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"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Slants come to Amishland.


From the newspaper with no name:

The Slants, at Zenkaikon this weekend, await Supreme Court ruling on trademark battle ...



Simon Tam alternates tour dates with Supreme Court appearances.

The bassist and founder of the Slants has battled to trademark the band’s name for six years. The court denied the Slants’ application, stating that the band — whose members are all Asian-Americans — couldn’t register the name since it was a racial slur.

“I thought it was a practical joke when we applied and my attorney told me they denied it on the grounds of us being racist toward Asians,” Tam says. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”


Tam argues that the name is reclaiming the phrase, as other minority groups have used slurs targeted toward them as a form of empowerment.
The band made its oral argument in January and is awaiting a ruling that’s expected, but not guaranteed, to come in June.
Before then, Tam and the Slants will speak and perform at Zenkaikon at the Lancaster County Convention Center this weekend. 

From erasure to epiphany

As a child, Tam jumped up on the family coffee table and started strumming his dad’s guitar. He came of age in the ’80s and was influenced by acts like N.W.A., but also grew to appreciate classic rock like that of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

Two months before graduating from college on a full scholarship with a double major, Tam dropped out to move to Portland, Oregon, and tour with the punk rock band the Stivs.

As a young adult, Tam purposefully disconnected himself from his Chinese culture and heritage. After enduring severe bullying in middle school and high school for his ethnicity, Tam wanted to erase his culture from his identity.

“I was just like, ‘I’m really ashamed of being Chinese. I’m just getting ridiculed and tormented everywhere I go,’ ” Tam says.

When he moved to Portland, he longed to reconnect with his culture. “I just was starting to really kind of miss my heritage and aspects of my culture, from the food to the language,” Tam says.

To cope, he bought VHS tapes on eBay of old Jackie Chan and Asian mafia movies. A friend recommended Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” which was just about to come out on DVD. Tam says watching the movie was like having an epiphany.

“That was the first time I had seen an American-produced film showing any element of my culture or its people like that,” Tam says. “To kind of have this almost awakening that, wow, maybe in America we can be perceived as something different than the stereotypical nerd or the desexualized male or the exoticized female. … To see that we could be something more was quite powerful.”


Shit. I thought Mr. Tam was starting to sound like something other than a dumbass. Oh well, that doesn't mean the government gets to take away his band's name. If it did, 90% of rock bands would have to be known by numbers...

"Please welcome the 85988's!"

Proud, not ashamed

Watching the movie got Tam thinking about how he could make a difference with his own art. He had seen a handful of Asian-Americans in popular bands, but he wanted to make a more powerful impact on the American entertainment industry.

It took him two years of pasting flyers around town and posting on Craigslist to find enough people to form a lineup and start playing.

The band’s name came to Tam pretty quickly, though. He asked his friends what all Asian people had in common. They’d often answer “slanted eyes.”


“I thought, that’s really interesting, because it’s not true,” Tm says. “Not all Asians have slanted eyes, and Asians aren’t the only people with slanted eyes.”

The name grew on Tam with time.

“It sounds like an ’80s new wave band,” Tam says. “I can imagine Debbie Harry being in a band called the Slants, which is right up the alley for the type of music we are doing.

“Then I thought, ‘You know, we can use this to kind of turn that stereotype about us upside down.’

The very thing that was the object of ridicule for me growing up now could be a symbol of something I could be proud about instead of ashamed of.”

The opposition to the Slants’ quest for trademark argues that the ruling could set precedence for other types of hate speech to be trademarked.

“We’re not some kind of floodgate for hate speech,” Tam says. “The lack of a trademark registration doesn’t actually stop people from using hateful terms anyway.”

Tam says all the struggle has been worth it, though, especially when he interacts with young fans.

“The fact that it’s inspiring young people to kind of get into the arts themselves or find their kind of political voice — I think that’s more than I could ever ask for and certainly more than I ever dreamed of when I first had this idea in my mind,” Tam says.

TheChurchMilitant: Sometimes anti-social, but always anti-fascist since 2005.

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About Me

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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