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Defending Death Metal to the, um, Death?

January 12th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Loughner's "shrine"

Loughner's "shrine"

Random solicitations from blogs I’ve never heard of don’t usually end well, but I was glad that Beth Winegarner dropped me a line about her new blog Backwards Messages. It has a very specific raison d’blog, namely, it’s all about knocking down the preposterous arguments that people make about how heavy metal or the occult or Wicca drives people, particularly teens, to do insane things.

Her post yesterday looked at the Limbaugh-fueled hysteria surrounding the photo of Jared Lee Loughner’s creepy little garden display, shown here. It’s a poor attempt at an altar, if that’s what it is, says Winegarner. And it seems like she would know (she does say things like “Vodun-inspired paths”, whatever that may mean). But rather than diagnose the shrine, she has another legitimate question:

The larger question is: even if Loughner was exploring the occult, what does that have to do with his alleged shooting rampage? There is no known pagan or occult practice that calls for homicide in this manner (or most any manner). Does this scene tell us anything about Loughner as a person? Not really, unless being either a lazy occult dabbler or someone who makes Halloween decorations and then doesn’t clean them up afterwards really says anything. The most we can say about the “twisted shrine” is that it adds to Loughner’s emerging image as an aimless young man. Having a skull and some candles doesn’t make him any more evil, or any more capable of mass murder, than Martha Stewart or even Alice Cooper.

I’m not big into the occult, or Wiccans, or D&D, or even vegans, personally. But in terms of deleterious effects on our youth, I’d put it below almost every one of the major religions. And as far as music goes, anyone who ever introduced an album as evidence for the prosecution should serve a term in hell listening to Pat Boone for eternity. If you need proof that it’s a good cause, knocking down accusations of Satanism and Ozzy Osbournism, just check out the remarkable documentary Paradise Lost about the terrifying trial of three outcast teens accused of a Satanic triple murder in West Memphis.

So nice job Beth. You’re doing the Lord’s work. Or the devil’s, depending on your point of view.

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