That's the gist of a ruling by a federal judge in New Jersey Wednesday. U.S. District Justice Alfred M. Wolin said the state's Sports and Exposition Authority could not legally ban Marilyn Manson from performing at the June 15 Ozzfest at Giants Stadium--the second First Amendment victory in the last month for the shock-rock outfit.
"Free speech is alive and well in New Jersey," gushed Manson attorney Paul Cambria.
Cambria and attorneys for Ozzfest filed suit last week after the sports authority axed the traveling Ozzy Osbourne celebration when promoters refused to remove Manson--whose members claim to worship Satan--from the bill. The agency cited a rule prohibiting performances "offensive to public morals."
Wolin said the sports authority's rule "probably cannot pass constitutional muster," and barring the band from playing would violate its First Amendment guarantees. The judge also noted that in spite of Manson's reputation for mayhem, there is no evidence that the rockers have ever done anything illegal on stage.
In a brief statement, the sports authority said it "is disappointed in Judge Wolin's decision. The safety and welfare of our patrons was the impetus for the authority's position on this issue and remains a priority of sports authority management." Lawyers for the agency said they were unlikely to appeal, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Last month, officials in Richmond, Virginia, decided the anti-Christ superstars did not conform to community standards and canceled a concert there. But after the ACLU threatened a suit, and at the urging of the city attorney, the Richmond City Council reluctantly backed down and unbanned the band.
Even with the First Amendment on their side, the Manson boys aren't winning any popularity contests. The band and its loyal fans called Spooky Kids have faced protests at nearly every stop on the "Dead to the World" tour. The latest anti-Manson action comes courtesy of the Michigan State Senate. In direct response to Marilyn Manson's performance in Kalamazoo, Michigan, legislators passed a non-binding resolution calling for concert promoters to prohibit minors from attending shows by bands with explicit lyrics.