Tag Archives: Missouri

Want to grow a headbanger or a heavy-metal band? This map will show you the best climates.


This map shows concentrations of metal bands per capita around the world. (Click for larger version.)

This awesome map (sourced mainly from metal-archives.com) has been circulating on the Internet for the past few months, but it wasn’t until recently that someone put it into context. Richard Florida, a writer for the Atlantic and a researcher for Rentfrow, had this to say about the places were metal bands (and fans) might congregate:

Several psychological studies link heavy metal to personality types that are drawn to “intense and rebellious” music (which includes rock and alternative as well as heavy metal). …

My own research with Rentfrow and others shows that intense music preferences (including preferences for heavy metal music) are geographically strongest in the upper plains states of Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska as well as New Mexico, Nevada and Missouri in the United States. The study also found preferences for heavy metal strongest in states with large proportions of white residents.

Although the map doesn’t have a state-by-state breakdown for metal fans (alas), his descriptions of the plains states in particular match closely with other parts of the world with high concentrations of metal bands, particularly Scandinavia. Heck, even Canada has more metal bands than the US, and if any part of North America is most like Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska, it’s Canada.

So, what does this tell us about metal fans that can help us understand why they like the music so much? As mentioned, headbangers tend to be more on the intense side of the personality spectrum — something Jeffrey Jensen Arnett discussed in his groundbreaking book Metalheads. We can also speculate that kids who grow up in parts of the world with extreme weather are probably stuck indoors more — giving them fewer physical outlets for that intense, rebellious feeling. They can channel that energy into any number of things, but listening to metal is one outlet. Making it is another, and as we can see from the maps, the more extreme the weather (in the developed world), the more likely folks are to play this music.

But don’t just take it from me. Recently, a metalhead in Wisconsin (not a plains state, but not far from it) urged people to tune in to heavy metal’s finer qualities. In it, he describes the point of all that screaming so many people find unlistenable — even disturbing — as well as the relentless pace of the music.

Though the origins of screaming have been mostly lost to the ages, it was perhaps popularized by the aptly nicknamed Screamin’ Jay Hawkins of “I Put a Spell on You” fame. Other blues artists adopted the technique both for volume and emotional reasons. These justifications persist today for many bands that use harsh vocals; just as a singer such as Christina Aguilera may use crescendos to emphasize strong emotion and feeling in lyrics, metal vocalists may utilize screaming. This is not true in all cases, as screaming has largely become the norm in aggressive music styles. Still, aside from expressing emotion, screaming has another use: vocal instrumentation.

Screaming, when used as an instrument, reinforces or complicates rhythms in music. Perhaps the vocalist screams to match percussion strikes, bass lines or rhythm guitar playing, or perhaps the vocalist’s cadence further adds to the chaotic cornucopia of rhythms that populate intense, heavy music.

Whatever the application, listeners can think of screaming as a kind of loud poetry.

What do you think, metal fans? Do certain parts of the globe lend themselves more to headbanging? Do certain types of people tend to live in those places, or is it the geography that makes the metalhead?

Second woman claims false memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse came from treatment center

Back in December, I blogged about a resurgence in “Satanic Ritual Abuse” claims when a patient at Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Missouri, Lisa Nasser, said her therapist, Mark Schwartz, implanted false memories of such abuse in her mind while she was undergoing treatment for an eating disorder.

Now, a second woman, 28-year-old Leslie Thompson, has come forward, making similar claims against Schwartz.

The suit filed alleges that while undergoing treatment at Castlewood for anorexia between December 2007 and May 2010, Thompson was led to understand that she had “multiple personalities,” and that she had repressed memories of participating in satanic rituals, even “witnessing the sacrificing of a baby.”

“Only after she went to Castlewood and had this therapy did she recover these memories,” said Thompson’s attorney Ken Vuylsteke, “supposedly told to her by another personality that she also didn’t have before she went to Castlewood.”

The suit claims the Castlewood therapy caused or contributed to false memories and a belief that Thompson had ten personalities, including one named “Freddie” who was the “personification of the devil.”

In typical brainwashing style, Schwartz allegedly told Thompson she would die if she left his care. The therapist has indicated that he plans to fight Nasser’s lawsuit; no word yet on his reaction to the second set of claims.

I just want to remind readers that Satanic Ritual Abuse has been thoroughly debunked as a product of the therapeutic environment — a form of “introduced” memories that are essentially a form of brainwashing.

If indeed Nasser and Thompson went through this, it’s a sign of the times that they have come forward and targeted the appropriate culprit — rather than turning on their own families, as too many patients did during the height of the Satanic Panic in the 1980s.

ACLU sues library for filtering “occult” Web sites


Netsweeper, used in schools and libraries, filters out Web content related to Wicca or Native American faiths.

Anaka Hunter, a resident of Salem, Missouri, went to her local public library and attempted to do some Internet research about Native American spiritualities. She was astounded when she found that Web sites with that kind of content were blocked by the Internet-filtering software used by the library, Netsweeper.

When Hunter complained to the head librarian, she was told that the library had no control over what ideas were blocked by Netsweeper. She complained to the library’s board of directors, but they blew her off. So she took it to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is now suing the city of Salem, the city’s library system, and the library board.

All three are being charged with “unconstitutionally blocking access to websites discussing minority religions by improperly classifying them as ‘occult’ or ‘criminal,’” according to the ACLU.

As I’ve mentioned before, net-filtering software is notorious for trying to make minority faiths of all kinds invisible. Earlier this year, Gainesville students complained when they discovered they couldn’t look up information on Falun Dafa/Falun Gong. I figured it wouldn’t be long before the ACLU got involved.

Interestingly, Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt points out that ‘net-filtering software can trace its origins to the Christian market. This selfsame software was then sold to schools, libraries, and other publicly funded agencies — where such discrimination is much more of a sticky wicket.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. In the meantime, readers, how would you feel if your religious beliefs were blacked out by Internet-filtering software used in schools, libraries, etc.? Are there any such religions you think should be made invisible to the kids and adults using public terminals?

Guest Post: Radical Parenting’s Vanessa Van Petten on how social networking saves teens from isolation

Vanessa Van Petten, creator of Radical Parenting, does what too few do: she gives teens a place to speak in their own voices. In particular, the teens at Radical Parenting offer parents insight and advice into adolescents and their culture.

Vanessa’s new book, Do I Get My Allowance Before Or After I’m Grounded?, comes out tomorrow. In it, she offers ways for parents to talk to and connect with their teens on a variety of hot-button topics, from sex and drugs to social networking.

To celebrate the release of the book, Vanessa offered Backward Messages an excerpt that touches on one of our core issues — goth culture, and the discrimination many goths face for choosing to stand apart stylistically from the mainstream. In this excerpt, a goth teen explains how she found community with fellow goths, thanks to a little help from the Internet:

Although we do address some of the negative affects of technology below, using it to try new things is not all bad. I have worked with teens who made YouTube videos for their favorite community service cause and went on to raise thousands of dollars from strangers that they never would have been able to reach had it not been for the Internet. Websites such as Score.org and TeenInk encourage teens to try new experiences with nonprofits online, writing poetry and starting their own businesses. The Internet can give teens opportunities and practice in areas they never dreamed possible. Take for example an experience I had with a 17-year-old Michelle. I was speaking at a rural school in Missouri about Internet safety. Actually, I refuse to call my technology talks to students “Internet Safety,” and prefer instead to call them “Internet Savvy” as I review both the good and the bad parts of technology. After my talk, a tall female student walked up to the podium.

“Thanks for that,” she said.

I looked up from my notes expecting to meet one of the many similar looking girls I had seen milling around the halls all morning—average skin tone, medium length hair, some kind of brightly colored sweater. Yet, when I glanced up, I gulped—loudly. “Tha—ahhnk you?” I cleared my throat, “Thank you I mean.”

She shrugged her leather-clad shoulder. “I mean usually people come here and talk about how awful and unsafe the Internet is, but for me, it saved my life.”

The girl in front of me had jet-black dreadlocks to her hips, more piercings than I could count, and dark black eye make-up caked over painted white skin and large spiked boots. A couple of the students who had been waiting to talk to me shuffled off upon seeing her. I reminded myself to have no expectations and smiled. “Wow, it saved your life? What do you mean? And what’s your name, by the way.” I put out my hand.

She shook it gently. “I’m Michelle and I’m a Goth. I always knew I was different. But I live here.” She gestured around the large auditorium and I looked at all of the students who—though I was sure were unique in their own ways, looked strikingly similar. “Everyone here is the same. It used to drive me crazy. I don’t do drugs or have sex. I’m a good girl. I go to church, but I really like to dress this way. I like gothic make-up and music. But it doesn’t matter that I don’t do anything bad because when I dress like this, people think I’m bad.”

“I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. How did the Internet help exactly?”

“When I was 13 I went on MySpace. It was the first time I realized not everyone was from Missouri.” She laughed, “You know what I mean. I knew that before. But I found people who were like me. People who loved gothic make-up and heavy metal music and they didn’t do drugs or anything. I finally started to feel like less of a freak. I felt like I was normal—different than people here, but normal somewhere.”

I had never thought about this aspect of identity searching before. “So, it actually gave you a community and self-esteem about who you are?”

She flashed me teeth that matched her white skin. “Self-esteem, don’t even get me started. Before the Internet, to be honest I was thinking about killing myself. I hated who I was and was tired of pretending. I met a girl in a gothic chat forum who convinced me not to take the pills I found in my Dad’s medicine cabinet.” She looked down at her spiked boots. “I might not be here now if it wasn’t for the Internet.” I often tell this story when I speak, not only to demonstrate the importance of accepting people for their differences, but also to address the fact that technology provides new access to both good and bad experiences.

There are also many technological programs that give teens access to new opportunities and information. Teens who live in rural areas with rare diseases or psychological problems are doing digital doctor visits with therapists or specialists in far away cities when they cannot afford to travel. Another company called the Birds and Bees Text Line, started in North Carolina, delivers sex education to teens via text message. They send questions to teens like, “If you have sex underwater do you need a condom?” Teens can also send in their questions like, “Why do guys think it’s cool to sleep with a girl and tell their friends?” which will be responded to in 24 hours or less. This is a new kind of sex education that not only delivers information they might not get elsewhere to stay safe, but also offers them an anonymous and safe way to ask questions they are worried about.

Vanessa Van Petten is the creator of RadicalParenting.com, a parenting website written from the teen perspective to help parents understand them. She is also the author of the parenting book, Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?” Find out more about Vanessa and her new book in