Jesse Hughes, frontman Eagles of Death Metal, raised eyebrows last week with an interview he gave to Fox Business Network, in which he seemed to suggest that security at the Bataclan theatre in Paris may have known in advance about the terrorist attack that killed 89 people at an EODM concert there in November. Noting that he was told before the show that “six or so” security staff had failed to show up that night, he told former MTV VJ Kennedy, “Out of respect for the police still investigating, I won’t make a definite statement, but it seems rather obvious that they had a reason not to show up.”
Just two days later, after a media firestorm and a representative for the Bataclan calling the comments “insane” and “defamatory,” Hughes released a statement apologizing for his conspiracy theory dabblings. “I humbly beg forgiveness from the people of France, the staff and security of the Bataclan, my fans, family, friends and anyone else hurt or offended by the absurd accusations I made in my Fox Business Channel interview,” he said. “My suggestions that anyone affiliated with the Bataclan played a role in the events of November 13 are unfounded and baseless — and I take full responsibility for them.”
But it's the second part of Hughes' apology that is worth calling attention to: “I’ve been dealing with non-stop nightmares and struggling through therapy to make sense of this tragedy and insanity. I haven’t been myself since November 13.”
Some will no doubt dismiss this as a weak excuse for yet another outrageous statement from a man prone to making them, even before the attacks. A rare religious and political conservative in the usually liberal world of party-hearty hard rock, Hughes is an ordained
Catholic minister who supports Donald Trump and the Second Amendment, doesn't believe in evolution, and has a reputation for such dubious declarations as, “The only place you’re going to find the type of speed I like to do is at a gay bar at six in the morning” (from a Grantland interview that ran less than a month before the Paris attacks). It's tempting to assume he's just trying trying to sweep his latest right-wingnut utterances under the rug of PTSD to avoid losing fans, or a potential defamation lawsuit from the Bataclan.
But before you make that assumption, consider two things: First, this is a guy who seldom if ever apologizes for anything he says; he even reiterated his pro-gun stance after the Paris attacks, and he never walked those comments back. Second, this is a guy who survived a terrorist attack that killed 89 people, all of them fans, friends or colleagues of the band, including representatives from EODM's European label and the group's merch manager. That is not something anyone bounces back from easily, even a guy who describes his performance style as “trying to fuck everybody in the room.”
So everyone just calm down and cut Jesse “The Devil” Hughes some slack, OK? The man has been handed some serious trauma and he's doing his best to cope with it. Whether you agree with his world view and his politics or not, he deserves your sympathy. And while it's certainly fair to hold him accountable for whatever he chooses to say about the attacks, it does no one any good to vilify him when those statements sometimes hop the express bus to Crazytown. Let's accept his apology and move on.
[Note: There is a lot of conflicting information out there regarding Hughes' status as a minister, reverend and/or priest. As best as we can tell, he was raised Catholic and still holds many of that church's beliefs, but he was ordained by the Universal Life Church and is now affiliated with the Order of Saint Francis, which sounds like a Catholic monastic sect but is actually part of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England's international organization. Got all that? Good.]