Defining Deviancy Downwards: FBI Identifies Insane Clown Posse Fans as Criminal Gang


For years, the ardent and unembarassable face-painting fans of the music group the Insane Clown Posse have been known as Juggalos.

According to the FBI's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, they should also be known as a criminal gang.

From the report:

Juggalos' disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to classify them and identify their members and migration patterns. many criminal Juggalo subsets are comprised of transient or homeless individuals, according to law enforcement reporting. most Juggalo criminal groups are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang. however, law enforcement reporting suggests that Juggalo criminal activity has increased over the past several years and has expanded to several other states. transient, criminal Juggalo groups pose a threat to communities due to the potential for violence, drug use/sales, and their general destructive and violent nature.

In years past, such people might have been called concert-goers.

It's true that the co-founder of the band, Joseph Bruce (a.k.a. Violent J) has a past involving gangs, jail, and professional wrestling. But ICP is not taking the current gang designation of their fans lying down.

Rolling Stone reports

Rappers Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope announced in August at the [annual event] Gathering of the Juggalos that they intended to sue. "We are not a gang!" the group's statement reads. "We are a family! We come together for our luv of the Insane Clown Posse, Psychopathic Records and our Juggalo pride. Can we take a fuckin' second to note that Jimmy Buffett's Parrot Heads, Lady Gaga's Little Monsters, Justin Bieber's Beliebers, the Grateful Dead's Deadheads and many more haven't been labeled as a gang?"

Insane Clown Posse has also established a website, Juggalos Fight Back, where fans who have experienced "any negative consequence with a governmental representative" can ask ICP's legal team to review their situations, at no cost, by filling out a questionnaire.

Years ago, in a far more troubled yet innocent age, the folk singer Phil Ochs improbably printed eight poems by Mao Tse-Tung on the back of his 1996 LP, Phil Ochs in Concert, asking listeners whether these were the words of the enemy.

If the FBI had not already embarrassed itself countless times in the past (a personal favorite is the unsuccessful attempt to determine the lyrics to "Louie, Louie"), it would be tempting to say this is the moment when the organization has officially jumped the shark. (

But we may ask now, in an age that seems to be equally post-ironic and post-constitutional: Is the music of the enemy?

Listen briefly to ICP's best-known song, Miracles, in which Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope ask the foul-mouthed and haunting musical question,

Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don't wanna talk to a scientist
Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed
Solar eclipse, and vicious weather
Fifteen thousand Juggalos together
And I love my mom for giving me this

Past ICP news at Reason.