The media should worry less about Marilyn Manson and other musicians and
more about guns and international politics when trying to explain the
recent school shootings in Colorado, Rage Against the Machine guitarist
Tom Morello said during an online chat Monday night.
"Don't let the politicians scapegoat you or your music," Morello said.
He appeared on America Online with Hilary Rosen, chief executive officer of the record-industry trade group the Recording Industry Association of America, who encouraged music fans to "send a message to Congress" by e-mailing the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation committee (email@example.com).
The committee began a hearing in Washington Tuesday morning (May 4) on the effects of violence in music, movies, video games and other media on children.
The hearing is being run by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who denounced the music of Manson and Master P in a speech on the Senate floor following the April 20 shootings in Littleton, Colo., in which 14 students and a teacher were killed.
According to numerous media accounts, the two alleged killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were fans of Manson (born Brian Warner) and the German industrial band KMFDM. Protesters -- including Denver's mayor -- denounced Manson in several cities where he was scheduled to perform, and he cancelled the final five dates of a U.S. tour.
"Marilyn Manson is an easy target and scapegoat for politicians looking to score huge points," Morello said during the half-hour chat.
But what needs to be explored, Morello said, is "why ... America is more violent than other countries."
"It is not that our popular music is any more violent than, say, European
heavy metal," he said. "It is not that we have more violent video games
than say, Japan. ... What we do have a lot more of in America is inequality and guns."
Morello, who along with his bandmates has been outspoken on a variety of
political issues over the years, said the ongoing NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia sends a more dangerous message to children than any music does.
"If you want to talk about negative influence on young people, you need look no further than the U.S. government and Yugoslavia," he said. "[President] Clinton is clearly demonstrating that he believes the way to solve problems or disagreements is through overwhelming violence."
"It should be noted," Morello said, "that Eric Harris was very excited
about the war in Yugoslavia and had talked about signing up with the
Army." Harris tried to enlist in the Marine Corps but was rejected for
medical reasons five days before the shootings, Reuters has
Morello also accused the media of stressing Harris' and Klebold's musical tastes while ignoring their reported interest in Nazism.
"Music like goth or heavy metal, or rap, which speaks to people who feel alienated, and helps them feel like part of a community and makes sense of their world, is very positive," Morello said. "Whereas the Fascist leanings of these two young men are much clearer warning signs that something was very wrong."
Asked by the chat's moderator whether music's message is "all in the mind of the beholder or all in the ... music," Rosen said, "People definitely react to lyrics differently. But that is a far cry from whether they are reacting with their feelings or actions. There is a major difference."
Morello, who did almost all the talking during the chat, took only a couple of questions, and fan participation was minimal.
One participant, identified as DUDE8786, wrote, "Music has nothing to do with [violence]."
Another, JayB0269, interrupted the proceedings to write, "Metallica rulz yo."