Regarding Tim Lambesis, Meggan Lambesis, and “The Evil Ex”
Full confession: I rarely read the comments section of MetalSucks anymore. Behind-the-scenes traffic statistics demonstrate that it’s not really a fair sampling of the way our readership feels about certain bands, or about the members of our staff, or the site in general, and it’s become apparent that intelligent complaints and constructive criticism are much more likely to come to us via e-mail or Facebook messages (although we get plenty of dumb shit there, too). So it hasn’t really even been on my radar that there is a contingent of As I Lay Dying fans out there who not only believe Tim Lambesis to be innocent of the accusations that he tried to hire a man to have his estranged wife, Meggan, killed — but who also believe that Meggan is some kind of evil bitch who completely deserves such a fate.
So Natalie Zina Walschots’ new piece for The Toronto Standard, entitled “It Is Safer in the Dark: What the Treatment of Meggan Lambesis Tells Us About Violence, Victim-Blaming, and Silence,” was a real eye-opener for me… and a horrifying one at that. In the article, Walschots not only drew my attention to this “Free Tim” shirt, but also to dozens of tweets from Lambesis admirers who place the blame for the vocalist’s current legal woes squarely on Meggan’s shoulders. She goes on to discuss a concept she defines as “The Evil Ex”:
“The Evil Ex-Wife (or Ex-Girlfriend) is up there with zombies and Nazis when it comes to human punching bags of pop culture: figures so obviously repugnant that we can do anything to them, guilt free. Whether she reportedly cheated and broke a man’s trust, lied and manipulated him, or simply committed that most treasonous of acts — leaving the relationship while the man still happened to find her desirable — Evil Exes are fair game. Most lose their names, referred to only as “her” or “that bitch;” even other women cluck and coo over stories of the Evil Ex, that harpy and harridan who tormented their man (not realizing that they are always on the verge of transforming into such a creature themselves). We may as well be vampires or werewolves the moment our relationship with a specific man ends.”
Walschot also points out that The Evil Ex is a favorite point of focus for metal musicians, being the center of such releases as Type O Negative’s Slow, Deep and Hard, Converge’s Jane Doe, and, most recently, Leviathan’s True Traitor, True Whore.
Now… this is a complicated issue, and I don’t think what anyone should take away from this is a message as simple as, “It’s not okay to like Converge.” For one thing, I’d argue that The Evil Ex is a very common — and possibly even, on some level, necessary — psychological outlet for both men and women (See the cliché “All men are pigs”). Dehumanizing someone makes it easier to hate them, which, in turn, might feasibly allow us to get over the person who hurt us that much faster. Inarguably, men are the ones who entertain violent fantasies about The Evil Ex, but I don’t know if that in and of itself is “bad,” for lack of a less simplistic term.
Still — there’s obviously a HUGE gap between harmless, and maybe even healthy, fantasies about taking revenge against someone who broke your heart, and actually taking revenge. (In an ideal scenario, the mature mind will eventually stop thinking that his or her ex is evil, and recognize, simply, that romantic relationships are a gamble, and excruciating though it may be, you lose more often than you win.) I should hope that even my fellow fans of bands who prominently feature lyrics fantasizing about violent acts against Evil Exes, like Pig Destroyer and Cannibal Corpse*, can see this, and would never stoop so low as to try to hurt someone.
I’m also aware that, as Doc Coyle pointed out yesterday, Tim Lambesis is innocent until proven guilty. But even if he somehow is innocent — and let’s be real, if he ever tried to pay someone to kill Meggan, he’s guilty, whether it was entrapment (as his lawyer is claiming it was) or not — that doesn’t mean his ex is in any way to blame for what happened. I highly doubt that Meggan Lambesis has the means to stage a conspiracy of such complexity.
Which is why, at this point, “Free Tim” shirts are wholly inappropriate. I recognize that this might sound hypocritical coming from a guy who made a “Free Randy Blythe” graphic just last year, but there’s a world of difference between the accusations against Blythe and the accusations against Tim Lambesis. Blythe was accused of being involved with a tragic accident that was in no way an act of malice, and right from the get-go, the evidence felt less-than-convincing. Furthermore, there were not, to the best of my knowledge, a lot of people expressing feelings of hatred towards Daniel Nosek, the young fan whose death was the cause of Blythe’s arrest.
But there’s no way in hell Tim Lambesis accidentally tried to hire a hitman. The prosecution against Blythe was tasked with arguing a gray area — were Blythe’s actions irresponsible or not? — but there’s no gray area in the Lambesis case. He either did it or he didn’t. And if the prosecution is to be believed, not only did he do it, but he was caught red handed.
I know this editorial has been long and rambling and somewhat unfocused, and I appreciate you bearing with me as I try to sort my thoughts and feelings out in this very public forum. And I’m not trying to say that we should run out and burn Tim Lambesis in effigy. But if you’re someone who reacted to this news with feelings of anger or violence towards Meggan Lambesis, well… that is beyond misguided. It’s my belief that such hateful comments aren’t just acts of misogyny, but also of frail egos: “If I’m a Tim Lambesis fan and Tim Lambesis turns out to be a real bastard, what does that say about me?” Which is ridiculous. You had nothing to do with any actions that he may or may not have taken.
I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of Walschot’s piece immediately. You can discuss it in the comments section below.
*Hell, the next story I have scheduled after this one is about a song wherein a man tit fucks a dead woman. I don’t believe the author of that song in any way means to endorse murder or necrophilia.