What is a juggalo?
Let me think for a second
Oh, he gets butt-naked
And then he walks through the streets
Winking at the freaks
With a two-liter stuck in his butt-cheeks
At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan announced that America was in the midst of a culture war. In his view, this war was being waged between descendents of the 60′s counter-culture and those who sought to protect “traditional” values. In the field of law, this idea found a home in (who else?) Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Romer v. Evans, in which he famously wrote that “[t]he Court has mistaken a Kulturkampf for a fit of spite.” Something about the original German sends a shiver down the spine, doesn’t it? Anyway, we can all surely agree that these two yahoos wouldn’t know a culture war if it slapped them in the face with a bottle of Faygo soda.
There’s a real culture war going on, ninjas. And it has nothing to do with gay marrying or abortions or the third rail of American politics, cockfighting. It has to do with the FBI’s insane decision to categorize Juggalos — i.e., fans of the Insane Clown Posse hip-hop duo — as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.” It has to do with real persecution and honest-to-God discrimination against the Juggalo people.
Luckily for me and my fellow Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse doesn’t know the meaning of backing down. And that’s not a slam at all, it’s just a turn-of-phrase. They know the meaning. They just refuse to back down. Is what I’m saying….
This past weekend, in the downstate Illinois hamlet of Cave-in-Rock, the annual Gathering of the Juggalos took place. While the many thousands of Juggalos on hand were treated to a concert on par with Woodstock, or at least Altamont, the harsh reality of a world that just doesn’t understand intruded on the affair, as ICP announced on Friday that they would be suing the FBI for classifying Juggalos as a gang. As Camille Dodero of the Village Voice noted (via Gawker), this classification puts Juggalos “on par [with] the Crips, Bloods, and MS-13.”
In a press release posted by Dodero, the poets par excellence announced exactly why we fight:
Shaggy 2 Dope stated, “It’s been almost a year since Juggalos were put on the National Gang Threat Assessment and we are hearing too many stories from our fans about the trouble it’s causing them. Just because you like a music group, doesn’t make you a criminal.”
Violent J said, “We’re not attacking the FBI, but they got this wrong. The Juggalos are not a gang, and that needs to be fixed.”
I’m as excited to write this next sentence as I have been about anything in my life. Shaggy 2 Dope is right. If our nation’s preeminent law enforcement agency is going to go to the trouble of compiling lists of gangs in this country, it hardly benefits anyone to get it so wrong, as they’ve done in this instance. To err on the side of defaming Detroit’s finest export since the Edsel, as they’ve done, does incalculable harm to those targeted, diverting attention and resources away from dismantling legitimate criminal enterprises. Say, for instance, Skrillex fans.
To bolster their argument against the FBI, ICP has created a website where Juggalos can report the various abuses and injustices that have been visited upon them. The press release also contained a message from attorney Howard Hertz, who has been retained to fight the power:
We are seeking individual Juggalos whose rights have been violated as a result of the mistaken belief that they are a ‘gang member.’ If you or someone you know has suffered any negative consequence with an employer, governmental representative, including law enforcement, border patrol, airline security, or other local, state or federal governmental agency or employee as a result of your status as a Juggalo, we want to know about it.
A group of seminal white rappers opined in 1986 that one must “fight for your right…to party.” Sadly, little has changed in 26 years.
If I could have an audience with the President of the FBI, I would ask him one simple question. Setting aside for a moment the crucial question of how a gang works, what exactly is a gang? Is a gang a community of people drawn together by the awesome power of Miracles? If so, were Jesus and the apostles a gang? Oh sure, you may insist that Jesus and his crew never resorted to violence. Perhaps you should interview a few money changers and see what they think about this claim of yours.
And what of our Founding Fathers? Were they a gang? Did their telltale powdered wigs and common interest in liberty and freedom make them a criminal enterprise worthy of scorn? From Hancock’s dabbling in graffiti to Jefferson’s sophisticated weed farm, the Founding Dads could have easily been mistaken for a gang. Did George Washington not kill men for the sole offense of wearing a red coat? George Washington, the original Crip.
But you can’t hold a whole group responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame all the Founding Fathers? And if the Founding Fathers are guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our Constitution in general? And so I put it to you, FBI dude: isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us Juggalos, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!