Part Seventeen: The Degenerate

I was 16 when I met a man who was to become like a persistent virus in my life, destined to come and go repeatedly without any real way of predicting his arrival or the form his departure would take. I was hanging out at a local counterculture establishment known as The Atomic Cafe in downtown Rapid City when I first encountered this individual. He and two friends had made their way to the area only recently from somewhere I can no longer recall, and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time otherwise I might have avoided meeting them…and my life would have been a far less interesting landscape.

I got a bad feeling about him the moment I saw him walking down the alley towards where my friends and I were hanging out and smoking. It’s difficult to explain, but it felt like I knew him already, even though he had never visited South Dakota in the past…I knew that no good would come of his being there, as if I had caught a momentary glimpse of the future that was ahead of us. It’s funny to me that I dismissed that intuition, because I have never been so perfectly on the mark before or since.

I should tell you a bit more about him, before I get going on our numerous interactions with one another.

It wasn’t too long after first meeting him when he was arrested for public intoxication, which led to him being in jail for resisting arrest and assault. The police picked him up drunk and disorderly and placed him in the back of a cruiser only to have him roll onto his back and kick the window repeatedly until it shattered. He continued fighting, handcuffed, until they placed him into a second car where he immediately began kicking that window as well.

He was removed from the car and forced onto the ground where some of the broken safety glass ended up lodging itself into his jaw, leaving him with a scar that he will likely carry with him as a reminder for the rest of his life. They did finally get him under control and escorted to the jail and he remained there for the next month or so before being hauled off to a treatment facility an hour or so away. I just wanted to share that little bit of his story with you so that I could adequately set the stage, because this man was a real piece of work.

Even though I had only met him a few times and spent small amounts of time with him since he had arrived in town a couple of weeks prior to the incident, he ended up placing me on his visitation list and requested that his friends ask me to come and see him in jail. Against all better judgment, I did indeed visit him quite a few times while he was locked up…to this day I have no idea why.

During the time that he was locked away his two friends left the state, returning to whatever corner of hell they crawled up from, which led to him having no one else to keep him company but the mother of my oldest children, my best friend at the time, and I.

We also visited him while he was in treatment during one of the days when he had a pass. We took him out to lunch, drove around for a while so that he could feel like he had a little bit of clear air, and I even gave him a Christian Death live cassette that I had in the car so that he had something to listen to while he was finishing out his stint in treatment.

After he was released he began a relationship with a friend of mine from Sturgis, and I still feel bad about introducing the two of them, though they did end up producing a pretty adorable daughter who will hopefully turn out to be a more worthwhile human being than either of her parents have managed to.

One night, after my oldest daughter was born, they were visiting us and he ended up downstairs getting drunk with my neighbors in the apartment directly below our own. During that time his significant other was in our apartment spending some time with my daughter’s mother and I. It was a nice night until he inevitably came upstairs, heavily intoxicated and apparently feeling hostile because he started in on his girlfriend almost immediately after coming through the door about the gambling problem she apparently had. We will side step the obvious hypocrisy of the alcoholic tearing into the gambler about the shortcomings associated with their addiction in the living room of their friends’ apartment…no one ever said that he exercised much by way of self-awareness or common sense.

I had to repeatedly ask him to keep his voice down because our daughter was asleep in her crib on the other side of the wall from where he was raising his ruckus. He would apologize, lower his voice, and shortly thereafter begin to increase the amplitude all over again…another example of the long term memory skills of a drunk.

Finally I got tired of the noise and the accumulation of recriminations between the two of them. I reached over to him, grabbed both sides of his face to turn him so that he was facing me, and told him to shut the fuck up. That was when the degenerate bit into the meat of my right thumb and clamped down as hard as he could.

I let go of his head, jerked my injured hand away from his mouth, and lunged at him…throwing him across the few feet into the corner of the room. I attempted to restrain him while displaying remarkable self control under the circumstances, until he lodged his teeth into the nearest part of my body again, which happened to be my inner thigh this time. Even with jeans on, I later discovered that I had an almost perfect dental imprint of punctures in my leg. The bastard had some sharp fucking teeth and impressive jaw strength, I have to give him that. The scar has long since faded, thankfully.

I got him loose from my thigh, dragged him into the middle of the room where I could actually maneuver, and somehow managed to successfully restrain him on the floor with only a small amount of unnecessary violence directed his way.

It was around this time when the neighbors from downstairs came up to find out what the noise was all about. Seeing the guy who was recently drinking with them pinned to the floor and thrashing around like a fucking madman, they thought it was an excellent opportunity to begin kicking him while he was down. I enjoyed watching it and let it happen for a little while before asking someone if they could just call the cops so that I could get the piece of shit out of my home.

The police did show up and he was arrested…and, as anyone who has dealt with abusive relationships can guess, it seems only typical that he and his girlfriend remained together even after all of that. They were such a perfect fit for each other that she was actually upset with my ex and I for having him arrested.

This marked the first interval of peace and quiet while he was out of my life. Like all good things though, this was destined to come to an end.

He and his girlfriend popped back into our lives a while later, something like six months down the road, and there seemed to be no hard feelings. This was, of course, illusory.

One night my ex and I arranged for a babysitter so that we could visit them at their trailer in Sturgis, after being invited to show up at any time. There had been a little get together taking place that night but things had already wound down before we arrived. The degenerate and his girlfriend were in bed and my best friend at the time was passed out drunk in the guest bedroom. I decided to wake my friend up, making a nuisance of myself in order to do so. This apparently pissed off the degenerate and he began screaming at me from his bedroom.

We yelled back and forth for a bit before my ex and I decided to just return home.

Apparently we overstayed our welcome by just a second or two too much, as a large glass ashtray came flying down the hallway, almost hitting my ex in the head as it crashed into the wall next to her right where we were standing as we were about to exit the trailer.

We weren’t oblivious and we took the hint. We rushed outside, followed by the degenerate with a small crossbow in his hands. The crossbow was not the hollow threat that it might have been in anyone else’s hands, and he fired a bolt at us, hitting the ground nearby a little too close for comfort.

As we were trying to get into the car so that we could get the fuck out of there he approached the driver’s side, making it impossible for the mother of my children to get into the car and behind the wheel so that we could leave. I ran around the front of the car to draw him away from her and we ended up wrestling in the gravel of the alleyway.

The noise and activity woke up my drunk friend and he decided that he needed to get the hell out of there before the police showed up, being a minor at the time and clearly under the influence, this wasn’t the worst decision he could make (aside from the driving away element of his plan). As my friend was climbing behind the wheel of his 70s model Monte Carlo I yelled for him to pull forward while maneuvering the degenerate’s head so that it was wedged tightly against the front driver’s side tire and the gravel surface beneath it.

There was no hesitation on my part. I was fully prepared to kill that man with the unwitting assistance of my friend in his car. I was an angry young man still, the damage in me was clearly quite present, and my impulse control was not the best (it’s not so great at the best of times). I suppose that I should be thankful that my friend reversed from where he was parked rather than pulling forward as I had asked him to, but some part of me still feels that I would have been doing the world a huge favor by insuring the degenerate was out of the picture for good, his skull pulverized by the weight of the car.

I was charged for disorderly conduct for my part in the events of that night. The degenerate’s girlfriend had called the cops right after we left, fabricating some bullshit version of events which negated any part that the degenerate had played in order to try and have assault charges pressed against me. I was 19 and this was the first charge on my adult criminal record (though it would not be the last), I plead guilty to the disorderly conduct charge without any attempt to fight it.

One would think that the story might end here, but that would only be true if my life was the sort of thing that makes sense. He was out of my life for a few years after that, but not for good by any stretch of the imagination. I think I knew that he would show up again (and again, and again), there was just something about him that kept on drawing him back to me again, or maybe it’s something about me. Sheer morbid curiosity always motivated me to welcome him back, fully aware of the poor judgment involved in that decision…always operating under the assumption from that point on that I was going to end up having to kill him sooner or later.

Don’t worry, I will tell you more about him later on…also, he is still alive. I haven’t killed him yet.


Insane Clown Posse: The Idiocy Continues

The following is a transcript of a conversation that my friends and I had regarding the news that Insane Clown Posse (ICP) is filing suit for the labeling of their fans (otherwise known as juggalos) as a dangerous gang by the FBI and Department of Justice. I felt that the conversation was worth sharing and that it might merit some thoughts from those few of you who happen to follow this blog. Only the first names of the parties involved will be shared, because I’m not a total asshole…and I will make attempts to correct spelling and occasional grammatical errors where I happen to notice them (in addition to removing most, if not all, instances of “lol” and emoticons, while rearranging some elements to make things a touch more linear). I’m far too lazy to properly edit the whole thing though, so you can take a flying leap if you expect that much of me. Also, as a warning, we do happen to get a little off topic at points…but I opted to retain those elements by virtue of the fact that they provide a fairly honest impression of what its like to be involved in a conversation with my friends and I.

My first thoughts upon reading the article on Al Jazeera was to be appalled, not that the classification was extant but that this insipid lawsuit was actually happening. According to the same rationale here, shouldn’t Marilyn Manson have been suing the FBI and other law enforcement agencies because of the way he was dragged into the midst of the Columbine aftermath? Goths and all sorts of associated people were being labelled as dangerous criminals by law enforcement all over the nation…because those dumb shit kids happened to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson and KMFDM (neither of which happen to be goth bands, I might add). I think ICP are just a bunch of fucking crybaby pieces of shit.

Ryan: I’m not sure what they expected. They pretty much set up all of the characteristics for juggalos to conform to. It is sorta bullshit, but I never understood what was to be gained by that culture anyway.

Daniel: Well because as much as I don’t care for Manson, he is measurable more intelligent than ICP and every juggalo combined, that is why he wouldn’t have sued.

Me: It’s calling a spade a spade…they behave like a gang, referring to one another as family even if they don’t actually know one another or if they are total pieces of shit (just because they have a certain taste and style, which is essentially no different from colors associated with one gang or another), and most of them I have known are jobless criminals and junkies anyhow. Of course they won’t get hired showing up somewhere with fucking clown makeup on (which I would not be surprised is the case where the references in this article is concerned)…I was never stupid enough to wear makeup to a job interview for a reason…because I actually wanted a job. Hell, the vast majority of juggalos that I’ve met are borderline retarded, semi-literate, and irresponsible…of course they aren’t getting jobs outside of fast food chains. There are, of course, exceptions…but of the literally hundreds of juggalos I have met…they constitute fewer than I can count on my fingers.

Ryan: It’s ironic that they blame that for not being able to get a job. Yeah, that’s why.

Me: Yeah, it couldn’t conceivably be that they are unemployable morons with shitty work history, no marketable skills, and poor attitudes…I imagine that them being juggalos was never a factor at all…and that the employers in question had literally no idea of any ICP association. I can’t say that for certain…but how fucking likely is it that the potential employer(s) refused to hire these jackasses because of anything to do with ICP rather than things that would have led them not to hire anyone else without the same associations under the same circumstances?

Daniel: Exactly, Nik. when 95 percent of your audience wouldn’t drop any IQ points from free basing bleach that is sad.

Ryan: “I wore juggalo makeup to my job interview and they didn’t hire me. Fucking FBI.”

Me: “I have a hatchet man tattoo on my cheek and this law firm won’t hire me as a secretary…this is violation of my free speech!”

Me: The ACLU should know better anyhow…bringing up the issue of businesses not hiring juggalos is as stupid as arguing about free speech where Phil Robertson was concerned. Free speech has literally no relevance in that situation…or really in the FBI labeling the fans as criminals…it isn’t a violation of first amendment rights at all.

Ryan: The FBI labeling them as criminals is a constitutional violation. Not of the first amendment, but of others with regard to due process and the like. This sort of federal profiling is bullshit, but I don’t actually believe that’s actually what’s affecting them. I just think it’s a stupid waste of time and resources to put toward treating them as a criminal enterprise as opposed to the inscrutable mob of idiots they are.

Me: Well, the article makes it pretty plain that they are trying to treat it as a first amendment violation…which should get laughed out of court. The employability part really pisses me off. I have enough sense to even take my facial jewelry out for job interviews and leave it that way until I have tested the water and determined whether it will fly. That’s just common sense…you don’t show up with an attitude and there is no reason why you would share your musical taste or group affiliations (unless relevant somehow) when interviewing. There are no reasons a potential employer would know a damn thing about ICP associations if you are applying and interviewing in a way that would actually get you a job anyhow.

Ryan: Do you think they label bronies as a gang? I mean, it’s equally unthinking, and quite a bit more creepy. But it’s culturally innocent. Of course, there aren’t nearly as many bronies as there are juggalos, but give it time. Actually, I bet there’s some membership crossover there.

Me: The elusive brugalloni…I have searched for years to discover one in its natural habitat.

Kristin: Ok I changed my mind. THIS conversation has made my night! I would contribute but enjoying the read too much. Bravo! And I know some brownies. Ugh. And one thinks he is David Tennant I think he should don the grease paint first.

Me: Your auto correct changed bronies to brownies I think…lunless you are trying to discuss a transgender pre-girl scout.

Kristin: Bronies. However, I know brownies too.

Ryan: Brownies are tasty.

Me: I have known some brownies in my day as well…though I haven’t seen any little girls wearing brownie uniforms or anything in a long time…do they even still exist?

Ryan: Girl scouts do. I still see them peddling cookies here and there. I don’t know if they still use the term “brownies” or not, though.

Kristin: Fortunately none of the brownies I knew chose to take cartoons or face paint to a sub level of thought. Go Brownies!

Me: Not that you know…

Ryan: All of the brownies I know are a few inches tall and like to think those cute little arrows will prevent me from putting them in my stew.

Me: Fucking fae bastards…flittering all about…this way and that. I can’t go ten feet without stepping on one.

Kristin: And I’m ok with that! It might be in the brugalloni handbook…

Me: Not yet it isn’t…but I will be sure to at least include a footnote before I send it off for publication.

Ryan: I’m seriously considering wearing a torn blue shirt and bringing a chainsaw and shotgun to my next job interview. Free speech, screwheads.

Me: That is a brilliant idea…and I may follow suit. I want to burn some bridges. I’ll show up with a hot pink wig (poorly placed upon my head so as to allow my real hair to protrude at various points), a glittery tube top, and pajama pants tucked into knee-high stormtrooper boots…with garish red lipstick smeared all over my face and a crack pipe tucked visibly into my waistband.

Ryan: Fuck it. I’ve changed my mind. If they set a precedent for the juggalos, it’ll be a boon to cosplayers everywhere. We’ll see Deadpool and Batman driving cabs and Sailor Moon and Darth Vader handing out Big Macs at McDonald’s. We’ll have steampunk law firms and gothic school administrations. Cats and dogs, living together. The perfect world, I say.

Me: We will become the most ridiculous culture ever imagined…and we can all be free to let our freak flags fly.

Ryan: And you’ll know a creep when you see one. He’ll wear that shit like a badge. It’ll be the 48-year-old balding wad of cellulite wearing a poorly made and very stretched Rainbow Brite costume.

Me: Fuck you, Ryan. That was my plan…I am that man.

Todd: Thank you guys, this was most entertaining! I couldn’t agree more.

Me: You’re welcome, Todd. I think we’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

Todd: Except for the Bronies part, I have a documentary on that subject saved on Netflix. Have to wait to form an opinion on them until after I watch it.

Me: I have a difficult time comprehending the bronies who are simply guys who enjoy My Little Pony…but the ones involved in the erotic aspect of bronie culture sort of creep me out.

Todd: No more creepy than making being a fan of a shitty rap duo that wears clown make up into a “lifestyle.” I also thought that when Vanilla Ice became a Juggalo that it would have killed the movement.

Me: He didn’t kill the home renovation industry…so it doesn’t surprise me.

Todd: I wonder if ICP had a “blood in, blood out” policy when he changed careers?

Me: I don’t see how they can reverse the lobotomies that are a customary ritual for becoming a juggalo…but maybe there was a “blood out” characteristic that I can’t conceive of.

Ryan: They could give him a second head, and make him president.

Me: They most certainly could not…he’s no Zaphod.

Ryan: Beeblebrox, Beeblebrox, Baby. Stop! Slartibartfasttime.

Me: That was just awful! But I quite sincerely chuckled.

Ryan: MC Slartibartfast needs to be a thing. Douglas Adams inspired raps would make me one very happy geek.

Johnny: I disagree. Although the bands that you mentioned did in fact have their name dragged through the mud. “Juggalos” are in a different category. They have actually been classified by the federal government as a national gang threat. Just like the bloods and the crips. Say what you want about their music; the federal gang classification of their fans is wrong.

Me: Regardless of how wrong it might be…it isn’t a violation of first amendment rights by any stretch of the imagination and there is no place for ICP to be involved in any manner of lawsuit.
I don’t agree with the classification per se, solely because I disagree with the language in the definition that is used to categorize a group as being a violent gang…but there are correlations that do apply when we utilize the definition of gang that is in place where the Department of Justice is concerned. The prevalence within the juggalo culture of drug use and testosterone fueled aggression does qualify it as having “in part” a purpose of criminal activity and intimidation (which is all that’s required for the criminal aspect of a gang to be applied).
Sadly, they do fall fairly well into the classification of a violent gang in more respects than they don’t. Sure, not all of them are violent or prone to criminal behavior…but the same is true about Bloods or Crips, as there are numerous members who are only affiliated out of a sense of belonging and family rather than criminal enterprise.

Ryan: Statistically, if there’s a greater incidence of criminal activity among juggalos than the population at large, which I suspect is the case because drugs, then they have a foundation for that classification. I disagree with it, but I also disagree with the War on Drugs. But none of that would change the fact, if it is the case.

Me: Besides, though the FBI didn’t officially make a classification…law enforcement agencies in numerous states including Colorado and Utah did classify goths as being the same sort of loosely organized hybrid gang that juggalos are being categorized as being by the FBI as of 2011.
Similarly, schools around the country (since Columbine) have put dress codes in place that were intended to stem the goth appearance and style since that same event.
Hell, prior to that (by a few years) I was kicked out of school for nothing more than wearing black eyeliner and lipstick and black skirts. I took my complaint to the superintendent and my concerns were summarily dismissed at that level too. Hell, Joel and I, along with other friends were temporarily monitored by local police because of that whole goth thing…and concern that it was a new sort of gang that was active in the region.

Ryan: I remember that shit. Also, this is nothing to the 90s era law enforcement overreaction to gang scare.

Me: Police (including the FBI) see a pattern within a certain subcultural group that trends towards criminal or antisocial behavior (antisocial in the sense that this behavior runs contrary to the societal status quo) combined with easily identifiable signs and outward expressions of “membership” such as the face painting, tattoos, and hatchet symbols…and they would be remiss not to pursue some manner of investigation into the situation. That is what they are supposed to be doing…anticipating potential threats in order to prevent crime…not just to clean up after it has been committed.

Ryan: 33,000. Thirty-three thousand gangs in the FBI database.

Me: 33,000…damn. The fact that it includes organized crime and motorcycle gangs really doesn’t help to make that number any easier to swallow.

Andy: I agree that other sub cultures have been drug through the mud, when shit goes down. My issue with the gang classification is that people are being targeted as gang affiliated, just for being a fan of some music others can’t stand. Discriminating against a person because their choice in music sucks is where this lies.
Dubstep, Bieber, and Miley suck as well, but we don’t do the same shit to people who like them as they do ICP. I’ve heard of instant disqualification from going to Job Corps, students being forced to leave in the middle of their education because of this affiliation. It is because of their tattoos, not because they dress like the clowns, which is what everyone believes all juggalos do at all times. Eye roll.
It’s like not hiring any black people because the blood and Crips are predominantly black. Or latino because they are surenos. Or I’m going bald, so I must be Aryan race.
If nautical stars tattoos, facial piercings, or Skinny Puppy became known gang symbols, and normal people like you, or Chandra were fired for those, never to be rehired based on those….isn’t this the same?
I recall when you fought tooth and nail, against a news job, for your right to keep your piercings. Going so far as to join the religion of body mods, Hilarious. And also, kind of the same.
Now, other hand. There is a juggalo gang. They do very bad shit, and the FBI isn’t targeting good people for liking scummy music. They are trying to eliminate a problem, and save people’s lives.
I don’t know. This is such a touchy subject.

Me: That’s the problem…ultimately…that there are groups within the juggalo culture that are organized into criminal elements. It has nothing to do with the music at all, simply the self-identification that is correlated with these criminal groups. I could have a blue bandanna on in the wrong place at the wrong time and would automatically be treated as a gang member as well (regardless of the fact that I just happen to like the color blue). That’s why I said that ICP has no place being involved in any sort of lawsuit, because this has nothing to do with first amendment rights and almost nothing to do with the music as well.
This has no more to do with ICP than those assholes in Columbine had anything to do with the music they listened to. The suit is my problem…and ICP being involved in this idiotic suit screams nothing but publicity stunt and a pathetic ploy for sympathy and relevance outside of the juggalo culture that already enjoys them.
I wasn’t upset about police following Joel, Nick, and I around (sometimes with cameras)…I thought it was funny, but not upsetting. At worst, it was a waste of police resources that could better be distributed elsewhere…but they didn’t know that…and I can’t fault them for what they had no reason to know.
I almost got fired from a job simply because a co-worker took exception to something that had nothing at all to do with my job…and it damn well upset me. But I put forth a reasonable argument against that bullshit and hoped that it would make a difference…sadly, it made only minimal difference and I was still left feeling like I had been punished. You win some and you lose some though.
Let’s say I had some manner of Nazi tattoo on my body somewhere (pick one; the SS symbol, the swastika, or the iron cross)…it would be entirely justifiable for me to be fired or denied a job even if I had no affiliation with any neo Nazi or KKK-based organizations. Personal expression is great, but there can be consequences depending on the form that expression happens to take. That is what personal liberty and freedom of speech and expression is all about…we have the right to do these things but people and organizations have the right to castigate us for them. Admittedly, I think ICP produces little more than the aural equivalent of toilet leavings…though some of the early material was at least entertainingly stupid instead of just stupid stupid as it became after a few albums had been released.
I feel the same way about Marilyn Manson…though I happen to enjoy more of that material than what ICP released.
That personal taste has very little to do with my disdain regarding this nonsense lawsuit though. I loathe these flimsy and transparent publicity stunts…getting idiots riled up in defense of the indefensibly stupid.

Ryan: It actually worries me how many people misinterpret the 1st amendment to mean their expression is immune to criticism or judgement. That’s actually the fucking opposite of what it does. It allows you to voice your bullshit specifically in order for the rest of us to rip it apart and exclude you from our activities.

Me: Exactly. I can’t comprehend how the ACLU has gotten involved in this…they, of all people, should know better.

Ryan: Every lawyer in the ACLU thinks they’re David Goldberger. One of my favorite ironies is that men like him took the “never forget” idiom to heart. He defended their march not because he agreed with them, but because he knows that it’s important for people to have the opportunity to learn about them. That way they can remember why they disagree with them. I suppose that reference is a little obscure. There’s probably Google on the device anyone’s reading this on. Google David Goldberger Skokie.

Me: It’s funny…I just started thinking about how I first heard of Insane Clown Posse, as I was about ready to fall asleep. It was while I was hanging out at The Atomic Cafe that my friend Charles introduced me to ICP when I was a teenager. I can’t hold it against him though, since he also really helped to increase my appreciation of Tom Waits as well. The good definitely outweighs the bad there.
Char was actually a pretty profound influence on me during my early and mid-teens…one of the first people that I ran into in that whole crowd that I actually looked up to. It’s funny the way nostalgia can hit someone out of seemingly nowhere.

Charles: Ha, yeah…not one of my finer moments. Actually, for what it was Riddlebox wasn’t that bad of an album. The problem was that the group and the fan base both became incrementally worse. Glad to know that my influence was at least cumulatively positive.

Me: Damn right it was, Char…no concerns there.

Bob: Inductively Coupled Plasma needs more Faygo
is something I dearly hope to see someday in a fab meeting.

Me: Good lord, Bob…if I had been drinking that would have led to a spit take.

Carl: The first amendment doesn’t protect you from the public, but it does protect you from the government, which the FBI is an agency of. In this case I think it does apply. Also we have the freedom of association and assembly, and the right to fair trial (to be considered innocent until proven guilty). I don’t think the FBI is wrong for keeping an eye on the criminal elements within the culture, but I think that painting the whole culture as a violent criminal gang is lazy police work. The closest analogy I can draw, currently, would be considering all Harley Davidson riders members of the Biker Gang because the outlaw biker gangs recruit from bikers who ride American motorcycles.
I’m on ICP’s side with this, kind of. Mostly because for the most part I see the large part (but not everyone bell curves, people, bell curves) of juggalos as developmentally disabled and mentally infirm. Put less politely, the cops are picking on the borderline retarded kids. I also think that the culture is more cult-like than gang like, but those edges are definitely blurred. From my perspective, it’s a big ridiculous rock and roll cult not unlike the deadheads (who had PLENTY of criminal elements as well) that attracts, nay, courts the left hand of western society’s bell curve.
I’ll also admit that I like ICP (and have never denied it) but I’m frequently annoyed by juggalos. The kitschy ridiculous concept and ‘lets be as gross as possible’ lyrics are fun. I also like circus/carnival paraphernalia and dead baby jokes, so my tastes lay in that gutter anyway; I don’t advocate them as a group everyone should/could appreciate.

Me: I stand by my statement that ICP doesn’t have a leg to stand on where any sort of first amendment violation is concerned…no one, not the FBI nor the DOJ is infringing in any way on their rights as “artists” or anything of the sort. The worst thing the FBI (and DOJ) is doing is to classify members of that whole juggalo collective as being potential members of a potentially violent criminal element.
I totally concur that they behave far more like a cult than a gang though…the mentality is certainly more in line with that sort of activity…which would also end up meriting the same sort of scrutiny from law enforcement agencies. And a cult that capitalizes on the disenfranchised mentally challenged elements within our society is definitely something we should watch with caution…much like Westboro Baptist. Law enforcement agencies pretty carefully monitored deadheads as well…which led to probably no small number of drug trafficking and distribution busts along with quite likely a good many prostitution and solicitation arrests. I may disagree with the laws that police would have been upholding by completing those arrests (since I am pro-legalization or decriminalization of most illicit substances as well as prostitution)…but I can’t hold that against them.

Carl: With that pro-legalize consensual entertainment stance, consider that if I lend someone an ICP CD I could, pedantically, be guilty of criminal gang recruitment charges. (Not withstanding the foreseen tongue in cheek assertion that loaning someone an ICP CD should in itself be a crime)

Ryan: I’m actually not sure what the criteria is for the FBI to designate ganghood. (Lol I just noticed this story is on CNN as I type this). But judging from the wide variety of organized criminal gangs, I imagine it’s a pretty loose classification. It has to include inner city street gangs, motorcycle gangs (while taking into account that they are nothing like they were in the 60s), organized crime syndicates, and regional delicacies.
There is one thing we can all agree on, though. Dennis Rodman is a douchebag.

AJ: I have a feeling that this song is going to hurt their case…

“Do you wear a hatchetman?
Then yo in a gang, and yo ass better be ready to do that thang.
You rep tha JRB and you will never snitch.
(JRB?) Juggalo Rydas Bitch!
Did you beat your girlfriends who dissed your boys?
Did your crew’s name originate in Illinois?
Do you cross your enemies out with a “K?”
Then yo gang related too muthafucka, like Violent J.”
…that part’s gonna hurt their testimony.

Me: Yeah, whether it was written as a joke or not…it does predate the FBI classification by quite a number of years…this is one of those things that could very well come back to bite them in the massive asses that they happen to bear.

Ryan: That’s pretty damning. I’m pretty sure it’s inadmissible under the fifth if they are facing criminal accusation, but in the process of suing over gang classification at the very least they’ll look like complete idiots.

Me: I don’t know that the fifth applies to publicly made statements…

Ryan: It does. It applies to all self-incriminating statements that aren’t made in either an interrogation setting or under oath. But it also only applies if there are real criminal allegations, I think.

Me: I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the fuck they think they’re trying to do with this lawsuit bullshit. No government agency has violated any of the rights of the individuals that are part of ICP regarding any aspect of the first amendment…nor has there apparently been any sort of interference with the production team behind or distribution of their releases. They have no place in this at all…and it genuinely isn’t a violation of the juggalo civil rights to classify them as being a potential gang threat either. The police aren’t out rounding them up or anything like they have done with actual street gang members at different points.

Johnny: Because official gang designation by the US government makes having any ICP logo, tattoo, t-shirt, etc. flying gang colors. Which by itself is probable cause to stop and frisk in many states. Easily identifiable 1st amendment violation. I like ICP. But even if I hated them I would still be on their side in this issue. Because it sets precedent. Who is to say they DON’T give Marilyn Manson or any other bands fans official gang designation if this holds up?

Ryan: I don’t know. I think there’s a divide in the determination of our rights ideally and how they work in the real world. I blame movies and tv. Using the 5th as an example, tv and movie cops are guilty of coercing self-incrimination all the fucking time. You can’t just trick someone into a recorded or broadcast confession and then expect that to stand as evidence in a courtroom. The reason we have Miranda rights at all is so that we are aware we’re being interrogated when we are. Tv gets that wrong too, lol. They can totally arrest you without reading them, they just aren’t supposed to use anything you say as evidence until you hear them.
Gang classification can be bullshit. Law enforcement will use it as probable cause for warrants and other nonsense, so juggalos themselves may be able to sue if in fact that is happening and those warrants turn up nothing incriminating. But ICP themselves aren’t being hurt at all by it. It actually conforms to the public image they themselves built.
I don’t know how it’ll go down. But fuck juggalos. The NDAA is the real threat to those rights.

Me: Who gives a shit about being stopped and frisked anyhow? If you don’t have anything illegal on your person it doesn’t do anything but take up a few minutes of your day…assuming you don’t cop a stupid anti-authority attitude and make the situation worse…which, judging from the juggalos I know, is likely to happen…but that is their own damn fault. Police have a wide variety of things that fall into the categories required to justify stopping and searching people already…who gives a shit if we add a few more. Hell, just like the TSA, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we reach a point where the police are able to randomly select citizens to stop and search…and unless I happen to be in a hurry to get somewhere it is only a minor inconvenience to me. This is still a massive improvement over random stops, at least it is directed (and in a sensible manner), since there is a proportionately high number of juggalos who are involved in criminal activity…which was what led to the classification in the first place. Regarding wearing a specific brand or logo as identification with a gang, that has already been happening…there are places where the logos of certain sports franchises are associated with gang activity and you can be stopped and searched for that. I can’t say that I have ever heard of an instance where one of those franchises has gotten the ACLU involved because of it.
This is literally no different…the ICP logo or brand affiliation being cause for stop/search activity from the police is not even a step removed from the same thing happening because of a team logo or brand affiliation.

Ryan: I don’t want to be stopped and frisked. And I am adamantly opposed to stop-and-frisk policies the likes of which make NYC such a fucked up place right now, especially involving racial profiling. Juggalos probably shouldn’t be stopped for that reason alone. But if they are, they should sue, and for the proper search and seizure rights violations that would apply. And that’s not to say that they would be successful in that lawsuit. But it would certainly apply more closely to any real rights violations.

Me: I don’t relish the thought of being stopped and frisked for any reason…least of all a piece of clothing I happen to be wearing or a tattoo I have (we’ll ignore how fucking stupid I think it is to get a band’s logo as a tattoo, my friends know my thoughts on that already)…but I sure as shit won’t cry about it or feel litigious. It’s far too easy to argue probable cause on the part of the police, and I really couldn’t give much of a shit. If I happened to be arrested due to that stop and frisk, it would be my own fault anyhow…you know, for having been clearly guilty of commission of some sort of criminal activity. But no…of course…it would be the cop’s fault for searching me, not for me having something illegal on my person. We have almost no sense of accountability as a society…and I have already heard those arguments from I don’t even want to think of how many people…it was the cop’s fault…it was the fault of the person who called the police…it’s never their own fault for being involved in illegal activities.

Johnny: Yeah because none of us has ever had anything illegal in our pocket…I am afraid to be stopped and frisked. What team?

Me: Almost every major athletic franchise has a gang with association to their logo…the Folk Nation and Bloods are the most notable, using everything from Chicago Bulls to Oakland Raiders insignia and apparel…but even less well-known gangs like the Vice Lords and Black Disciples utilize athletic team logos as gang identification symbols. That sort of gang self-identification has been in practice for decades…and has led to individuals being stopped and searched due to falling into a specific demographic while wearing something with the brand in question. Of course I have had plenty of occasions where there was something illegal in my pocket…though I can say that it has probably been a solid decade since that was the case. But if I had gotten stopped and frisked for something and been caught, the last person I would have the right to be upset with would be the cop who was doing his/her job.

Kristin: I totally went to bed at the wrong time last night! Nikolas, you should print this and collage it or something!

And this is where we find ourselves now. I have just gone through the painfully tedious process of transcribing everything here with minor bits of editing to make it more readable. I hope that you enjoy.