Dean and I finally took it upon ourselves to get caught up on the whole West Memphis Three situation. All I can say is that there are a lot of people who should be ashamed of themselves.
WM3 was something that I always kind of had in the back of my head. A lot of the musicians I listened to were vocal advocates on the case; I knew that these three individuals were put behind bars largely because they didn't look the way that West Memphis, Arkansas saw fit. They didn't subscribe to the church-going, pop-standard listening, cookie-cutter lifestyles that the general public deemed acceptable. They were scapegoats simply because they were different.
I'm generally not one to care much about true crime. I know shit happens in our world that is totally fucked, but that's just the nature of the world that we live in. It's not going to stop no matter how much I hope for it to, and it's just something that we all have to deal with. But after watching Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Dean and I were lead into a discussion.
See, what happened in West Memphis is not too far removed from the way that Dean and I grew up. We lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was maybe one of five people in my high school that dressed the way that I did, listened to the music that I listened to, lacked belief in the deities prescribed me at birth.
I was a weird kid.
I mean, sure--I was popular in that everyone knew who I was. I had friends. I wasn't an unhappy kid. I was just different. I was fine with me, and those who weren't I couldn't give two shits about. This mentality lead me to grow into the person that I am today. I don't dress all that different than I did in high school. I'm still too misanthropic for my age. I prefer reading quotes from Anton LaVey over looking over the Bible to find my favorite Psalms.
What happened to those three in West Memphis could have just as easily happened to Dean or myself, or any number of the people that we knew and grew up with. That's what makes this story chime so close to home. There was no evidence whatsoever to tie these three to the murders of three young boys, other than that they listened to heavy metal music, dressed in black, and had interests in religions outside of the mainstream. And these factors aren't evidence at all--they implicate fear. Fear, ignorance, and judgment all played a role in these three serving for too many years for crimes they did not commit.
Even upon getting released, they were forced to plead guilty for these crimes. This isn't justice at all.
If ever you felt different, were perceived as deviant, didn't fit in--I highly recommend you watch the Paradise Lost documentaries just to see for yourself how far some people are willing to take it.
It's terrifying to know that there is no limit to ignorance.