Written by Jack Danya Kemplin | written on 26 April 2016
They chased me down, screaming, waving their fists, ignorant hatred burning in their eyes, yelling, “Devil worshiper! Satanist! Jesus loves you! You are going to burn in Hell!” As my asthma kicked in, my aching body slowed down, and they piled around me, punching, kicking, and hitting me with baseball bats. With each blow I looked up to my God, the God they claimed to follow, and I quoted my Lord “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I felt like Jesus standing before the sanhedrin, a righteous man being wrongfully judged a blasphemer by people who thought they were righteous; I felt like Jesus during The Passion, being brutalized, tortured, and sentenced to death by people who thought they were doing God’s will. This was a true struggle between Good and Evil, but not the one these people thought, for they knew not me, nor he who sent me, and they knew not what they did. These people who believed themselves to be the children of God, were in fact anti-christs, breathing and seething hatred, hatred which spread like fire from their forked tongues, and which smashed forth from their bloodied fists. I realized that this prejudice and unjust hatred was evil, when so many others thought it virtuous; I was chased down, stalked by this evil; and I, with the help of others, confronted it.
I have seen the evil seething from those who claim to preach The Word of God; to confront evil at such a young age: I remember when I was thirteen years old, the entire nation seemed to be in a moral panic over some supposed threat, a threat which I knew to be not real. I remember watching the news broadcasts and telavangelists as they besmirched my people, The Goths, the culture of which I was raised, and who I am. Lies, lies about my good people, false claims that we were devil worshipers and that we mutilated and raped women, children, and animals; horrible, horrible prejudice false claims, resembling those made by the Third Reich against the Jewish people. I remember how the entire country was enthralled with this fear, locking up their cats on Halloween, shielding their children’s eyes as they passed us in the grocery store, and calling the police when we walked past their house on our way to the bus stop. I lived in rural northern Arizona, a place with an atmosphere similar to The Bible Belt of The South; the people here took their preacher’s word as The Law, and carried out his crusade like a declaration from God Himself; and it seemed every preacher, pastor, minister, and bible study instructor in the country was telling their congregations how my people were horrible demons who would snatch their women, children, and animals at a moment’s notice, and that we had to be exterminated as soon as possible. I remember their cars and trucks leaving their churches, chapels, and meeting houses, in large groups, and driving straight to where my friends and family were; the car’s horns blaring as the people shouted out of their rolled down windows, “You are going to Hell you Gothic pieces of shit! Jesus loves you!” and “Looks like it’s time for a hanging!” some of them driving their cars straight at us, flashing their headlights, threatening to run us over. I could see the evil which the rest of the people could not, blinded by the halo of the pious facade of those who claimed to be “men of God,” but were in reality men of hate. I was only 13, and I was filled with fear over what was happening around me; in my head I saw it like the mob scenes from Beauty And The Beast, Frankenstein, and Edward Scissorhands; the people coming after us, their torches burning wildly as they wanted to “Kill The Beast!” to kill the unknown monster who they hated simply because it was different looking from themselves. I heard on the news program “20/20” the call for our arrests, the call for laws against us. I felt like the Jews during Nazi Germany, like the mice in Maus; I wanted to hide, I wanted to burrow into whatever little hole I could find, hide in some attic like Anne Frank, as the troops and the mobs marched past. This evil had been growing for the past few years, the news reports growing more frequent, more filled with hate, the people becoming more violent. After that horrible broadcast of the supposed news program “20/20”, I turned off the TV and the lights, lit my holy candles, grabbed my cross necklace, and prayed; I prayed with such a fervency that few modern thirteen year olds have in their lives, I prayed for God to send us a Deliverer, someone like Moses, to take us away from this slaughter, like the Hebrews from the land of Egypt.
The evil edicts came down hard: The next school day, I and others of my kind were called into the vice principal's office, there was a whole team of police officers there waiting for us, each taking us into different rooms to interrogate us. They shouted, “You are planning on killing people, just like that shooting the other day, aren’t you?! You think that will make you big huh? You think that will make you bad?! I will show you bad!” As the officer took out his gun and pointed it to our heads. We would not budge, we could not give them what they wanted, for they were wrong, we were not planning anything. The officers handcuffed us and took us to the local jail, locking us up in solitary confinement. They continued to interrogate us, some for days, others for weeks or months, trying to get us to crack, to tell them something; but we couldn’t, there was nothing to tell, the information they were trying to extract from us, did not exist; they had the wrong people. When I was finally released from their torture, and tried to return to school, I saw that I was not allowed to sit wherever I wanted on the bus, but was forced by the drivers to sit right behind them in the front of the bus, so they could watch my every move--I felt like a reverse Rosa Parks--It doesn’t really matter whether one is forced to sit in the back of the bus, or the front, what matters is that they are not allowed to sit wherever they want, unlike everyone else who is. We were also no longer allowed to wear whatever clothes we wanted, while everyone else still could: we, the students at my school who were of my culture, we were only allowed back at school if we agreed to wear only white polo shirts, brown khaki pants, and white tennis shoes. The school forcibly cut my hair and my long nails, and said we could no longer wear our makeup, or any kind of coats, not even in winter. We were forced to eat lunch in the vice principal’s office every day, & when we arrived at school, we had to report to his office so an officer could check our bags. The school assigned an officer to me, who would sit next to me during all classes and who would walk me from class to class. The officer would just stand there as the other students threw rocks at me, spat on me, and punched me, the officer adding, “Good! Maybe this will teach you not to follow Satan! You deserve to be treated like this!” If only they knew what they were doing, the beautiful soul they were abusing, for as Jesus said, what they did to me, they did to him, Their Lord. The police followed me wherever I went, stopping me, strip-searching me, and throwing me into the back of their vehicles, where they would either take me to the station or take me home. yes, I know what it is like to be tortured and pursued by evil people who believe they are serving God’s will, who believe themselves to be righteous.
Eventually I realized God had answered my prayers for a deliverer like Moses who could lead me and my people out of the torment of our persecutors, and it was like as if He said, “What if I already have sent someone, and it is you?” Why continue to look and wait for someone who will help me and those like me, when I could stand up, and help accomplish this. At coming to this realization, I was filled with the spiritual strength to wage this battle between good and evil, to face hatred, anger, and fear, and battle it with love, understanding, and knowledge, and to face it calmly. I purchased black ribbon for us to wear, printed flyers, and printed anti-prejudism slogans onto our forced to wear white polo shirts. I helped in the Gothic Liberation Front, and the Stamp Out Hatred Prejudice and Intolerance Everywhere campaign, I stood in support of the West Memphis Three, and in remembrance of Brian Deneke and Sophie. We gathered and we marched, marched to the Cruxshadows and the sound of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Yes, we were in a struggle for civil rights, and looked up to Dr. King and those who came before us. My friends and others who supported us walked out of class, we took our ribbons, pinned them on us, and held up our signs. People spat on us as they walked by, they struck us with rocks, fists, and trash cans. From the Ag building nail guns were fired at us, but we held our ground. Before long the police were called out on us, they came, threw us to the ground, and handcuffed us, dragging us into their cars. Some may say that we were asking for trouble, but people used to say the same about Dr King; some may ask, if we did not want to be treated that way and arrested, then why did we do that? Again, people said the same about the Marchers at Selma and Washington: We did this because if we ever want change, if we ever want to be treated as equals, and not as devils, then we must preasure society to treat us as people, same as everyone else. This is a battle for the good of all of mankind, against the evil of ignorance and prejudice hatred. With the help of allies, I was able to confront the evils which tormented our lives, and I found the deliverer within myself, the deliverer which could be inside of all of us.
At the young age of thirteen, I was confronted by an evil which threatened to destroy the lives of me and my loved ones, yet with friends, I found the courage to face that evil and refuse to let it win. We all, in some big way or some small way, will struggle with good and evil in our lives; be it evil within ourselves, evil from another individual, or a larger group of people. Evil comes in many forms, it can be addiction, depression, temptation, laziness, bad priorities, indifference towards things which should matter, lack of empathy, and prejudism within oneself or coming from others, amongst countless other things. Evil exists, and it will touch all of us. How we handle it, how we face it, is what will make the difference in both our lives and the lives of others. I faced it, and I still face it, I have accepted this lifelong battle against hatred, prejudice, and intolerance, and over the years my mission has expanded. I now battle for all the downtrodden, all of those in need: the hungry, the homeless, the sick, and those in prison; I stand up for women, children, and men, Goth, Black, Asian, Native American, Middle-Eastern, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, and Pagan. I must be like Christ who prevented the people from stoning the woman, I need to remind mankind that we must not judge one another, we must not let our hands become stained with the blood of our brothers and sister, and remind them that we are our brother’s keeper, we must, each of us, look out for one another, and truly love each other; only then can we truly be delivered from the clutches of evil.
Documents illustrating the discrimination from the school
A newspaper report showing how bad the lies and rumours got