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 newgrounds.com, 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 :D
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