RYM – Some final thoughts

A few weeks ago I wrote a fairly innocuous article about online discography sites, and in particular Rate Your Music and Discogs. I happened to mention that I’d encountered homphobic, misogynist and borderline racist comments on the former site. I wasn’t implying that these were endorsed by the site, or the work of more than a few obnoxious posters who probably thought themselves rebellious and controversial. Even so, it seems I sparked up quite a debate judging from the number of linked hits I got. I’ve not bothered to read it – I’m guessing that there was a fair amount of invective aimed my way, before everybody got bored and moved on to the next poor sap who said something they didn’t like.

Since then, I’ve discovered something far more disturbing about the Rate Your Music. In my trawls I’d discovered a couple of albums by obnoxious white supremacist skinheads Skrewdriver cropping up in lists. What I didn’t realise was this was just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are things on the site that make (the late and very much unlamented) Ian Stewart’s mob look like Guardianistas. Neo-nazi and National Socialist bands? Check. Bands whose very name advocates racial violence? Check. Bands who use images and descriptions of misogynist violence and rape as their ‘selling point’? Check. It’s all there.

So how do the site’s moderators justify it?. It’s the old freedom of speech cliché. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it” as Voltaire famously never said. This, coupled with the even less convincing “we are simply compiling a database of what exists – you don’t expect a dictionary to be censorous”.

Now I’m no prig (a prick, maybe, but not a prig). I’ve always been against censorship, and pro-freedom of speech. Censorship is a thorny issue, because it always ends up having faceless people determine what others can or cannot see / do / say. There are people offended by a nipple exposed in a photograph, a mild swearword, or any less than hallowed reference to Jesus/Mohammed/Diana or whoever else they are scared might be fatally tarnished by someone telling a joke about them, or drawing a cartoon of them (OK, better not go there). If we were that frightened of upsetting anyone’s delicate sensibilities, than there would probably be no art at all.

There is a line. It’s one thing to be offended by something – another to live in fear of violence, or even death, because of it. There is a reason that Germany and other countries have rigorously enforced laws against the advocation of ‘hate-crimes’. Much of the material I’m describing on RYM breaks these laws. I’m no expert on legal matters – indeed, I have no idea how the laws in England and Scotland work in these areas. But even if having this material on show is not illegal, it is still morally reprehensible. And inexcusable. The claim that these things will be ostracised for what they are, thus creating a community-based rejection of what they stand for is naïve beyond belief. RYM has in fact created a one-stop shop for information on all your neo-Nazi (and other) needs. “Oh, I didn’t know they had another three records as well – must track those down”. In other words, it’s unwittingly acting as a propagandist site.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that anyone who works on the site endorses any of this crap. But their naïve, idealistic libertarianism helps no one but those who seek to destroy the liberty (and lives) of all who don’t fit into their own warped and sick world view.

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8 responses to “RYM – Some final thoughts

  1. I´ve never been on that damn site, but now that I read your comment -> I´m glad I never was and better yet: I never will! I don´t need that kind of lame shit!

    Cheers and keep up the good and interesting work,

    Armand

  2. I was angry when I wrote that – and had to seriously edit it before I posted it. I’m glad that at least someone doesn’t think I was over-reacting. I think that people who don’t see the problem are, unwittingly or not, actually a big part of it.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment Armand. Glad you like my scribblings!

  3. So by cataloging the existance of albums, RYM is a “one-stop shop for information on all your neo-Nazi (and other) needs”?!? I think you need to take your medication. If that site honored removing the fact that this music exists, then shouldn’t they also be expected to remove Christian music that offends non-believers? What about the hateful diatribes and sexism that permeates gangsat rap and hip-hop (and influences many young people by glamorizing a violent life as does neo-Nazi music)? Shouldn’t RYM police all of that (and more) away? Soon, only Percy Faith albums would exist is the politically sanitized version of the site. Or are you suggesting that only that which offends *you* should be expunged from existance in what is a database, not a store, as you allude to.

    You say: I’ve always been against censorship, and pro-freedom of speech.

    I don’t see it. It just appears that you have a burning disdain with that site and are looking for every perceived flaw to magnify under your microscope.

    Any sane person knows that the hate speech found in neo-Nazi and other racist music/media is repugnant. I would hazard a guess that seeing these artifacts on RYM puts a spotlight on this abominable, diseased state of mind and reminds us that it exists. I personally prefer that to not knowing of such a threat and living with the false sense of security that such people are out and about, spreading their antagonizing, twisted views.

  4. Try reading what I wrote before wading in.

    “There is a line. It’s one thing to be offended by something – another to live in fear of violence, or even death, because of it. ”

    So that applies to Christian music does it?

    There are records advocating genocide, records advocating rape and sexual torture, records advocating killing black people. Not just in lyrical content, but explicitly in the titles. You think that’s OK?

    Curiously, RYM draws the line when it comes to paedophelia. Why? Because that’s one area they’re scared of prosecution. That’s hypocrisy on a grand scale.

    I have no axe to grind against the site, its moderators or the majority of its users. I just don’t like coming across Nazi material when I’m surfing. It can be dealt with, but the moderators choose not to. So i choose not to go there. End of.

  5. There’s no “they,” the site belongs to one guy.

    Should libraries not carry “Mein Kampf?” Or books that include photos of pro-Nazi marches?

  6. Mein Kampf is illegal in Germany. Why? Do the fucking math.

    The thing is with all you bleating libertarians – you’re all white, male and middle class. You’re not Jewish, black or female so you just don’t fucking get it.

    I wasn’t aware that most of this shit existed. I am now thanks to RYM. As are many other people, some of whom don’t hold the same quaint live-and-let-live values as you seem to. By publicising works of hate, the site is introducing them to a wider audience. Granted, most people will find this material abhorrent but not all.

    Anyway, I’m fucked if I’m going to keep reiterating this ridiculously simple point. This correspondence is now closed.

  7. Dez, I can assure you, as an RYMer, that this subject is one that is taken very seriously and debated regularly. Here’s a link to a discussion thread on the topic (if you care to read it, that is)…
    http://rateyourmusic.com/board_message/message_id_is_755553_and_board_id_is_2&show=20&start=0
    …but, more pertinently, here is something I posted during the discussion. I hope you do read it:

    “Wow, I never expected this thread to be resurrected!

    When I started it, my main concern was in regard to images that, quite frankly, offended me on a base level – shit-eating and paedophilia, basically! Any thoughts of Nazi, or neo-Nazi, imagery failed to cross my mind. Obviously, it’s something that some users have incredibly strong views about, and I’m heartened to see it being debated so passionately. However, my original post wanted an answer from admins, as to how they decide whether an image is acceptable for public view – a question that was answered very succinctly and concisely by rachel. But, the debate raged on!

    There’s obviously a huge distinction to be made between images that betray a political view (as abhorrent as that view may be), and those that depict children suffering the most unimaginable torture. History equips us with an in-built disgust for anything that may appear to promote, or further the cause of, any group sympathetic to the doctrines of Nazism. But, should Nazism just become ‘the elephant in the room’? As surprised as some may be (given that I started this thread), I say no.

    A couple of years ago, I visited Mostar, in Bosnia. It was a strange experience to walk around this beautiful town, knowing what atrocities had taken place there, within my own lifetime. But, you don’t have to walk far before coming face-to-face with an enormous reminder of that terrible conflict – a whole stretch of main street in Mostar’s centre has been preserved in it’s shelled and bombed-out state, as a permanent monument to those who died, and a lasting reminder that such bloodshed should never be allowed to happen again. The Mostar Bridge was rebuilt from the original stone, rescued from the waters below, in an act of quiet dignity and stoicism. But, elsewhere, bullet holes remain – complacency is not an option for this remarkable community. To hide the evidence is to forget, both here and in the wider world. This is why I believe the Nazi imagery on RYM should remain, uncensored.

    I wanted Nicole 12’s ‘Substitute’ sleeve to be edited, due to it’s ambiguity – it’s a dangerous image and one that should not be promoted as anything but. The Waco Christ sleeve was somethin’ else, man – personally, I don’t get off on seeing people eating each others’ shit, but, ultimately, it’s not illegal! Nazism should not be promoted, per se, but, if we are given the opportunity to openly ridicule and, therefore, destabilise this heinous movement, then we should grasp that opportunity with both hands. To hide the evidence is to forget – complacency is not an option!”

    Thanks!

  8. Dunno why you’re surprised Dez that there’s a load of Nazi shite on RYM – its full of metal fans, not a species noted for its liberalism.

    You seem to have pissed a lot of them off tho. Good luck against the satanic hords mate. lol