Ne Obliviscaris. Goddamit people. Will you stop making me defend this fucking band?
A couple of weeks ago, the band ditched longtime bassist Brendan Brown for that old chestnut “irreconcilable personal differences”. Australian radio host Lochlan Watt and blog ‘I Probably Hate Your Band’ (IPHYB) revealed that this was because Brendan has allegedly beaten up a number of ex-girlfriends as well as his mum. They continually harangued Ne Obliviscaris until they decided to part ways with Brendan. Job done, cue applause. It probably never would have happened without their involvement.
It was at this point where I was going HELL YEAH. Guys who bash chicks are the WORST. Can’t we tar and feather him and run him down a big public street somewhere and whip him a bit? Everyone else seemed to be of the same mind. Honestly, there wasn’t enough popcorn to go around.
In the midst of all this delicious fluffy schadenfreude, I had a couple of chats with friends that unnerved me slightly. The gist of them went something like this.
“It’s all fun and games, but that blog IPHYB are treading on thin ice.”
“What do you mean? I’m sure they wouldn’t print something without proof?”
“Have they come up with anything though? Like court dates, convictions, that sort of thing?”
“Well….no. Not that I’m aware of. Maybe in the comments section of one of their posts somewhere?”
“Anything else more solid than that?”
“I don’t know. A lot of musicians I know and respect seem to know something about these allegations, and were fully behind Brendan getting kicked out. Everyone seems to know someone who has been assaulted by him.”
“Any names or details or anything like that?”
“No. But c’mon man, there’s a lot of smoke around this fire. And I’m pretty sure his band of thirteen years wouldn’t toss him out if there was nothing behind it.”
“Mate, they’re getting by on a Patreon pledge campaign. They probably don’t want anything messing with that flow of money, even bad press. Sounds right now like no-one actually knows anything.”
Hmmm. Maybe. I thought they were giving the guy too much benefit of the doubt. In any case, justice of a sort had been done, and that was that.
Singer Tim had confirmed somewhere on social media that he hadn’t known anything about Brendan’s history of hitting women. Then Brendan’s mum commented underneath that Tim had actually accompanied Brendan to a magistrates for the case where he was charged with assaulting her (found guilty but conviction not recorded). IPHYB took this as proof that the entire band had been covering for Brendan over the years and has called for everyone to boycott the band’s Patreon account with the aim of driving them out of business. As before, other bands and musicians I respect are taking up the call.
But this is where you’re all losing me.
IPHYB went public with all this and got Brendan booted. Cool. But now they are actively financially attacking the entire band and calling for a public witch hunt. Well, I’m one of the public and I’ve got a question:
Do IPHYB have anything more solid than text messages and facebook posts?
Because if they do, then they need to put-up-or-shut-up pronto and if they don’t, they’re getting sued into oblivion sometime in the near future. Which is a shame, I have a new CD coming out and I would have loved them to review it.
You know what I hear from everyone who seems to be in the know about this? That they’ve “heard stuff”, that it “definitely did happen”, that “an ex-girlfriend knows something” but they can’t talk about it, and out of respect can’t name names, and vague details like that. And you know what? I totally believe you guys, but if you’re graduating from getting a dude sacked to then financially ruining the rest of his band you need something more substantial to go on than text messages and facebook posts and I-heard-something.
This to me seems self-evident but by the sounds of it, some people need more convincing. The general public, particularly those younger than me, don’t trust the media these days. Quite often the complaint is that they have an agenda. Media is nothing more than information dissemination. Want to know who else is in the information dissemination business these days? Blogs, like IPHYB. I would gently suggest that blogs are no more free of agendas than traditional media. I would also say that traditional media also has a particular standard of reporting that they are careful not to fall below, and that is NOT to accuse someone of doing something without substantial proof, and NOT to agitate for a form of justice outside of what’s provided by courts.
IPHYB has fallen foul of both of these last points. They’re using their own reporting to agitate for a pogrom against these guys so now they cannot be seen to be an unbiased source. Although they have lots of in-person proof, they don’t appear to have some rock solid charges in hand. And if they do, they haven’t put that out into the public space with the rest of their accusations, for some unfathomable reason. Christ, in the earlier screenshot of their call-to-arms they even acknowledge that the violence is “alleged”. Since when do you go after third parties off the back of facebook allegations? Do they seriously not know what happens when you request punitive action in a public domain off the back of nothing more than allegations?!
The reason why Australia is a civil society and not a basket-case of vendettas, corruption, and mob violence like Egypt, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and so on, is because we manage to control our base instincts for revenge and justice and let our imperfect legal system do the work and we are largely able to live with the results. Whoever Brendan has thumped should be taking it to the police and dragging him through the courts where justice will be done and endured by all parties. A police station is the correct forum for this kind of issue, not a fucking metal blog. If there’s a history of women who have been assaulted, then they need to get together, come forth, and get some charges laid. And if that’s exactly what they’ve done, AND IPYHB have actually got their consent to provide the evidence of charges and subsequent convictions, then witch-hunt away.
Oh dear, I just had another thought. Have they….actually got the consent from these women to report on this and push ahead with the anti-Patreon campaign? Do they realise that if not, these women may have this unpleasant bit of their history aired against their will as a direct result of what they’ve started? You can’t have it both way fellas. You can’t be like “we have proof of wrongdoing, and we call everyone to take action over it”, and then be like “we can’t release that proof to protect the victims”. Having proof that can’t be aired publicly basically means you have no proof.
Domestic violence is a horrible weird enigma of a thing, and quite often how you think you’d want things to play out if you were on the receiving end isn’t actually how the victims want to play it. I’ve had cases where a guy is shoving a woman around in public, stepped in, and then the woman has kicked off at me. I’ve had another case where I heard a thug beating his girlfriend all around the house next door with her shrieking at the top of her voice. I’ve knocked on the door, threatened the little shit with the cops, offered her a room, a lift to services, a lift to a friend, anything, and she begged me with everything she had to let it go and leave. The country should rally against domestic violence. Abusers and people who enable them should be held to account, one hundred percent. But this should be done with the law, the police, the courts, and not with mobs. Justice is for the victims to have, not you smelly long-haired musical-instrument-playing freaks.
This is all moving pretty quick now. Ne Obliviscaris have issued a statement. My eye is drawn to the following sentences:
“Yesterday a certain website published an article claiming to have proof of a grand conspiracy by the band to cover up these allegations over the years. This is completely false and we will be taking legal action against those involved.“
The last time I mentioned this band, it was to discuss their Patreon campaign. I noted that money made in such a way came with strings attached, and that relying on goodwill was a ticking clock. I didn’t see things turning out this way though.
Lastly, the title of the piece is ‘In Defence of Domestic Violence’. If there is a defence, it is that offenders are afforded the luxury of being trialed within the confines of the legal system and not at the hands of mobs. That’s the defence, and nothing more. It’s not sexy and does nothing to cool the blood, but that’s the best option we have without making our society that bit more fragile.
update 7/2/17: I Probably Hate Your Band have taken down the article calling for the Patreon campaign to be targeted. John from the site has further thoughts on the issues involved in the comments section of this article, and are worth a read.