Just because I have the good sense to know what is *appropriate* in any given situation, doesn't mean I have to like what I'm wearing. Why put myself in a potentially harmful position to prove a (superficial) point? It doesn't matter if strangers know whether or not I'm goth, but if the potential I will be harassed, or worse, beaten, is there, why do it? Also, if I need a job, to feed and house my family, I'm not going to show up to an interview (or even to work) in a corset and fishnets. That's just common sense. Just because I don't whine about not being able to "be myself", doesn't mean I like being required to dress down in certain situations.

I never said anything about ending world hunger. What I said was, there are more important issues in life that take precedence over dressing in an "ooky-spooky" manner.

LovleAnjel said...

@Anonymous,

The only "goth" school shooters were the Columbine kids, it it wasn't a week before people in the media were pointing out that they weren't goths. High schools didn't ban goth clothing afterwards, they specifically banned trenchcoats. The rest of the school shooters could be better described as militia-style kids. What you're left with is the "vampire killers", which didn't make as big of a media splash (surprisingly). Those are pretty much the only high-profile mistaken-for-goth violence at that time. I'm sure the church wrote their grant to veer towards preventing violence, and also tagged gangs and militia kids as groups to "help".

There is a difference between individual schools setting dress codes, and government buildings have a "no shirt no shoes no entrance" type rule and an entire country banning a (very large and mostly undefinable)type of clothing from public spaces. My high school tried to ban gang clothing, but guess what? You can't pull every student who shows up with a red bandana or a Buccanneers jacket from class. Most of them are harmless and it's pretty much a complete waste of resources.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there was another one in Ohio (there have been others, as well), a few months ago. The Liberal media (MSNBC) went to great lengths to make sure he was referred to as a "goth", whereas the more Conservative media outlets (FNC), made no such reference. It really depends on the media source, but even the "Vampire" killers get lumped in with goths (I just watched a documentary a few weeks ago, and the term "goth" was used, more than once. As for the Columbine kids, there are still people who think they were goth. I've had co-workers, upon finding out I'm goth, actually say things like, "Oh, like those kids from Columbine?", so the thought is still out there.

As for dress codes in high schools, why can't those breaking the rules be sent home? If they get sent home enough, expel them, as it would seem they don't want to be there, anyway. "Educating" those who don't want to be there is an even bigger waste of resources. High school is the perfect time to prepare for the real world. I've seen co-workers sent home for breaking dress codes, some eventually terminated for repeat offenses, and sure enough, there was always someone ready to take that place. Once one reaches high school, they're old enough to accept consequences.

Government buildings include such things as courts, as well, and there should be a respect for such an environment. The bottom line is, if you want to enter buildings that have a dress code, follow it, or suck it up, and not take care of what you need to. Noone is forcing anyone to enter such buildings, everyone has a choice. It's just clothing. Just like you wouldn't see someone working the door of a goth club wearing a pink A&F t-shirt, because the promoters have the right to impose a dress code, you won't see a banker wearing a corset & tutu. It's all just common sense.

Nana said...

Missouri is not one of the brightest states. (neither is mine actually. o.O )

I find a lot of that completely laughable due to the lack of common sense. Pretty much how I feel has been summed up by others, so I'll save my long winded rant for later. But it's good to know all of us who enjoy goth are on the same page when it comes to this sort of ridiculousness.

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