The road to hell

A Fort Worth crime-prevention group is warning parents about Goth-rock, but is that such a good idea?

After spending half an hour preaching the evils of Marilyn Manson and those pale-faced, black-clad Goth-rock kids who he insists are gang members, no different from Crips and Bloods, Ramon Jacquez lets out a slight chuckle. He is about to hang up the phone when the program director at the Fort Worth-based Crime Prevention Resource Center says, "I apologize if I sound negative against certain groups. That certainly wasn't my intention."

Say what?
Jacquez is the same man who has spent the past few months going around to area schools, most in Tarrant County, telling teachers and parents that their children are being threatened by the likes of Marilyn Manson and other so-called "shock-rockers." This is the same man who's in cahoots with various area police departments to spread the word about the violence being wrought by Goth kids--vandalism, self-mutilation, arson, suicide, murder, you name it. This is the same man who calls local television stations whenever he sees something that he feels spreads a "negative" message. And this is the same man who tells the Dallas Observer that not all Goths are Satan-worshipers, but most Satanists are into Goth...which brings us back to that dangerous gang thing.

But Jacquez doesn't want to be perceived as a bad guy here, one of those religious-right extremists out to ban rock and roll and shut down record companies that sell such morally bankrupt trash. He is actually rather concerned about seeing himself portrayed in the media as a zealot unconcerned with the First Amendment, a crusader out to instill fear in the hearts of parents across the metroplex.

"I have told parents we are not trying to start a movement [to] ban Marilyn Manson from the community," says Jacquez. "[But] if they see a child who is withdrawn and has a lot of problems as it is and all of a sudden, they get into this Gothic movement, teachers need to identify him and see if the parents are aware of the change and, if nothing else, try to intervene. It's the same thing we do with regular gang members. The point is, young people in this Gothic movement are no different from Blood or Crips or the Latin Kings."

To that end, the nonprofit Crime Prevention Resource Center has hosted at least four so-called "Marilyn Manson awareness" training sessions with area schools, including two in White Settlement and Birdville. Jacquez usually shows up with a Manson home video, excerpts from songs and lyrics, and a few highlights from Manson's official Web site. According to one source, Jacquez has compiled a sort of best-of-Manson in a 100-page booklet; he denies such a pamphlet exists, saying he prefers parents and teachers go out and do their own research on the subject. "Don't take our word for it," he says.

Jacquez, who says he was turned on to the dangers of Manson and Goth-rock by Arlington police officer Buddy Evans, could not have picked a better time to start spreading his cause. Last month, 17-year-old Fort Worth high school dropout Jay Fieldon Howell was arrested for stabbing 14-year-old Selena Jones in the neck while, allegedly, watching a Manson video. Howell, who has a nine-year-history of psychiatric problems (dating back well before Manson released his first album, thank you), had apparently turned a backyard shed into a "secret room" filled with black candles, Satanic markings (pentagrams, the number "666" written over and over, and the like), and other occult-related symbols. Police officials told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on October 20 that Howell stabbed Jones because he wanted to know how it felt to kill and that "Satanism and the occult were major influences in the commission of the offense."

According to Jones, Howell stabbed her only after he forced her to write on the wall of his shed that "Killing is my business, my business is good" (which is actually the title of Megadeth's 1985 debut). As she was writing, she said, Howell hit her over the head with a cinder block, then a bat, and then began stabbing her with a six-inch hunting knife. This apparently went on for three hours, until Howell called 911--only if Jones promised not to rat him out.

Earlier this summer, a fire at an abandoned icehouse in Deep Ellum also was blamed on Manson fans and Goth kids. Dallas police insist some local Goths ("wannabe vampires," Dallas police Sgt. F.G. Holland said at the time) had been in the building conducting "rituals." And, of course, every kid who kills himself these days who has a Marilyn Manson CD in his collection is automatically labeled a troubled Goth kid driven to suicide by Manson's music.

To those in the local Goth movement (that is, those who hang out at The Church at the Lizard Lounge on Thursday nights or cruise the Galleria in black clothes and white face paint), Jacquez is regarded, at best, as a zealot; at worst, as a dangerous kook. Though, to be fair, nobody had any idea who he was until they were contacted for this story.

"What violence is he talking about?" wonders Forrest Jackson, publisher of the local 'zine Heliophobe, a self-proclaimed "health and beauty journal devoted exclusively to pale-skinned women," of which there are many in the Goth community. "There's not any violence in the Goth crowd, except for sissy Goth boys getting in fights with other sissy Goth boys over Goth girls."

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