FEATURE: The First Amendment: Why Jesse Hughes’ Comments Regarding the Student-Led Gun Protests in the U.S. Is a Warning Shot Against Free Speech



The First Amendment


 IN THIS PHOTO: Eagles of Death Metal's Jesse Hughes/PHOTO CREDIT: Gustav Maartensson/AFP/Getty Images  

Why Jesse Hughes’ Comments Regarding the Student-Led Gun Protests in the U.S. Is a Warning Shot Against Free Speech


THERE is something rather annoying…


IN THIS PHOTO: Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer. He faces seventeen charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida/PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Stocker/Pool/Getty Images

about giving certain people a voice and means of spouting their words into the world. Following the Parkland (Florida) massacre, where seventeen students were killed in the U.S.; the always-controversial Jesse Hughes called the student-initiated protests “pathetic and disgusting”. The man is not exactly a stranger when it comes to letting his gob overtake his brain. Eagles of Death Metal's frontman, following the attacks at The Bataclan in 2015, mooted they were an inside job by security at the venue – or they simply allowed it to happen. One is hardly in any doubt when it comes to Hughes and his views on the Second Amendment – the right of any American citizen to bear arms. He should look just above that Amendment and keep his opinions to himself once in a while. The right to free speech is only valid when you are not deliberately trying to denigrate the memory of deceased gun-violence victims. To call angry and distraught students ‘pathetic’ when their motives are pure and honourable is incredibly callous. Rallying against them and, in essence, accusing them of being posers and ignorant is as bad as anything Donald Trump has come out with. Looking back at Jesse Hughes’ rap-sheet and the man spends a lot of time with his foot firmly wedged in his mouth!


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Eagles of Death Metal are hardly a world-class and mega-popular band: they are in the public and, as such, there is a faction out there who will agree with what Hughes has said. Of course, there is, naturally, many more who disagree with his views – the fact many Republicans attacked his views proved the Rock musician was, pretty much, pissing into the wind. Hughes should know better than to promulgate hatred and insulting opinions. He was on stage when terrorists opened fire at The Bataclan back in 2015. The remnants and after-effects of the attacks are still being felt. Back in November last year; Guillaume Valette took his own life – two years after surviving the attacks. There are many others suffering mental-health issues. The same is true of the recent massacre in the U.S. The student protests are not a response to this isolated event: they are the response to the years, decades and centuries of gun-violence in the U.S. Many us have lost count of the number of news reports that have come through with images of dead students – members of the community and scores of innocent people wiped out. From attacks at churches to the police shooting black ‘criminals’ – their annoyance and need for change are understandable. I was reading a piece in Paste Magazine, where they reacted to the ‘apology’ Hughes issued following his ill-thought-out comments:

As mea culpas go, this one is paper thin. Hughes apologized not for what he did—namely, attack in the grossest terms the effort by these survivors to take action in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy they witnessed—but for what “it seems” like he didWorse, he framed it in his own undeniably traumatic experience as a survivor of terrorism, despite an unfortunate history of lashing out at other victims”.

Looking like strung-out mime, Hughes insisted in Saturday’s Instagram video: “What I had intended to be a statement about the hijacking by any side of the aisle of the beautiful agenda of the movement of our nation’s youth came off seeming like a mean-spirited personal attack and slight of the youth themselves and even a personal attack of its leadership, and I want to be clear, I never intended for that to happen. I was not attempting to impugn the youth of America and this beautiful thing they’ve accomplished. I am truly sorry.”

This is not the first time I have written about a Jesse Hughes comment: sadly; I do not think it will be the last time. Whether the man is constantly strung-out or a radical gun-nut; there is never any excuse for such degraded and insensitive remarks like his. Saying students – who protest against gun deaths – are pathetic, in many ways, supports those who carry out these vile acts. It is the insincerity of Hughes’ apology – promoted more by backlash than morals and regrets – that adds an extra sting. He is like a bully who is forced to issue an apology to the students he tormented. He has been screamed at and threatened but, when all is said and done, it is lip service.



Politicians like Donald Trump, with his equally ignorant and gross views on gun control, are setting examples to musicians and public figures whose small minds and right-wing views are doing more damage than they realise. We have already seen enough controversy and disrepute in the acting profession over the past few months – as more and more revelations come to light in regards sexual abuse. Music is not immune to controversy and disreputable figures. The last thing music, and any industry, needs is the sort of comments Hughes made. Some can say his remarks were not too stark and he wasn’t, technically, supporting the perpetrators of the recent attacks. The fact Hughes has ‘form’ and has already had to issue a similar apology, you’d think, would have made him think twice. We cannot beat around the facts: he is a supporter of gun ownership and does not have any problem with what the attacker did – and, it seems, what happened in 2015. If he felt aggrieved at the attacks then he would have come out and lambasted the attackers – rather than looking at conspiracies and questioning those who want an end to gun-violence. I worry Jess Hughes’ stance is going to inspire other artists to let their inhibitions slip when the next tragedy unfolds. I wonder whether there should be stricter punishments following Hughes’ most-recent remarks.



The fact he received such a backlash and condemnation (not for the first time!) should be enough for those in a position of power to take action. I am not saying the Eagles of Death Metal man should be banned from music or forced to pay compensation. What I do think is more needs to be done to ensure anyone who has the same views as Hughes keeps them private. The Second Amendment does not really apply outside of American: in the U.S., it does not mean you can run your mouth off and not think of the consequences when you harbour such deplorable politics. Gun-related deaths are not on the decline and it seems, with the current President, we are no closer to solving the quandary. Trump will never repeal the Second Amendment and, so long as the Republicans hold sway in the White House; there will never be dialogue and discourse aimed at compromise and moral advancement. I will leave things there but, before departing, wanted to look at music and how its male members are tarnishing its good name. There have been reports of sexual abuse by members of popular bands – ranging from inappropriate touching to rape. We are trying to clean that sorry mess up and not slide into the same murky pit as Hollywood. Fat-mouthed musicians like Jesse Hughes should think about what they are saying and show greater respect to those who want to see an end to gun-violence – even if their protests are not, in the short-term, going to make a huge difference.


IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

Those students (who protested) mourned and felt the effects of the attack – some claimed they seem pretty well-adjusted and upbeat considering the violence; their motives were cynical and aimed at creating publicity – and were not doing it to get on the news and be celebrities. In any case; we all should work together to see fewer guns in society; fewer deaths and an end to the blood-filled images we have been seeing on the news. This applies to the entire world: not only U.S. high-schools. Jesse Hughes, regardless of his opinions about gun legislation-tightening, should work towards improving the situation in his country. At the very least, if he can’t think of anything sympathetic and understanding; he should keep his misguided and hate-fanning comments…



TO himself.