It isn’t just Warped Tour that is under attack from Marxist feminist groups policing the culture — there appears to be a massive war going on between those who seek to preserve the often offensive free speech within the punk rock scene, and those who wish to destroy it.
As has been made extremely clear over the past couple of years, the right has been defending the importance of free speech, including the freedom to offend. Meanwhile, the left seeks to shut down anything deemed inappropriate as “hate speech,” actively preventing speakers they don’t agree with from sharing their views through violence and arson.
Given the current state of things, it is reasonable to deduce that the punk rock scene should be standing with /pol/ and the anti-establishment right. Right?
Wrong. At least, mostly wrong.
While many old school punk bands and their fans have taken hard stances against the political correctness that is being forced down our throats, those who aim to have a more mainstream appeal have grabbed their pussy hats and headed down the marketable path of attacking our president and his supporters.
In one of the most high profile examples of the madness, NOFX declared during the Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas that Trump supporters need to “get the fuck out of our scene.” Singer Fat Mike made the absurd statement while destroying a statue of a naked President Trump with a baseball bat.
“If you’re a Trump supporter, fuck you — get the fuck out of our scene!” Fat Mike declared while desperately clinging to both the bat and his relevance.
The statue was made by a group called “InDecline,” a Los Angeles based anarchist collective that sells items such as bandana’s printed with “no gods, no masters,” and ninja masks emblazoned with “legalize crime.”
Fat Mike has reportedly also stopped The Dwarves new album from being released on his label Fat Wreck Chords over “objectionable content.” During the band’s three decade long career they have often been accused of “sexism,” which would seemingly conflict with Fat Mike’s attempt at being the PC chief of police of the punk scene. It is also questionable how someone with his credentials can deem anything at all to be “objectionable content.”
A relatively new feminist band called “Bad Cop/Bad Cop,” who all look like they are ready to demand to speak to a manager at any moment, also has a song based around tearing down “microaggressions” — or speech that mildly offends them.
Meanwhile, as we previously reported, people are protesting bands at Warped Tour that they deem to be offensive. Iconic punk rock band The Dickies became the latest victim of the war on free speech, as a protester, who was actually on Warped Tour with another band, crashed their set and threw a sign on stage accusing the singer of being a predator. Frontman Leonard Graves Phillips’ obscene response caused a feminist uproar, as he had called the woman a “cunt.”
The protest and threats of boycott that followed made the protests against Marilyn Manson in the 1990s, which made national headlines, look bland and low key in comparison.
Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, spreading the nonsense that “words are violence,” released a statement about the incident on Alternative Press saying, “I do not condone verbal or physical violence, whatsoever.”
If "words are violence" – an idea that contradicts both free speech values and our constitution – who decides which words are violent?
— Screeching Weasel (@screechingweez) June 30, 2017
Over on the Punk News Facebook page, one of the most respected publications within the scene, the comments in regard to the incident revealed a deep divide.
“If what they did was offensive, then at least real punk rock is still doing its job,” Facebook user Leo Smith lamented. “These kids should take notes instead of trying to be safe about everything. Dickies rule!”
Just like in every college campus debate that immediately turns to racism at the hint of anything impolite, the comment spurred a fight about whether or not people should also support bands like Skrewdriver, a prominent punk band within the white nationalist movement. The “but, Skrewdriver” argument tends to be the punk rock version of “everyone I disagree with is literally Hitler.”
“Not everything needs to be a fuckin freedom fight nowadays for political correctness. It’s good to have a little shock value here and there. It’s what keeps the rebellious spirit alive… hence the birth of punk rock,” Smith countered.
Instead of internalizing what Smith was trying to say, social media users pounced on him, declaring that his statement “could be said in a Skrewdriver thread.” A user named Guillaume Pellegrini argued that “being offensive to institutions and oppressions is good, being offensive by reproducing institutionalized oppressions isn’t.”
An organization called “Safer Scenes,” a feminist group that is targeting Warped Tour claims that they are seeking to prevent sexual assaults at the festival by policing free speech. The group aims to turn the punk rock scene into one giant safe space, where everyone is kept on eggshells and could lose their livelihood over saying something deemed to be insensitive, sexist, or racist.
— Screeching Weasel (@screechingweez) June 30, 2017
Safer Scenes was brought to Warped Tour by another new feminist band called “War on Women” which co-founded the organization. The female-fronted band pushes an extreme social marxism stance, even writing songs proudly boasting about having abortions.
“It’s environmental, it’s economical, and truly conservative to only have children when you fucking want them,” a War on Women song titled Roe V. The World states. “I had an abortion, give us the pill!”
Another song by the Baltimore-based band compares abortion to meat, implying that people who eat meat, but are pro-life, are hypocrites.
In an op-ed for Vice, Shawna Potter of War on Women wrote that the Dickies, and their 30 year run, are not punk rock. She claimed that since Phillips used his free speech to argue back with the protester, the protester’s right to free speech was some how violated. She also seemingly argued that the band can no longer be considered punk because they are white men who look like the people in the Trump administration.
“They definitely don’t equate their right to free speech with anyone else’s In fact, they see others’ right to free speech as an affront to their own, and in this case, one to be met with anger and hate,” she wrote of her “acquaintance’s” sign that accused Phillips of being a predator. “That’s not punk. Maybe it used to be. Maybe ‘fucking shit up’ at all costs was exciting and revolutionary in the Reagan era. But now we have Trump, and while the white dudes in power are still conservative, they also look just like the Dickies or Phillips.”
Meanwhile, perhaps one of the most famous punk musicians of all-time, the legendary John Lydon — better known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, has come out in defense of Trump and Brexit.
“Where do I stand on Brexit? Well, here it goes: The working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” Lydon said on ‘Good Morning Britain’ as he put his fist in the air. “And there it is.”
I didn't care for Trump so didn't vote for him but, weirdly, I'm on his side now. I get why people voted for him; it's this safety pin crap.
— Screeching Weasel (@screechingweez) November 12, 2016
Likewise, Screeching Weasel, who admittedly was behind one of the first records I ever purchased, has also spoke out about the liberal hysteria and disdain for free speech.
Ben Weasel, the band’s frontman, has long trolled Fat Mike on Twitter over his dorky “resistance” and political correctness.
— Screeching Weasel (@screechingweez) November 11, 2016
Speaking to Big League Politics about the incident at Warped Tour, Ben Weasel stated that “when the alt-right is occupying the moral high ground on free speech values, the chronically offended ought to consider they might be misplaying the ball.”
Mat Devine, the lead singer of the band Kill Hannah, has long expressed to me his frustration with the descent of the left — whose core principals, until recently, he believed most reflected his own.
Speaking on the witch hunt within the arts for anyone holding pro-free speech views, the musician told Big League Politics that “I’m a huge fan of Warped Tour — where one would think that free speech would be sacrosanct, and artists should be encouraged to ruffle feathers and go bravely against the grain. The truth is, anyone who expresses an opinion anything shy of lockstep with the hysterical left pays a huge price professionally.”
“Fascism is a word that the left loves to throw around, with comparisons to dictatorships, etc,” Devine continued. “But how insanely ironic then, that the intimidation tactics used by them against Trump supporters in the music industry these days is the closest thing to actual Gestapo behavior that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Whether the corny “resistance” punk rockers win or not, one thing is certain — those standing for free speech will always be the counter culture — and far braver than those who stand against it.