Corporate Media Spin: 'Juggalo' stigma taints double stabbing

Around 6:00 p.m., MST, on Monday, May 31, two people were stabbed outside Wendy's on Colfax Ave. and Emerson Street in Denver, Colorado.

The two victims were on their way to attend the Insane Clown Posse (I.C.P.) concert at the Fillmore Auditorium next door, at Colfax and Clarkson, when a fight broke out that ended with two people stabbed and one person fleeing the seen, who was later taken into custody by Denver Police. The witnesses, a group of young women, adolescent ages, who were not attending the concert but came downtown to look at the many artistic face-paint designs displayed traditionally now by fans of I.C.P., often known as "Juggalos" and "Jugalettes." They explained that two men started yelling at one another, then some unidentified person hit another person with a rock over the head just shortly before a man pulled out a knife and stabbed another man. Then, according to local corporate media reports, the person attempted to flee the seen and was chased by another man, presumably a friend or acquaintance of the first victim. The alleged perpetrator then stabbed this individual as well. The young women began explaining that I.C.P. fans are "not peaceful people." They speculated the stabbing was part of some kind of "I.C.P. gang" issue, however, another man who was not only a witness but allegedly spoke to the victims' friends, when I asked the young women to elaborate, the man interrupted and explained that the incident had absolutely nothing to do with 'Juggalos' per se. He explained that the fight that broke out was actually a domestic dispute - two men fighting over a woman with whom they both allegedly had relations. This, naturally, would therefore have nothing to do with the band I.C.P., a very controversial hip hop group whose fans have been tagged as gang members and placed on gang lists by police around the United States. 

It is all too often that 'Juggalos' and 'Juggalettes' are depicted as pugnacious and violent people, however anecdotally I have seen little evidence of their being any more pugnacious than any other musical fan base, trend, click, genre or what have you. 

The gentleman who explained the above details, which contradicted the corporate press's claims of relation to the concert, expressed a strong concern that the incident would be used to further taint the image of 'Juggalos' as negative or bad people. Not only was the incident not gang related, he explained, but as many well know 'Juggalos' are actually not a gang. Police profile people as gangs with a sort of profile checklist of features and attributes, however 'Juggalos' themselves contend they are not a gang and merely band together in groups because of their common interest in the band I.C.P.. 

One noticeable feature of their sub-culture is the universality factor. I.C.P. fans have a call-and-response signal they yell to one another ("woo, woo") regardless of whom they might be, or where they may be from. They are not territorial in the way that gangs often are, and there are no documented factions of 'Juggalos' who might rival one another. Behaviorally they bond universally among I.C.P. fan bases, much like any music-based trend, which is very different than what is thought of as gang culture in the United States. 

The Insane Clown Posse may be a group that depicts and propagates ideas and images of violence, Chauvinism, sexism and even racism, however, their fans appear to be from a diversity of racial and gender backgrounds, inconsistent with what may be assumed as the "hate speech" in the bands' lyrics. The simply observable fact is that they seem to be on the radar screen of those institutions in society that thrive on exploiting scapegoats, which further isolates 'Juggalos' and 'Juggalettes', rendering them easy targets for this sort of thing, and to that extent all that can be said of their perceived crassness is that it doesn't help them dispel this stereotype, however it also doesn't confirm nor prove that they are somehow inherently violent or that they are some sort of gang. 

The Denver Post, the only local newspaper of relevant status still remaining in print in Denver, Colorado, relied on the statements of Denver Police spokesperson Sonny Jackson, who eventually released the name of the suspect being investigated, 20-year-old Jeremy McKim. The irrelevant part of the story, true for every local corporate media report, is the almost zealous mentioning of the fact that the fight broke out between I.C.P. fans before an I.C.P. concert, however, Denver Post did not specify whether McKim was planning to attend the concert. Their earlier reports said the police were searching for a youth wearing a white shirt and white face paint, thus implying the young man was a fan of I.C.P. planning to attend the concert without confirming nor substantiating this information. As usual they merely relied the information provided by police.

Does face paint and I.C.P. attire somehow discredit a person's statement, even if they were eye-witnesses? Why didn't the corporate press interview eye-witnesses?

The local ABC affiliate, Channel 7 News, somewhat more objectively reported that Denver Police Officer Matt Murray could not explain how the incident was at all related to the I.C.P. concert, however they included the name of the band in the headline and claimed in the subheading that the stabbing was related to the concert, then in the story explained that they could not actually confirm that allegation.

The local affiliate of CBS, Channel 4 News, also alleged that the stabbing incident was related to the Insane Clown Posse concert. Once again they could not confirm it.

The local NBC affiliate, KUSA Channel 9 News, mentioned that they were among fans of I.C.P. but stopped short of claiming the incident was related to the I.C.P. concert.

All in all it appears our local press is more interested in conjuring and encouraging myths than they are in actually reporting verifiable facts.  

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simply to answer your question...

Legally~ face paint & I.C.P. attire does not discredit a person's statement. The fact that the vast majority of juggelites are intoxicated at the time of said incident, discredits their statement. I work at many different venues among many different fan bases for various concerts and events, & I can tell you from personal experience that none incites the violence and difficulty that juggalos/juggalettes do. I have personally witnessed the property damage, fights, and public intoxication which occurs at each of these shows. Any parent who would drop their kid off at such an event or take any minor to these concerts, needs to have their head examined and possibly be charged with reckless endangerment of a minor. 

 

Juggalos/juggalettes are not being "exploited as scapegoats" nearly as much as they are being held responsible for their actions if and when they react inappropriately to their own anger issues. Also~ sometimes the corporate media cannot interview eyewitnesses, because that is law enforcement officers job. It is also the job of law enforcement officials to preserve the sanctity of a case and acquire information for judicial processes. Law enforcement needs to have discretion in what is reported by the media.

On corporate exploitation

The point of my article is the poor reporting by corporate media. It is a typical game they play of cultivating stereotypes, which then equips police with data for profiling. The corporate press was in a position to interview witnesses if I was, and the second picture attached above, although now that I look at it it's not so clear who's who, is one of the press videographer walking away from the scene. Furthermore I.C.P. fans are no more prone to violence than Danzig fans. I was lucky enough to obtain a ticket to one of those for free at the Fillmore, and by no means has Glenn Danzig lost his touch, it was a great show, however there was fight after fight, and perhaps one of the most volatile mosh-pits I'd ever seen. One man walked away bloody as a pulp. Not to compare apples and oranges. You have to ask yourself, are I.C.P. fans being held responsible for their actions justifiably, or are they being held under collective public scrutiny, almost collective punishment, merely for being I.C.P. fans? You can't charge every Juggalo with aggravated assault because one 20-year-old decided to stab another 20-something person near an I.C.P. show. This is a recipe for police harassment, and it is a bit of a nag to the police as well. I asked several Juggalos if they were being hassled by police at all and they said "no" for the most part, with the exception of the two officers trying to keep the front sidewalk at the Fillmore clear, and the people complaining about police there, and the ones I overheard were not even at the I.C.P. concert. I.C.P. fans are often familiar with police attention. 

The job of police officers is to open cases for prosecutors to close. It is not the job of police to act as judge, jury and executioner on the spot, nor is it the job of police to try and evade media and cover up cases - obstruction of justice. However, this is not the issue. The media's job is the issue. Their job is to get all facts possible, objectively as possible, and report them consistently. The notion that all I.C.P. fans are universally prone to violence is simply false. Many of them can be pugnacious, however, is that the fault of the music they listen to or is it due to their experiences in life and their psychology/emotions? Many Juggalos are from broken homes, were raised in abusive families; and they have been singled out, profiled, targeted and harassed by law enforcement, school officials, political hacks and the like; and when the media attempts to demonize the whole group they are only pushed more into a dangerous form of shared paranoia. According to James Gilligan, M.D., author of "Violence: Reflections on a national epidemic," (1996, Vintage books/Random House, Inc.) violence is a behavioral expression equivalent of paranoia. He also explains that part of the language of violence is a fixation on the eyes and the tongue (eyes gather information used by the tongue to make criticism to evoke shame). Have you ever stared down a Juggalo, then asked a critical sounding question of them? Did they become angry? I'm willing to bet the answer is yes. Shaming the whole group on TV then seems like exactly the wrong thing to do. So, because they listen to perhaps the most audaciously and intentionally vulgar rap group ever, and because there is an incident at most of their shows, does that mean we should throw out all the research on the phenomenon of violence and simply blame it on I.C.P.? Where have we seen this before? Negativeland, Ozzy Ozborne, Iron Maiden, the Misfits, N.W.A. etc. are all groups who have been accused of causing violence merely by performing and distributing their art. Are we really going down that road again? That would be a classic example of confusing correlation and causation, would it not? 

When the media reports the incident as being directly related to a concert, this in turn puts pressure on the political overseers of the police who are then expected to hassle all I.C.P. fans regardless of who they may actually be. So any I.C.P. fan could then be treated like a criminal regardless of whether or not they ever committed a crime in their lives, or would even do so. By that experience would we expect them not to become the violent profile we label them with after prolonged exposure or repeated experiences? 

There was a good Frontline documentary on PBS called "The Merchants of Cool," and I would suggest watching Chapter 6, "Teen Rebellion: Just Another Product," which explores the Juggalo phenomenon rather well. 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/fr...

After watching this you have to ask yourself: Is it merely the local corporate press exploiting the Juggalos, or is it not also the Insane Clown Posse themselves? I.C.P. has been a corporate sponsored group. What measures have they taken to address the the harassment they encourage their fans to subject themselves, mostly without any knowledge of what they're getting into?

Consider that I.C.P. roles away from their shows in a lavish tour bus, a limousine or the like. They're rich. Their fans, on the other hand, hang out downtown all day on the streets, they are often lucky to have a drivers license and a car, and they cram several people into these vehicles to get around. Many of them take the bus, where I'm familiar with seeing them almost daily. 

At least consider that most I.C.P. fans are young, often under 21 and many under 18, they are easy targets as anyone who hasn't been informed of their rights in this country, and whose responsible for that? To encourage their exploitation by the press is to encourage their being lumped into the old school-to-prison pipeline. Who is fostering their criminality, cultivating their violent behavior? Not only is it band/group I.C.P. themselves, but also their sponsors' funding, and all those who turn the other cheek, regress to 1955 McCarthy mentality, and neglect to consider that these people are human beings, only to leave them at the mercy of the State, the police, the prison system etc. When will America stop creating its own criminals, enemies, gangs and terrorists, then denying our role in this phenomenon's existence only to blame the original victims?

 

Thank you for commenting.

It seems reasonable that such

It seems reasonable that such shows would be 18+ with I.D. required, no exceptions.

Many of your points are valid, and i can respect your position. It has been a well established fact that many "victims" become abusers themselves. Sure, you're a victim, i'm a victim, everyone's a victim... (largely of our own apathy)?! But that is the power of victimhood~ if you have really studied enough psychology, and sat through enough support groups with other "victims", eventually you begin to realize that this label is just a big excuse & an actual phenomena which is very effective (incidentally?) at keeping people stuck, you may begin to notice that perhaps you are not being empowered toward solution and a position of strength, but a consistent focus on the difficulties. Any experience with that...? Victimhood is a label which would be assigned to many  (by our own judicial system) which come from broken homes, and have been subjected to violence, etc. This tendency is ultimately dehumanizing. It shouldn't be exploited as an indefinite "get out of jail free" card, which seems to be the notion you are presenting. Perhaps the actual difficulty is that "victims" are not being given (or taking) the opportunity to be survivors instead, and channel the angst to more constructive ends. No matter how ugly past experience has been there is always the potential to help others through your own experience, strength, hope, & YES even anger. It's the difference between empathy and sympathy. When this energy is channeled well it can inspire and encourage others to find ways to liberate themselves that are both meaningful on an individual, as well as collective level. The matter of choice in how to react/respond in any given situation is always personal. Not to discount influences in choice which will always exist...

The difference between the media attaining all information possible, and reporting it objectively & consistently; and interviewing eyewitnesses is a considerable leap. Law enforcement is not obstructing justice, or covering up cases by limiting the details which media may provide. Because: If the media were to interview any eyewitness, the testimony in a court of law could easily be called into question. The defense often says "this is what your police statement says, but you said this... "_______" to reporters..." Defense attorneys use this tactic all the time to attempt to discredit a witness, and it is often very effective. For successful consummation of the judicial process, the true story is the consistent story between any variety of witnesses. Why would anyone assume the media is obligated to bring them truth? In reality it is often their shareholders and individual investors private interests they serve... i assume that's what you mean by "corporate media"?  

Many different groups of people are labeled, stigmatized, and shamed (by many sources religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc) each day~ it's not confined to the fanbase of any particular musician. That's why people form groups: there is the feeling of strength and safety in numbers, and within groups it is generally true that people are more easily influenced by others in the group this gives them a sense of belonging. The fact of the matter is that we each choose whether or not to accept and embrace these messages, labels, & shaming. The cycle of blame is endlessly self perpetuating, no matter who you point the finger at they could point the finger at someone else who likely did it to them, we could in turn even point the finger at ourselves. True change comes from asserting our rights, as well as taking responsibilty for constructive change from within our own world view, or zeitgeist. Any ideas which may encourage constructive change in the stimatization juggelites may be experiencing from corporate media?

On "The Media's" responsibilities

I'm new to this website so forgive any social faux pas that may occur, but as an actual member of the "evil corporate media" I felt the need to speak up about this article in particular. 

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with interviewing eyewitnesses, in fact it's a great idea for getting good, relatively objective accounts on the incident. The police cannot and should not stop any member of the media from interviewing people, nor should they EVER withhold information (with the possible exception of information that could jeopardize national security, which is a shady concept) to do so is a direct violation of the first amendment and goes against the Freedom of Information Act, under which any individual can obtain a lot more information on a lot more things than most people are aware.

 

I can understand people's frustrations with the "big bad media giants" but if anything the constant paranoia and suspicion of their hiding things to further some political agenda is only going to make it worse. You think corporate media isn't objective? Of course it isn't. It's written by people. It does the best it can to be objective, which is far far more than anything I can say about the articles I've read on this website ("latest victims of pig brutality" really?) You think you can do better to write definitively, objectively, and accurately under a 5 minute deadline like most newspapers have now with breaking news on their websites, and you think you can do so without breaking any of a large number of media laws (I defy all of you to go just one day without writing a libelous article such as the above article on Mrs. Hearst) if you really can, then why not join the media and change it from the inside rather than bitching until it falls to the ground. Better yet, start your own newspaper. I suppose many of you think that's what this tabloid website is, and you may be right on a few accounts, but after reading some of these articles I am ashamed to think that someone may see my press pass and confuse me with one of you some day.

 

The simple fact is, newspapers are the last check and balance of the government. That's why the very first amendment supports its freedom. Without newspapers keeping politicians and police officials in check, the corruption and back-door deals would be far worse than they are today. You can disparage them all day long, but what are you doing to change it? All I see is a bunch of frustrated people doing a far worse job and becoming unbelievably less objective than anything I've read in a newspaper. You want to complain about a lack of objectivity and slant reporting? Look in a mirror.

Hi media guy

Our articles are written by people from all walks of life.  We get everyone from anarchists to tea partiers to maoists.  A few have some training in journalism.  Others have only their life experience.

 

The problem with the corporate media, in my opinion, is not the reporters.  It's the whole system.  Most corporate media is now owned by companies whose primary product is not journalism.  They operate newspapers and other media, sometimes at a loss, not to inform the public, but to deliberately keep people either misinformed or distracted, so that their other enterprises, such as weapons manufacturing or escapist entertainment, can remain profitable.  Reporters work around that as best they can, but editorial policies and shrinking budgets for investigative reporting keep a lot of important news out of the public view.

 

Of course, if you work at a newspaper, you know all this.  You also know that the breaking news that is written in five minutes is only one part of the puzzle.  And you know that, if you insisted on properly covering issues like police brutality, homelessness, and prison issues, from a bottom-up perspective, you would either get a permanent assignment to cover dog-poop court or be out of a job.

 

We can always use more help around here.  Professional journalists are welcome.