On March 28, Florida lawmakers officially passed their “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. As reported by The Guardian, the bill signed by Florida Gov. Ron Desantis forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. The policy has faced heavy scrutiny on a national front. Many argue that it isolates and marginalizes LGBTQIA+ youth.

Instances like these loom a dark cloud over the world, but there’s one thing you can guarantee: Our community will not stand for it. Alternative music has routinely been at the forefront of shifts in the social and political landscape, using its platform and power to rally for change and solidarity. From Dee Snider fighting censorship in court to Jason Aalon Butler bringing his listeners to the streets to march for Black Lives Matter, these are the times that alternative musicians stood up against adversity as a reminder that above all else, we have each other. 

Read more: Mel D. Cole on capturing Black Lives Matter protests: “This is bigger than me”

1. Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe vs. PMRC

“Satanic Panic” encapsulated the ’80s, the cries of frightened parents making headline after headline. It reached its boiling point when the Parents Music Resource Center called for the RIAA and music industry to develop a rating system, similar to film ratings developed by Motion Picture Association. To emphasize this point they released their “Filthy 15,” 15 songs that were deemed objectionable. The list featured tracks such as Judas Priest’s “Eat Me Alive,” Mötley Crüe’s “Bastard” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

But musicians weren’t going to back down without throwing a few punches first. In 1985, three PMCR representatives and three musicians – Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Frank Zappa and John Denver – testified at a Senate hearing. The historic moment is remembered best by Snider, who gave a compelling speech on the censorship of art.

Ultimately, the outcome prevented censorship of music. It did, however, offer the parental advisory warning seen on any music released with explicit themes and language.

2. Everyone vs. Westboro Baptist Church

Who hasn’t trolled this organization? The anti-LGBT, Islamaphobic, antisemitic hate group, known for their vulgar picketing signs such as “God Hates Fags,” seem to have a vendetta against rock and metal music.

Hilariously, Foo Fighters “Rickrolled” them in 2011 on an epic level.

Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe also organized a counterparty to their protest of Virginia politician, metalhead and trans woman Danica Roem.

And at one point, it was the entirety of Warped Tour vs Westboro. During the 2017 run in Kansas, musicians and road crew rocked “Fuck The Westboro Baptist Church” T-shirts. They seemed to spark a nerve.

3. Rage Against The Machine stop the New York Stock Exchange

Rage Against The Machine have become renowned for their political and social messaging in songs. It’s no surprise that in 2000, they stopped the New York Stock Exchange. Well, momentarily. As reported by Genius.com, when filming the music video for their critically acclaimed single “Sleep Now In The Fire” – which takes aim at capitalism and greed, and the United States’ history of slavery, war atrocities and Native American conquest – the band filmed part of their shoot on the steps of Federal Hall in lower Manhattan.

Though a permit was obtained for the shoot, New York City authorities didn’t grant a sound permit. Thus, the shoot was broken up by the NYPD. The band then rushed the New York Stock Exchange across the street. They made it through the building’s first set of doors before security had to shut the building down. Whether a happy accident or not, this stands in pop culture as a shining moment that the underdogs can make change.

4. Pussy Riot standing up against the Russian government

Pussy Riot are a ferocious, unstoppable force in punk music that haven’t backed down from the Russian hierarchy for almost two decades. You might remember them from their viral moment in 2018, running across a soccer game during the Fifa World Cup to protest against unlawful arrests and police violence in the country, Time Magazine reports.

Or perhaps you know about their two-year-long prison sentence, charged with “hooliganism” after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow Cathedral in 2012, BBC reports. In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Russian government violated the rights of members of Pussy Riot.

Recently, the Russian government labeled them “foreign agents,” and the band are now appealing this in court. Through censorship and strife, Pussy Riot have sneered into the face of their oppressors. By doing so, they’ve empowered those in similar positions. Even with the risks of arrest and deportation, they continue to fight.

5. Confess jailed for six years for writing “anti-establishment” music

Pussy Riot aren’t the only band fighting against their establishments to freely criticize the state without backlash. 2015 saw Confess, a thrash-metal band based in Iran, jailed by the Iranian government for “writing anti-establishment metal music, for which they were charged with blasphemy and propaganda against the state and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison,” The Guardian reports.

The band have been at odds with the Iranian state since their 2012 debut, Beginning of Dominion, which particularly took aim at religion. When they followed up with In Pursuit of Dreams in October 2015, The Guardian reported they were being heavily monitored by the Iranian government.

They spent 18 months incarcerated while awaiting trial. Then they were given a six-year sentence, resulting in them seeking asylum in Norway. Singer Nikan Khosravi says, “Our second album was called In Pursuit of Dreams, and we were arrested two weeks after releasing it. We were pursuing our dreams and, for our dreams, we went to jail.” Though a reflection of the disparity in freedom of speech, stories like these remind us that heavy music can inspire us to stand up against the grain and fight for what we believe in, at all costs.

6. Jason Aalon Butler and the Black Lives Matter movement

When we speak of ushering in necessary change, it is imperative to mention Jason Aalon Butler of FEVER 333, Pressure Cracks and previously letlive.

We can’t forget the efforts of others in the industry who have been rallying for change long before. For one, Rock Against Racism paved the way in the ’70s. Butler, however, is an example of a modern-day icon making a difference for today’s youth.

From 2003, Butler has labored himself in his work, both emotionally and mentally, becoming a vessel for projecting the voices and struggles of Black Americans. Though an ongoing conversation in today’s music landscape, the early 2000s was sparse for Black representation in alternative music. Being one of the few Black men in his field unabashedly speaking against the oppressors he had to work with, Butler inspired a generation of new youth charging the floodgates. In an interview with Alternative Press, the FEVER 333 frontman says, “We have to create these spaces for us. I am done waiting for the industry to magically reform.” 

Notable moments in his career include FEVER 333’s recent WRONG GENERATION EP, the result of 13 days of turmoil following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter marches ongoing through the summer of 2020, telling NME, “​​When I was talking about this early on in the project of our new music, it was a movement that was already happening. It already had momentum, but it’s now coming to a head due to the aggregate results of a bunch of things: technology, people’s frustrations and the realization of their own power.”

7. Bands against Donald Trump

There are few bands who haven’t gone toe to toe with the 45th President, Donald J. Trump. Though some artists aligned with his views, many were quick to criticize his policies and statements.

The list of bands who’ve threatened legal action against Trump for playing their songs during his rallies is a lengthy one, including Aerosmith, Neil Young, Twisted Sister, the Rolling Stones, Nickelback and Ozzy Osbourne, to name a few.

If it’s not legal action, some artists have made their feelings about Trump abundantly clear on a global platform. In response to the Trump campaign party using their song “We’re Not Going To Take It,” Snider said, I strongly don’t agree with his extremist positions,” in response to Trump’s stance on banning all Muslims from entering the United States.  Green Day similarly have made their feelings about Trump known, their chant “No Trump, No KKK, no fascist USA” when performing at the AMAs in 2019 is one that is still repeated today. Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong doesn’t water down his feelings, “Trump gives me diarrhea” he says to NME.

Alternative Press Original Article

Share