Music

"When his music changed, Wayne Lo changed, and in time two people lay dead"

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On December 14, 1992, 18-year-old Wayne Lo shot six people at Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachussetts, killing two. It was a shocking crime that sparked a national debate over the links between violent speech and violent action. But unlike alleged Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner, Lo wasn't a follower of conspiracy theories or a bewitched reader of The Communist Manifesto—he was a fan of the aggressive and confrontational music known as hardcore punk. Naturally, commentators at the time rushed to blame the music for Lo's foul deeds. Here's how The New York Times' Anthony DePalma "reported" the story on the paper's front-page:

When his music changed, Wayne Lo changed, and in time two people lay dead, four others were wounded and a sheltering place had become a killing field.

As he sits in the Berkshire County House of Corrections in Massachusetts, charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a 20-minute rampage at Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington, Mass., only Mr. Lo knows what led him to turn away from the classical music he once loved and instead embrace the violent, discordant music known as hardcore, and a surly group of students who were equally entranced by it.

Here's DePalma again:

Several students agreed that his music, and the friends who went with it, offered the greatest insight into Wayne Lo.

His new circle of friends, the ones he increasingly spent time with over the past year, were known as the "hardcore group" because they listened to that type of music, a blend of heavy metal and punk rock. These students described as Mr. Lo's friends were on winter break and could not be reached, but others from the campus said they talked tough and sat apart from others.

The day after the attack, Lo arrived in court wearing a sweatshirt bearing the name of the New York band Sick Of It All, or as DiPalma put it, "four words that are the name of a hardcore band whose songs had replaced Vivaldi's compositions in Mr. Lo's life." So there you have it. One of the country's most respected newspapers took the lead in smearing a rock band and its music for the violent actions of a deranged individual.

It's worth remembering that nasty episode as today's bloggers and political opportunists race to blame their various opponents for Saturday's horrible shooting in Tucson. (As Brian Doherty noted earlier, Salon's Sarah Hepola has even tried to blame a heavy metal song.) The truth is that only one person pulled that trigger in Tucson, just as Wayne Lo was the only one who pulled the trigger in 1992. Blaming anybody else for their crimes is political grandstanding at its shameless worst.

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  1. NP: Killing Time “Wall of Hate”

  2. Lo couldn’t possibly have been drawn to the friends because that was who he was underneath a facade he had previously erected. It couldn’t be that, rather than the music bringing the violence, the violence was there and the music just happened to be the soundtrack.

    No one likes to think there is no control over the actions of a unpredictably disturbed individual. We as a society must be able to change something, do something to protect ourselves from it. It will always be such.

  3. Uh, it’s Tucson, not Tuscan, Damon.

    1. I think he meant Tuscany. He was dreaming about the fine wine and cheese.

      1. And Diane Lane.

        1. Diane Lane’s Mom, Colleen Farrington Playboy’s Miss October 1957 was way hotter. Google her up for some LSFW pics

    2. Still wrong, Damon. The “c” goes before the “s”.

    3. Tucson is a stupid name anyway. Why are you defending its honor?

      1. Because you hate it, that’s why.

        1. You’re a towel!

          1. You’re a beaner towel!

      2. It’s not that bad. It means “place next to a volcano, and yeah, we’re living here still.”

      3. Hey, hey, hey! Tha’s my hometown you’re disparaging there.

        I do have guns and I sorta know how to use ’em!

  4. http://www.postandcourier.com/…..be-danger/

    I don’t want to hear any more about how no top ranking Demcorat is calling for speech restrictions over this.

  5. Has anyone blamed video games yet?

    1. Somebody tried somewhere in this mess: http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum…..?t=1629318

    2. I blame BSG. Or maybe Heathers.

      1. I blame the cancellation of Firefly.

  6. Asian? Recently fed up with classical music?

    Wayne Lo was clearly reacting to his “Tiger Mom” upbringing.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/…..98754.html

    1. That is the most racist, passive agressive piece I have ever read.

    2. She actually had me thinking until I read

      Amy Chua is … author of … “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.”

      Nevermind then.

      1. Got to admit, that title was good for a laugh. Oh, she meant it? That’s just sad.

    3. Are they the neighbors in King of the Hill?

  7. Some people confuse cause and effect. My mood changes the kinds of music I want to listen to. I know I am not alone on this.

    1. I know how you feel. In the mid-nineties, every time Collective Soul’s December came on the radio my then fiance would say with a sigh, ‘oh, boy, here we go.’

      Should have been a sign that it wasn’t meant to be now that I think about it.

  8. Contra: That NY and CT hardcore scene was pretty violent in the early to mid-90’s. There were a lot of brutal thugs, actually. I didn’t go to too many shows, but almost every one of them was cut short by a massive fight, and if not, it was always in the air. It’s why I always liked punk and metal a lot more than hardcore, which had actually separated itself from punk by then. A “hardcore punk” band is a term I thought was left for dead around 1984, and has only revived recently with the nostalgia for Black Flag and the Circle Jerks and the like.

    This is not ironic. I remember attending weird shows with Hare Krishnas and Nazis, shows that mixed preachy straight-edge messages with borderline gang violence from the crowds. Actually, FSU became a downright gang in Boston.

    It also doesn’t mean music contributed to this kid’s murderous impulses.

    1. I saw Agnostic Front in City Gardens in Trenton in 1990 or 1991. There was violence, but the bouncers just pushed it outside.

      1. My experience with the punk scene in the 1980s was that the violence that did occur was the result of a bunch of young men who would have been out raising hell and doing violence anyway.

      2. Fair enough. I saw Shelter and 108 in New Britain and ambulances replaced music. Like I said, it’s a small sample I’m working on and I attended few shows after. Almost every one ended in a fight, music off, time to go home. And there are hardcore bands I did and do really like, Gorilla Biscuits being my favorite.

        Agnostic Front should have been much worse, I’ll grant you. Maybe it was the suburbs and the dumb “crews” where the battles got really specific and nasty.

        1. Also, the indelible image I have of that show is a bouncer lying on top of a Neo-Nazi, covering him from taking kicks to the head lest he take too many more and die, getting kicked himself because the crowd wouldn’t stop. The bouncers were overrun.

          I stood by, slightly paralyzed and horrified, which I wonder about, but I had no clue what thirty people dive-bombing four looked like. Shit, I liked the Ramones, not that crap.

          Oh yeah, SOMALIA!

        2. Well, all I can say is “New Britain”. It’s a shithole, much on the level of Bridgeport…or Trenton.

          1. Is there any town of any size in Connecticut that isn’t a shithole?

            1. As “Um” stated, there’s Greenwich, Stamford, Storrs (True Blood connection!), Groton, New Haven, Norwalk, Danbury, etc.

          2. Yep. But they had hummus and pita bread for sale in the back!

            Irony: the fight started during the singer’s ten minute lecture on the superficiality of beauty followed by Hare Krishna chants, a non-coincidence if there ever was one.

      3. At the hardcore shows I went to years ago, I saw more injuries caused by overzealous meathead bouncers than by anyone in the pit. The pit had a way of policing itself. You’d go home bruised from the dancing, but fights were broken up quickly by the regulars. We had a scene that we cared about and we wanted to preserve it.
        After the show or during the week, on the other hand, grudges might play out. But it was nothing that should surprise anyone who has ever been a or known any 16-20 year old boys.

        1. Again, fair. But no, these were not your average boys. Really. I’ve been in enough locker rooms, seen enough shit. And I’m not trying to make a broader political point. But that wasn’t how this scene worked, or does work. I assure you. A few years back, I (as a thirty-plusser) watched another CT hardcore show wind up shut down. Again. Same shit. I understand the self-policing of punk rock and other scenes, but this shit’s been haywire for a long time.

          There are a million blog posts about this. It’s almost like football violence in the UK — overblown, but very real at times.

  9. I used to get that in church as a kid. Classical music is from God but certain rock bands are satanic and invite the evil one into your mind. Of course, they made exceptions for pop music that fit their schmaltzy taste.
    Some things never change.

    Although it was fictive, ‘Amadeus’ showed that not just a few classical composers were complete hedonists. Tchaikovsky was gay. They never explained that one. But gays certainly had given in to satan. Pathetic, really.

  10. Welcome to the jungle it get’s worse here every day.

    http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/search/song?q=welcom to the jungle

  11. I think Doherty misunderstood the Salon piece.

  12. Remember when 2 Live Crew were agents of the devil?

    1. I remember when Elvis was supposed to be Satan Incarnate.

      Getting old.

  13. The idea of any Simon’s Rock student talking tough is just laughable.

  14. While people who do this kind of thing might often be seriously mentally ill, there is this ridiculous need among libertarians to deny that the actions that come out of your brain are unaffected by what rhetoric, music, or ideas that you put into it. This is flat wrong. It fucking is. I like a lot of extreme forms of entertainment. Spend a week listening to Coffins and Carpathian Forest and watching underground gorror movies. You feel different. You do. At least I do. And I am not a victim of serious mental illness. If experiences did not affect you mentally then there would be no such thing as PTSD. Now I won’t try to say death metal (and certainly not that gay hardcore crap) or horror movies is the equivalent of being in the middle of a war or some other horrible situation. But is it totally completely different…. or more a matter of degree (albeit extreme differences in degree). Can Sarah Palin or Morbid Angel or the Black Panthers or “I Spit on Your Grave” make you kill? No. Not alone, not in any clear way. Not in any way that justifies censorship, so far as I’m concerned. But a healthy person can certainly be affected by such things. How far can that go? I don’t know, but I ain’t gonna put my fingers in my ears and scream “theymustalwaysbementallyilltheymustalwaysbementallyill”. Because I’m not at all sure that it’s true.

    1. PTSD is the result of a real life experience. Entertainment is not that. If you get PTSD or PTSD like effects watching a movie or listening to music, you are fucked up and probably insane.

      1. If you happen to be insane, just about anything can be a bad influence.

        1. Religion comes right to mind.
          Politics comes in second.

          1. I’ve heard it reported that this guy’s an atheist, and also that he had a satanic shrine in the back yard. Which was it?

            1. I’ve found that Satanism is the theological equivalent of Anarchism. 90% of the time somebody who claims anarchism is just a regular lefty who wants to sound badass, just like 90% of the time a Satanist is a plain old atheist who wants to sound neato. Just ask Mr. LaVey.

      2. Maybe I’m insane and fucked up. It’s possible. If so, I’m sane enough to function in normal society for decades without anybody thinking I’m insane. Sane enough to purchase a gun and easily access any material that might trigger my insanity enough to kill. I wonder how many of us are there?

        Can you define “real life experience”? How real is an experience when it becomes real life? Like it has to be real, the other people involved have to be real physical beings? What about future technology? Like the Star Trek holodeck or other forms of extreme virtual reality (some of which aren’t exactly that far in the future)? Are those are enough to fuck you up but a movie projected on a screen definitely isn’t?

        We all agree molestation as a child can screw you up, right? So grandpa plays with your dingle = decent chance of metal fucked up-ness. What if you just saw a bunch of porno movies at grandpa’s house? Can we agree that a five year old being exposed to pornography = less likely but still possible chance of mental fucked up-ness? Why is that a “real life experience”? It’s just a picture on a screen, it’s not “real”.

        1. One of the suspected causes of some forms of PTSD is that the release of adrenaline from a stressful situation causes damage to the brain.

          Other cases is that the constant, background stress of a combat enviroment requires people operating in it to maintain a level of alertness that they simply cannot sustain when they return to the relative safety of home. Their bodies became so used to having to be hyper vigilant that they are unable to turn-off that vigilance.

          That you’re asking whether the holodeck can cause PTSD I’m going to assume you’re an ignorant fuck, but knowing folks who are suffering through, and have suffered through, PTSD, I couldn’t let your “how do you define what is ‘real'” comment pass.

          1. OK. I in no way mean to minimize the suffering of those with such a problem. And if my reference to PTSD was out of line then I apologize. Nor do I wish to claim that every hardcore fan suffers from Shell Shock. I mention it only because it was the first mental disorder brought on by experience that I thought of. To rephrase so that this doesn’t become a clinical discussion of PTSD:
            We all agree that life experiences can affect us mentally. When does something become an “experience”? How extreme and lengthy must it be? I don’t know the answer, but I think we’re fooling ourselves to deny that it can happen.

          2. One of the suspected causes of some forms of PTSD is that the release of adrenaline from a stressful situation causes damage to the brain.

            While adrenaline is released during such situations, the research points towards prolonged levels of cortisol being the damaging agent to the brain.

        2. Should read “So grandpa plays with your dingle = decent chance of mental [not “metal”] fucked up-ness”
          This was an obvious Freudian error since metal rules.

          P.S. Do we agree that music, movies, rhetoric, etc. can have good influences? Can watching the throat burningly saccharine Bette Midler vehicle “Stella” make you want to call your Mom and tell her you love her?

          If so why can’t they have bad influences as well?

          P.P.S. “This guy’s obviously insane if he references a Bette Midler movie.”

          1. I’m offended because “gay hardcore crap” is less than death metal in your book.

            Really? I don’t even want to defend hardcore, but death metal? Death metal? Oh, I forgot. Death metal *is* the new hardcore, hence grindcore, according to my friends. I’m getting older, and the synthesis rolls on.

            But I agree with you: If you’re immersed in a fucked up world, your world might be fucked up. Even with the ability to separate reality from fantasy, I’m not sure how much images (especially) and sounds are as ably shrugged off as we’d like to think.

            1. Try it and you might like it. Come over to my house. Well play some Agnostic Front and then some Suffocation. You shall soon see who rocketh more.

    2. You’re an idiot. The only thing I take away from I Spit on Your Grave is a sense of satisfaction that she got those raping fuckers back; it certainly doesn’t make me want to kill anyone.

      1. OK, what do you take away from “Cannibal Holocaust”?

    3. Crappy music with antisocial lyrics can certainly reinforce and intensify existing personality disorders in an individual, especially in an impressionable teenager or halfwit. That it usually has no effect at all on normal people does not mean that it cannot be a contributing factor in the deviant behavior of borderline sociopaths.

      1. So are you admitting that while it “usually” has no effect on normal people, it sometimes can? If so then you agree with me ‘cuz that’s all what I’m sayin’, dude.

        Or do you want to take that “usually” out of your post?

  15. Let’s just ban assault music and limit ipods to six songs.

  16. If Glenn Beck caused Loughner, then Jesse Jackson caused Omar Thornton.

    You can’t blame one without also blaming the other.

    1. The same people would never blame Al Sharpton for the burning of the jewish owned store in Crown Heights.

  17. can i assume someone is hard at work taking down the drivel from andrew sullivan… please…

  18. Way back in the day the Angry Samoans had an All-Time classic, Lights Out. The general gist of which was that you should gouge your own eyes out with a fork in order to get “hip to the lights out way.”

    God, I loved those bastards. 53 seconds of genius.

    Lights Out

  19. Somebody please explain to my wife that it’s not my fault that I sat around watching football (and then hockey) all day yesterday. Black Flag’s “TV Party” is to blame.

    1. In due time her divorce lawyer will explain it all to you.

    2. I have a coffee addiction thanks to “Black Coffee”.

  20. When his music changed, Wayne Lo changed, and in time two people lay dead, four others were wounded and a sheltering place had become a killing field.

    Anthony DePalma left the NYT, eventually, to pursue his true calling, romance novels. He currently works as a part-time busboy in a small local eatery in Brooklyn as he shops his bodice rippers to various publishing houses.

  21. Sane enough to purchase a gun and easily access any material that might trigger my insanity enough to kill. I wonder how many of us are there?

    “Slowly, I turn. Inch by inch; step by step…”

    1. A few weeks ago, I wondered how long it would be before everyone had forgotten the “Niagara Falls” bit enough to where it would seem like a fresh bit again. It’s actually quite clever when you think about it, but since the joke was already played out by 1930 (and variations kept popping up for decades after) it loses most of its appeal.

  22. This is a great cover version of “Bodies”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uguXNL93fWg

  23. I really think the violent imagery in modern music causes most of the violence in this country.

    If people went back to listening to classical masterpieces like the 1812 Overture, people wouldn’t be bombarded with such violent thoughts.

    1. Good point, Voros. Modern music also causes drug use, too. They need to get the kids to listen to Bach instead.

    2. Tolstoy disagrees: The Kruetzer Sonata leads to murder.

  24. Voros-

    I stumbled across the Three Stooges version (who knows- they may have used it more than once, on film) not terribly long ago as I was aimlessly flipping through the channels, one morning. I’m really not much of a Three Stooges fan, but it was mesmerizing.

    1. And of course the Stooges, as obvious from the clip you saw (assuming it was the one from 1944), were just performing what was already at the time one of the more standard vaudeville bits. It wasn’t always ‘Niagara Falls’ but it was otherwise the same bit with ‘slowly I turned’ always there as it appears to be at least part of the original joke.

      Obviously their short, Punch Drunks (where Curly goes into a frenzy whenever he hears ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’), is a variation on the same theme. With the jokes there being not just the inconvenience of such a thing, but also the potential gains to be made from it.

      As a sidenote, one of the notable things about the Stooges was that comedy at the time was almost entirely a mishmash of borrowed stuff (like the ‘Niagara Falls’ bit, author unknown). Originality was not a buzzword. What got Curly so much acclaim from fellow comedians of his time was that he was basically untrained, and yet was almost wholly an original. Add in that he was essentially forced to become a master at improv (because he often couldn’t remember his lines), and the comedians of his day really did marvel at his talents.

  25. Wow dude! That’s realy cool!

    That makes sense when you think about it.

    real_privacy.tl

    Drake

  26. Chris Matthews has set the tone for tonight’s MSNBC Retardopalooza by blaming “the rhetoric” for the psycho’s actions in Tucson. He says it’s been going on since McKinley’s assassination. Yikes! Politicians are dropping like flies. Or not. Anyway, maybe tonight’s the night Ed Schultz’s head finally explodes. MSNBC’s most vicious hate-monger will certainly decry hate speech as he heaps hate upon the right. Tick…tick…tick…

  27. Shouldn’t that be:

    When his music Wayne Lo changed, Wayne Lo his music changed,

    Putting that the way the author did implicitly blames the music for changing Wayne, doesn’t it?

    1. That entered my mind when I read the quote, but by the time I got to enter in my comments, some other thought took precedence. But your comment really sums up the essence of it all.

  28. When his music changed, Wayne Lo changed, and in time two people lay dead

    I’m sorry, but every time I come back to Reason and read this, I keep envisioning a “Musical Chairs” game that went bad. I am so sorry – I cannot get that vision out of my head…

    [plaaaaay play notes music music lalalala]

    [SILENCE]

    [Lo Fat doesn’t get a chair]

    BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

  29. Loughner was a Randtard. We The Living was one of his favorite books. Hanging’s too good for him.

  30. I said this in Brian Doherty’s piece, and I will say it here too, I think you have Sarah Hepola’s intentions wrong. Her piece wasn’t trying to blame the song for violence, it was just taking note of the song’s apparent position within our culture. It is possible, and possibly worthwile, to point out that a particular song seems to emerge at violent junctures in our recent past without blaming the song for the violence itself. I think that is what Hepola was trying to do.

  31. I disagree. There are way too many songs out there and this particular one is far to obscure to assign blame. I could however see how a song such as “Singing in the Rain” could perpetrate rape, it being such a well-known song.

  32. This settles it. Hardcore is the Four Loko of music.

    1. That said, I’m think at least a few reasonistas might dig what few truly great examples of it there are…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c3vLyDemj8

  33. Again, we’re not seeing the regional NYHC X CTHC shit. That’s a great song you posted. That’s also not how I would describe “hardcore” like Sick Of It All. Die Kruezen is “hardcore punk.” There’s a big difference in one missing word, and really, you can’t historicize it, because it was an almost deliberate break (breakdown?). I used to get in stupid teen debates about the merits of “hardcore punk” vs. “hardcore,” but there’s no getting around the division. Hardcore was its own movement, with Fuct hats and straight-edge vegan kids, and it was a 90’s thing. Awful all around. Anyone who has been forced to listen to Madball and Hatebreed and Biohazard can tell you the difference between its manifestation and that of Black Flag and Wasted Youth and others.

    So I hope I’m not the Four Loko guy here. I don’t want to ban anything, but that scene was violent, provincial, and stupid.

  34. And of course the Stooges, as obvious from the clip you saw (assuming it was the one from 1944), were just performing what was already at the time one of the more standard vaudeville bits. It wasn’t always ‘Niagara Falls’ but it was otherwise the same bit with ‘slowly I turned’ always there as it appears to be at least part of the original joke.
    ???? ?????? ????? ??????? ???? ?????? ?????

    Obviously their short, Punch Drunks (where Curly goes into a frenzy whenever he hears ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’), is a variation on the same theme. With the jokes there being not just the inconvenience of such a thing, but also the potential gains to be made from it.

  35. Again, we’re not seeing the regional NYHC X CTHC shit. That’s a great song you posted. That’s also not how I would describe “hardcore” like Sick Of It All. Die Kruezen is “hardcore punk.” There’s a big difference in one missing word, ???? ????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ?????? ?????? ???????
    and really, you can’t historicize it, because it was an almost deliberate break (breakdown?). I used to get in stupid teen debates about the merits of “hardcore punk” vs. “hardcore,” but there’s no getting around the division. Hardcore was its own movement, with Fuct hats and straight-edge vegan kids, and it was a 90’s thing. Awful all around.

  36. f Corrections in Massachusetts, charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in con

  37. f Corrections in Massachusetts, charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in co

  38. n in connection with a 20-minute rampage at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Mass., only Mr. Lo knows what led him to turn away from the classical music he once loved and

  39. follower of conspiracy theories or a bewitched reader of The Communist Manifesto?he was

  40. tion with a 20-minute rampage at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Mass., only Mr. Lo knows what

  41. connection with a 20-minut

  42. hocking crime that sparked a national debate over the links between violent speech

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