Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Some Food For Thought: Why I support Viet Cong (the band)

If you haven't already heard the news by now about the post punk band Viet Cong and their controversial namesake, you have now. It all began when the band was scheduled to play a show at Oberlin College this month but was recently cancelled because of their name. Apparently that was just the start of the band's troubles. The band recently told The Guardian that they get hate mail at every show. Local rag City Pages ran an op'ed piece on the story yesterday. As someone who was born in Vietnam in 1974 and came to the US in 1975 which was at the tail of the Vietnam war, I figured if anyone should take on this controversial story it is I.

I understand why people in the Asian/Vietnamese community is upset but that community does not speak for this Vietnamese immigrant. My personal feelings on this issue? Not crazy about the name but I despise bullying and harassment at a band for their namesake even  more so.  Let me just remind those in the community that no one is making you listen to the band's music first and foremost. Viet Cong is not the first nor last band with a name that is controversial. Can you say Gang of Four, Dayglo Abortions, or Dead Kennedys? Here in the Twin Cities there is a band named Gay Witch Abortion.

Secondly has it ever entered anyone's minds that by expressing your dislike for the band's name is just giving them more publicity? Apparently so because the band's appearance at 7th Street Entry this Thursday night is a sold out show. From all the chatter I see online, complaining about the band's namesake is just making people more interested in the band, not to mention pissing them off with your complaints.

As I have stated earlier, I understand why the community is upset but I just don't see the purpose of their complaints when we live in a country where people have freedom of speech. Sure those who are upset over the band's name has a right to express their feelings but harassing the band with hate mail is uncalled for. This makes them no better than the actual Viet Cong (sans violence). Making a band you know nothing about change their namesake is something I can't stand for. Like I said earlier, no one is making you listen to their music or attend their shows. Don't like them, don't listen to them. I completely agree with what Gang of Four's Andy Gill said about the whole controversy:

It’s a little ridiculous to ban bands for their name. We can all think of dozens of bands with really quite offensive names and as soon as you get into being the guardian of public morality, taking it upon yourself to decide what’s OK and what is not, you are acting in an illiberal, undemocratic, and anti-progressive way. People should be treated as grown ups, capable of making their own decisions. We should not be deciding for people what we think they are capable of understanding or not. Artists, film-makers, writers, musicians need to be un-censored so they can make their point, political or otherwise.

He was totally spot on when he said about the people complaining about Viet Cong's name. Censorship is wrong. Even the First Amendment covers the assholes in the Westboro Baptist Church/Cult. I don't like those idiots but they do have the right to speak without consequences (from any government agency).

I came to this country in 1975 as an infant as part of Operation Babylift. Truthfully I can't say claim to know anything about Viet Cong but from what I have read online, the acts they committed were atrocious. As an American and music junkie, I cannot stand for the harassment of a Canadian band all because a segment of the general public does not like their namesake. Viet Cong has every right to perform in this country without harassment in some form or another. This is America, the land of the free. I support Viet Cong the right to exist as a band because I support the freedom of speech. While I support the right to dissent, harassment is not acceptable behavior with me nor is trying to censor a band you know nothing about.

No comments:

Post a Comment