Sunday, 6 April 2014

HATE... AND WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT

Sometimes, bad things happen - things that make no sense, that leave us wondering if the world is a dark, cruel place filled with people ready to hate anything that's different. This is a sad story, but one that needs to be told...

Cathy says:
Sophie Lancaster was a gentle girl who cared about others, had strong values and views and also the courage to dress the way she wanted to. She was a gap year student planning to study an English degree, and she and her art student boyfriend Robert styled themselves as 'goths'.
In August 2007 the couple were walking home through a park in Lancashire when they were attacked by a group of teenage boys. Robert was kicked unconscious; Sophie was cradling him in her arms when the attackers turned on her, kicking and beating her savagely. Teenage witnesses called emergency services and stayed with the couple, trying to help, until an ambulance arrived.
Robert gradually recovered, but it was clear that Sophie would never regain consciousness and she died thirteen days later. Two of her attackers were given life imprisonment for murder and three more were jailed. The attackers had targeted the pair purely because of their style, because they were 'different' - and after the attack they bragged to friends about what they had done.
Since Sophie's death, music, books and a play have been made to help tell her story and raise awareness. Her mum, Sylvia Lancaster, created the SOPHIE LANCASTER FOUNDATION, a charity which works to  'stamp out prejudice, hatred and intolerance everywhere.' I have heard Sylvia Lancaster speak and was so moved by her story; slowly, bit by bit, she is changing views and making a difference.

Now a new teen book, 'Hate' by Alan Gibbons, tells Sophie's story in a fictionalised novel format. I asked him why he chose this subject...

Alan says:
I first decided to write my novel Hate after hearing Sylvia Lancaster speak about her daughter at a conference. The story of Sophie, murdered for expressing her identity through dress and make-up, shocked me to the core. I've been involved in campaigns against hatred based on race, gender and homophobia for over 40 years, but prejudice based crime against subcults such as Goths and Emos is just as much a hate crime. The novel had to be written.

Cathy says:
The novel has to be read, too... I already have my copy. Hate is a strong, ugly word for an ugly, destructive emotion. Let's challenge it now, so that stories like Sophie's become a thing of the past.

You can buy Hate by Alan Gibbons at all good indie bookshops and chains, or order it online. It's a must-read. Did you know Sophie Lancaster's story? COMMENT BELOW on this post to share your views and reactions, and start challenging hate wherever you find it.

27 comments:

  1. That is so sad. How could anybody be so horrible to do something like that!! I hardly know what to say

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  2. That is horrible! The same should be do to the murderers! One of my really close friends is goth but she is an amazing person!

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    1. Totally understand your anger Anon, but we need to get past the idea of hate and revenge and work on trying to stop the prejudice that allows this kind of thing to happen, I think. Thanks for commenting and caring! xxx

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear about this! It's awful to know that some people find pleasure in attacking others. We need to stop this, we need to stop the hate, it's horrible. #StoptheHate

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  4. I knew Sophie's story already and I know a couple of shops that sells 'different clothes' called PULP (and illamasqua that sells makeup) that you can donate money to the Sophie Lancaster foundation. Blondie

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    1. Great tips Blondie... I know that Ilamasqua support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation; great to know Pulp do too. Thank you! xxx

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  6. I knew Sophie's story already and I feel so sorry for Sylvia. Losing a daughter, and in such a vicious manner, must be heartbreaking. It's inspirational that she campaigns to stop others from going through the same pain when she probably just wants to curl up and cry. As an alternative person myself and a friend to many alternative people, this is a cause that's close to my heart. I commend Sylvia and the other workers at S.O.P.H.I.E. for fighting against these heinous crimes, you, Cathy, for bringing this case to people's attention and thus raising awareness of such prejudice and, of course, all the alternative people who refuse to let their identities be repressed by the opinions of small-minded thugs. Hate crime is never acceptable. :-)

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    1. Anon, well said; we need to keep challenging this until the prejudice is a thing of the past. xxx

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  7. This is so Sad, i can not believe that people would kill someone just because they were being themselves and dressing the way they wanted too, it's unbelievably Cruel!. We really need to stop this hate because theirs so many incredibly talented and amazing people out their that are 'goth' or 'emo' x

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    1. Exactly Lauren... as you say, time to stop the hate. xxx

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  8. H....H...How? Why? Who would...? I mean...! The world is so heartless! They were innocent people! My re teacher NEEDS to know about this. It's so scary that I had a question about ending discriminatiopn in my test just 2 days ago and then this. She didn't deserve to die. NOBODY deserves to die! Sylvia Lancaster, I beg the Lord for peace in your mind. I'm gonna make sure nothing like this will ever happen to anyone else in this world. No innocent person. Nobody else! ;o(

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    1. Ah Deborah, I hope that young people like you who care so much can help to change things, I really do. Do talk to your RE teacher; I suspect she'll know about Sophie Lancaster, but perhaps it's time for a lesson inspired by her story so the rest of the class can learn too? xxx

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    2. Definitely. I'm linked up and ready to go. If those boys think they're at the top of the game for doing that, they got another thing coming for them!

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  9. I had heard of this story through Beatbullying but it still shocks me every time I read it! I hope the foundation does well and raises a lot of awareness of discrimination.

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  10. This such a powerful and heartbreaking story. To think that someone was killed just for having their own unique style is sickening. I hate that some people can be so cruel and judgemental :'( RIP Sophie xo

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  11. i think its cruel and unfair that a person died just because they are idiots in the world who would attack people because of their stole.Its as stupid as racism

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  12. I think it's really important that people are still talking about Sophie's attack, as it was a real eye-opener to a hate crime that previously went unseen. Of course it's awful and upsetting but the campaign has made so much progress over the years and it's absolutely crucial that we continue to raise awareness. Thank you so much for this post, Cathy.

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  13. This is such a sad story, it pains me to think people would hurt people because of the way they look and because they are being themselves. I am defiantly buying the book and I want to create more awareness to get rid of the hate

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  14. This is really sad. I think it is really important to spread the word about issues like this because however heartbreaking they are, what those people did to them was wrong. Why should you get targeted on just because you have the guts to embrace your style?

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  15. That is so sorry, why does it matter what you look like? It shouldn't. Also it was her style she was expressing her feelings. And then bragging to your freinds. WHAT?!

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  16. This is a heart-breaking story. Alan Gibbons came into my school last year and held an assembly in which he told us this. Everyone in the hall was so silent that you could here a pin drop, and afterwards we were all talking about it and saying how shocking it was. Alan Gibbons is an amazing writer, and he is right about telling Sophie's story. Everyone needs to hear it, and hopefully this will help in ending prejudice and bullying.

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  17. This is just so sad!!!!
    I can't believe someone would do something like that!!!!!
    People shouldn't get bashed to death for being themselves and doing what they think is right! Sophie was just being herself and the teenagers had no right to do that to her and Robert. It's just not right!! Nobody should die for being themselves!!!! People don't deserve to be treated like this!!!! And as if you would brag to your friends about MURDERING SOMEONE!!!!!!!!!!!! I would be disgusted to be related to those boys!!! Some people are so heartless. I hope those boys didn't think they would get away with it!! IT'S MURDER, BULLYING, AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS TOO!!!!!!! IT NEEDS TO STOP!!!!

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  18. That's really sad and upsetting. Sophie looks and sounds an amazing girl and her story is such an eye opener to bullies. It just shows how cruel some people can be. To hear some one be so hateful because of the way someone dressed is really horrible.

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  19. That's horrible, how could someone be killed for being themselves + being beautiful. Hamdi:)xxx

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