03 December 2008

I Fought the Law

Internet access troubles (rural New Hampshire, snow) kept me away for a while, and I missed the 30th anniversary of the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk on November 27. I first learned of this moment in history during my undergraduate years in the mid-90s, all thanks to the Dead Kennedys song "I Fought the Law (and I Won!)".

What, I wondered then, did "Twinkies are the best friend I’ve ever had" mean? Who was Jello Biafra singing about in the line "I blew George & Harvey’s brains out with my six-gun"? I loved the song because my father had a 45 of one of the earlier versions that I listened to a bunch, so the changes in the DK version thrilled me, even though I had no idea what the song was about (this was in the days before the internet and quick Googling). At the same time, I was trying to educate myself on gay history, and when I read about the assassinations and the supposed "Twinkie defense", I suddenly realized what the song was about.

And so, belatedly, for the 30th anniversary of a terrible day, here's a live video of Dead Kennedys performing the song in Los Angeles in 1984:

(If you want to hear the original studio version of the song, which is somewhat more comprehensible, it's available here.)