Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Connor Betts And ‘Pornogrind’

The Dayton killer played in a musical genre celebrating grisly rape and murder

You’ve heard about how Patrick Crusius, the El Paso shooter, marinated his mind in white supremacist filth. Here’s what Connor Betts, the Dayton killer, soaked his soul in:

The man who killed nine and injured 27 in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was the lead singer of a “pornogrind” metal band, a genre defined by its explicit subject matter and themes of gore and violence, specifically sexual violence and necrophilia, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The gunman, identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, was a member of Menstrual Munchies, a three-person band that performed regularly in the Midwest death metal scene, recently appearing as one of the bands at the Summer Massacre 2 concert in Chicago on June 29.

Pornogrind is a subgenre of a fast and extreme kind of heavy metal called grindcore, which is known for its mostly dark, satirical themes of sexual violence and gore delivered for shock value.

The band’s song titles are explicitly sexually violent, such as “Preteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter” and “Cunt Stuffed With Medical Waste – Sexual Abuse Of A Teenage Corpse.” The album art is equally explicit. One album cover shows a woman consuming feces, while another shows an illustration of a young woman’s headless body chained to a bed, covered in blood, as a man puts his pants back on.

Get this:

Musicians in this genre posted messages online saying they were disgusted by Betts’s actions.

What would it even mean for people who take pleasure making music about sexual violence and necrophilia to be “disgusted” by anything? What kind of fools do they think people are?

Here’s a YouTube clip of Menstrual Munchies performing last year. You can play it at work; there’s no comprehending these lyrics. They’re just screamed and growled.

Vice News did a story on the pornogrind genre. Here Vice quotes a guy who plays in another pornogrind band that shared the stage before with Betts’s group:

Still, he says he finds it hard to believe the dehumanization portrayed in the music contributed to an environment in which Betts felt desensitized enough to commit actual violence himself, including shooting to death his own sister and her boyfriend, two of the victims of his rampage.

“Part of the music is you want to figure out ways to portray people as being dehumanized as much as possible or, you know, degraded. And sexual dehumanization and objectification is a big way of doing that,” Ward said. “If for some reason the music he made or whatever, somehow did do that for him, I feel that it’s an exception, not the rule when it comes to people making this music.”

“I feel it’s our responsibility to make it a point to let people know that, no, this is not what we actually stand for,” he added. “Our songs aren’t prophecies, you know, like, they’re not fucking, ominous fu-king messages that are supposed to come true. They’re just songs.”

Betts, the killer, died wearing a hoodie with the logo of a band called Acacia Strain, with a quote from its song “Ramirez.”

Here are the lyrics to “Ramirez” — a reference to Richard Ramirez, the infamous Satanic rapist and serial killer. The song has a blasphemous refrain. Here is one of the verses:

I am the one who will bring Hell upon you all
I’ll stand at the gates and watch your kingdom fall
Ashes to ashes, and dust into dust
This world is a graveyard


Vincent Bennett, a member of Acacia Strain, is shocked and appalled that people would associate their music with mass murder. From his Twitter response:




This guy, Vincent Bennett, wrote a song glorifying Richard Ramirez, a Satanist who was one of America’s most notorious rapists and serial killers. At Walmart.com (!), you could buy this band t-shirt (now out of stock) featuring Ramirez:

Here’s the reverse of that shirt:

The text on the shirt says:

I love to kill people. I love to watch people die.

From Wikipedia’s lengthy description of Richard Ramirez’s crimes:

On July 5, 1985, Ramirez broke into a home in Sierra Madre and bludgeoned 16-year-old Whitney Bennett with a tire iron as she slept in her bedroom. After searching in vain for a knife in the kitchen, Ramirez attempted to strangle the girl with a telephone cord. He was startled to see sparks emanate from the cord, and when his victim began to breathe, he fled the house believing that Jesus Christ had intervened and saved her. Bennett survived the savage beating, which required 478 stitches to close the lacerations to her scalp.

On July 7, 1985, Ramirez burglarized the home of Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, in Monterey Park. Finding her asleep on her living room couch, he beat her to death using his fists and kicking her in the head. A shoe print from an Avia sneaker was left imprinted on her face.[54] After cruising two other neighborhoods, he returned to Monterey Park and chose the home of Sophie Dickman, 63. Ramirez assaulted and handcuffed Dickman at gunpoint, attempted to rape her, and stole her jewelry; when she swore to him that he had taken everything of value, he told her to “swear on Satan”.

On July 20, 1985, Ramirez purchased a machete before driving a stolen Toyota to Glendale.[57] He chose the home of Lela Kneiding, 66, and her husband Maxon, 68. He burst into the sleeping couple’s bedroom and hacked them with the machete, then killed them with shots to the head from a .22 caliber handgun. He further mutilated their bodies with the machete before robbing the house of valuables. After quickly fencing the stolen items from the Kneiding residence, Ramirez drove to Sun Valley. At approximately 4:15 am, he broke into the home of the Khovananth family. He shot the sleeping Chainarong Khovananth in the head with a .25 caliber handgun, killing him instantly, then repeatedly raped Somkid Khovananth, beating and sodomizing her. He bound the couple’s terrified 8-year-old son before dragging Somkid around the house to reveal the location of any valuable items, which he stole. During his assault he demanded that she “swear to Satan” that she was not hiding any money from him.

Remember, kids, the lead singer and lyricist of Acacia Strain, which glorified Richard Ramirez in its song and promotional material — sold by Walmart, note well — is outraged that anybody would associate the band with mass murder, and encourages you all to use music “as a positive outlet.” Spend some time with the lyrics written by Vincent Bennett for Acacia Strain. They’re all about death, murder, blasphemy, and nihilism. Poor Acacia Strain, having people think ill of them! You know, ladies and gentlemen, back in the day, there were people who thought Elvis Presley was bad news.

(Sarcasm off.)

You know well that if Connor Betts had immersed himself in white supremacist fantasies, we would know exactly what to think of it. Instead, he immersed himself in extremely perverted, misogynistic fantasies involving rape and murder, and wrote and performed pornographic songs about them. If Betts’s band had performed songs glorifying KKK lynchings, nobody would think it was funny. Betts went on his murder spree wearing a hoodie quoting lyrics from a song celebrating a notorious rapist-serial killer, written by a band whose songs are all macabre death anthems.

But we are not supposed to draw any conclusions from any of this.

What is wrong with us? We invite evil to colonize our imaginations, and we are shocked when it makes itself horribly manifest in deeds like El Paso and Dayton. As Nietzsche warned, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

We won’t even defend ourselves from this stuff, not collectively. You who have eyes to see and ears to hear, come out of this death-wish civilization, while you still can. Something very, very dark is coming.

UPDATE: Well, I can say without fear of contradiction that I did not expect a reader comment like this amazing one:

Oh man… I can’t believe I’m about to defend people into what I generally consider to be the lowest form of music possible…

Rod, I know how this looks, but I grew up with some guys who were putting on a musical festival with this guys band playing in it next month. Is this music scene full of weird messed up degenerates? Yes… But… these are people too. And often way more sensitive people than you would think. They are usually just overgrown disgusting children. I know this sounds insane but I know of a black girl who in the supposedly super racist woman hating Midwest porno grind scene that was adopted into a family that appears degenerate, in some ways is, but they also created their own loving, dirty human cul-de-sac of misfit toys. She took their name legally, and they live weird, celibate, heavy metal charitable monk sort of lives. Though they may be wildly intoxicated. Many of the people involved in this scene, gross as it is, are really just normal people. The God that loves the broken hearted is there among this festering boil of a music scene too. This little family I know of helps each other out in ways that might shame a well to do respectable church going family. I’m asking you to push your Christian charity to the limits to try and wrap your head around the fact these bands are mostly made of young men from bad situations trying to make each other laugh. I mean, I get it, I’m the former Satanist who’s been attending an Orthodox Church for a year this week, I’m weird, but even in this disgustingly vile scene, and yes this is a symptom of a disease, there are real, semi normal, broken, but still lovable humans involved. I promise you. At the bottom of a crucifixion icon there’s nothing left but a skull and the abyss. Love and redeemable humanity can be found there too.

To touch more on recent events, these shootings always pierce me because back in 1999-2001 era I feel I could have been these shooters. It’s also why I don’t feel there’s a political solution to this issue. It’s saddening seeing everyone blame their political opponents for whatever evils abound. When Columbine happened, my first thought was being disappointed in myself because I was too weak to do what they did. It’s scary looking at my daughter and my incoming baby boy, who in some ways you personally Rod, and the local Orthodox Church are responsible for by saving my second marriage, and realizing both people, the almost random murderer and loving father are both me.

We keep looking for one thing to blame but it’s not one thing. It’s not an ideology. It’s all of us. It’s absent fathers, self absorbed mothers, it’s watching people go bankrupt for medical bills, watching our fathers get laid off for working too hard and now
making too much money after 20 years with the company, seeing kids sexually mutilated to inflate their parents ego, people admitting shooters were picked on their whole lives and then acting surprised, seeing global warming advocates wishing to kill whitey before they even bother buying a solar panel, it’s knowing we had a culture that’s been robbed of us by well meaning but blind and weak elders, it’s lies, more than anything knowing it’s lies all the way through and not knowing where to even look for the truth, it’s ignorant scared Christians, soulless and blind scientists, corrupt politicians, all of us who bitch and moan and complain and wait for a savior, and don’t realize a savior died for the sole purpose of saying God will meet us half way but won’t and can’t do it for us if we are to be free.

In the end… we all fail. What is white supremacy but a collective failure to let a person know they are worth more than their level of pale? We all fail, and love to condemn everyone who doesn’t share our particular personal failure. And we all condemn everyone else but ourselves for failing to save the world. And we all have a giant, black, sucking abyss of a wound in our centers and we don’t know what to do about it. We hate both hippie Christ and Ezekiel style OT heavy metal. We reject our cultural memory hoping to change the future, like someone marrying the same wife for the third or fourth time with a slightly different appearance.

To wrap this up, despite all my vile, twisted broken teenage rage, I would say I was saved in some sense by a vague awareness there was something more, and I was taking a crooked path to whatever that was. The hard constraints of my Catholic upbringing kept me from suicide. Orthodoxy has given me a new lease on life. And that my time spent in the hell of white trash and the ghetto and black magic makes me very, very slow to condemn anyone. I’ve been reading a lot about St Cyprian of Antioch and Justina lately as they’ve humbled me, and they remind me that after 1800 years, a persons supremely bad choices might have a chance to do something good for someone and give them a path for redemption. Like Gandalf reminds us about Gollum, our monstrous selves might hold a point in the grand narrative of the future we can’t know just yet.

Uncle Chuckie is a demon, yet does this group not love him like a saint? Is he not a modern Cyprian? If we aren’t lukewarm to the point of being boring aren’t we all damned? Don’t rush to judge the story of anyone before the end is all told.

At the risk of ruining Chuckie’s reputation, when I think of him, I don’t think of the “Uncle Chuckie” that he performs on this site. I think of the man I saw in real life who slowly and tenderly led his disabled wife to a seat at one of my talks. I often wonder if Chuckie knows the goodness that lies buried in his own heart … and if it scares him.

Here is a link to the story of Cyprian and Justina. Here’s the standard Orthodox Crucifixion icon image, with the skull and bones at the base of the Cross, as the reader mentioned:



Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now