In a brand new interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station, former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens was asked for his opinion on musicians expressing their political views, either through their music or via social media. Owens responded: "If you don't like somebody, or you don't like an angle, or you don't like whatever, to wish death upon people and hatred — I watch these people post that. I'm, like, 'Man, you are absolutely crazy.' But it's what it is. Everybody can have their opinion; I don't have to agree with it.
"Listen, if anybody thinks stuff about me — I'm like a middle-of-the-road guy in politics," he continued. "I don't really talk too much about it. My Facebook page and my Instagram and Twitter pages aren't filled with it. I don't post about it — I might like something, but I don't post it. I kind of call it common sense — I think whatever is right, I kind of think is right. But, man, when someone thinks you're one way… I'm not joking about it. This never happened in the past. Eight years ago, four years ago, ten years ago, this stuff didn't happen — I get messages wishing death upon my family if I don't believe in their political views. And it's the craziest thing I've ever seen. I've never done that in my life.
"If I have someone in music or an artist that just constantly posts crap — that I think is crap — all the time, that doesn't agree with me, I just don't follow them. I don't unfriend them — I just don't [wanna] look at it. Or if there's a song [with political lyrics], I don't have to listen to it anymore, if I don't agree with it. Or I still might like the song and still listen to it — I don't have to agree with it.
"It's so strange nowadays," Owens added. "I've never seen anything like this. It's weird — [people] don't even give things a chance, and they just kind of go off one way or the other — left, right [or] the middle. But the hatred that they do, you never would have gotten away with that years ago — period. Period. I mean, you wouldn't get away with half the stuff that people do, and it's kind of crazy."
According to Owens, the widespread use of social media has reshaped and redefined the ways in which we communicate and express ourselves, including facilitating an explosion in bullying and shaming.
"People can do what they want," he said. "If it's your opinion, but you're using hate to spew it, or wishing bad things upon other people because they don't agree, that's what I don't like it.
"It's been done in music and TV for years — forever — but when you didn't agree with it, you didn't say, 'I hope you die,'" he continued. "That's what's changed. You used to listen to [somebody], 'Yeah, I don't agree with that. But I'll still listen to John Lennon, even though I agree with him. I don't agree with what THE BEATLES are saying, but I'll still listen to 'em.' But now it's kind of weird."
"Social media has been around for 10 years now, but it's just really happened in the last couple of years where people feel like hatred is okay. Political parties didn't use to spew as much hatred as what happens in the world now. They might have thought it, but you didn't post pictures of people getting their throats slit. … But that's what people do now. It's a weird world now. And social media did it. Now people slowly can realize, 'You know what? I'm probably pretty safe by telling Tim I hope his family dies, because I don't like what he agrees with.' So that's just the way it is. That shows you the mentality of some people."
Owens, who frequently "likes" tweets that support President Donald Trump's policies and that are derogatory to Democrats, weighed in on the U.S. presidential race back in 2016, saying that Trump was perhaps what America needed to move the country forward. Claiming that he wasn't a Democrat or a Republican ("I'm in the middle," he said), Owens explained that he couldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because of "the way they tax people." He went on to say that America "had eight years of really bad" under President Barack Obama and opined that "a lot of American people" were "just trying to figure out something other than what [Obama] was doing."
Back in 2012, Owens revealed in an interview that he was voting for Mitt Romney in that year's election.