Goddammit, Jon Schaffer

The lead guitarist and founder of US power metal band ICED EARTH was one of the insurrectionists.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021

Goddammit, Jon Schaffer

I’ve been listening to Iced Earth since the late 1990s, and I had hoped that its founder and lead guitarist—Jon Schaffer—would be smarter than this.

According to Blabbermouth, Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth has been identified as one of the participants in the attempt to force the US Senate by insurrection to challenge the electoral college’s vote in the 2020 Presidential election, and faces six Federal charges:

  1. Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority
  2. Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business
  3. Knowingly Engaging in an Act of Physical Violence Against any Person or Property in any Restricted Building or Grounds
  4. Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
  5. Engaging in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building
  6. Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

This disappoints me. I’ve been listening to Iced Earth since I got a copy of their 1998 album Something Wicked This Way Comes. Many of their classic songs helped inspire my Starbreaker stories, and it was via Iced Earth that I discovered Blind Guardian.

While I had noticed a shift in lyrical themes when they released The Glorious Burden, I didn’t suspect anything because heavy metal bands write songs about history fairly often. Hell, every song Sabaton has ever written has been in the same vein as The Glorious Burden. Does the militarism in their lyrics mean they’re a bunch of right-wing nutjobs too?

I’m not going to throw out the Iced Earth albums I already have, but if Schaffer goes free and releases another album, I don’t know if I’ll buy it. It isn’t easy to separate the art from the artist, or to admit that somebody who created art that resonates with you might be an asshole.

I think the situation’s more complicated because Iced Earth isn’t just Jon Schaffer. Sure, he founded the band and writes the songs, but the rest of the band didn’t participate in the January 6 insurrection, and it doesn’t seem fair to throw them under the bus because of their bandmate’s involvement.

Finally, I suspect a lot of people are going to condemn Schaffer on the basis of photos and surveillance footage identifying him. I admit it’s pretty damning evidence if it hasn’t been doctored1, but that’s all it is: evidence to be used at Schaffer’s trial2 as the US Department of Justice attempts to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I’ve never liked the court of public opinion and I’ve never bought into the notion that merely arresting somebody proves their guilt. Nor do I accept that photos and videos alone are enough to condemn somebody, even if it’s video of Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer going full wingnut.

I think due process is especially important when prosecuting those who participated in the insurrection. Cutting corners or treating them as guilty until proven innocent will only make martyrs out of morons. America can’t afford to keep proving right those who insist the system is irredeemably rotten and ought to be burned to the ground. That’s how we ended up with 74 million people using their vote to say “fuck you” to the establishment in the first place.

As damning as Schaffer’s video might be, in which Jon Schaffer denounces “thugs”, “criminals”, and “globalists” for having hijacked the country “a long time ago”, I still think this guy ought to get a fair trial. Giving accused criminals a fair trial, presenting the evidence against them and giving them the chance to tell their side of the story, is how we prove that we are the “good guys”.

Besides, he’s not entirely wrong. The United States was hijacked a long time ago. It was hijacked by moneyed interests who realized that broadening the scope of democracy and extending the franchise to more people would erode their power and eventually see them stripped of their unearned wealth and privilege. Billionaires are behind the fiat currency, the wars, the occupations of foreign countries, and all the other shit people like Jon Schaffer claim to oppose. What Schaffer and millions like him don’t understand is that they’re working for their own oppressors.

I’m going to be especially disappointed if it turns out Dave Mustaine of Megadeth was involved, too, but not surprised. I’ve known him for a right-wing crank ever since the release of United Abominations in 2007. “Washington is Next” wasn’t exactly subtle.


  1. This raises the question of who would benefit from doctoring photos to implicate the founder of a fairly popular US power metal band. As far as I know, there’s no percentage in it, so while I admit it’s possible I don’t think it’s likely.↩︎

  2. Assuming Schaffer and his lawyer don’t cave and go for a plea bargain, as many facing Federal charges do.↩︎