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December 17, 2003 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Music club caught in racist flap : After being promoted for many weeks, the plug is pulled on the Death In June/Der Blutharsch/Changes concert in Chicago for reasons of racism. Aside from Changes (which does support separatism), when does imagery go too far? Bruce Bottle of Chicago's The Empty Bottle explains the reasons why they cancelled the show, and opens up a can of worms in the process.
posted by starscream (28 comments total)

 
Witnesses said [Death in June's] Pearce was at the club and attempted to talk to protesters but was shouted down.

We have a man here who may or may not be a white supremacist and is trying to talk to the people protesting against him and his band, and what do they do? Shout him down. They protest against him because of what they think he is, but refuse to listen to him explain his true beliefs. Why?
posted by punishinglemur at 8:39 PM on December 17, 2003


Damn, I bet they're making the last film on this tour. I heard there was going to be free Coca Cola, AND monkies from the zoo!

Should've called this post "The Death of the Midwest" *rimshot*
posted by qDot at 8:42 PM on December 17, 2003


Oh, please. As Nazi music goes, these two bands don't even make the cut. They don't have any racist and/or National Socialist lyrics, album statements, interviews, etc. Yep, the bands like Nazi symbolism and imagery - them, and probably a quarter of the extreme metal and industrial bands out there - but this does not a Nazi band make. I've seen and heard plenty of Nazi music, being a Black Metal fan, and it does not tend to be subtle.

This said, I find it extraordinarily amusing to read some of the posts written by people who are against the bands in that Empty Bottle forum thread. Some of these anti-fascists ought to have a look in the mirror - they're a lot closer to what they hate than they think.
posted by vorfeed at 8:52 PM on December 17, 2003


I guess that Skrewdriver reunion show won't be happening at The Empty Bottle after all.
posted by Lusy P Hur at 9:32 PM on December 17, 2003


Death in June have had this controversy following them around for over a decade, despite their repeated denials.

If they were nazis, however -- and actually made much money to write home about -- I'm sure they'd take the Schwarzenegger way out and write a big check to The Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Kinda like selling indulgences, really...
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:28 AM on December 18, 2003


Because of him
This world has hope again
Because of him
This world has got a friend
A friend that will eradicate
All life's false humanity
Helping one race, one creed
To meet their need
So that all may see
That it's all so wonderful to care
To love, to cull, to share
Oh, let us start today
To live and die the same way...


-- Because of Him, Death in June
posted by Hildegarde at 5:10 AM on December 18, 2003


Having attended a Death In June show with Boyd Rice, I can attest that these guys are nazi fans. See Boyd's interview here speaking about first meeting Genesis P'Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and D. Pearce "I had no idea what T.G. was when I went around to look up Gen., all I knew is that he was an artist who was very into Manson and Hitler. Back then, NO ONE was into that sort of thing. Now it’s just a trendy youth culture fad, but back then if anyone bothered to pursue such things you could pretty much guess it came from a sincere interest, and further that the interest could only have been born of a seriously divergent world view. In those days Gen still wore swastikas and would tell anyone who would listen (and many that wouldn’t) what a great guy Hitler was. Uncle Adolf he called him. But that was a long time ago." These guys squirm away from openly endorsing Hitler because it makes for bad press...
posted by Domain Master 666 at 6:30 AM on December 18, 2003


I'd just like to say that Death in June has always had a fascist aesthetic, but I've never seen anything from them that's an endorsement of Nazi politics or culture.

I mean, seriously. Do you really think they be able to play shows in Germany on a regular basis if this were the case?
posted by Jairus at 7:00 AM on December 18, 2003


"Do you really think they......to on a regular basis...", Is that a joke Jairus, or are you serious? Germany has many groups with strong fascist/neo-nazi beliefs.
posted by Wallzatcha at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2003


Wallzatcha: Not a joke. Germany has many groups with neo-nazi beliefs, but they don't perform highly-publicized tours. Neo-nazi actions are very, very illegal in Germany. If Death in June were racist/nazi/etc, they would've been arrested and barred from performing long before now. As it is, I believe they've done three or four german tours with Current 93 and NON in the past few years without any complications.
posted by Jairus at 7:53 AM on December 18, 2003


Is it really necessary to discuss or distinguish if a band is subtly racist or overtly racist? Should a band that wants "one race, one creed" be welcome to perform anywhere? I think not.

To Jairus' point, arguing the merits of a band by highlighting that Germany hasn't banned them is hardly a way to make a point about their political inclinations, and pales in comparison to other evidence presented in the thread.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:19 AM on December 18, 2003


Sounds like a Sturm in a Wasserglas to me.
posted by gwint at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2003


Should a band that wants "one race, one creed" be welcome to perform anywhere? I think not.
They were welcome by all the people who should have mattered. Your decision should be limited to supporting the band or not.

It would have been an interesting crowd I am sure. Mostly gothy kids if things have not changed too much. I do not believe Death in June would attract anything like a Nazi Skinhead, if there are any left within the city limits.

Whitehouse played at the Empty Bottle, and the club handled it fine. The fact that that show was likely to be, and actually was a lot more offensive and violent than Death in June would ever be makes this all pretty sad.

Censorship should always be the weapon of the enemy, never one we use ourselves. Walk together, Rock together and all that.
posted by thirteen at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2003


"Censorship should always be the weapon of the enemy"

There is a difference between censoring speech and deciding not to host that speech in ones own venue. If Empty Bottle doesn't want a bunch of whiney little Nazis and crypto-fascists in their bar, that's fine by me. It's up to them to decide who their clientele are and what will appeal to them; as well as what image they want to project.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:29 AM on December 18, 2003


There is a difference between censoring speech and deciding not to host that speech in ones own venue. If Empty Bottle doesn't want a bunch of whiney little Nazis and crypto-fascists in their bar, that's fine by me. It's up to them to decide who their clientele are and what will appeal to them; as well as what image they want to project.

The Bottle canceled the show because of the censors

"I think that this is going to leave a black mark on the arts community for a while," Finkelman said this week. "Giving somebody with a computer and an e-mail account the strength to be able to cancel a show, a theater event or an art showing is a scary thought. You just hope that there's going to be some sort of discussion about this, and if people listen to each other, maybe we'll get somewhere."

This was not Bruce Finkelman deciding not to host speech, this was the other whiney little cryptos strong arming him into canceling a show he wanted to put on.
posted by thirteen at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2003


Is it really necessary to discuss or distinguish if a band is subtly racist or overtly racist? Should a band that wants "one race, one creed" be welcome to perform anywhere? I think not.

Personally, I read that song with more than a dose of sarcasm. "So that all may see/That it's all so wonderful to care/To love, to cull, to share..." Sounds closer to a snarky Depeche Mode song than a Nazi anthem to me. The word choices ("all so wonderful") and juxtaposition of positive and negative terms ("love", "cull", "share") purposely disturb the listener by the end of the song. It's no more Nazi than the chapter in The Nazi Doctors which gets the reader to agree with some Nazi ideals, only to realize exactly what they've been taken in by.

These guys are certainly fans of the Nazi aesthetic, but I really do not see evidence that they're Nazis themselves, or that their music is a "recruitment tool". Even the anti-fascist groups that the manager of the Bottle talked to were unable to show convincing evidence of this. There's not one scrap of verifiable proof that these guys are Nazis. Meanwhile, there are thousands of bands that do not bother to hide their neo-Nazi connections - and yes, they play shows and sell albums. If you really want to do something about this, focus your attention there, not on bands like Death in June... but of course, that would require careful consideration about which bands to go after, and an understanding of what does and does not signal Nazi affiliation in various music scenes. That would put such a damper on the witch-hunt, wouldn't it?
posted by vorfeed at 11:21 AM on December 18, 2003


"The Bottle canceled the show because of the censors"

Well, it's convenient for him to blame others, the fact remains it was his decision.

"Giving somebody with a computer and an e-mail account the strength to be able to cancel a show"

Um who gave them that strength? If I send him an email will he cancel this Friday's show too? What B.S.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2003


I believe it was his desire not to have people clash in his bar that gave them that strength. Violence always has been, and always will be a powerful tool. The fact is that people who are not the band, or bar owner got involved, made threats (and apparently made good on some of them at the new venue) and caused intimidation. This is not how things should be done. Everyone would be better off if the show had just taken place.

It's up to them to decide who their clientele are and what will appeal to them; as well as what image they want to project.
I agree. If everyone felt the same, there would be far less trouble.
posted by thirteen at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2003


"The truth is an absolute defense in a slander lawsuit."

A whopper of a lawsuit would *prove* if these groups are fascist. If not, then a monetary judgement against the community agitators is in order.
posted by kablam at 3:14 PM on December 18, 2003


"made threats . . . and caused intimidation."

Not to beat a dying horse, but what threats, what intimidation? If they threatened actual bodily harm, that is a crime. If they threatened to picket, demonstrate, exercise their 1st amendment rights, well, so what. That's not intimidation, it's free speech.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:16 AM on December 19, 2003


A whopper of a lawsuit would *prove* if these groups are fascist. If not, then a monetary judgement against the community agitators is in order.

I think that a judge would find that the band has claimed public figure status for itself, which makes recovering in a defamation case nigh on to impossible (constitutional malice and all that).
posted by norm at 7:51 AM on December 19, 2003



Not to beat a dying horse, but what threats, what intimidation?

This is from the Empty Bottle forum
" So, who was the organized facist resistance outside the Deja Vu? I saw two guys getting beaten up, and one obvious DIJ fan was cracked in the nose walking down Lincoln with his girlfriend to the venue by some guy with a telescopic baton. This required an ambulance. Does anyone find it ironic that people protesting against facism use the same tactics that they condemn? To the rioters (and that's what you are), are you proud of your actions? Are you proud that you inflicted bodily harm on people who may have just wanted to attend a musical performance? Protest all you want; we do have freedom of speech in this country, but who has the right to openly beat strangers? Do we see the conflict of interests?
By the way, did the show ever happen?"
There are many other posts on the subject and about the violence, but you will have to wade through them yourself here. Even in the articles linked to previously in this thread, there was reported violence threatened by people trying to shut down the show, so I am a little confused why you think I am pulling this stuff out of nowhere.
posted by thirteen at 8:20 AM on December 19, 2003


1. Let's assume that the reports of violence are true.
2. Let's assume that the Empty Bottle knew about threats of violence before they decided to cancel the show.

They still had options beyond simply cancelling the show. Increasing security springs to mind. I just don't like the guy who cancelled the show acting like he's the victim in all this.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:03 AM on December 19, 2003


What is with the "assumes"? I can understand healthy skeptics, but I think there is enough reporting to accept these points as fact.

The bar puts on hundreds of shows a year, and of course they had options. Why should they have to hire extra security to engage in something they have a right to do? Is that the way things should be? I would have preferred the show not be canceled, but I find it distasteful to blame the man for weighing his options and deciding it was not worth his money and property, not to mention the potential liability because some people have no respect for the law, or basic societal expectations.

All things being grey, the people who thought they were the good guys, turned out to be the worst of them all.
posted by thirteen at 11:22 AM on December 19, 2003


"I find it distasteful to blame the man for weighing his options and deciding it was not worth his money and property . . . "

I don't blame him for that, I just don't understand why weighing his options equals censorship, or why he acts like he had no choice in the matter. He had a choice, and he made a decision. Live with it. If he really wanted the show to go on, he had options.

I used to go to hard core shows (oh so long ago) where there was always slam dancing and sometimes fighting. The venues dealt with it, the fans dealt with it. There can be fights or violence at all kinds of public events. He caved in to pressure, now he wants us all to weep for him and be outraged. I refuse
posted by Outlawyr at 12:09 PM on December 19, 2003


I just don't understand why weighing his options equals censorship
It is not Censorship in the legal sense, but what has occurred was that free will and free association were undone because of pressure and violence. Did they have to be undone, no. The fact that he caved to the agitators does not mean that the people who put the pressure on were innocent of any wrong doing. People have to protect their rights, and I suspect that is what has you all in knots. It does not matter whether you have sympathy for his situation, it does matter that people are acting like thugs.

The show was not shut down because of slamdancing, it was shut down because someone was going to end up hurt or dead because they wanted to see a gay, goth band. In the past year there have been high profile club deaths in the news, and there is a real possibility of being shut down in this town if you attract the wrong kind of attention. I doubt the owner is all that worried that you think he is soft in the face of losing a business he has run for a decade. I am betting you would back down your position in the face of a whole lot less.

I think you have moved a long way from your initial post.
posted by thirteen at 2:03 PM on December 19, 2003


"I think you have moved a long way from your initial post."

I disagree, but whatever. My point is, it they want to have the show fine. If they don't want to have the show fine. Just don't pretend it's censorship.
posted by Outlawyr at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2003


Just don't pretend it's censorship.
Alright, intimidation.
posted by thirteen at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2003


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