Favorite Cultural Scapegoats

In 1992, Ronald Ray Howard shot and killed a cop who pulled him over in a stolen car in Texas. He later testified that he'd been under the influence of Tupac Shakur's "Soulja's Story."

If only the NYPL were on "Penny Lane."
Beatles Exhibit

The influence of first person shooter video games are invoked after many violent homicides, but Grand Theft Auto is especially controversial. In 2003, Alabama teenager Devin Moore was was brought into police station on suspicion of driving a stolen car. To avoid going to jail, Moore grabbed a police officer's weapon, shot him and two others to death and fled in a patrol car. After he was arrested he admitted to being obsessed with Grand Theft Auto. Although evidence surrounding the video game was banned from the trial, a separate suit was filed against the game makers and vendors who sold the "murder simulators" to him underage.

Two young men in Nevada shot themselves in the head after listening to Judas Priest's Stained Class. One died and one survived with disfiguring injuries. Both families sued Judas Priest in 1990, claiming the albums had subliminal messages which put them in a suicidal trance.

Advertisement

John Lennon's murderer Mark David Chapman left a copy of Catcher in the Rye in the hotel room for police to find. Written inside was "This is my statement" and it was signed from protagonist Holden Caulfield. Chapman said, of Lennon, "He knew where the ducks went in winter, and I needed to know this."

Three West Memphis teenagers were sentenced to death or life in prison for murdering three 8 year-old boys in 1993. An expert witness on cults testified that the murder seemed like a Satanic ritual, the only purported motive. This fall the Arkansas Supreme court ruled that a lower court must consider an appeal, citing new DNA evidence and the misconduct of a juror.

In 2003 a young California brutally stabbed their 22-year-old friend to death in a park. They confessed to police that they had planned the murder for weeks, and that they sang Slipknot songs while they did it.
Advertisement

Reportedly idolizing Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, John Hinckley Jr. stalked Jodie Foster, who played a young prostitute in Bickle's care, before attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.

Joe Pickles. (Getty Images)

After initial false reports that Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were goths, Marilyn Manson became a scapegoat for the mass homicide. He acquited himself wholly though, in Michael Moore's documentary Bowling for Columbine. When asked what he would say to the killers, Manson said, "I wouldn't say a single word to them; I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."

We noticed you're using an ad blocker.

We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience.
But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.
We'd really appreciate it.

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist Observer.com on your browser:

For Adblock:

Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain.

For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.

For Adblock Plus on Firefox:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Disable on Observer.com.

Then Reload the Page
[^<>()[]
[^<>()[]
[[0-9]
[[0-9]
[0-9]
[0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z]
[a-zA-Z]
[name=email-address]
[name=email-address]
[^<>()[]
[^<>()[]
[[0-9]
[[0-9]
[0-9]
[0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z]
[a-zA-Z]
[name=email-address]
[name=email-address]
[^<>()[]
[^<>()[]
[[0-9]
[[0-9]
[0-9]
[0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z]
[a-zA-Z]
[name=email-address]
[name=email-address]
[^<>()[]
[^<>()[]
[[0-9]
[[0-9]
[0-9]
[0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z-0-9]
[a-zA-Z]
[a-zA-Z]
[name=email-address]
[name=email-address]