Iraq Pursues Homophobic Emo-Bashing, But Wait, Didn’t America Invent That?

03/12/2012 2:03 PM |



‘Iraq’ and ’emo’ are mostly relics of U.S. headlines past, but today the link between them is making a clean sweep of front page news. The New York Times, the Daily News, and many more publications have followed up on the report that more than 90 Iraqis have been killed by cinderblock bludgeoning since February, a result of emo and LGBT-related hate crimes.

It’s a strange and terrible story, but there’s one thing that seems to be left unmentioned. Homophobic emo-bashing has been happening on our own “enlightened” turf for years—the Iraqis didn’t invent that.

Google “emo killing,” and one of the first hits is from, a popular gaming site. The “Kill the Emo” game has received 771,647 views, and the author’s description is as follows:

Rough this guy up and then use the title of an emo band as an ironic death. I do not endorse the killing of Emos (even though it is fun) and to any emos out there, why don’t you CHEER UP for christ’s sake it’s not all that bad! Seriously all you emo whiney bastards who come on and start slating me in the reviews, you’re only proving my point you fools!!! either way this is only meant to be a bit of fun and not meant to be taken seriously, enjoy 😀

Ugh. The game’s most recent comment, posted on January 10, 2012, reads:

This is a pretty cool gadget, I like the way you mess the emo up before finishing him off but the finishes are fairly lame and uninspired. The voice acting is depressing but I understand that it’s supposed to be. Overall it’s a cool gadget but it could really use additional features and originality

Emo-bashing doesn’t (and didn’t) only occur in the virtual. In 2009, on CNN’s iReport, a video surfaced of a “self-described emo” girl walking home from high school. A group of 10 classmates followed and taunted her, until one punched her in the face. This is only one example of the type of bullying that’s become endemic in U.S. schools—and while shirts from Hot Topic may be on the way out, the homophobia that motivates the teasing is still common.

Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior sees “the emo phenomenon” as detrimental and a danger to society.” But while the U.S. remains a bastion of protected individual rights, we still have a presidential candidate who also believes homosexuality undermines the fabric of society, and a highly publicized bias intimidation trial underway. Let’s not forget we’ve still got a ways to go, too.

You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone

2 Comment

  • To them “emo” seems to be a catch-all term for anything western and hipsterish, whereas to me it conjures straight guys whining over lame rock ten years ago.

  • What’s the point of this article? That we have problems in the United States, too? Thanks for the newsflash. Is there some rule now, that every single time we talk about some social problem in the developing world we have to simultaneously admit that we ourselves have also had issues with said problem? It’s funny that the reverse is never true. When newspapers were talking about the gay bullying thing in Minnesota last week, I bet you didn’t write a post saying that, “Okay, it’s good that you’re covering this important issue, but we should acknowledge that homophobia exists in other countries, too.” So why the double standard? These newspaper stories that you cite are reporting on a pretty heinous series of murders and intimidation that is taking place in IRAQ. The stories are about IRAQ. Why do you expect the stories to cite homophobic incidents in the America in a story about Iraq? Do you not find this phenomenon sufficiently horrifying and noteworthy on its own terms? And another irony: in this attempt to fault the media for not talking about American gay-bashing, you link to a CNN iReport from a 2009 incident about American gay-bashing. So American media DID cover this incident. When that story surfaced, did you write a post criticizing CNN for only focusing on this American story, and not acknowledging that homophobia takes place in other countries, too?