NOFX: Free Speech Casualty
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago at the Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas, the band NOFX was participating in some between song banter...
At that show, guitarist Eric Melvin stated “I guess you only get shot in Vegas if you’re in a country band." Fat Mike then replied “At least they were country fans and not punk rock fans."
Best joke to make, especially considering the setting? No.
But what do you expect? They're punks, that's kind of their thing.
I love punk music, but NOFX is not really my cup of tea.
With that said, it doesn't change the fact that NOFX is now getting screwed. Let's start at the beginning of the story. My favorite song by NOFX is a catchy, and sarcastic, tune called Drugs Are Good from 20 years ago.
Basically the whole song is more offensive than the little outburst in Vegas, but now after beating the same punk drum for a generation, NOFX finds itself in the world of the Chronically Offended. After the comment, the repercussions started:
May 31, 2018 - NOFX loses partnership with Stone Brewing Company
June 3, 2018 - NOFX issues formal apology
June 6, 2018 - NOFX loses Punk Cred
Let me restate this because it's a very important point. The band didn't keep repeating themselves, the comment took on a life of its own and then the social media feeding frenzy hit.
Now you could say that the market dictated ramifications for NOFX, well frankly I'm sick of that argument. The Vegas crack was maybe the 100th(?),150th(?), most offensive statement band members had ever made. Maybe I'll make a list of most offensive lines from NOFX for a different article.
The government didn't sweep in and put the band in jail, but the nuances and erosion of free speech in America today is more subtle. Some topics are fair game, some are not. Despite making a dicey joke about shootings, they were well within their rights as Americans. The band didn't threaten anyone. They didn't use any of the 7 dirty words. They didn't call for bloody revolution.
They made a bad joke.
...and now they're pariahs. It doesn't matter if you like NOFX or not, the punishment did not fit the "crime." The crime of violating sociatal norms.
If you made it all the way to the bottom, you'll notice the cover photo is NOT NOFX. It's a photo of multi-media sensation Tape Face. I thought his photo was a more representative aesthetic for the abstract concept I was trying to convey. And I was kind of curious if anyone would even notice. Other than me, I don't think any current Blog readers know what Fat Mike looks like.
Editor's Note: Added 6-22-18: Every once in a while, we're vindicated....
Scariest line in the article? "Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed."