Van Halen attire carries jail penalty -- An Arkansas teenager was charged for wearing a shirt with the name of the band's latest album, ''For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge''

By Bob Young
Updated July 10, 1992 at 04:00 AM EDT

Wear a Van Halen T-shirt, go to jail. It could happen to Shawnn Pierce, a 19-year-old Van Halen fan who was arrested last month in Fort Smith, Ark., for wearing a souvenir shirt emblazoned with the title of the band’s recent album, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Pierce was charged with ”violating a statute against wearing a smutty shirt,” which could get him up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. (The first letters of the album title’s four words spell an expletive that was boldly highlighted on Pierce’s shirt.) ”You’d think the police could find more important things to worry about,” says Pierce’s mother, Brenda Alexander.

Van Halen offered to pay the fine, but Pierce didn’t show up for his June 18 trial, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Still, Van Halen is contributing public service announcements to a Fort Smith radio station to get the so-called ”smutty T-shirt law” revoked. ”The issue is harassing one type of fan because of musical tastes or appearance,” says guitarist Eddie Van Halen. ”You can mess with us, but not with our fans.”