In 2004 Heavy Metal guitarist Dimebag Abbott was shot on stage by a demented fan while performing with Damageplan in Columbus/ Ohio. The assassin did not only shoot the co-founder of Pantera, but also several others attempting to come to Dimebag’s aid. Nathan Gale, the lunatic fan, died by the hand of a police officer. Dimebag’s tragic death provoked shock, grief and rage among the Metal community. Yet it also inspired William Grim, conservative journalist and editor of the website ‘The Iconoclast’, to publish a disgusting article.
In “Time for Conservative Imagination” Grim does not only blame the victim for his untimely death but also attacks his fans. Heavy Metal represents “squalor, inhumanity, […], depravity, ugliness and ignorance”. Thereby it attracts “semi-human barbarians who [are] filthy in attire and manner, intellectually incoherent and above all else, hideously ugly to the point of physical deformity.” Grim’s rantings don’t stop at backbiting the deceased, whom he describes as barbaric, untalented, “freakish in appearance [and] more simian than human.” His abominable judgement peaks in the exposure of his conservative aim to teach youngsters the difference between good and evil. Grim claims that if adults cannot teach their offspring “to realize that Johann Sebastian Bach is superior to Dimebag Abbott, [they] have failed as parents and mentors.” By publishing an indelicate posthumous defamation, William Grim has created a dichotomy: a binary of good and bad, valuable and worthless.
Apart from that I despise Grim’s one-sided degradation of a subculture, I consider it equally wrong to judge with only the most common of all binaries in mind. Neither mankind in general, nor musicians in particular can we divide into ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ beings. The world does not consist of black and white aspects only.
The attempt to classify humans into Metalheads – obese, dumb, hideous – and conservatives in the intellectual elite, can but result in the realisation that some people combine both. Metalheads might be successful, eloquent and educated, whereas conservatives are not necessarily bright and beautiful. Just take Margaret Thatcher: the British conservative and Prime Minister was certainly not considered perfect by the majority. I myself might represent the opposite: I certainly love Heavy Metal, but this preference did not prevent my receiving top school certificates and a very good university degree.
Moreover, Grim’s values should be hard to teach. How to make plain to children who is good and right, who is bad and wrong? And why attempting to do so, if we only turn young, open beings into narrow-minded ultraconservatives? Like Grim, they would ultimately further the exclusion and persecution of ‘others’ in matters of taste, political attitudes and sexuality. Judging people for their musical preferences is just one step away from prosecution for race, class or gender.
Finally, Mr. Grim himself provides living proof for that a solid Christian conservative upbringing and lifestyle does not necessarily create a pious, tactful and humane individual. Attacking Dimebag Darrell shortly after the musician’s demise, thereby affronting an entire community, is neither a wise move nor does it betray the special “emotional range” that William Grim claims so exclusively for himself and the conservative elite.
A rigorous cutting of the world into light and dark has never worked, nor will it ever do. If we were asked to describe our personality in one single word, we would be hard put to find one suitable trait. Thus, every human being is composed of numerous facets. By chance, someone might combine all the traits William Grim has accused of representing Metal. But how plausible is the existence of a homogenous mass of similar people aiming to spread evil by aid of Heavy Metal?
Scrutinising Grim’s torrent of hatred leaves us with a heap of various attitudes of a close-minded, hot-headed and arrogant idealist. Heeding his words will far from make the world a better place. If we support persecution, we might one day be excluded and punished ourselves. We need to be a counterpart emphasising the significance of understanding, tolerance and open-mindedness. To make up for these crucial lacks of our world, it is worth to dare open our mouths to speak a word of warning, fairness and mutual respect.
Find both the original rantings and Robb Flynn’s answer on this website: http://s4.zetaboards.com/CoD2Regulars/topic/9263751/1/
Machine Head’s Robert Flynn, a colleague and friend of Dimebag Abbott, published an answer to William Grim’s article which circulated on heavy metal websites from all over the world for months. The band’s 2007 record “The Blackening” includes a song titled “Aesthetics of Hate”, an honest, brutal statement of accusation. The solo part of the song is a tribute to Dimebag Abbott.
If you ask yourself why there are several awkward pauses in Flynn’s singing: this is were officials have deleted the f-word. I don’t approve of this cleansing, it steals some power of the lyrics. For the ‘dirty’ original version, watch the video below.
For lyrics and some hints read the next post.