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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
The 'Rotten' side of US politics
Johnny Rotten at the Democratic convention
Rotten: 'US politics needs to be more open-minded'
By News Online's Kevin Anderson in Los Angeles

John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, leader of the original punk rockers, the Sex Pistols, and lyricist of the band's 1976 rallying cry "Anarchy in the UK", has turned up at the Democratic convention.

But Lydon, whose interviews with protesters outside last month's Republican convention in Philadelphia reportedly landed him on the Los Angeles police department's unofficial "watch list", has not been joining the ranks of anarchists protesting outside the convention.

Instead he is an accredited commentator at the convention for internet broadcaster eYada and, in an interview with the BBC, even had a good word to say about democracy...

Johnny, what brings a punk rocker like you to the Democratic convention?

Punk rocker? My God, that's 20 years ago, and the term "punk" I have never ever accepted. Thank you. Nobody has the right to label me anything they want. Hello. I'm an individual, plain and simple, always have been.

What brings an individual like you to the Democratic convention?

Amusement. I am at the moment studying all kinds of politics in America and reaping financial gain from such activities. How American can you get? Isn't democracy such a wonderful thing?

So what have your observations of American democracy been?

Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. One big balloon fest. It's all about balloons. Who has the most balloons wins. At the moment, the Republicans have got more than enough.

Would you rather be outside with the protesters?

What, that dirty unwashed lot? I would say no. Actually, what do you mean? I regularly waltz through on both sides of this border and everywhere in between.

You're doing a radio call-in show on the internet. What do you think that the internet is doing as far as politics goes?

Not too much up 'til now. I know that a lot of fundraising was done with Senator [John] McCain. But it was very curious that when he raised, I think, $13.5m, that he withdrew from his nomination. Where that money's gone has yet to be answered.

What are you going to do on the internet?

What I always do. Talk. Listen. Learn.

What would you change after seeing American politics? What do you think needs to be done?

It needs to be much more open-minded and stop this little ghetto-isations of "I'm Republican. I'm Democrat. I'm this. I'm that." You should first and foremost see yourself as a human being and an individual, and go along with whatever suits your points of view.

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15 Aug 00 | Americas
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