Art, Free Speech, Language, Music, recent

Publicly Shaming a Musician for Calling a Composition by Its Name

Over the long weekend of May 30 to June 2, my wife and I attended the eclectic OBEY music convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which I was covering for the British magazine The Wire. After the first two days passed without incident, the final day featured a set of distressing events that led to the cancelation of a concert by American composer Mary Jane Leach, in which she had been scheduled to present her compositions Pipe Dreams and Dowland’s Tears. While these events have been discussed on social media, they have never, to my knowledge, been systematically described in the press. I am hoping that this report will help provide some clarity, even for those who may not agree with my opinions.

On the afternoon of June 2, Leach gave a talk on the work of composer Julius Eastman (1940-1990). Leach was friends with Eastman, who died three decades ago, at the age of 49. She also is co-editor of the book Gay Guerilla: Julius Eastman and His Music, published by the University of Rochester Press in 2015.

The title of the book takes its name from one of Eastman’s compositions, and indeed points to his naming conventions, which are at the root of the OBEY controversy. Eastman—a gay, black man who was homeless during parts of his adult life—wrote minimalist music in a style that gained notice in New York City in the 1970s and ‘80s, and was associated professionally and personally with such notable contemporary composers as Morton Feldman (1926-1987) and Petr Kotik (b. 1942). The titles of his instrumental works carried intentionally provocative titles, and contained demeaning, vernacular terms that referred to his race and sexual orientation. Other titles reflected his lack of commercial success, such as If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

I have chosen to avoid citing the most provocative titles here, in order to avoid disrupting the flow of discourse. I have written about performances of Eastman’s work in the past, using the full titles of the compositions, and have had those writings published by editors who didn’t feel the need to change my wording or insert asterisks. When I played recordings of Eastman’s music on the radio, I decided not to say the titles of the works, but instead alluded to them with the rather awkward term “n-word.” The uncensored titles of his works can readily be found on Amazon, Wikipedia and YouTube, however, as well as in the pages of The New York Times, The New Yorker and many other publications.

Referring to a work of art, music or literature with a title that contains a potentially offensive term, or one that includes a word that we know we’re not “supposed to” use, presents writers and broadcasters with a difficult decision. In some instances, editorial guidelines or even regulatory standards might dictate our choice. But often, it is up to the individual writer or speaker to make the call. During her talk at OBEY, Leach made the decision to call Eastman’s works by name. She did not do so lightly or without understanding the import of her words. Indeed, she began her talk by playing a recording of Eastman introducing a 1980 concert. In that recording, he announced the pieces that Leach cited in her talk. Eastman acknowledged that the titles have been seen as “derogatory,” and went on to say that in using the n-word, he was intentionally referencing the history of slavery upon which American prosperity is built, recognizing what he saw as a certain strength in the term.

After the talk, Leach was interviewed by a member of We Are Missing, a Halifax-based community organization aimed at helping LGBT, black and indigenous people. There were no more than 30 people in the room at the time, including my wife and I. The interviewer, We Are Missing co-founder Nivie Dhami, focused her questions on Leach’s decision to use Eastman’s own terminology. No questions were asked—either by Dhami or by audience members in the Q&A that followed—about Eastman’s, or Leach’s, music. On Facebook, We Are Missing later claimed that Leach used the n-word six times. But I heard it used only when Leach was repeating the titles Eastman himself had given to his works. At no other time in Leach’s presentation was any even remotely offensive language used.

It is worth pausing here to make a distinction about the use of language more generally. Linguists differentiate between the sense of a word and its reference. A simple example would be to say “cake is delicious” as opposed to “‘cake’ has four letters.” Clearly, the first instance refers to cake itself, whereas the second is about the sense of the word. When using a word for its sense in writing, it is customary to set it apart from the text using italics or quotation marks. If I say “I hate 101 Dalmatians,” most people would understand that I am not actually talking about 101 dogs of a certain breed, but that I hate the Disney movie of that name.

So, in speaking the titles of Eastman’s compositions during her talk, Leach was using the terms in reference, not in their actual sense. At no time during the talk did Leach use offensive terminology that wasn’t, so to speak, in quotes.

Several hours later, Leach was scheduled to present two of her own compositions at the festival. It was to be the weekend’s final concert. Before the performance was to take place, however, OBEY creative director Andrew Patterson, joined on stage by executive director Kat Shubaly, and board members Sara Russell and Ray Fernandes, read out the following statement:

Earlier today, we hosted a program including the third artist on tonight’s bill [i.e., Leach]. We acknowledge that that program caused direct harm to community members in attendance. As creative director, I accept responsibility for allowing and perpetrating this harm, not only in a programming capacity but also as a person in attendance who remained silent. In light of this, we’ve decided to pull the final performance in hopes of preventing any further harm. This is the first step in a process of accountability. Thank you for listening, thank you for your support, and for the care you’ve shown this organization.

In the days following, the festival directors issued a longer apology, which can be read on the festival website. As of June 26, the apology sat at almost 1,700 words—longer than this article—and was divided into three parts. “Our inaction during the event served to further the harm perpetrated and acted as condonement of the violence experienced by those in attendance,” Patterson declares at one point. “We recognize that many people in attendance were made vulnerable to and affected by the racist and colonial sentiments that were present both in the room and in OBEY’s curation of said event.”

Leach had been invited to be a part of the festival as both a composer and a presenter. She had driven some 13 hours to be there, bringing recordings of hers and Eastman’s work and copies of her book. As a result of the decision to cancel her concert, the festival directors pre-empted the opportunity for attendees (some of whom had also been at the afternoon talk) to hear and learn about her music. The festival directors also removed her books and recordings from the festival merchandise table, blocking an opportunity for attendees to hear and learn more about Eastman as well.

The OBEY Convention—at least this year, the first time I had attended—very much wore its politics on its sleeve. Performances began with a statement regarding the indigenous people who had previously occupied the land. Acts represented not just a range of musical tastes but a range of racial, cultural and gender identities and sexual orientations. The decision to cancel Leach’s concert was, more than clearly, made out of respect for people of colour and for the oppression they’ve experienced and continue to experience.

But once that attitude of respect is acknowledged, how should the festival’s decision be viewed? Canceling Leach’s appearance was meant to support the festival’s claim that Leach was in the wrong for calling the compositions by their titles. But canceling the concert also was a direct act of recourse against a 70-year-old composer who, one can only assume, has been marginalized over the course of her career by virtue of her gender. The OBEY Convention not only effectively labeled her as a racist, but silenced her artistic voice. To say that this action was sexist and/or ageist strikes me as far less a leap in logic than to say that Leach is racist for speaking the title of a composition. It is far less a leap in logic to label this as institutional censorship.

By canceling the performance, the festival organizers also demonstrated that they are willing to silence one voice to appease another. It is distressingly similar to past attempts from the conservative side of the political spectrum to prevent museums from exhibiting works by artists such as David Černý, Karen Finley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Chris Ofili, Dana Schutz, Andres Serrano and David Wojnarowicz. But worse than that, the suggestion here is that we cannot even call works by their names.

The silencing of a voice does not lead to discourse, in art or in politics.

Even before the talk, it struck me as odd that none of Eastman’s music was included in the festival programming materials. Certainly, Eastman wanted his titles to be shocking. It’s to his credit, I suppose, that 30 years after his death, he can still stir up controversy.


Kurt Gottschalk is a journalist and author based in New York City. His writings on music have been published in outlets throughout Europe and the United States. He is also the producer and host of the Miniature Minotaurs radio program on WFMU.

Featured image: Still image from a digital adaptation of a 1979 album by Julius Eastman. 




  1. Asenath Waite says

    The title of the music convention is hilariously appropriate.

    • Anthony says

      So silly, the word that cannot be uttered, in an article on Quillette, and so far, not even in the comments.

      I’ll be the first: niAAAARRRRGGGGGGGHELPMEYAHHHHHHHHH@$&#=?$$$$@$&&hooooWAHHHHHHHHHHdontcancelmeeeeeeee,,,,,,,,……..

    • Heike says

      Since nobody has dared to mention the words that caused actual harm to the listeners, I will.

      I would like to point out that on any other site than Quillette, simply mentioning these titles in today’s context would be grounds for banning, deplatforming, and unpersoning. Free Thought Lives!

      The words that caused “direct harm” are: Gay Guerrilla, Evil Nigger, Crazy Nigger.

      If hearing these words caused you to “experience violence”, then you are a fragile snowflake who should not be attending adult events like music festivals. All of these titles are readily discussed openly on every platform I could find that talk about Julius Eastman, including Amazon and YouTube. Since I deleted Facebook quite some time ago, someone else will have to check. Twitter I never joined, so ditto.

      The shame, the shame of being so fragile that you claim that you can be directly harmed by mere words. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

      • Asenath Waite says

        I’m afraid we will have to let you go, @Heike.

        • ga gamba says

          Will we get a 1700-word apology too?

      • Pete says

        You forgot “Nigger Faggot”. There’s sure some intersectional burden in that one!

        • Daz Azza says

          I’d never heard of [insert name of composer here] before I read this article, but when I read that he was gay and black that was my first thought.

      • Grant says

        Logically it is Eastman who must be purged not Ms. Leach. Get on it YouTube

      • Jon Burack says

        Absolutely agree. Anyone who is harmed by words has lived far too protected a life. I agreed with this article but found it conceded too much to this sheer lunacy. Good for you telling it like it is.

        • Scott Rolling says

          “Hey Abbott, I hear your in charge of the OBEY festival. I would like to know the names of the songs so when I hear them I recognize the composer”

          “Well you know they give the compositions unusual names nowadays. Let’s see we’ve got ‘N word, F word’, ‘C word N word’ and ‘B word, A word, N word”

          “That’s what I want to know, the song names”

          “I’m telling you.”

          “You aint said nothing yet”

      • “…then you are a fragile snowflake…”

        This is one of the most destructive misconceptions in our culture today.

        Politically Correct Progressives’ passive aggressive imposition of their hatred of Normal-America has nothing to do with their being “fragile,” nor “snowflakes.”

        Consider the PC-Prog response to a violation of their PC speech code here. Did the “snowflakes” curl up in a ball and whimper and sob? That’s what a “fragile snowflake” would do.

        No. They PC-Prog mob unleashed a destructive attack designed to destroy the life of another person.



        Not hardly. Thugs. Mindless, programmed, faux-virtue-signalling, holier-than-thou, hating, hateful thugs.

        These pernicious PC-Prog thugs are all about destruction, hatred, latter-day-Puritanic censorship and thoughtcrime.

        Please don’t make the dangerous mistake of considering them “fragile snowflakes.”

        PC-Prog jack-booted thugs.

      • Michael Fairney says

        Can we put the “snowflake” tag to rest? It takes at face value the claim that the protesters are genuinely hurt by simply hearing the word nigger used by a white person. It’s obviously bullshit ( which is why people who take them seriously find it so weird that they would be so upset) and is used to MANIPULATE the soft leftist idiots who would rather mangle reality and common sense than be seen as “insensitive”. Don’t call them snowflakes, call them LIARS and then you must absolutely refuse to give into their demands, the same way you refuse to say, let your child walk into traffic. ok?

        • scubajim says

          Michael, Excellent points. I would amplify virtue signalling. Like “I am standing up against you saying those words because I care so much about “marginalized peoples.”. (which fits in with your Manipulate observation. (If they really wanted to help marginalized people then actually do something FOR them and stop the manipulation.) Also context matters as the piece stated. (the cake example) . .

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      Indeed it is. OBEY… Wow, what a crazy story!

    • Ters says

      Got that right. Stuck on a mass of stupid is one thing— taking up a moralizing pose on it is the vanity of a dung beetle.

  2. Wow. My god…progressive art is not art at all. These people are SO entitled! I think it’s up to non-white artists and writers (like myself) to chirp up. This is BS.

    • TarsTarkas says

      And if you chirp up, you will be called a stooge of White Supremacy. To which your reply should be at a minimum the middle finger, followed up by a lawsuit for slander. Use Lawfare’s own tactics against these evil wackos!

  3. Ray Andrews says

    Someone should run a ‘flagellist of the day/week/month/year” contest. The apologizers above would surely make flagellist of the month. And, once a year there’d be a sort of ‘oscar night’ when flagellist of the year would be announced. All the trimmings too — speeches, glitterati, red carpets, perhaps a golden statuette of someone flagellating themselves. Harvey W could host it, maybe. Dunno, just and idea.

    • @Ray Andrews,

      Or perhaps bring back self-flaggelation. I don’t know how many people would be happy to have their skin peeled off their backs as a sign of contrition. Words can be cheap, action is seldom.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Susanna Krizo

        That’s just it. What I had in mind was more because the self-flagellation seems to be more performance than substance but isn’t it time that some real skin was lost? These guys walk the talk:

        … and this is coming to your country soon. Very admirable.

    • inthepeanutgallery says

      Thats actually a good idea. Right up there with the Darwin Awards.

    • OleK says

      @Ray Andrews (and well…everyone here)

      I believe Gad Saad already does this on his channel. It’s quite amusing! Just look up “the saad truth” on youtube.

  4. Geary Johansen says

    I don’t know which is more appalling- feigned outrage in what can only be described as a cynical act of self-promotion, or the behaviour of the organisers, in their craven attempt to escape mob outrage.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Geary Johansen

      My gut reaction is that the cowardly, sycophantic response of the organizers and their willingness to throw the invited speaker under the bus completely and with no reservations or defense of any kind strikes me as more dishonorable than the shameless exploitation of this cowardly nature by the We Are Missing organization. As the aggressor, WAM’s behavior was arguably worse than OBEY’s, but somehow I find it more palatable. Like a conquering army as opposed to a traitor within the ranks of the conquered army who sells out his fellow soldiers in exchange for servitude rather than execution at the hands of the invaders.

    • Harland says

      “By canceling the performance, the festival organizers also demonstrated that they are willing to silence one voice to appease another.”

      It’s the oppression olympics. She and her kind invented this! Now she’s upset because she’s losing?

      I can’t help but notice the parade of far leftists who come crying to Quillette after being attacked by the monsters that they created. They were against free speech up until the moment their own free speech was censored, then suddenly they make a 180? Do these people have any self-awareness at all?

      • TarsTarkas says

        At least on this site she doesn’t have to worry about being deplatformed, demonetized, hounded out of her job and home, unfriended by everyone she has ever known or loved. All she has to worry about is being ridiculed and scorned for her past idiocies.
        And most of all,

        I think if she realized how foolish and unselfaware she has been, and comes to her senses and starts treating people like she wants to be treated, she might even get some forgiveness and support.

        Something that will never ever happen in Wokedom.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Do we have any evidence that Ms Leach is or was an identitarian lefty?

  5. It looks tens of thousands of years for man to go from living in caves and foraging to living in mud huts and farming. It took a few thousand to get to living in suburbs and eating at McDonald’s, and only a few decades to get to living on Twitter and ordering from Postmates. The human brain hasn’t evolved beyond it’s need to struggle for survival, and thus we see people manufacturering struggle where none exists.

    The idea that speech can be violence is an idea so stupid only an intellectual can hold it, and every day it seems more and more likely they will need to be innoculated from it through exposure to actual violence.

    • @HS

      Or perhaps people have created their own virtual bubbles where people feel violated when multiple people don’t agree since it feels like a personal attack. In the past we talked to maybe 5-10 people a day. Now we can literally talk to hundreds of people every day. It multiplies the disagreements and magnifies the feelings of personal hurt.

      • Photondancer says

        It doesn’t have to magnify it. I’m surely not the only person who can shrug off an online criticism more easily than a face to face one. These people care too much about other people’s opinions.

    • Ray Andrews says


      “manufacturering struggle where none exists”

      That’s as good a theory as any, but I wonder. Struggle seems deeply linked to martyrdom and nothing makes one feel special better than martyrdom. The Muslims thrive on it. Some of the early Christians refused to be let go when the local magistrate was not inclined to make any trouble for them — they demanded martyrdom. Or the commie/radical chic of your basic Che wanabe, it’s soooo cool even if you have to die.

      But as you say, if we’re pack hunters, a life of McDonald’s just isn’t going to be very satisfying and when one tires of video games, perhaps wokeness gives some satisfaction. It sorta gives one the feeling of hunting down and killing something, even if it’s just ruining a career. But surely forming real mobs and pulling the impure from their homes and burning them would be even better.

      • @Ray Andrews

        I agree about the link between struggle and martyrdom. Notice how direct Muslim immigrants engage in terror far less than their Western born children, who, having been born into relative security and prosperity, seek a higher purpose. Similarly, SJW lunatics imagine themselves martyrs as well, self-anointed Martin Luther King Jrs. Our epidemic of faked hate crimes is what happens when society fails provide enough James Earl Rays to bring those fantasies to life.

        As for your last sentence, just give it some time. Internet porn might distract people from the real thing, but it is an inadequate substitute. I don’t see why internet outrage would be any different.

        • Rev. Wazoo! says

          @Ray Andrews and @ HS

          Pseudo-religious movements/sects, like the Church of Social Justice, need a narrative of struggle against The Forces of Darkness to warrant both the sacrifices made by martyrs (as you rightly observe) but also the persecution of heretics. Harsh enforcement of blasphemy restrictions, including the casting out and shunning of transgressors, is basic to the operation as self-censorship is a precondition for dogma to go unchallenged and as a fear-inducing example cloaked in “two minutes of hate” for the rank-and-file This is of enormous import; far greater than the “impact” of uttering any one blasehemous word and this is illustrated by the wildly disproportionate responses blasphemy engenders.

          The details (this word or that) change frequently, are relatively unimportant and typically get stricter over time but the ability to define and punish blasphemers is a constant high-priority. Periodic changes in fact serve to emphasise the power of the clergy, keeping believers off-balance and ready to accept new marching orders.

          The power to define blasphemy and enforce sanctions on blasphemers is one of the greatest ever created.

      • Serenity says

        HS and Ray Andrews,

        Excellent point.

        The idea of martyrdom, self-sacrifice for the sacred values and common good is a hallmark of radicalism. The leaders radical of movements – the only beneficiaries of the whole totalitarian enterprise – exploit the appeal of martyrdom to gain and retain political power, to enjoy totalitarian control.

        These “manufacturers of the sacred struggles” stir strong negative emotions towards their group’s outsiders, stage riots and wars, glorify suffering and martyrdom, praise as heroism the willingness of their followers to struggle, to die, to sacrifice themselves and their families.

        In the USSR the unconditional love and devotion to the Soviet Motherland and willingness to win at any cost was used to justify and glorify horrendous causalities in WWII.

        “[There is] a poignant contrast between the typical medieval samurai and the typical World War Two soldier, who seems to have been far readier to fight to the death than the samurai whose tradition he somewhat inaccurately believed himself to be upholding. …the ‘fanatical’ loyalty of many twentieth-century soldiers reflects the fact that Japanese later leaders were to re-learn the value of indoctrination… loyal service to the emperor and his nation became not so much a duty but the object of life itself…

        [During WWII] … ratio of deaths to surrenders, in the order of 84:1, was not uncommon for the Japanese… Moreover, the majority of Japanese taken prisoner were either wounded, unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated at the time. This contrasts dramatically with the general Allied ratio of 1 death to 4 surrenders.”

        • I’m not sure your USSR example holds up. The horrendous casualties actually were the price of repelling a powerful and fanatical enemy who regarded the Slavs as subhuman and would, if victorious, have enslaved them. The endeavour of the soldiers in the trenches at Stalingrad was both just and glorious, and was rooted in something older and deeper than the Soviet Union. (My parents in law are a convinced Stalinist and a White Russian of aristocratic extraction and Orthodox belief; and they share an identification with and pride in “Russia”.
          The use of their heroic sacrifice to justify the Stalin myth is a different matter.

  6. It’s this kind of hypocrisy that always makes me cringe. The n-word is used millions of times on Twitter every month by black people. If the word is so offensive, why use it at all? We are told it evokes sentiments of slavery and segregation, and just hearing it causes people pain. So why not just let the word die – unless some people can only find their identity in the exploitation of their ancestors and the word is a way to keep it going. I believe we need a new narrative, one that focuses more on what is here now and what will be tomorrow, rather than what has been. Knowing history is important, but living in the past creates people who are dead while still alive and breathing. Besides, art operates in a dimension of its own. It’s not factual, it’s imaginative. It’s why art is the first to go when conformists vie for power, as artists can’t be boxed in. It’s a tragedy of its own kind that art that dismantled segregation by making it visible is now shut down by those who claim to reject racism. They are essentially rejecting their own.

    • Bob Frank says

      The only way you can make the word die is, ironically, by using it. Fetishising it just makes it more powerful. Ice Cube said something to the effect of “We’re taking it back”. That’s great! Unfortunately that’s also impossible. And in doing so, you just weaponized it for anyone who wants to use it against you. Good work!

      It probably will never go away completely. However, in the 80s/90s, it was used so often… and applied to… and adopted by… seemingly everyone, including white southern rednecks, and middle class suburban kids. It’s like they were all acting out that Lenny Bruce routine about that word I can’t say or I might get fired just for uttering it.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Bob Frank

        It’s absolutely ridiculous how much power that word has been given. Easily the most powerful word in the English language and as such an extremely powerful weapon for those who want to use it as one (either in the traditional sense or in the way that it was weaponized by the professionally offended to get their way in this article), as you note. No word should be unutterable in any context. That is just pathological thinking.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Asenath Waite

          They say that in your basic American high school, black students use no other term to refer to each other and you hear it a thousand times every day. Young white males where I live routinely hail each other: “Hey nig*a!” As for me, Lenny Bruce clarified my thinking on the matter of magic words:

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Ray Andrews

            Apparently if you use -a as opposed to -er it is completely different. I hate everything.

    • Harland says

      If they admitted progress and that things have gotten better, they’d lose their grievance. Real people would lose real jobs. But the worse they claim the problem is, the more work they have and the more money they make. It’s a perverse incentive and I only see them continuing to divide us and make us fight among ourselves.

      • neoteny says

        It’s a perverse incentive

        Clear economic thinking always carries the day.

    • Photondancer says

      Why not let the word die? Why indeed. The fastest way to reduce any alleged sting to the word would be to advise people not to react to it until they were genuinely indifferent Instead SJWs have made it a shibboleth, constantly drawing attention to it with their endless hammering away at it and euphemisms like n-word.

    • Academy 23 says

      I think there are several factors in play. One is that the Internet has in a sense compressed time – by which I mean I think people can get confused between something that happened 50 or a 100 years ago, and what’s happening now. So Black Lives Matter want to re-create the Black Panthers, so they need the police brutality and racism of say the 1950s in Los Angeles to exist now, whether it does or not, because their narrative relies on it. Another factor is a kind of cultural imperialism. The idea that the experience of Black Americans is the the experience of Black people everywhere. That plantation slavery and Jim Crow happened everywhere. It is a worldview that cannot comprehend the realities of the slave trade in Africa, that cannot comprehend that African slaves were bought from other Africans, that the Arabs and their agents, for example the Somali clans ran a slave trade for hundreds of years, and that slavery was for the most part eradicated by ‘white’ Western powers. That slavery was not an original sin of ‘white people’. This kind of thinking leads to ideas that Britain had a civil rights movement – how could it, people always had their civil rights before the law. Yes people faced racism, but not in the legal manner of Jim Crow. That this happened in Canada, where there was no slavery adds an extra edge of denial/confusion of history. The reason that someone like Nivie Dhami cannot comprehend the reality of history is that it would deny her power. Could she acknowledge that India imported Black people as slaves from Africa? I expect she would not – but it happened. Would she find it interesting that Pew research found India to be the most racist country in the world? Interestingly enough she is guilty by her own warped way of thinking by stealing other people’s suffering. Indian people were never in plantation slavery in the Southern States of the USA. Her actions were ones of a bigot and a bully. Morally totally reprehensible. No good will come of people behaving in this way.

  7. Richard says

    “[I]ntentionally referencing the history of slavery upon which American prosperity is built…” Stop it. Just stop it. American prosperity was built on innovation, not slavery. We had a civil war to dispose of that issue once and for all. The slave owners lost, not in small part because they weren’t as prosperous as they thought.

    • history buff says

      Yeah, there wasn’t much left of what was built on slavery after Sherman was done.

    • Just Me says

      Glad someone else picked up on that.

      The agrarian South was already falling economically behind the dynamic, industrializing North, just like other agrarian economies.

      It was the dynamism and modernity of the North’s economy that made the U.S. prosperous, not the antiquated South.

  8. markbul says

    “We acknowledge that that program caused direct harm to community members in attendance.”

    No it didn’t. Someone claimed victimhood to gain power. And you just gave it to them. Next time, tell them to fuck themselves.

  9. Dwaine says

    Horrible, but typical. Modern leftists are eating the classic liberals who fought to pave a way for them.

    • Harland says

      Classical liberals haven’t been sighted in the wild for decades. This is the far left being attacked by the far, far, far left. If you want an analogy, think of the Cultural Revolution: Red Guards vs. Red Army. Both claiming to be the wokest of them all.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @Dwaine & Harland

        I am no longer willing to let liberals pretend that they are not leftists.

        (Though they may quibble about just how far left they are.)

        • neoteny says

          I am no longer willing to let liberals pretend that they are not leftists.

          Classical liberals (nowadays libertarians) are rightist; the most radical of them, anarcho-capitalists are as rightish as it gets.

          What you’re talking about is progressives.

          I offer this in the spirit of cooperation: I agree with your stance.

  10. Morgan Foster says

    I just checked out Mary Jane Leach’s website and although she is clearly a white middle class woman, I can only guess, without direct evidence, that she considers herself to be politically quite liberal and, if she voted in the 2016 US election, she likely voted Democrat across the board.

    Not very long ago, I might have felt a little sad about what happened to her at the YOU-WILL-OBEY convention. I might have felt a little empathy. Might have wished her well for the future.

    But no more. These days, it gives me nothing but pleasure to see white middle class liberals tearing each other to pieces, destroying livelihoods and reputations. Perhaps hers, now.

    Absent compelling evidence to the contrary, I will continue to believe that she helped to create the monster that is devouring her. And I am fresh out of pity.

    • Carl Craven says

      –I will continue to believe that she helped to create the monster that is devouring her.–
      Of course you believe. What else do you have to build your arrogance with?

    • Andrew Miller says

      I have no idea about Leach’s politics, but to try and claim there is no difference between intersectional, critical race theory, privilege theory ‘woke left’ and a the humanist, liberal left who’s tradition runs threw Paine, Orwell, Camus, Rawls, Sen to name but a tiny number is intellectually vacuous nonsense. You either have no idea about the ideas you’re discussing (the fundamental basis of these world view – group identity + power vs rights based, inherent dignity of all humans – are diametrically opposed ideas) or you’re bet deliberately disingenuous.

  11. Carl Craven says

    Jesus Fucking H Christ, someone please put these people out of my misery. How idiotic can they get.

    • Heike says

      “intentionally referencing the history of slavery upon which American prosperity is built”

      Negative. That wealth was largely destroyed during the Civil War. Then as now, US solders destroyed all they encountered, ruining livelihoods while having their war crimes pardoned by a supportive government. The soldiers attempted genocide by starvation, burning all the crops. The troops that a grateful nation thanked for their service were thwarted by a native plant that they didn’t recognize as food.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Talk about hypocrisy. You guys chastise the left for censoring the use of a word or two, but you can’t even acknowledge our own history? Slavery helped build America. To deny that fact is immeasurably more dangerous and stupid that censoring the use of a racial slur.

        • @Nakatomi Plaza

          It is clear that they are not denying that slavery was important in american history. What they are saying is it was not a factor in the development of America’s current preosperity. There is a lot of evidence this is true. Americas wealth was not built until after slavery had ended and was not predominantly in areas where slavery had been dominant economically.

        • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

          Slavery: Yes it helped build America economically, but it didn’t build America. It had more negative than positive effects, in my honest opinion. Many countries had slavery such as Mali, Haiti, Mexico and Cuba, but we don’t say slavery built those countries, though it was a contributor. Slavery may have helped ruin some of them.

          • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

            Slavery helped cause the American civil war, which was an incredibly destructive and terrible conflict. That in itself negates the economic benefit it had in some states. It caused their ruin, esp. with Sherman’s March.

        • Morgan Foster says

          @Nakatomi Plaza

          The narrative that America would not exist as it does today if not for slavery yesterday, is so important because that is how we convince gullible people that reparations have not yet been paid.

        • Academy 23 says

          America developed significant wealth only after slavery was abolished. Slavery is a poor economic system, quite apart from its abhorrent moral factor, which was reflected in the Northern free states having a much bigger economy even when slavery existed. Countries where slavery still exists are notable for being poor – just look at Mauritania.

  12. David of Kirkland says

    Offended by words without context or intent is pretty funny stuff.
    Does this count? That obese, ignorant, homosexual Caucasian should have his anus filled by the penis of a large, incarcerated, rural, forced immigrant from Africa? It must be fine as there are no “bad” words.

    • Gord McLaughlin says

      Piercing insight through wordplay. Nice work, David of Kirkland.

  13. Farris says

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  14. I’m more fascinated by the idea that a word can cause ‘harm,” and, worse, that the fully autonomous adults who hear that word are so “harmed” that not just the word in quotes, but an entire concert – everything touching the word and everything around everything touching the word – must be silenced.

    So many questions.

    What is harm, and why must it be shut down as opposed to avoided at will? Many things are harmful that we don’t avoid because they are complex, or a learning experience. I may find something harmful – say pornography – that others do not. Guess what–I just have to stop watching. Why must everything surrounded by that thing on top of the thing itself be erased because a handful of people find it ‘harmful.’? If it’s harmful, why do they not leave? Or more importantly, why not stay and be harmed and grow from it? Where is this idea that “harm” must be avoided? In ART? Art does harm. That is one of the reasons it exists. It is supposed to disrupt you, antagonize you, make you think, awaken you. I have read and seen any number of words of great art that are extremely depressing and unsettling, that harmed me. I like to grow, and I find well written tragedy to be very stimulating, so I watch it. But I know people who find it too harmful for their lives – they only like upbeat happy movies and shallow books. Ok. They don’t demand all tragedy be erased because it ‘harms’ them.

    The bigger point I think is that they don’t mean ‘harm.’ They are simply saying “harm” because they know it gets results. “Mommy, he’s hurting me!” gets Mommy running.

    They don’t believe it’s really harm.Otherwise, they’d be banning pretty much everything. For instance, any art that mocks Jesus, they’d get rid of, for it ‘harms’ believing christians. Any disturbing piece about perversions, say, pedophilia—they’d get rid of Lolita, for it harms. And so on.

    What they are really doing is gaining despotic power over the discourse in the intellectual and artistic world, and therefore in the general culture..They want to be the only voice. Because they are dogmatic, and quasi-religious, they view opposing voices as sinful, or harmful.

    As far as the N word. IT’s a shame I even have to type it as “the N word” when, at the school I teach in, the very word is tossed about as frequently as “can I have a pencil”? All day, all the time. There should not be any word that has that much lopsided power.. As a Jew, I’ve grown up with people using “Jew” itself (which is twisted, that the actual name is an insult) or else “Kike” as an insult. Notice I can type these out. I don’t have to say “the K word.” You know what, people can call me Kike all day long; I can tell them to eff off, or ignore them, or mock them, or whatever. But they can say it. BTW I know no Jew who calls another Jew a “kike”. It’s an insult. I think it takes a special sort of self-hatred to take a hateful insult and apply it to yourself, not matter how much you dress it up as ‘owning’ the word.

    • James Lee Phillips says

      Interesting – just the other day I was thinking of the film Barton Fink. The studio owner Jack Lipnik uses the term to refer to both himself and the titular character in exactly the way you describe. I don’t know if the Coen brothers had ever heard that in real life (I haven’t, and obviously you haven’t), but it SOUNDS authentic.

    • Stephanie says

      On a bus once I witnessed a black male teenager call a black female teenage acquaintance/friend a nigger. The striking look on her face made it clear it had caused her emotional harm. Being a teenager myself at the time and about to exit the bus, I didn’t say anything, but I immediately regretted not telling that young woman that she was better than that.

      Why it should be okay for black people to hurl that word at each other but not okay for people of any race to reference the word in relevant contexts makes no sense to me.

    • 370H55V says


      From one kike to another: superb post. Thanks much

    • Larry Larkin says

      More the point, “direct harm”.

      What did Leach do, wade into the audience and beat people about the head with a record player?

  15. Defenstrator says

    This is typical of the willful imbecility that has been embraced as part of grievance culture. Intelligent and educated adults must pretend to have the social skills of mentally disabled children, and play an elaborate game of pretend in order to take their own lies seriously. The idea that there is sarcasm, facetious statements, or even context is ignored, with the conversation being dumbed down to the point that the word somehow has mystic power. And when this willfully simplistic way of thinking is challenged, it’s proponents play dumb and accuse those who complain of being evil. My only advice is to point out what these people are doing, and then treat them like the anti-intellectual imbeciles they pretend to be.

  16. Peter from Oz says

    It’s very simple to use ”N-word” as a subsbsitute for ”nigger.” when using the term by way of reference. But no-one seems to have cottoned onto the fact that you can use ”n-word” also in the real sense.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Peter from Oz

      Okay, you have now burned your handle.

      A Google search that connects you to “Peter from Oz” and to the word that, um, you just used, can make you vulnerable to the first white middle class liberal who takes a malicious dislike to you.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Any middle class white lefty who took me on would regret it.

  17. Andrew Melville says

    … and whole nonsense funded (almost entirely I would guess) by its five (5) government sponors – federal, provincial and municipal. The usual unappealing progressive muck that would not sell a single ticket without welfare. We should receive a heart felt apology from all five sponsors and a binding commitment never to give these leftist loonies another nickel.

  18. The Joly says

    23 years as an educator and self-styled classical liberal, it saddens me to think the legacy of years of trying to teach inclusion and a “live and let live” philosophy has birthed a legacy of progressive liberals hell-bent on being just as divisive and condescending as anyone produced by the alt-right. I have never listened to Mary Jane Leach, but she is obviously another casualty of the cruel hypocrisy of progressive liberals whose mantra seems to be “freedom – but only for those on my side.” At least the convention’s name, OBEY, is an honest(clever? accidental?) portrayal of this perversion of the liberal ethic and should maybe offer some warning to people who are potentially interested in attending. 🙂

    Thank you for this article. I now have a new artist to listen to and another piece of evidence to share with my students that, despite the deliberate denial of mainstream media, progressive liberals are the true danger to our freedom.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Sure, get your students using racial epithets to show everybody how inclusive and free they are. You obviously don’t work with students of color.

      • @NP, you’re not even reading posts; you’re just protecting your own biases onto the posts. The poster didn’t state she was “getting students using racial epithets.” She talked about sharing evidence of bias to her students. You may or may not disagree, but argue the point, not a made-up straw man. Otherwise, it seems that you don’t have a good point.

        Now I do work entirely with students of color (99% African American; staff is 50% African American). Does this make me sacrosanct somehow? I can tell you that the N word is used extremely freely by the students, all the time, about as often as “can you give me a pencil” or “can I go to the bathroom.” Adult AA teachers tell the students not to use this self-disrespectful word, but the force of rap and street culture and approving parents is too great for a handful of teachers to change.

        I had one sixth grade Latino student. In an effort to belong, he said, ‘My N!” to another student in a friendly way. That student – who used this word all day long and cursed all day like a sailor – then told me the Latino kid “hurt” his feelings by using the word. Meanwhile, there are shootings nearly every day and every one of these kids has had to hide in their rooms while shootings go on, and every one knows a relative who has been shot and killed. That kid who said his feelings were ‘hurt’ by the mere mention of the word by a Latino had just had an uncle shot and killed in a gang battle the week before (gangs which repeatedly use the N word on themselves I might add).

        • Morgan Foster says


          Your Latino student learned a very important lesson about racial identity that day.

          It may help him stay alive long enough to graduate from high school.

      • Defenstrator says

        Students of colour is not a thing. They are not a homogeneous group. I understand it is fun to see the world simplistically, but it’s not really useful.

    • Defenstrator says

      They are progressive, but not liberal. They are in fact very authoritarian. It’s why I’ve given up on the whole left/right thing. I find authoritarian vs classical liberal far more useful.

  19. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Why does Quillette insist on acting as though they just discovered this controversy? This debate has been going on for – what? – at least forty years now. The N-word is controversial. Yea, no shit.

    Yet another example that demonstrates nothing but the persistence of this debate. But oh, what a joy it would be if white guys could say the N-word with impunity! You could all stop using those annoying euphemisms.

    • Cedric says


      You missed the point of the article. The point was that someone used the N-word in a completely non-controversial way (referencing the specific title of an artist’s song) and was treated as if she had purposely imposed violence and harm on an audience of adult Canadian wussies.

      Yes, the N-word is controversial. Yes, the artist meant for the title to be controversial. That’s the point of the art – it wasn’t the presenter stirring up the audience; it was the artist. The artist, who, according to our societal standards, had the right to use the N-word with impunity.

      You are right that the controversy of using the N-word is old. But the controversy of silencing someone who is keeping a dead artist’s work alive simply because she said the titles of his pieces aloud is fairly new. And completely ridiculous, by the way. Think about it – that artist’s work dies because now professionals are going to be afraid to present his work in public for fear of having their careers ruined. The OBEY organizers are not just silencing the presenter, they are effectively silencing the dead artist. That is a new controversy.

      • Asenath Waite says


        Nice response. Too bad Nakatomi will make no attempt to engage with the points you make, or even read them, probably. He’s no doubt already off drive-by shooting more strawmen.

      • bloody hell, finally some sense and back to the matter at hand…this has been painful to wade through some really misguided and clearly personalising comments – like personalising by ppl with clearly no personal attachment to the word, history and a whole lot of the typical whataboutthemoverthere-isms that one gets with ppl who don’t quite get the scope or have the classic amnesia – lack of understanding of assets, economics and I don’t even know where to start LOL with the colonies comment of Haiti, islands whatever…or Indian racists or whateeeever…my goodness. There have been some good points above don’t get me wrong – like everything tying to African slavery – there’s a good Michelle Wright short talk on this if anyone is interested.

        Buuuut…lol this is not that….that’s taking this so far from the issue for this particular situation. The essence of this is that the works are named these things, its not an arbitrary cuss out of a stranger on a bus but something purposely called these things for reason that one having a panel or presentation about it surely would be expected to explore… surely you know this going in and have a discussion about your plan – if you foresee issues (weirdly) – and if the event organisers didn’t, then I don’t know what to tell them…it seems really shitty for the person who came to present this to bear the brunt of people who appear to want to explore sensitive and cultural issues, but only superficially, it seems at least from this situation.

        I think its dangerous to whitewash both history and commentary on history or just of social mores or experiences of past eras and changes, progression, whatever..why they exist, the time in which they existed etc. Rather than merely silence them without the discourse…esp, may I just say again, in this situation where you booked it to begin’s not like it was a surprise?

  20. Valentine Gale says

    I just flew over this piece of prose: squabbles over race related topics are so parochially North American, even if they have infested other continents and are still gnawing away at their social fabric. But when I tripped over “… including my wife and I…” (would the writer have written “including I and my wife”?) the shutters of linguistic intolerance came crashing down and I got no further in the text.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      @Valentine Gale
      Yes, that’s a real clanger but for non-native speakers and those just learning these distinctions, let me expand. Would the writer have written, “…including I.” Certainly not, it would have been, “… including me.” Therefore, it should have been, “… including my wife and me.”

    • Shawn T says

      VG – Were you violently jolted to the point of spilling your Chardonnay? Perhaps your cigarette holder dropped to a scandalous cant? You nose was forced to being held somewhere near horizontal? Your inability to suffer such a linguistic slight in the midst of a lengthy article (parochial as it may be) says far more about you than the author. P.S. welcome to the internet.

  21. Sadie Slays says

    I burnt out outrage over this type of stuff. Now I hope it hastens the collapse of political correctness.

  22. Michael Berkowitz says

    She used the bad word six times, according to We are Missing. Does that mean she now has to spend six months of every year in Hades?

  23. Cynical Old Biologist says

    I thought art was meant to challenge boundaries and thinking? This article describes an art scene so pathetically far up its own backside and drowning in groupthink that it makes me fear for my children’s futures.

  24. Cynical Old Biologist says

    It strike me as very disrespectful of an artist to not use the titles of the works they chose for their creations – particularly when the titles were chosen for shock-value. How can one understand the historical context of a piece of art if its name cannot even be mentioned? The even more ridiculous thing is that, if Mary Jane Leach was an “American of African Extraction”, she could have shouted the “n-word” a hundred times in any context whatsoever and been applauded for it. So let’s be plain – this is just straight out racism by the OBEY organizers – no two ways about it.

    • Cedric says


      I was thinking the same thing. The artist clearly meant for the title to be an integral part of the art itself. It’s not like he named it “Fugue No. 3 in G-Minor.” Silencing the “violent” and “harmful” title of the work is like removing several notes from the music itself.

      • Just Me says

        Exactly. This point should have been the main one.

        Obviously the musician chose the name because it was important to him. It is not using it that is insulting and dismissive, to the artist.

        • LR says

          Exactly. It is these PC nitwits too stuck in their own idiocy that are disrespecting the artist. Totally disrespecting the artist.

          How come these PC idiots keep getting away with this stuff? Weren’t there others there vehemently ‘protesting’ their disrespect towards the artist?

  25. Lupin says

    I like how the organizer took responsibility… By silencing someone else. 😅

  26. “The fundamental reason for the superiority of totalitarian propaganda over the propaganda of other parties and movements is that its content, for the members of the movement at any rate, is no longer an objective issue about which people may have opinions, but has become as real and untouchable an element in their lives as the rules of arithmetic.” pg 363 The Origins of Totalitarianism H. Arendt

  27. Islamaphooey says

    Anybody remember John Lennon? “Woman is the nigger of the world” was a song of his. I wonder if he would bow to the mob these days? Patti Smith? “Rock and roll nigger”. Does she perform the song? Does she defend writing the song? It must be confusing to a lefty artist to fall prey to the lefty mob.

    • Asenath Waite says


      Sean Lennon has spoken out against modern leftism recently, which makes me think that he was raised well by mostly Yoko, but John for a while too. That gives me hope that John would not have caved to the insanity if he had lived.

      • Sadie Slays says

        That classic Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase SNL skit would never be allowed on the air today. Heck, I’m surprised it isn’t censored on Youtube.

  28. ASDF says

    the image you used is the back cover of NAS’s “I AM” album! was so confused reading this as a result and thought there was some tie to nas. FIX ASAP.

    • Respek Wahmen says

      Although, NAS did experience similar craziness.

      “The untitled ninth studio album by American rapper Nas, commonly referred to eponymously as Nas, was released on July 15, 2008 by The Jones Experience and Def Jam Recordings. Its original title Nigger was changed due to controversy surrounding the racial epithet.” -wiki

  29. Shamrock says

    I think this outrage culture is a natural development of the decision made over the last couple of decades not to let students ‘fail’ and therefore not give grades. It’s the extension of participation awards.

    Life is tough and there are going to be plenty of times you have to accept things you don’t like. The idea of students getting failing grades and not being good at some tasks helps them prepare for life’s disappointments. However, when you adopt a culture that no matter what a student does he/she/ze cannot fail and whatever they do/feel is fine, then of course they will come to be offended and ‘made vulnerable’ when something happens that they don’t like, no matter how trivial.

  30. Don’t people realize that it violates the 10 commandments to use the N-word in vain unless you are an anointed member of the Chosen People using it in a liturgical context (like a gangsta rap concert).

  31. Area Man says

    The title of a work of art is a distinct entity, a proper noun. No one has the right to editorialize what someone else has created. A collection of artists & appreciators of art should know this especially. So I can’t help but wonder why any normal person would attend such an event or why a person would be surprised that fanatics display fanatical behavior.

  32. Sydney says

    Wow. What a story. Just layer-upon-layer of insanity.

    Nitpicking: “The decision to cancel Leach’s concert was, more than clearly, made out of respect for people of colour and for the oppression they’ve experienced and continue to experience.”

    You mean to say, ‘…for the oppression they claim to have experienced, and claim to continue to experience.’

    I have a music story:

    This year in my child’s specialty fine-arts high school, the ‘white’ PhD music director apologized for teaching music of “dead white men” to a student group whose majority is ethnically Chinese children from highly affluent immigrant families, and for whom learning Western classical music (created and composed by dead European men) on Western instruments is a status symbol and held in high esteem.

    In short, the music director was acting as per his teacher’s union’s critical theory indoctrination and apologizing for sins of oppression, while the non-European music kids who competed to get into that specific program were there precisely to learn the music-of-the-oppressor on instruments-of-the-oppressor.

    Go figure.

  33. X. Citoyen says

    As creative director, I accept responsibility for allowing and perpetrating this harm, not only in a programming capacity but also as a person in attendance who remained silent. In light of this, we’ve decided to pull the final performance in hopes of preventing any further harm. This is the first step in a process of accountability.

    He accepts responsibility, but the first step in the “process of accountability” is to fire someone else. This is what cheap virtue is: take all the credit, force someone else to suffer the consequences.

  34. El Uro says

    To be honest, words “my wife and I attended the eclectic(!) OBEY music convention” say a lot about the author of this blog 🙂

  35. 370H55V says

    “It is distressingly similar to past attempts from the conservative side of the political spectrum to prevent museums from exhibiting works by artists such as David Černý, Karen Finley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Chris Ofili, Dana Schutz, Andres Serrano and David Wojnarowicz.”

    This is absolute bullshit. Conservatives have NEVER attempted to silence these voices–all we tried to do was prevent public money from being used to support them. No one has the right not to be offended, but certainly the right not to have to pay to be offended.

    • Stephanie says

      Thanks, 370, I’ve never heard of these artists but I figured this claim was probably as fallacious as every one-line zinger against conservatives, mandatory in every Quillette article.

  36. Eyeroll. Dead black guy writes music with titles like Evil Nigger and Gay Guerrilla and living snowflakes posing on behalf of the oppressed decide that those who even speak these titles are doubleplusungood harmful unpersons who must be erased.

  37. Stephanie says

    The actually offensive thing would be to disrespect a dead artist by sterilizing work that he was purposefully trying to make transgressive.

    Shame on this music festival and on the Canadian government who undoubtedly sponsored it for misunderstanding the purpose of art and encouraging the mob.

    Someone here had the wonderful idea of building a site where mobbed artists, artisans, and business owners could be highlighted and receive support from people opposed to the rise of the radical left. We need to make the mob understand that mobbing people will not achieve the desired goal. Ray’s idea for a self-flagellation award is also brilliant. Sufficient people with enough financial resources exist on our side to make it happen. Do we have any entrepreneurs?

  38. Saw file says

    Outside of my work, nobody can dictate what I say.
    A sharp “f-off”, is my response to the dictators.

  39. Grant says

    1,700 word apology?! They should take it on the road, flagellating themselves on street corners while reciting it. I think I’ll download it to have at the ready when I screw up. I’m sure it must cover a wide range of sins.
    Imagine the angst next year as they try to chose subjects and music. I think apologies set to Gregorian chant music is appropriate

  40. RichieRich says

    An extract from We Are Missing’s Facebook post:

    During this talk, Mary Jane Leach (a white woman) used a violent racial slur during her presentation; over and over and over. She continued to repeat the title of Julius Eastman’s piece for a total of six times during her presentation! After the presentation, Nivie facilitated a conversation to unpack Mary Jane’s work (through the lens of the collective) and to address Mary Jane’s choice to read the titles of Julius’s work verbatim (which was a surprise and not communicated beforehand). This conversation ended withOUT any accountability on Mary Jane’s part or on behalf of the organizers of the event.

    We are making this statement today to say that We Are Missing is looking for some accountability from OBEY Convention for organizing this conversation. There is a larger conversation to be had, as a step one, We Are Missing would like some accountability. We look forward to addressing this issue with the OBEY board and continue to be as transparent as possible during that process.

    And their comment beneath the post:

    Hey everyone. We will not be debating on this thread about the ethics around her use of a racial slur. We encourage everyone to unpack privilege and intention vs impact.
    We will not be accepting ignorance in the name of art. We at the collective know, that with all the resources available, this argument is old and outdated.

    • Defenstrator says

      So they have an ignorant opinion and refuse to hear any evidence of their ignorance. Got it.

  41. Lightning Rose says

    Thank you all for reminding me why I just stay HOME and crank Lynryd Skynryd and Springsteen on the box. Ye gawds!

    • Tersitus says

      One again the Rose captures the essential spirit of response— but my first choice of tune to crank is usually the Eagles’ stomper, Get Over It. Loud. Real loud.

  42. John Barr says

    And here was me thinking that writing for Quillette was meant to loosen people up. Writer is scared to even write a song title. Hilarious! North America lost its fucking mind a long, long time ago. Would be much funnier if it wasn’t dragging the rest of the world to insane Hell with it.

  43. John Barr says

    And here was me thinking that writing for Quillette was meant to free you up! Writer is scared even to use the word ‘nigger’ in a correct, direct aesthetic context. Laughable. North America lost its fucking mind a long, long time ago. Would be funnier were it not for the fact it’s dragging the rest of the world to Hell with it.

  44. John Barr says

    I do love when you write a reply and it does not appear, then rewrite it, only for the original to appear after you post the second one several minutes later. Makes you appear like a dolt. Magic! 🙂

    • Defenstrator says

      I just wish I could go back and fix my spelling errors.

  45. Aerth says

    Leftist invent a new levels of idiocy. By now I think it is some sort of internal competition among them.

  46. Wayne Hepner says

    This is why nobody can have a nice intellectual discussion while I’m around. As I was reading the article, all I could think about was the foul-mouthed piano player joke.

    A guy is auditioning for a pianist job in a night club. The manager says, “okay, let me hear what you can do.”
    So he sits at the piano and plays a beautiful ballad. The manager says, “That’s great, what’s it called?”
    The pianist says, “Oh it’s one of my songs, I call it ‘Banging a teenage hooker’s pussy until I jizz.'”
    The manager yells, “What are you nuts? This is a classy place. You can’t play something like that. What else have you got?”
    So he plays a slow blues, and the manager says “Okay, that’s nice, what do you call it?”
    The pianist says, “I call it, ‘Fucking your mom while your daughter licks my ass.'”
    “What? No!” The manager says to him, “Okay, look, I like your music so I’m going to hire you, but just play, don’t talk to the audience and don’t say the names of the songs.
    He agrees, and it’s going pretty well until he’s in the bathroom between sets and hears his name being announced. He panics and rushes toward the stage, but the manager stops him and says, “Hey, man, you know your fly is open and your dick is sticking out?” And he answers, “know it? I wrote it!”

  47. Norbert Weinberg says

    Wikipedia lists his works by name and his music has been performed publicly with the n word without problems. I can imagine Madam Lefarge and here knitting needle as enemies of the revolution are brought to the guillotine.

  48. Reynardine says

    The very fact that in over a hundred comments here hardly anyone even mentions Eastman himself, or his music, is proof of the utter lunacy of this situation. I’m a huge fan of Eastman’s work, which is as marginal as it comes. Now some of that marginalisation, it’s true, was due to his erratic and abrasive style, but he was a truly talented and original musician and composer (not even mentioning his utterly incredible singing voice) and by 2019 he should be at least on a par with contemporaries such as Arthur Russell. I own and have read Leach’s book, and it’s a wonderful labour of love which must have taken a lot of work to write and must have been a bastard to research given how little material of / about Eastman survives or is readily available. And it was never going to be a money-generating unit-shifter given the utter indifference of the world to Eastman during or after his life. She did it simply because she’s passionate about his work and wants it, belatedly, to gain as much exposure as possible now. Not that it will do Eastman himself any good since he died in obscurity and penury decades ago. Instead some little snowflake wanker comes along, sounds off about the title and subsequently deprives him of even that, lost as his music now is (again) under a torrent of discussion about this word. ‘Helping the oppressed’ by oppressing one of their most innovative and under-recognised number even further – what a brilliant strategy. Perhaps the little snowflake in question would like to put some skin in the game by organising their own festival to promote Eastman’s music? No, thought not. And OBEY should hang their heads in shame, craven cowards each and every one.

  49. Taylor says

    Why do you hate 101 Dalmatians tho? I really need to know this.

    • Wayne Hepner says

      Probably liked the book better, that would be the most typically Quillettian reason.

  50. Thank you for the article, it really helps to clarify for me what happened in Halifax. Regarding the reading of “a statement regarding the indigenous people who had previously occupied the land”… this type of land acknowledgement (whether delivered with thoughtfulness or not), has become a normal part of public events in Canada, and it’s an acknowledgement not of the former occupants of the land but of peoples who are still fully alive today, and fighting to regain what Canada has taken from them. Happy Canada Day everyone.

    • ga gamba says

      … fighting to regain what Canada has taken from them.

      Balderdash. What was not owned cannot be taken. To say ownership in pre-European 1533 (or earlier if you like) would have guaranteed ownership in 2019 is too far a stretch. Further, the arrival of colonists set off a chain of events leading to the conception and birth of the present generations. Without the catalyst and the changes resulting from it, many of those alive presently would have never been conceived because the preceding post-European settlement generations would not have been conceived. As such, they too are beneficiaries of colonialism.

      If they wish to regain land not reserved for them, they may buy it from the current owners willing to sell, just like everyone else.

      Enjoy your Canada Day.

  51. Makes sense. To which one of my favorite and IMHO the best band to come out of the bay area can surely testify. That band is F*ck – without the asterisk. Give them a listen.

  52. Pingback: Sammelthread News XI - Archiv Frau und Musik

  53. St says

    Rap music anyone?
    Stop apologizing. This is an attempt by the white rich idiots in power along with their victim industry bureaucracy to control everyone else

  54. Mike van Lammeren says

    In an article about leftists devouring each other, was it really necessary to drag conservatives from the 1980s and their rejection of Mapplethorpe into it?

    Yesterday, some lefty loons got their knickers in a twist over the n-word. But hey, 30 years ago, some conservatives objected to some other guy. Also, Trump!

  55. The reaction to the public repeating of Eastman’s (no relative of mine) work is emblematic of a whole class of people who are feeling very threatened and insecure in their traditional role of cultural hegemony that it has enjoyed since WW2..

    The reaction to heresy by the postmodernist trained humanist ascendancy (that runs large slabs of the system of social administration within the health, welfare, education, legal and social/commercial media Establishments) and its increasingly tendentious, rigid and authoritarian orthodoxy, is analogous to the later medieval church, when its authority became increasingly questioned, as a result of its egregious abuses, malfeasance and loss of institutional purpose.

    Their larger regime commitment to indulgent deregulation and privatization of our social infrastructure is coming into question in ways that were never anticipated, even 20 years ago. And while this social administrative regime and its apparatchiks cloak themselves in the rhetoric and status of the old socialist left, they would have been regarded by old style Marxists as a petty bourgeois ‘infantile disorder’ whose ideological fantasies bear no relation whatever to reality.

    The working class rump left by the deregulation of the economic system in favour of exporting manufacturing to Asia may not understand the corporate decision making that led to its economic demise, but it certainly understands that deregulating and privatizing the social system is and always was a terrible idea laced with awful consequences.

    It produced generations of children who never got the social potty training basics, moral compass, other regarding sociophilic values, disciplined rules based behaviour and the existentially stable grounding necessary to produce secure individuals.

    The Postmodernism that characterizes the humanist ascendancy is an ideological bubble that creates its own reality where feeling and perception trump analysis, evidence and reason, in an increasingly aggressive fashion, that entrenches adolescent narcissism and moral exceptionalism as social norms, for which Anifa types would have to be notorious, along with their neo Nazi fellow brawlers.

    Anifa are not even remotely antifascist, because most of them have not had enough education to know what real fascism is, or what its context was and how it operated. If any of the little bastards ever ran into a well trained brownshirt Sturmabteilung squad, they would have the shit beaten out of them by iron bars wrapped in newspaper…..

  56. Luis Howard says

    The introductory picture of a black person apparently smoking some substance, then in the article itself the attempt to justify one of the most human needs, freedom of expression, and failing, combine to weaken the purpose of the article

    Why cannot intelligent humans say, and very clearly, that Mapplethorpe and Serrano simply live as well as they do, as parasites, because of their subservience to the federal grant guidelines? Why?

  57. Tom says

    It is remarkable how exclusionary these “inclusive” people are, how intolerant is their “tolerance”, and how viciously callous are their “sensitivities”.

  58. The Reticulator says

    When the directors said, “We acknowledge that that program caused direct harm to community members in attendance,” they were lying. It’s not nice to tell lies to your clients and customers.

  59. Raja Halwani says

    This is a nice article but the author confuses the distinction between sense (the meaning of a word or express) and reference (the object or event to which the word of expression refers) with the distinction between use and mention. He needs the latter distinction, not the former one.

  60. I never thought I’d have to say it, but shame on Quillette.
    It is absurd of you to forbid this author from stating the very names of the musical works being discussed. The lunatics who control speech understand perfectly well the difference between calling a person “nigger” and simply stating the word in a discussion.
    The prohibition is not only entirely phony, it is racist. Declaring that’s it is okay for black people to call each other “nigger” but that it’s a cosmic offense for a non-black to merely state the word in a discussion of the word itself… This is the very definition of a race boundary.
    The outrage is idiotic. Quillette shouldn’t fall for this racist scam of thought control.

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