Nationalize the Scene

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Bummed about Taake cancelling their tour? Buddy, do I have a solution for you.

The biggest story in metal this week presents a return of themes that have dominated heavy metal discourse for decades. By this point, everyone and their extremely opinionated uncle has seen the news that Taake’s tour has been cancelled. Likewise, everyone has a strong opinion about the cancellation, antifa, and the first amendment. While passionate free speech absolutists wrote furious screeds to social media and the more vile comment sections of the internet, their counterparts wrote paragraphs-long defenses of direct action and the limitations of freedom of speech.

If you’d like a clear-eyed deconstruction of the entire situation, I’d recommend reading Ian Cory’s Taake take. (though I disagree with his characterization of Neill Jameson as “thoughtful”) But I’m not here to relitigate any of the claims or grievances with Taake or antifa. What’s done is done. Instead, I’m here to offer a bold new future for heavy metal in the United States.

Whether you’re a Balaclava’d Black Bloc Benny or a Don’t-Tread-on-Me Danny, every one of you reading my words has an active interest in the livelihood of heavy metal. Rarely, if ever, does a true bipartisan solution exist for ideologically opposed forces, but I have found the perfect fix for all our our woes: let’s nationalize metal venues.

Presently, metal bands do not enjoy the full protection of the first amendment. Sure, they’re free to write and record any kind of brazenly disgusting or hateful thing they can imagine, but beyond that they don’t have much in the way of recourse if, say, private retailers force a parental advisory sticker upon the cover or choose not to carry the album outright. If community members feel that a band represents a dangerous cause, they may put pressure on their local venues to cancel a performance by that band. Or, in the case of Taake, many communities across the country will pressure venues to cancel shows resulting in an aborted tour.

This is because the first amendment protects your freedom of speech from the government, presumably preventing the national guard from beating up your noisegrind band for performing a song called, “Buttfucking Ronald Reagan’s Butt”. Most of these protections fall by the wayside when a performer becomes involved with a private business like, for example, a shitty metal venue. Owners may eject your band for any number of reasons, including bowing to public pressure from their communities. If your wildly offensive noisegrind band (assuming you’ve obtained all the proper permits and municipal paperwork) performed in a publicly owned space, you’d enjoy the full backing of the first amendment. If an aggrieved public attempted to bring an end to your performance, you’d be protected by the United States government and, barring that, the American Civil Liberties Union.

By nationalizing every metal venue in America, we can ensure that metal bands of every ideological stripe are allowed a space to perform. Soon, your local Broken Face Saloon will become Federal Metal Venue No. 666. That small, electrical hazard-ridden stage will become fully ADA compliant. Drinks will no longer be watered-down or overpriced when following a national standard and the full bargaining power of the federal government. Congress can implement standards for concert lineups that prevent pay-to-play grifters from overstuffing a national bill with two dozen shitty local openers. Finally, a real metal utopia is possible.

Let’s nationalize every metal venue in America. We can protect the freedom of speech of all American metal bands and offer desperately needed improvements to our venue infrastructure across the country in the process. Of course, we may run into some issues protecting the freedoms of foreign metal bands but perhaps we can form some kind of unification across the globe that gives every metal artist equal rights and resources without the pressure of paying landlords or bosses. If you love metal and want to protect freedom of expression, it’s the only path forward. Together we can do this. Horns up, comrades!

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