West Virginia Metal Festival Under Fire From Religious Zealots
The West Virginia metal festival Metal in the Mountains, now preparing for its third year, has come under fire from local religious zealots who are unhappy with the “Satanists” the event attracts.
Festival organizers received an anonymous, hand-written letter in the mail last week (scan below), the contents of which included threats such as “we won’t stop till all you Satan-loving businesses are closed or destroyed.” The letter also made reference to several bars in the area that have recently closed, including one that burned down, insinuating a similar fate could befall Metal in the Mountains.
The letter further claims that its sender has contacted law enforcement “many times,” although it doesn’t specify what ordinance the festival or its organizers have allegedly violated. Police have been called to each of the first two Metal in the Mountains festivals for noise complaints and use of profanity, but in both cases no violations of any laws were found and the shows were allowed to continue.
Metal in the Mountains is hosted by Anthony and Anna Ferraraccio in Pipestem, WV, on a large parcel of property that also serves weddings and other private events and operates as a spa the rest of the year.
Anthony posted the below video response to the letter via Facebook (this post continues underneath the video):
There is some good news here, however. For one thing, the local chapter of the ACLU, located in Charleston, WV, has become involved. After West Virginia state police asserted that Metal in the Moutains’ use of profanity is illegal in the state, the aforementioned ACLU office sent a letter to the Summers County Commissioners, the local governing body, informing them that that is not the case:
“I have been contacted by Anna Ferraraccio, CEO of Pipestem Spa, Event Center and Mountain Chalets. Ms. Ferraraccio has relayed concerns regarding the use of profanity by artists during certain musical festivals she hosts in Summers County. According to Ms. Ferraraccio, the WV State Police and other government agents have informed her that the use of profanity in public is illegal in West Virginia. However, there is currently no law banning the use of profanity in West Virginia. Moreover, any blanket prohibition of profanity would almost certainly violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article III, Section 7 of the West Virginia Constitution.
“Based on the threat of a $1.00 fine per offense, the government agents seem to be citing an old West Virginia statute that was formerly found in §61-8-15 of the West Virginia Code. However, in 2010, the legislature passed and the Governor signed Senate Bill 457, which repealed the outdated criminalization of profanity that had been found in §61-8-15. There is no prohibition against the use of profanity in West Virginia.
“Forty-seven years ago, in the seminal case Cohen v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized an individual’s First Amendment right to wear a jacket that read “Fuck the Draft” in a courthouse. Justice Harlan wrote “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” That quote seems particularly relevant in the case of the music festivals that Ms. Ferraraccio hosts, where claimed vulgarity is sometimes quite literally lyric.”
You can read the entire letter at the bottom of this post.
Metal in the Mountains has grown in popularity with each passing year. Its inaugural run in 2017 featured mostly local acts, while the 2018 incarnation attracted regional acts such as Mushroomhead, Hail Sagan and Motograter. The lineup for 2019 is already coming together, with the organizers promising bands from across the globe (Byzantine are so far the most recognizable name on the bill). The festival will go on as planned on May 31st and June 1st, with more information available here.