Krieg’s Neill Jameson on Freedom of Speech and its Real Consequences

Illustration by Mike Wohlberg, tFk!

Illustration by Mike Wohlberg, tFk!

I often sit and talk to my older friends about the kind of shit I had hoped I’d never converse about—mostly simpler times when music was less ethically complicated and the the cult of the peanut gallery/comments section barely existed. But was it all simpler back then or were we just shoving our heads in the sand because there was less inundation due to social media and the general population’s (sometime unfortunate) access to the internet? Has anything really changed in how we go about life or has the global coming together really accelerated what a fucking quagmire metal has become? 

Who gives a shit? Regardless, it’s what it is now and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

What’s most infuriating is people’s inability to keep an open mind and explore what different sides of the argument have to say. Dialogue has mostly been reduced to the lowest common denominator and unfortunately the LCD seem to be wielding the brightest torches and loudest voices.

The amount of shows that have been shut down or come under fire (the last month or two especially) seems to be growing, like a festering boil that rubs against your pant leg making it painful to move forward so you end up sitting in place. Do I disagree with the venues decisions to keep certain bands off or shut down shows entirely? It’s not my place. Why? Because this is a “free” country and the owners of the venues have every right to control what goes on within their business. 

The course of action for a consumer is pretty simple: You as a fan can decide to never go to that venue again—you have the power to actually impact their bottom line. It’s a give and take sort of society. It’s both you and the venue exercising your freedom of speech and choice. It’s actual democracy at work, which given the political environment of our fine nation’s election the last few weeks, I can understand may seem like Bigfoot, the Tooth Fairy or people reading a book. But a lot of people end up crumbling after a bit because there’s a band they want to see or they got some great bootleg shirt they have to go and been seen in. It’s a simple choice that somehow becomes difficult.

I mentioned freedom of speech because that’s the crux of my rambling argument. People seem to use freedom of speech as a shield to hide behind, the same sort of moron that uses “just sayin’” a lot in sentences as a diversion tactic to soften the blow when they say something that makes most thinking people have to urgently shit. Freedom of speech is a great concept, it’s one of the only things this country is founded on that I truly believe in. (Please tell me how unpatriotic I am in the comments, best one wins a prize!) But freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. And this means both sides of the playground here. Still with me? No? Rad, here are some examples:

Recently there was a big to do about Deströyer 666 not being the gentlest of souls. For anyone who’s actually paid attention to underground metal the last 10 or more years, this was as shocking as Bruce Willis actually being dead in “The Sixth Sense.” On your second viewing. After reading the book adaptation. Anyway they got in some internet hot water because vocalist KK Warslut got shitfaced and yelled at people at a show, including someone reportedly from Antifa. Why someone from Antifa was at a D666 show is another question for another day but once the American tabloid media got a hold of it you’d think the world briefly stopped for a minute. Metalsucks decided to run a few pieces on both the incident and the history of the band calling them out for racism, sexism and for their frontman acting like an asshole in public. When Deströyer 666 came to the States they were considerably fired up against Metalsucks and what they felt were trumped up charges and suppression of their freedom of speech. They issued no apology and instead created more incendiary conversation. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what they said or stand for, this is an actual example of someone utilizing freedom of speech and understanding that there are consequences. Whether or not this should be appalling or applauded, it’s actual democracy at work, and from the looks of it, didn’t really dampen their stride across the country.

They then issued a statement calling for people to attack Metalsucks, exposing the editors real names and even posting one of their addresses. This was because they felt what Metalsucks had written about them was false and damning. The result way a very swift—and very rare—apology from the MS staff and the subsequent pulling of the articles. Was threatening violence against them for running these pieces justified? Not when it’s also conceivably against their families and children, who had absolutely nothing to do with these pieces. But is it surprising? It shouldn’t be. Just as Deströyer 666 shouldn’t be surprised for being called out for misogyny and being offensive, Metalsucks should not be surprised that someone wanted to shove their witch hunt pieces up their front ends with all of the love and subtlety of a hound trying to dig into a rabbit’s hole. What the self–righteous need to grasp is that they too are not free from consequences for their actions regardless of the perceived nobility.

What I need you to understand if you’re still reading and haven’t fucked off to the comments section is I’m not defending either Deströyer 666 or Metalsucks. I think they both have their faults in this argument. But they both have learned the lesson that eventually you reap what you sow. Will that change anything? I doubt it. Metalsucks is back at it by claiming a victory over Nails (who haven’t actually broken up). Warslut isn’t going to change his pseudonym any time soon. But hopefully it’s a cautionary tale to others who might be preparing to enter a similar situation, most likely to cover up their shortcomings as artists. 

We recently ran a pair of guest editorials about whether or not there’s an “SJW” problem in metal, which many of you wouldn’t stop tagging me in. I’d say that the biggest problem in metal isn’t Deafheaven scarf-flaunting “SJWs” or keyboard warriors who have macros on their keyboards to make typing racial slurs more efficient: It’s a lack of thinking or, as someone put it elsewhere, an asshole problem. Seeing as I get lumped into either being an SJW or a Nazi I suppose I can say I’m well versed in the horseshit of both sides. Metal has historically been outsider culture, which at its core, goes against societal values—yes, even fucking Manowar.

Trying to appeal to a broader audience and bring in the people that many of us spent our youth and even our adulthood either rejecting or being rejected by is mixing oil and water. You can sit and shake it and try to tell people it’s blending, but give it a minute, and it’s separate and you’ve dirtied a glass. But just because you’re in a subculture that goes against traditional values doesn’t mean there should be a lack of civility. I don’t think someone should be treated like shit or denied access to shows because of the color of their skin or what genital they like to put in their mouth. They should be denied if they’re a shitty person who contributes nothing but misery to those around them. I know that judging a person on an individual basis will be taken as me flexing my privilege to the tumblr crowd, but that seems to be to me to be the only way to break down barriers. I also believe—and I’m sure you’re ready with your comments about me being a fluffer for a shower scene in “Oz”—that women shouldn’t have to worry about going to shows or being involved in metal and being accosted by semi-flaccid, cummy strangers who seem them only as objects and then bitch on reddit later when their unwanted advances don’t get them laid. Yes, Virginia, there is a problem in metal but it’s not these categories you like to squeeze folks in. The problem is an ignorance to consequences and repercussions. Want to make positive social change? Become educated, get out from behind the computer where it’s safe and moist and go change what you don’t like about the world. Listen to a Dropdead record. Stop wasting your time making cute memes. Vote with your dollar, that’s the universal language of the world. It’s your life, you can waste it how you want to, but always remember that everything comes with consequences.

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