throws it to the stage and stomps on it, that's just unacceptable. I love Pearl Jam ,
but that was way over the edge. We literally got up and left."
"It was like he decapitated someone in a primal fashion and stuck their head
on a stick," added Zimmerman. "It kinda blows the Dixie Chicks away."
Brown also quoted another fan who left in protest, Kim Mueller: "I wasn't sure
it was really happening," said Mueller. "We looked at each other and realized he
really did have George Bush 's head on a stick and was waving it in the air, then
slammed it to the ground and stepped on it."
Brown's story ran on the bottom of page 53 on April 3
. He didn't think it was
a big deal and figured it was over.
The Associated Press picked up elements of Brown's story and ran it through
its national news wire services. The story was picked up by hundreds, if not thou-
sands, of print, television, and radio outlets within hours. The AP article focused
on Vedder's actions with the Bush mask, saying in both the article's sub-headline
and main text that Vedder "impaled" it on a mic stand. Within days, reaction to
the story sparked calls for boycotts, protests, and censorship against Pearl Jam for
their "violent" and "treasonous statements" against the President and the war in
Iraq, as well as many passionate defenses of the band's right to free expression.
The AP story, complete with the impalement allegation, was quickly posted as
the lead story on the Drudge Report ,
an Internet site well-known for focusing on
scandalous and salacious (and often conservative) perspectives on news stories.
As a result of the exposure via AP and Drudge, the story spread quickly, as did
the calls for punitive action against Pearl Jam .
Calls for sanctions, censorship, and boycotts came from countless television
and radio talk show hosts and pundits, including national figures such as G.
Gordon Liddy , Rush Limbaugh , Ann Coulter , Oliver North , and Fox News 's Bill
O'Reilly , who said in his email newsletter that "Pearl Jam is no doubt considering
early retirement" after the incident.
Editorials in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal , The Washington Times ,
and The Augusta Chronicle focused on the band's "unpatriotic" act in Denver,
calling for sanctions against the band. The Augusta Chronicle 's editorial said, "These
perverted patriots of the Antiwar Brigade's Music Battalion have got a First
Amendment right to say and do these things, one supposes. But their free speech
need not and should not be free of consequences."
Even fellow musician Gene Simmons of KISS had harsh words for Vedder and
Pearl Jam following the incident. "I don't think everybody that booed will stop
buying Pearl Jam records or going to Pearl Jam concerts, but I do know that a