Living Different Lead Him Six Feet Under

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate December 2001

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Imagine being repeatedly beaten with belts and chains until your body can no longer bare the pain, and blood begins to poor from your veins. Imagine being constantly harassed every time you step into public. People gocing at your appearance like a live freak show, and because of your image you would have to pay for it with your own life. Imagine the murderous villain that killed you walking away free. The cause of your death was simply because of the way you looked.

This is what happened to nineteen-year-old Brian Deneke. Brian died because of the way he chose to dress, and the way he lived his life. To his friends and relatives he was known as a "punk". Brian was a high school drop out, and spent most of his time at punk rock shows or booking bands to play by paying out of his own pocket. He dressed in a black leather jacket, spiked collars, and a green Mohawk.

To Brian this was his way of expressing himself, but to Dustin Camp this was a way to die.

Dustin Camp murdered Brian Deneke on the night of December 11, 1997. Dustin Camp was a popular straight A student, and was the captain of his high school football team. He dressed in button up shirts and kaki pants, in society and the "punks" terms he was known as a" prep". The preps and the punks were constant enemies. The preps didn't find the way the punks dressed acceptable in their society. It wasn't normal, and it wasn't like them. There were many times that Brian got jumped by the "preps" and was often rushed to the emergency room, because of how he looked. The punks knowing that they were literally risking there lives to dress how they wanted still did not matter, and went about their lives as usual. Though if a brawl came about they were ready to defend themselves.

Through out the day of Brian's murder, there were rumors of a fight against the punks and preps. The rumor soon became a reality. Brian and his friends were at a local IHOP, a usual hangout on there Friday nights. Not long after their arrival a brawl irrupted and eventually lead into the parking lot. The punks were unfairly out numbered and used only what they had to defend themselves, their spiked belts, and chains. As the fight was going on Dustin Camp was gunning at any punks he could find by driving his Cadillac at them, and the one he found was Brian Deneke. As Camp was flooring the gas pedal in an angry rage he said, "I'm a ninja in my caddie", and with no remorse or sorrow he plowed over Deneke. As Deneke's lifeless body fell to the hard, cold ground sounds of cheering irrupted from the preps. When there was no movement of the body reality took control, and the kids scattered, all of them but the punks who were now surrounding Brian's corps. One of the punks was Brian's older brother, who could do nothing but cradle his dead body in his arms.

Dustin Camp was put on trial for the murder of Brian Deneke. In the defense of Camp, image tactics were used against the punks. Camps lawyer stated that the punks were goons, freaks, and bad kids that were only about alcohol and drugs. This of course is only based on their appearance not from facts. Camp on the other hand was viewed as a clean-cut, smart, good kid that was only defending himself. Unfortunately this tactic worked. Camp was convicted of manslaughter not murder, and walked away with a sentence of probation and a $10,000 fine.

Brian's death was an outrage that left a huge impact on his family and friends. Brian died because of his external image, because he was different, but worst of all because he was himself. In the words of Martin Luther King, " I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I would hope that one day people will not judge others by the simple rags that clothe them, but by there own person that prevails in all of us.