This is sort of old news right now, but in March Nightline ran a feature on Juggalos and violence, but with ICP mania sweeping the net (you know what music video I’m talking about), it seems like the subject is still pertinent. (If you don’t know who ICP are or what a Juggalo is, go ahead and either watch the Nightline feature or read the transcript at the link and then come back.)
The closest thing to an expert Nightline could find to support their thesis that an epidemic of Juggalo violence is sweeping the nation is a single detective from a state currently best known for passing a horrendous racial profiling law. But the killah klowns aren’t as eloquent in defending themselves as Marilyn Manson was when media-hacks were trying to tar and feather him for similar reasons. About the most intelligent defense they were able to piece together was this: “Out of millions and millions that have bought our albums — some of them have probably committed horrendous crimes.”
Now, ICP are not ones to rely on the work of scientists and I’ll assume that goes for statisticians as well. So I’ll do my best to break this down for them.
It’s difficult to estimate the total number of Juggalos. The 2009 Gathering of Juggalos had 20,000 people in attendence. The most recent ICP album sold about 50,000 copies in the first week. But let’s be conservative and go with the 20,000 estimate. (I actually suspect it’s much higher than this.)
Nightline cites only 3 instances of reported Juggalos actually murdering anyone. To be charitable, let’s assume there are 10 people who are both Juggalos and murderers. That would mean AT MOST .05% of Juggalos are murderers. Granted that’s a significantly higher percentage than the US population at large (there were 16,272 murders in 2008 and the US had a population of about 305 million). But less than 1%, at most, isn’t exactly cause for alarm. And I would think Arizona’s finest would be better served by realizing that 99.94 percent of murders are committed by non-Juggalos and adjusting their law enforcement priorities accordingly. (As I write this, the number of murders committed per year by Toby Keith fans is currently unavailable.)
Why have I put myself in the improbable position of defending ICP, or more specifically their fans and people who could be misconstrued as their fans? In 1993 three teenagers were doomed to spend the rest of their lives in prison for listening to the wrong type of music. And I would hate to see something like that happen again thanks to more shlock journalism and wrong-headed law enforcement.
And a preemptive response to the inevitable one-liners about how Juggalos (re: poor mostly rural teenagers who don’t fit in) deserve imprisonment, death, or worse for their fashion-sins: go right right ahead and fuck off and die already.
Vice’s surprisingly good coverage of the Juggalo phenomenon.