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Marilyn Manson T-shirt Sparks Controversy

January 30, 1998 12:00 AM ET

A Texas teenager who was arrested last week for wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt is now getting support from Winterland Productions, the company who produced the shirt.

When the police in New Braunfels, Texas, arrested John Schroeder, an 18-year-old high school student, they violated his First Amendment right to wear that article of clothing, according to a spokesman for Winterland. "We will not print messages of hate or violence, but we have and will continue to print the artistic messages of our musicians -- some that are controversial, and many that are not," said Donn Tice, CEO of Winterland.

Schroeder was arrested on obscenity charges by a police officer who was working in a New Braunfels grocery store as a security guard. Schroeder and his mother were shopping when the security guard approached Schroeder and told him he'd have to leave the store because the slogan on his T-shirt -- "I am the god of f***" -- was offensive to some of the store's customers. The slogan is the opening line to Manson's first CD, Portrait of an American Family, which was produced by Trent Reznor.

To make matters worse, the officer made Schroeder sit on a bench in front of the store in order to humiliate him when customers walked by, according to his mother, Olga Schroeder. Schroeder was then taken to the county jail, where he stayed for three hours before posting a $250 bond.

"This is about freedom of expression, not a criminal matter," said Diana Phillip, regional director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Texas, which is defending Schroeder.

Winterland's Tice said his company has been printing concert paraphernalia for the likes of The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Madonna for the past 30 years. "Every generation has its rebels, its shockers and its rockers. Through the generations, some have been offended, some have been delighted. With the exception of some self-styled vigilantes, most reasonable people have gotten used to it."

When JAMTV contacted Interscope Records to find out Marilyn Manson's reaction to the matter, we were told he was holed up in a studio working on a follow-up to 1997's Antichrist Superstar and therefore was unavailable for comment.

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