Christina Paz told police that Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails’ music told her to burn her dad’s house. Should we buy it? Photo by Flickr user Pipistrula.
Here we go again.
Christina Paz, a 29-year-old El Paso resident, set fire to her father’s house two days after Christmas. Nobody was hurt in the blaze, though the home was seriously damaged. Paz told police that she set the fire because there were messages in Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails’ music telling her to do it.
Those same bands, she said, also told her that:
“her mom and dad for trying to kill her on Christmas Day, that they had planned to sodomize her and chop her up with the help of a neighbor.”
These are some outrageous, likely psychotic, beliefs. And yet, they’re reported practically as fact by the El Paso Times reporter, alongside facts such as Paz grew up in the house, her father was in a nursing home, and her relationship with him was “complicated.”
Her arson method? She painted a bed with super glue, then struck a match. When police arrived, she was standing in the front yard, and turned herself in. She’s being held on bail.
Unfortunately, her arrest makes it less likely that she will be evaluated for the number of medical causes of psychosis, from brain tumors and infections to hormonal imbalances and some forms of epilepsy. This woman needs a competent doctor, not a prison sentence.
Meanwhile, we see two bands dragged through the mud, however falsely. For the record, neither band has songs that encourage people to set fires (or suggest that their families plan to victimize them in the way Paz believed). Manson was falsely implicated in the Columbine High School shootings, even though Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not fans of the band. Erroneous reporting by overly eager reporters led to the idea that this music could incite violence, and the reputation has stuck, many debunkings later.
There has never been any proof that music alone can provoke violent behavior. The many, many court cases that have attempted to prove a link have been thrown out. And fans of music — loud, angry music especially — says the music soothes them, calms their more aggressive impulses. It doesn’t worsen them.
Who are you going to listen to: the one music fan who claims she heard hidden, arson-fueled messages in the music and acted upon them, or the millions of fans who didn’t?