I don't use enough dramatic titles on Gloss!
Seeing as Gloss is my digital scrapbook, I wanted to scribble about something that's recently hit a nerve with me.
A lot of you probably know about the West Memphis Three case. I vaguely remember hearing about it in highschool but I've only just gotten to grips with the full story. If you'd like it in a nutshell, watch this trailer!
So basically, three teenagers - Damien, Jessie and Jason - were wrongly convicted of murdering three eight-year old boys in 1993. They spent eighteen and a half years in prison. The alleged ringleader, Damien Echols, spent ten years of that in solitary confinement, awaiting execution. They eventually managed to walk out of prison after signing something called an Alford plea but they haven't been exonerated. Now, the reason this story has hit a nerve with me is because stupid things like their dress sense figured into the state's reasoning for their guilt! Damien and Jason had long hair, listened to heavy metal and wore a lot of black. This gave the state cause to believe that they were murderous s@tanists. AKA: How ridiculous. I've thrown in the @ sign because I don't want Gloss getting a lot of creepers hits. Anyway! I was frightened to the core because it made me think, if I'd lived in their neighbourhood at that time, I would have probably also been chucked in the slammer because I kinda looked like they did. My Pantera shirt was my prized possession along with my CDs, candles and posters. Was I worshipping some dark force? No. I just happened to like the sound of crunchy guitars! And, erm, candles! Thankfully, I lived a million miles away in sunny South Africa but I experienced a similar sort of prejudice in school. I won't go into the details on Gloss but I was accused of all sorts of horrible things when I was really the most harmless thing on the planet.
Amazingly, Damien and Jason share their story without any bitterness. From what I've read and watched, they seem to be sweet, gentle humans who just want to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Jessie is the quieter one in terms of talking to the media. Damien has become an incredible inspiration to me. He could have lost his mind in prison, or worse - taken his life - but he read everything he could and found ways to deal with his stress and pain. So whenever I'm feeling stressed now, I think, "Well, at least I'm not on death row!"
Why am I blogging this? Because Damien and Jason are doing everything they can to convince the state to re-open the case and find the real killer/s. They need support. They need the state to know that this isn't going to die down - that people will continue fighting for justice. So I guess I just wanted to do my tiny bit to support these guys. And if I could ask the world one thing, it would be, don't be quick to judge. Get to know someone first. Try to understand their background. Empathy, understanding and kindness - that's what the world needs more of. One of my happiest moments was looking around at my twenty-first birthday party which was held at the local church hall. I smiled when I saw pastors pouring tea for my band mates - and my tattooed, long-haired buddies noshing cupcakes with my gran! It was surreal in a cool way! And FYI, I wore my Metallica shirt to the office yesterday because I still freaking love metal!
Side note: One of my other heroes, Eddie Vedder, spent something like fifteen years supporting the West Memphis Three - and most of that was out of the public eye. Along with many others, he played a role in saving them. I couldn't help but relate to that in a much smaller sense because....when I was fourteen, I spotted a Peal Jam cassette at this random market downtown by the harbour. My parents bought it for me - I think it was like, R10 - and I slipped it into my walkman. I jammed that cassette for years and when I look back now, it was bands like Pearl Jam that sort of saved me at the time. If you were also a 90s kid, I'm sure you'll relate too.
And lastly, how crazy, amazing is this? x