or Phil Labonte Should Go Eat A Bag Of Dicks
Written by Neil Miller, Jr.
I normally don’t like to get involved in sociopolitical discussions because I’m of the opinion that you can’t change anyone’s mind who’s willing to argue their beliefs to you, no matter how ridiculous they may be. But when All That Remains’ frontman Phil Labonte claims “I have nothing against gay people. It's just a word… I think the only people that have a legit grievance when it comes to any racial slurs is the black community,” I feel obligated to speak up. Before I go any further, I should say that I do believe in free speech. I am a journalist after all. But even more than that, I believe that we are all equal and should be treated as such…therefore, I have quite a bit of contempt for Labonte after hearing about this and here’s why.
Firstly, I’ve covered All That Remains’ shows before. I actually like them and was not ashamed of that until today. So the first feeling I had was that I’d been had. I feel like someone has played a sick joke on me. I understand that discrimination runs rampant in the metal community just as it does in the country and hip-hop music worlds too, but none of the bands I like have been vocal about their hate like this. I feel bad for any of ATR’s other gay fans who are finding this out and are feeling pressed to delete any All That Remains records they may have in their iTunes library.
The biggest problem with this stance of his, though, is his idiotic reasoning of “it’s just a word” – really? So Mr. Labonte, if you were arguing with someone heatedly and they fire off and call you a fag, you’d have us believe that it wouldn’t send you into a rage? You certainly seem like the type who wouldn’t be bothered by that. I’m here to tell you – it’s hardly just a word. Countless kids who are coming to terms with their identities are called a ‘fag’ or ‘queer’ on a daily basis and in case if you haven’t read the news in the last 10 years, those words can kill. I know this because I was once one of those kids. Hell, I was getting called those names before anyone even knew I was gay simply because I wore death metal band shirts and eyeliner to school and was the only one there to do so. Being called those things, regardless of how thick of a skin you may have, still hurts on some level because it’s demeaning and a clear attack on your personality. Anyone has the right to get offended by this, straight or gay.
What's most irritating, though, is that fans of your band probably get called a ‘fag’ regularly just for being different. But your only justification for this is that it’s okay because it’s “just a word”? Go fuck yourself, Phil Labonte. No minority deserves to have their struggle demeaned like you’ve done and you’re setting a supremely shit example for anyone who might look up to you. No minority’s struggle is more or less valid than another’s, either. So you think the black community is the only group of people who have a right to be upset about slurs used towards them? If that’s true, then by that same reasoning, you’d have us believe that it’s acceptable to discriminate against all other minorities and that’s okay? So millions of Jews lost their lives in the Holocaust, but Jewish people today don’t have a right to be upset and offended when someone slanders them with a hate speech decades later because you view their devastating hardship as paling in comparison to another? Your thinking is most certainly defunct, Phil. Everyone has the right to be hurt by a hateful word that is clearly injected with the right amount of spite to make the intent behind it malicious.
At the end of the day, I just feel bad for Phil Labonte. I feel bad that he lives such a turgid existence that he believes in promoting hatred and discrimination, helping set this country back from the progress it’s made. I’m sure if he had his way, the gay community wouldn’t have any of the basic human rights we’ve acquired in recent years. Or, who knows, maybe Phil Labonte is gay himself and can’t come to terms with it because he’s fashioned this ‘bad-boy’ image he’s so goddamned proud of. I digress, it’s sad that he lives in such a close-minded world but even more, I’m sad that his band hasn’t kicked his ass to the curb in exchange for a singer who isn’t a total douche. Do me a favor, don’t buy their albums, don’t listen to them on Soundcloud, don’t watch any videos on YouTube, just don’t fuel his fire. A message has to be sent that this is not okay and for heaven’s sakes, it’s about time we get even a sliver of tolerance going in the metal community. I’ve been a metalhead my whole life but I can’t help but feel a sense of separation from my peers because of people like Labonte. Here’s hoping that some other members of the metal world will speak out against his hatred, but at the least, you got this rambling diatribe from a gay, super devoted metalhead for life.
My friend Jim from Chicago's own Go Fight and formerly of industrial/EBM legends Die Warzau had a bit to say about this as well:
"LGBTQ teenagers have one of the highest rates of suicide among all groups and bullying is the principal reason. Some reports show that we— people who grow up gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual— are 4 times more likely to kill ourselves and more than six times more likely to experience depression, in the presence of bullying. You can paint it any way you want but the word ‘faggot” spoken by someone behind a microphone; This is a death word. Words like this are tailored to kill people. To say that it’s acceptable because people of color experience more widespread derision is nonsensical and logically vacuous, as an argument.
If your goal is to be a bully, to belittle and demean people, to be part of the dehumanizing effort that plants the seeds of suicide and depression, by all means, use the word. It’s a uniquely effective way to kill people. The word works like a knife, stopping gay youth in their tracks, reminding them that they are subhuman and better off gone. And it’s not a precision tool. It’s not just directed toward that gay person who annoys you or that trans person you don’t like. “Faggot” is a shotgun blast. It targets all LGBTQ people. And one of the things that happy suburban couples and faux edgy tween rockers are starting to realize is that they have people they love who are hit by that word. People they may not realize, even now, are in the line of fire.
Go ahead and be edgy. Remember that one of the least ‘edgy” things you can do is to reinforce a hegemonic cultural value that kills people based on some conformist sexual model. But don’t kid yourself that this word is some innocuous and painless expression of angst. It’s a bullet. It’s the equivalent of pushing someone off a ledge- someone who could be your little brother or your daughter."
Couldn't have said it better myself. Instead of listening to a crappy All That Remains song with vocals performed by a hatemonger, listen to something a little more uplifting and ass-shaking...check out Go Fight.-NMJ