The Guardian: Songs About Guns

As we’re all well aware, one of the latest strategies employed in the PR battle that is global warming is to insinuate that those who dare to question the orthodoxy are whipping people up with violent and aggressive rhetoric. A clear attempt is being made to link scepticism with the recent tragedy in Arizona where a mentally ill man shot several people.

The Guardian linked the global warming debate to gun violence, saying:

Even the debate on climate change, where the key issues are frequently highly scientific or economic, has attracted frequent death threats to researchers and election TV ads in which a prospective Senator shoots the cap-and-trade bill with his rifle.

Jared Loughner, the man charged with the attack, is widely reported to have been mentally unstable. Some commentators argue the act was his alone.

So it’s clear that even in issues such as climate change there is an active fringe of people deploying violent rhetoric and hate mail against those with whom they disagree. Could that tip the balance between thought and action in the mind of an unstable individual? It’s a worryingly plausible thought.

The Guardian. ‘Cimate Nazis’ Violent Rhetoric Infects Many US Debates.

The Guardian believes that “violent rhetoric” could possibly tip some individuals over the edge into pursuing violent action. In other articles they note that “Tea Party” members frequently use the imagery of violence and guns and they find this unacceptable. They condemn the language of aggression as totally unacceptable.

Except when it’s acceptable.

For example, when Tory leader David Cameron dared to suggest that violent and aggressive rhetoric in music, films, or computer games might have a deleterious effect on people, the Guardian went to town on him, mocking his “shallow and opportunistic” attempt to make political capital out of recent gun crimes.

Take an article from 2006 “Readers Recommend: Songs About Guns”. This was in direct response to Cameron’s comments. The Guardian not only defended the use of violent and aggressive imagery in music, they printed a list of their top tens “songs about guns”, saying:

The gun is also a – cough – loaded political metaphor. In Magazine’s thrillingly tense punk landmark Shot By Both Sides, Howard Devoto portrays himself as a lone refusenik caught in the era’s ideological crossfire. To the perpetually peeved Rage Against the Machine, the bullet represents government propaganda. The lyrics may be as subtle as a bullet in the head, but such explosive ire doesn’t really call for subtlety.

The Guardian. ‘Readers Recommend’: Songs About Guns.

Spot the difference? Rage Against the Machine’s use of violent and aggressive imagery was against “government propaganda” during the Bush presidency, so it was perfectly acceptable. Subtlety wasn’t needed when you were righteously angry.

In fact, Rage Against the Machine (RATM) remained one of the Guardian’s favourite bands for a long while. The left-wing rock band was feted for the emotion of its ultra-violent songs such as Bombtrack, Fistful of SteelBullet in the Head, Calm Like a Bomb, and not forgetting their cover of Cypress Hill’s How I Could Just Kill a Man.

It’s simple: RATM are the best band in the world” gushed their correspondent Steven Poole in 2000, giving them 5 stars for their “Battle of London” concert. It was “cathartic” to listen to songs such as Bombtrack:

With the thoughts from a militant mind
Hardline, hardline after hardline

Landlords and power whores
On my people they took turns
Dispute the suits I ignite
And then watch ’em burn

Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn
Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn
Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn
Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn

Rage Against the Machine. Bombtrack.

Indeed, The Guardian was so enamored of RATM’s “Bullet in the Head” approach to music and politics that when the band announced their intention to reform, their main concern was whether or not such an approach could be used to “incite” people to action:

Line up the Molotov cocktails, man the barricades. After a seven-year hiatus, Rage Against the Machine have returned – and they’re talking about a full-scale revolution. Guitarist Tom Morello¸ starting rehearsals for their comeback headline gig at California’s Coachella festival on April 29, concedes that while they were away “the country went to hell. So I think it’s overdue that we’re back.”

. . . Reformations are almost always disastrously unnecessary. In Rage’s case, it remains to be seen whether Zack de la Rocha still possesses the same amount of lock-shaking wrath and righteous dynamism.

The crux of the matter is whether the crowd can be incited to leave the mosh-pit and go forth and Take the Power Back. If not, surely the whole thing will have been a waste of time.

The Guardian. Could a Reformed Rage Against The Machine Beat Bush?

Well, absolutely. I mean, if violent lyrics can’t be used to “incite” people to “a full-scale revolution” then what’s the point? But, of course, it has to be righteous and not right-wing violence. Crucial difference.



The photo above was used by a Guardian article that mocks Alicia Keys for suggesting that rap music was invented to encourage black people to kill each other. Enough with the conspiracy theories, they pleaded.

6 responses to “The Guardian: Songs About Guns

  1. Surely the fact that the Guardian was trumpeting genocide against skeptics has not disappeared down the memory hole already, has it?

    “It’s most definitely striking and if you haven’t watched it yet – taking into account the warning that it contains scenes some people may find disturbing – do so now, before I give too much away.” – Damion Carrington, 30/09/10

  2. Atomic Hairdryer

    “I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads. Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.”

    Said another Cameron (James, billionaire movie maker, no relation) before refusing the offer of a gentlemanly duel and offering a more civilised public debate instead. Then refusing the debate.

  3. In a culture of guns, not a mob but a culture, the rhetoric of violence is always understood against a background of peace. This can be proved from history. In that late Fifties or early Sixties, Don Knotts and Phil Silvers starred in a made-for-television movie about the “slowest gun in the West.” It was a spoof on westerns. When Knotts or Silvers arrived in a town, all gunslingers fled for fear that they would be embarrassed by a challenge from “the slowest gun in the West.” Knotts and Silvers eventually have their own hilarious shootout. What can be learned from the existence of this movie? In a culture of guns, violence with guns takes second place to a code of conduct that is understood by gunslingers and everyone else. I think there is a lesson for Moonbiot here. Moonbiot protests the death threats he receives. In my humble opinion, which can be wrong, he is in as much danger as Knotts or Silvers.

  4. RATM ?

    They were pretty awful back in the day. Now they have some cash and have ingested a shitload of big drugs, enough to make them think they have some relevance today.

    Gimme a break boys. Teenage angst can be tolerated in the kids, in adults it just looks like a money making attempt. What happened did your dealer cut you off for unpaid debts?

  5. Odd; when actual eco-terrorists actually harm people and destroy property no one ever relates it to the rantings of any number of eco-bullies… pick one.

    Never is AlGore linked to The Unabomber & the guy that tried to blow-up the Discovery channel, who are/were avowed devotees of AlGore. There isn’t even a need to create absurd stretches of logic to suggest that Algore influenced them.

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