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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Motor City ACLU Sues Feds on Behalf of Insane Clown Posse Fans

Detroit's Insane Clown Posse
Juggalos: those zombie-like fans/groupies/followers devoted to the aging Detroit-based rap duo Insane Clown Posse.  Like them or not, ICP has a long tortured history, having been hatched in Detroit's service drive music scene back in 1987; an eternity in the music world.

According to Wikipedia:
The group is composed of Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who perform under the respective personas of the "wicked clowns" Violent J  and  Shaggy 2 Dope.  Insane Clown Posse performs a style of hardcore hip-hop known as horrorcore and is known for its elaborate live performances.  The duo has earned two platinum and five gold albums.  
The songs of Insane Clown Posse center thematically on the mythology of the Dark Carnival, a metaphoric limbo in which the lives of the dead are judged by one of several entities.  The Dark Carnival is elaborated through a series of stories called Joker's Cards, each of which offers a specific lesson designed to change the "evil ways" of listeners before "the end consumes us all."
Thus is the stage set for hordes of Juggalos.  With the band's history of assault convictions in the late 1990s, every concert retains its recipe for a suburban cult disaster.  And guess what, although the band-mates deny it, there have been incidents of violence, drugs and exhibitionism at many ICP concerts; law enforcement is on to "them".

Yet not all Juggalos are committing crimes at concerts.  And not all Juggalos are bad; misunderstood and perhaps sorely misguided, but not all law breakers.  So over here at the Law Blogger, what we're wondering is whether such extreme yet collective bad taste should be criminalized?

Some time ago, the FBI glommed onto this game for bored suburbanites.  Back in 2011, the FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center designated "Juggalos" as a "loosely organized hybrid criminal gang."  In and around the 313, law enforcement has been on the lookout for Juggalo types, especially at ICP concert venues like the Royal Oak Music Theater.

Juggalos have been harassed, and the band has suffered; now they've stuck back.  The ACLU Detroit has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the fan base, seeking injunctive relief, i.e. the removal of Juggalos from the FBI gang squad's list of the infamous, and destruction of all Juggalo files and documentation: especially the photos, recording what has to be a rogues gallery of self-deprecation, if not self-mutilation.

After all, criminalizing bad taste is, in the words of the ACLU lawyer assigned to the case, "un-American".  If the First Amendment and its long tortured history means anything to the federal judge assigned to the case, this will be an ACLU victory.

Update:  Here is an update from the Detroit News in April 2014, with the ICP trying to change its image.

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