I’m from a rural town just 20 minutes from Newtown, CT, so the recent tragedy hits close to home in more ways than one.
My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones, and like most of you I’ve been emotionally scarred and crying every time I watch the news. It’s truly disturbing. I’m not here to write my ignorant views on gun control, government-funded mental-health programs, nor to point fingers at the parents or blame society, so what I can do is pray for the families and hope something like this never happens again in my lifetime.
Although I’ve never been physically involved or physically affected by a school shooting, I was a senior in high school when the Columbine Massacre took place and that really fucked us all up because it was the first mass shootings carried out by outcast kids our age. It took me a long time to get bounce back and attend school, with fear this could happen anywhere.
In 1999 my high school put a ban on trench coats, duster jackets, and military fatigues. This ban had to be put into effect the day after the Columbine Massacre because the media was blaming a group called “the Trench Coat Mafia,” and it just so happened that a group at my high school that rolled in a posse of 10 all wore trench coats and Doc Martens to school, so the local authorities and school counselors dubbed them the next “TCM.” They were heavily monitored and constantly being questioned.
The sad thing was that there was absolutely NOTHING harmful about these kids. I was friends with one of them. They were probably petrified by guns and would choose a light saber instead as their choice weapon. They were just fucking weirdo nerds.
I felt bad the day the ban went into effect. High school sucks enough to begin with, but these kids weren’t being bullied. No one ever threw them into lockers, no one ever called them faggots, and no one feared them or labeled them as social misfits.
I was in double-period art class with the ringleader all throughout senior year. We were paired up for all the art projects we were assigned to by the art teachers, so we had a lot of time to talk. I think he might have actually been the oldest one in the group as well. He was a quiet guy, a real individual who walked to the beat of his own Drum and Bass CD, much like most of his crew. This is back in the day when teenagers were put into 2 categories…fucking weirdo or fucking nerd. Now that’s been replaced with Asperger’s syndrome and autism. I had only heard of this disease like 5 years ago, when I was playing Dictionary and someone drew a guy with a weird facial expression and two hamburgers on his butt. Get it? “Ass Burgers.”
The days following the ban, I noticed he became withdrawn and really depressed. I asked him what was bothering him and he looked at me -yed and said some something like, “We didn’t hurt anyone, and we’re not them. I don’t get why they robbed us of our identity because of some crazy kids in Colorado.” I tried to sympathize with him, but I couldn’t because I was cool and rode a skateboard and didn’t act out scene from Star Wars or wear a trench coat in 85% weather.
I told him that he should start a petition to get the rights to wear the trench coats for him and his crew. He wrote up a proper Excel form on a computer the next day and went around the school rallying to get signatures from everyone so they could wear their trench coats. I think they got a bunch of signatures and even went in front of the school board to gain their rights back, but nothing happened. The school had banned them, saying that the TCM is now a hate group and others would be fearful of them and prevent kids from coming to school. It was really sad that I lived in an era where something like this could happen. The group of friends just got bummed, discarded their trench coats, and just had grass fights with each other. That carried on until graduation. At least they tried to get their costumes back. I thought it was pretty cool on graduation day when the ringleader showed up with his cap and gown in homeroom with the lower part of his grey duster peeking out from under his gown.