This past weekend at the Gathering of the Juggalos, there was much merriment. There was Faygo, facepaint, and exposed breasts as far as the eye could see. But there was also something more serious afoot in the form of a strange but true announcement: the FBI has classified juggalos as a criminal gang, and Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are not going to take it lying down.
“Let’s get this straight,” Violent J told Vice, ”A Juggalo is not a gang member. Consider a Juggalo that, 15 years ago, got a hatchet man tattoo or something. Now they’ve got a family, they’re working in real estate or something, and they’re driving home and get a speeding ticket. Next thing you know, he’s in the gang file, and that will be taken into consideration in any trial. Suddenly, it ain’t just somebody who fucked up, it’s a gang member that fucked up, and they’re getting a heavier sentence.”
Violent J has a point! No matter what you think of the juggalos, to classify someone as a “gang member” just because they listen to Insane Clown Posse is like kicking kids out of school for listening to Marilyn Manson. Fucking ridiculous. To classify “fans of band X” up there with the Bloods, the Crips, and the neo-Nazis is a glaring error at worst, and de facto censorship at best. They might look frightening, but the only thing ICP fans have ever been guilty of murdering is good taste.
It might seem odd for ICP to go the legal route here, but they say it’s an effort to stand up for the fans that made them famous, an ethos I’ve always admired about ICP. “There is no possibility of not seeing this through,” Violent J told The Village Voice in a wide-ranging interview covering the situation’s implications for ICP’s merch sales, record label, and last but not least, their children. “We’re here to do this. We’re here to fucking survive. We’re here to fucking live and do another 20 years. Most importantly, to at least let the Juggalos know we care. That we said something about it.”
ICP has set up a website called Juggalos Fight Back to call attention to their legal effort. Considering how broadly freedom of speech affects musicians, I expect some strange bedfellows may join in the fight.
(Via The New York Times)