Police in Calgary have reignited the Satanic Panic of the 1980’s with the release of a pamphlet advising parents of possible signs that their child might be in a hate group. The police claim that listening to “loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics” is a warning sign.
Following the events in Charlottesville in mid-August, the tech industry has worked to sequester and deplatform white supremacist websites. Silicon Valley isn’t alone in its efforts, and has been joined by the music industry. Companies like Spotify have removed white supremacist and neo-Nazi content from streaming platforms.
In its attempt to promote vigilance against the rise of hate groups, Calgary Police in Canada released an advisory for parents titled “Signs of a Child Being Part of a Hate Group.” It runs the gamut of common warning signs like “wearing or displaying Nazi propaganda” and “racist graffiti, drawings and doodling,” but also includes more innocuous activities.
In addition to advising parents about children who “change their appearance” and “sudden lack of interest in school” — both of which are habits of typical teenagers — the list suggests that children who play “loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics” may be part of a hate group.
The police force came under fire from the Canadian public shortly after they put out the memo. Speaking to Toronto Metro, a hardcore music fan accused the police of promoting outdated stereotypes about heavy metal and rock music.
“My son, he listens to heavy metal, and he’s one of the nicest kids ever, but I tend to see him lumped into a group he doesn’t belong in,” said Robert Riggs, adding that the stereotype was like the idea that video games cause violence.
“It’s not monkey see, monkey do,” he said. Kids see their parents go to work all time, and they don’t suddenly get up and find a job at seven-years-old.”
A spokesperson for the Calgary Police disagrees with Riggs, stating that listening to heavy rock music is a “common trend” in hate groups. “We’re not saying all people who listen to rock music are part of hate groups, but there tends to be a correlation – people who are involved with hate groups tend to be involved in that kind of music.”
Following the story’s publication in Toronto Metro last week, Calgary Police changed the description to remove “rock” out of the sentence, but the claim that people who listen to “loud, heavy music with violent lyrics” may be neo-Nazis remains online.
In the ‘80s, lawmakers, politicians, and moral crusaders promoted a scare in what has become known as the Satanic Panic. Tipper Gore created the Parents Music Resource Center to take rock and heavy metal music to task for supposedly containing sexual, violent, or occult content. As an in-depth Noisey article suggests, the list of songs, notoriously known as the “Filthy Fifteen,” pilloried music seemingly picked at random.