Grassroots charity promoting the right for people with learning disabilities to have a choice about how they live their lives

Descendents ‘Spazz hazard’– boycott their new LP

18
Jul
2016

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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