Today marks eight years since the death of Sophie Lancaster. She was attacked and brutally beaten as she protected her boyfriend – who himself received terrible injuries – in Bacup, England. The assault took place on August 11th, 2007. Sophie’s life support was switched off thirteen days later on the 24th.
Her and her boyfriend’s “crime”? Being different. Being “moshers”.
I don’t know about anyone reading this, but I’ve experienced this kind of discrimination first-hand. I’ve seen someone else assaulted in very much the same way (on a night out in Halifax, a couple of years before Sophie’s death), and I got a bit of abuse for having long hair at school. The latter doesn’t sound like much – especially compared to these obviously far more serious incidents – but any instance where a person is mistreated for their appearance is simply wrong. If the ignorant think they can get away with a bit of name-calling, then some pushing about, then a slap or two… who knows where it’ll end.
Over the years since Sophie’s death, hate crime has become criminalised in the UK in much the way that race related crimes were before… which I believe is fair. At their simplest level, they’re the same thing – picking on a target because they’re different to you. Whether that’s because they’re a different religion, different skin colour, different musical taste and dress sense… it doesn’t matter. It’s pointless, pathetic and quite simply wrong.
The awareness that’s been raised by Sophie’s mother over the intervening years has certainly made a difference, but one look online each day still brings up too many stories of assaults occurring on a near-daily basis. Whether it’s a deliberate targeting or a “simple” piece of bullying that goes too far it’s inexcusable.
Have a read up on Sophie’s case, check out the foundation formed in her name and just do your best to be one the of the good people. Look out for other people, look out for yourselves and let’s try to stomp on this atrocious behaviour once and for all.