(Received 16 August 1993; accepted 31 August 1993)
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The plaintiffs in a law suit alleged that the heavy metal rock band Judas Priest, and its publisher CBS, were liable for damages to two youths who shot themselves after listening to the band's album. Crucial issues included “proximate cause” and “precipitating cause” in suicide, and the alleged role of subliminal messages. The judge ruled that although the “heavy metal” music might have had a toxic influence, the sounds and words are protected by the free speech first amendment. The influence of subliminal messages on behavior is unproven. There were many other elements in the personalities and situations of the victims to account for their self-destructive behavior.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Southern California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
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