Millburn NJ. November 5, 1999 (SHB News) - This quaint suburban town of affluent Wall Street traders and white picket fences has been shaken to its roots with the stunning news of an unprecedented first amendment rights violation at a local elementary school.
While cleaning a blackboard after class on October 27, 1999, a 10 year old student at a local grammar school began to sing a song. Unfortunately, the song that student chose was "Reasons Di Died," about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, by the Shrunken Headbangers, a Washington DC-based quartet that describe themselves as "the band with no shame."
The student was overheard by a teacher’s aide, who became concerned that the student fit the PINS profile (Persons In Need of Supervision) because he appeared to be displaying a morbid fascination with death. The aide immediately arranged for an "intervention" with the school principal and social work staff to ensure that the child wasn’t suicidal or dangerous.
School officials quickly concluded that the student did not pose an immediate threat to himself or others, but was merely reciting a popular song he had heard his father play on the car stereo. The boy’s father lives in Washington DC, where "Reasons Di Died" has been aired repeatedly on radio station WHFS. School officials were shocked by the song, which posits a lengthy list of implausible conspiracy theories as to why Diana, Princess of Wales died in a 1997 automobile accident over a pounding punk rock beat.
At this point, school officials committed an egregious transgression of constitutional law by taking the unprecedented step of banning the song from the school. Communicating with the boy’s parents, school officials declared that the song "would never be condoned, and would not be tolerated within the confines of the school." The officials proceeded to describe the song as demeaning to the memory of the former princess, "as inappropriate as it is rude."
The Shrunken Headbangers, never a band to sit still in the face of controversy, are now considering how to respond to the school’s unreasonable actions. The band is considering possible legal measures and/or some form of protest, such as mass mailing free copies of the song to Millburn students and encouraging them to learn the lyrics and sing them at school. The band, two of whose members are originally from New Jersey, is particularly concerned by this incident because their entire marketing effort stems from a long tradition of outrageous song lyrics.
"We are taking this very seriously," said Shrunken Headbangers’ lead singer Caligula, speaking for the band. "Our target demographic is young males. If they are prevented from singing or discussing our songs in school, where they spend the majority of their waking hours, then our livelihood is being threatened. The precedent set here could cost us millions. We believe the actions of these [school officials] are unconstitutional." The first amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech to all citizens, is often cited by artists who are forced to defend their controversial works from any form of censorship.
This is hardly the first time that the Shrunken Headbangers have been at the center of controversy. The band first attained national prominence with their 1993 hit "Fifty Ways to Cleave Your Lover," which they performed on the courthouse steps during the trial of Lorena Bobbitt, a Virginia woman charged with malicious wounding after she sliced off her husband's penis. The Shrunken Headbangers also capitalized on the January 1994 incident in which a bodyguard affiliated with Olympic skater Tony Harding smashed the kneecap of rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, in a song called "Club Nancy Kerrigan." "Reasons Di Died" appears on the Shrunken Headbangers’ fourth album Spew, released earlier this year. The song is usually described by listeners as "hilarious," "tasteless," or both. Complete lyrics and a short sound bite from the song are available to the public - including students at any school - on the Shrunken Headbangers’ web site, http://www.erols.com/mlaird/shbangers.
Anyone who is concerned about this flagrant violation of the American Constitution and would like to help ensure that freedom of expression is not curtailed by the misguided and narrow views of so-called "educators" should support the Shrunken Headbangers in this moment of crisis. Purchasing a copy of Spew, or one of the band's three other, equally tasteful albums, would be an excellent way to support the Constitution. All four albums are available (on cassette tape only) for just $5 each, and any of them would make an excellent gift for the holidays.
Other links on the Shrunken Headbangers' official website:
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