Michelle Belanger (sethanikeem) wrote,
Michelle Belanger
sethanikeem

An Open Letter: The Canadian "Columbine"

First, allow me to extend my deepest condolences to the students and faculty of Dawson College, as well as to the people of Montreal. May those who have lost their lives in this tragedy find peace, and may those who have been wounded find healing and reconciliation.

My name is Michelle Belanger, and I am the author of a number of books on the modern vampire community, including the best-selling "Psychic Vampire Codex" (Weiser, 2004). As a key member of the international vampire subculture, allow me to reassure my Canadian neighbors that our community is one that cherishes knowledge, beauty, and life. We are not individuals who engage in reckless violence, and we uphold strict rules within the community that discourage illegal behavior. Individuals who associate themselves with our community who nevertheless engage in destructive, violent acts are the equivalent of Christians who murder abortion doctors or Muslims who commit ritual suicide in market squares. They are people who have independently developed their own skewed interpretation of an otherwise positive ideal, and they independently act in a manner that sullies that ideal indelibly.

At the core of both the vampire and Goth communities is a love and reverence for life. If we romance death in poetry, art, and song, it is only in the tradition of the Romantic poets, acknowledging the brevity of life which therefore makes living all the more precious. The vast majority of vampires and Goths are pacifists. In many ways, we share the ideals of our parents' counter-culture, the Hippies. We've only traded peace symbols for ankhs and tie-dye for black velvet.

Within the vampire community we do have a warrior tradition, and yet even this is a peaceful tradition. Those in the vampire community who identify with the warrior archetype acknolwedge that they are capable of violence, as are all human beings. Their path encourages them to come to terms with this impulse and, rather than repressing it, find healthy outlets such as music, poetry, and art to sublimate anger, stress, or rage. This gives anger a healthy outlet, allowing a disciplined individual to turn a potentially destructive impulse into something creative and beautiful.

As "dark" subcultures, both the vampire and Gothic subcultures sometimes attract troubled, disaffected youth. You see this also with the heavy metal music community, and any group that has a counter-cultural undercurrent to its core beliefs and ideals. But it is our policy not to encourage the troubles of these individuals but to direct them toward help so they can work their issues out in a manner that is positive and healthy for all. Legitimate groups within the vampire community, such as my own House Kheperu, have strict rules of access so that no one is accepted as a member who is mentally or emotionally unbalanced. In addition, we support a set of behavioral guidelines known as the Black Veil. This set of guidelines is very specific on the point of illegal behavior in two of its seven tenets. The tenet of “Control” clearly states: “Do not allow your darkness to consume you... Always act with a mind toward safety... Be true to your nature, but never use it as an excuse to endanger those around you.” Likewise, “Behavior” is a simple rewording of the “Golden Rule:” “Do not allow others to abuse you, but also, do not selfishly abuse... Respect the rights of others and treat them as you would be treated.” The full seven tenets of the Black Veil can be found on numerous websites affiliated with the vampire community as well as in several books, including my own.

Once again, I offer my deepest condolences to those who have suffered in any way as a result of this attack, but I urge you to understand that an individual's actions are as result of his or her own choices and should not be used to damn a group. I ask you, please: before you judge the rest of us by association, find the seat of tolerance in your hearts and learn more about the groups that Kimveer Gill himself so grievously misunderstood.

--Michelle Belanger
michelle@michellebelanger.com
PO Box 1120
Brunswick, OH 44212

EDIT: Please feel free to circulate, link to, or reprint this letter. For questions or further statements, please feel free to contact me at the above addresses.

For those unaware of the Montreal tragedy, please consult the following:

Montreal Gunman Wrote of Death
Gunman's Blog Paints Dark Portrait
Twenty People Wounded
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