VATNAJÖKULL GLACIER, ICELAND—In an emergency session Tuesday, members of the Supreme Metal Council strongly condemned the increasing use of the metal hand sign in lay society, claiming that its meaning has become perverted by overuse.

Elders of the Supreme Metal Council examine amateur-video evidence of what they are calling "a worrisome trend."

"The metal sign, or 'sign of the goat,' has all but lost its impact as a token of respectful recognition for something truly 'rocking' or 'metal,'" SMC president Terence "Geezer" Butler said. According to Butler, members are upset that their sacred gesture is being used to acknowledge and celebrate "favorable but clearly non-metal events."

"We have all heard the reports of people using it to greet their in-laws, or after starting their lawn mowers with a single pull," Butler said. "But recently it was brought to our attention that someone used the gesture in a Texas convenience store after snagging the last box of carrot cakes. This simply won't do."

Formed in 1972 and comprising 12 of the most revered leaders of the metal community, the council meets annually in its majestic hall atop Vatnajökull, Iceland's largest glacier, to discuss metal affairs. The SMC convened for a special session after Nikki Sixx, Overlord Of Glam Metal Affairs, was sent hard photographic evidence of metal-sign abuse across the nation. Sixx's fellow high priests said they were "shocked," calling it "one of the most serious affronts to metal's integrity since the rise of rap-metal in the late 1990s."

"I remember a time not long ago when the Devil Horns were reserved for only the most righteous of person, deed, or riff," Grand Elder Lemmy Kilmister said. "To see someone throwing the horns to his mate at the launderette because the clothes dryer came to a full stop just as he finished reading his copy of Circus... It breaks my heart."

Nodding in silent agreement were council members Adalwolfa, a curvaceous Frank Frazetta-drawn Teutonic she-warrior magically brought to life by the council, and the spirit of slain Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

Compounding the problem, Sixx said, is the fact that many people who use the sign are not recognized members of the Metal Roster, the list of true metal acolytes engraved in medieval calligraphy on gleaming pages of steel.

"This man here, who invokes the sign merely to indicate his joy that his microwave popcorn is done: He is not metal," Sixx said. "We have it on good authority that he prefers the music of Tim McGraw and that the magic word of 'Zoso' has never passed his lips."

The council discussed several harsh punishments to deter further metal-sign abuse. Paulo Pinto, bassist for the Brazilian thrash-metal band Sepultura and Overlord Of International Metal Affairs, suggested that the hand of a suspected signer should be immediately cut off. A contingency of death rockers from Gothenburg, Sweden recommended that any sign abuser, or anyone who is not sufficiently metal, should be forced to eat his severed hand while having his eyeballs burned with a superheated metal crucifix, and then be slowly skinned alive.

More charitable members, such as former Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, suggested that "a helpful list of guidelines could educate others, allowing them to distinguish between metal and non-metal occurrences."

"A lot of people who incorrectly make the sign have traces of metal in their hearts and minds, they just need the proper direction," Mustaine said. "Remember that many are outcasts and losers. To punish them further is to destroy the future of metal."

Until the council decides what course of action to adopt, Butler said he believes that a simple rule of thumb will help reduce the incidence of metal-sign abuse.

"If your head is neither banging nor thrashing, you should not be throwing the sign," Butler said. "It's that simple."

Yet, in a later interview in his private, skull-bedecked chambers, Butler expressed the concern that the problem has grown too widespread for even the mighty SMC to solve. He said he worries that metal standards have been on the decline for so long that few have any clear idea as to what is metal and what is not. The SMC has experienced deep ideological rifts in the past that have affected its ability to make strong decisions, most notably during the lengthy trial and eventual sentencing of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who was indicted in 2004 on charges of cutting his hair, pussing out on Napster, and contributing to the original motion-picture soundtrack of Mission: Impossible 2.

"To this day, there are many on the council who deeply resent the presence of [Poison guitarist] C.C. DeVille,'" Butler said. "In fact, so do I. Despite our differences, the council still remains the sole arbitrator of all things metal. We must get through to those who wantonly abuse the sign of the goat. They must be informed that watering down the sign's meaning will result in serious consequences."

Should the abuse continue, Butler said the council "will defer the matter to Satan."