Man Blames Music for Son's Suicide
Nov. 06, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Music made 15-year-old Richard Kuntz pull the trigger that ended his life, his father says.
Raymond Kuntz traveled this week from Burlington, N.D., to tell lawmakers about the boy, who was listening to his favorite band, Marilyn Manson, when he shot himself Dec. 11, 1996. Beside his bed was an English paper about the shock rockers, his father said.
``He was a good boy,'' Kuntz said Wednesday. ``It wasn't a symptom. The music wasn't symptomatic of other problems. I would say the music caused him to kill himself.''
Kuntz planned to testify today at a congressional hearing aimed at making parents aware of the music their children buy. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who arranged the hearing, said popular music has grown much more violent and sexually explicit over the past three decades.
Also scheduled to appear was Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the Washington-based Recording Industry Association. Rosen did not respond directly to Kuntz's accusation but said the industry is working against drugs and violence in today's culture.
``The music community is making a positive difference in many ways that don't get much attention,'' she said. ``We have been labeling our product since 1985 ... so parents can make intelligent listening choices for their children.''
Interscope Records, Marilyn Manson's label, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Scientific research has documented the effects of television and movie violence on children's behavior, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
Lieberman urged record companies not to distribute music with offensive content, saying the industry's labeling system is far less clear than video game and television ratings systems.
``They should take some social responsibility in what they produce,'' he said. ``This is a long way from Elvis shaking his hips on the Ed Sullivan show.''
Kuntz wants the industry's advisory stickers warning of explicit or violent lyrics made mandatory so that states can regulate children's exposure to potentially dangerous songs. He said he had tried to talk with his son about the music he listened to.
The lawmakers distributed copies of Marilyn Manson lyrics, including a song Kuntz called his son's favorite, The Reflecting God: ``One shot and the world gets smaller/let's jump upon the sharp swords/and cutaway our smiles/without the threat of death/there's no reason to live at all/my world is unaffected, there is an exit here.''
Kuntz also provided a copy of his son's English paper, a rough draft that details the antics of Marilyn Manson, the band's leader and namesake. The band's performances have drawn protests in several states; it was banished from Salt Lake City for ripping up a Mormon Bible on stage.
``Believing that what he is doing is good and promoting it through music, he gains followers by epitomizing children's black thoughts of rebellion,'' the teen-ager wrote.