Descendents ‘Spazz hazard’– boycott their new LP

Why were calling on a boycott of new Descendents LP

Every now and again there’s a high profile use of disability hate language. Often the perpetrator will claim they weren’t using it to be offensive, or they didn’t realise the words they were using could cause offence. This time it’s US punk band Descendents.

Descendents

There also seems to be a real trend at the moment for people to proudly declare they are ‘politically incorrect and proud of it’. When I started working in social care in the 90s I sometimes found it difficult to not put my foot in it with people. My parents didn’t shy away from sometimes using language that was racist and whilst it could be argued that’s what people said in the 70s it doesn’t make it right.

Then there are people like UKIP’s disability spokesman (!) [her words not mine] who proudly referred to people with disabilities as spazs.

Those who defend divisive language

While Star Anderton does herself have a physical disability I don’t believe she has Cerebral Palsy, the condition for which people who had used to be called ‘Spastic’ (from which Spaz is derived).

She also proudly defends the racist stereotype cuddly toy of a Gollywog.

Language is such a powerful weapon and it’s sad when people who are disability spokespeople join the ranks of those who seek to dehumanise and alienate people further. Reducing people to a name which carries a load of stereotypes and reinforces hatred in our communities. It’s something the Year 6 kids at Brunswick Junior School totally got when we recently led lessons around disability awareness. So why do adults have such a problem?

I’m not writing this to take on UKIP’s disability person though. People have tried and she’ll probably just keep making excuses for continuing in that vein.

Yesterday I was reading a blog post on the website RealGoneRocks who were expressing their disappointment at the new album from the US punk band Descendents. There’s a lot of hype and expectancy around this record as they haven’t released anything in 15 years. So what do they go and call it? ‘Hypercaffium Spazzinate’ with a companion EP titled ‘Spazzhazard’.

The Descendents – or The Indecents?

As you’re no doubt aware Stay Up Late was started by the punk band Heavy Load and we see punk as a power for good, challenging social norms for the better and making stuff happen. So it’s really disappointing to see a punk band like Descendents use words that have no place on 2016. They take us back to the dark days of school playgrounds in the 1970s. (40 years of punk undone in one album cover??)

It’s fantastic that Real Gone Rocks have raised this because they would generally be over the moon that a new Descendents LP is coming out but they’re calling on a total boycott of it. And we’re backing that too.

Descendents

I did take straight to Twitter and have yet to receive a reply from the band but did get this from the team making a documentary about them:

Unintentional or purposeful, it doesn’t matter, it’s still offensive and de-humanising.

To make matters worse one of our supporters supported my tweet about this and has received a load of abuse from some fans of Descendents. Ironic for a band known for writing songs about the civil rights movement in the US. (They’re also known for writing songs about poo – maybe their new album is actually entirely crap! I won’t be able to find out as I’m not going to listen to it anyway.)

What do we want done about it?

We’re calling on the band to re-name their EP and LP and make a public apology. It’s likely they didn’t mean to cause offence but when their album gets released on 29th July they’ll be joining the ranks of people who perpetuate the use of language that spreads hatred and division throughout our communities.

What can you do?

1) Sign our petition

Sign our 38Degress petition.

2) Tweet the band and the record label. Here’s a suggested Tweet

Hey @descendents don’t de-humanise people with disabilities, please stop using the word ‘Spaz’ – spread love not hate.

3) Share this with as many people as possible on Facebook.

Here’s a suggested post:

I’m boycotting the new Descendents LP and EP. Even using the word ‘Spaz’ in ignorance still spreads hatred and intolerance, intentional or not.

4) Tweet Epitaph records

  • If you’re not happy about this get in touch with their record label Epitaph (and any of the artists on their rosta) and tell them you’re not happy about this.

And if you’re a Descendents fan, and want to make an extra statement, don’t just boycott the album donate the $14.90 that you’ve saved to us . We’ll be sure to put it to good use in supporting people with learning disabilities to be full, active and welcome members of their communities.

Get the t-shirt

We’ve also released a Descendents inspired limited edition t-shirt too. It’s by an imaginary new band called ‘Indecents’ who inadvertently write songs about hatred and intolerance inspired by the daily language they absorb through their tabloid newspaper ‘The Daily Fail’.

Descendents

The thing about the Indecents too is that they’re incredibly stubborn. They don’t have a shred of humility. So if you point out what they’re doing hurts people they don’t change their behaviour. They just make excuses for it.

I reckon Decendents are better than that though and can change their ways.

That’s Not My Name

 

They call me spaz, the call me mong, they call me retard, that’s not my name!

So I’m going to leave it to Heavy Load to sign off with our anti-hate crime tune – That’s Not My Name. Get to know people, don’t use de-humanising labels.

Love to all

Paul – paul@stayuplate.org

NESTA New Radicals - join the class of 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Comments

  • MrBassMan43

    Friday, 16 Sep, 2016

    here’s a link to our final post (for now) on this issue, and the revelation that there’s some Descendents fans out there who aren’t actually punks – but don’t actually realise it! https://stayuplate.org/descendents-new-lp-hate-speech-update/

    Reply
  • Sam

    Tuesday, 02 Aug, 2016

    I think your heart is coming from a good place, but the Descendents are using spaz as a term of endearment. It’s possible to think that’s misplaced usage, but it is common in the US for right or wrong. Whenever I’ve been called a spaz I’ve considered it a compliment and it was always intended to be one. It’s usually used to refer to people with a lot of unfocused energy and excitement in the US which I have and the Descendents built their concept of going for All around.

    Anyways, here are the lyrics form the related song on the Descendents new album. It’s a song about how kids who are different from others and have ADHD or similar things are just as good as everyone else. You can come to your own conclusions:

    They gave you a limiter
    Are you limited for life?
    I’m so sorry, son
    Society don’t want to see you go for all

    Back then, everybody knew a spaz or two
    We never thought those kids were bad, did you?
    These days, everybody’s found another way
    Just give ‘em a pill and send ‘em on their way
    But whatever happened to drug-free youth?
    What’s to become of our sons, what can we do?

    Cuz they gave you a limiter
    Are you limited for life?
    I’m so sorry, son
    Society don’t want to see you go for all
    Limiter, limiter
    Are you limited for life?
    Society don’t want to see

    They drug you for this, and then they drug you for that
    ‘Til you don’t even know where your head is at
    School’s the pusher – we don’t even have a choice
    So what is the future of the limited boys?

    Shame on all of us if they’re hooked for good
    I’d fix you by myself, if I only could

    They gave you a limiter
    Are you limited for life?
    I’m so sorry, son
    Society don’t want to see you go for all
    I’m so sorry, son…I’m so sorry, son
    Society don’t want to see

    Reply
    • MrBassMan43

      Thursday, 11 Aug, 2016

      thanks for this Sam, thought this update may be of interest. The band were really upset about this and it’s come to light that ‘Spaz’ is an offensive word for some in the US but the meaning has been watered down through popular use, further marginalising people who find it discriminating and unkind.

      Reply
  • sofian.

    Thursday, 28 Jul, 2016

    While I really don’t care about the usage of the word ‘Spazz’ in the album’s title, I appreciate the fact that you mean well.

    Reply
  • adam

    Tuesday, 26 Jul, 2016

    noun
    Definition of punk rock
    : rock music marked by extreme and often deliberately offensive expressions of alienation and social discontent
    punk rocker noun

    Reply
    • MrBassMan43

      Tuesday, 26 Jul, 2016

      Can I be so bold as to suggest you try and broaden your horizons a little. This book would be a good place to start ‘Punk Rock Saved My Ass’ “Punk is the only music genre I know that consistently opens its mouth about taboo social and economic subjects in our society. Nothing is more honest or relevant to me than that.” – Mic Schenk
      http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8354583-punk-rock-saved-my-ass

      Reply
  • MrBassMan43

    Tuesday, 26 Jul, 2016

    yes it is sadly but seems to have slipped so far in to common usage that people think they’re acceptable without thought for people who find them harmful. Incidentally I understand that Descendents now play different lyrics live for ‘I’m Not A User’ as the song they wrote in 1982 as young angry men could be viewed as homophobic. Time to move on too?

    Reply
    • Wayne Arnold

      Wednesday, 10 Aug, 2016

      Yeah they changed the lyrics to “I’m not a loser” in the 90’s actually. Do some research, Mitch.

      Reply
  • Chops

    Saturday, 23 Jul, 2016

    Are you from the UK? Did you ever think that spazz means something different in the US? Especially when teamed up with the word hypercaffium. In all my years of living here i have never heard anyone use the word spastic to refer to someone with disabilities, that’s a British thing. So then is it possible spazz also means something different? Very.

    Reply
    • MrBassMan43

      Sunday, 24 Jul, 2016

      yes we’ve had this a lot (and a lot of abuse so thank you for your restraint) – what we’re hearing is that it’s not just a ‘British thing’ but people just aren’t aware of it. We’re just trying to raise awareness. This article may be of interest http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/music/weird-al-apologizes-for-offending-with-spastic-lyric-in-word-crimes-parody

      Reply
      • Geoff Smith

        Tuesday, 26 Jul, 2016

        People aren’t aware of it because it’s not offensive in our culture. Sorry if it’s offensive in the UK, but it’s not here.

      • MrBassMan43

        Tuesday, 26 Jul, 2016

        Thought you may like to see this ‘myth busting’ comment from a resident of the USA:
        “I’ve been an advocate for persons with disabilities in the US for over 25 years. Anyone here who doesn’t understand the word is either lying to themselves or somehow managed to escape ever attending grade school.”

  • CMTme

    Saturday, 23 Jul, 2016

    I have a neurodegenerative condition which causes a demyelination of my peripheral nervous system, both sensory and motor neurons are affected. I suffer constant tingling and muscle fasciculations, and often have myoclonic jerks – aka a ‘spazz’. This title is hilarious, there is literally nothing about it that is offensive and I’d appreciate it if you quit acting offended on my behalf. I shared this with both patients and physicians in my support group and literally nobody is offended. Get thicker skin and find someone else to co-opt into your smug sense of self satisfaction.

    Reply
  • MrBassMan43

    Thursday, 21 Jul, 2016

    careful that sounds a lot like you’re accusing us of something we’re not actually doing which could be seen as libelous

    Reply

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