Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Free Speech Instead Of Hurt Feelings
The Slants SCOTUS Win
(Last Updated On: June 21, 2017)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office for the past eight years have denied trademark rights to the Asian-American band, The Slants, on the grounds that the name is offensive and that discriminatory speech can’t be trademarked because trademarks belong to the government, and the government doesn’t allow for that kind of speech in trademarks. In a somewhat startling turn of events, The Slants took their case all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States in order to eke out a victory where freedom of speech won out over hurt feelings.

There’s a post over on the official The Slants website where they brag about the win in a humble way, writing…

“ We’ve had to endure the Trademark Office working in isolation of our groups to navigate the troubled waters of identity politics and shifting language and culture, without any sense of cultural competency, consistency in enforcement of rules, and only giving the benefit of doubt to the most privileged members of society. Now, Americans can decide who should prevail in the marketplace of ideas rather than a lone examining attorney. Oppressed groups will no longer have their identities shaped the sensibilities of dominant ones.”

The ruling came after years of back and forth litigation through the court process, and more than $1 million in legal fees that The Slants managed to crowdsource through fans.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in favor of the music band and posted their ruling over on the official Supreme Court website, where the judiciaries gave their two pence about The Slants being able to have trademark rights to the name of their band. The ruling greatly favored the music band in being able to dictate the fate and empowerment of their culture through words.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained in the ruling…

“Those few categories of speech that the government can regulate or punish—for instance, fraud, defamation, or incitement—are well established within our constitutional tradition. […]

 

“Aside from these and a few other narrow exceptions, it is a fundamental principle of the First Amendment that the government may not punish or suppress speech based on disapproval of the ideas or perspectives the speech conveys. “

Justice Kennedy actually turned it around on the lawyers representing the Government, saying that government officials dictating to the public that only trademarks they find suitable and not derogatory is in itself discrimination.

Kennedy goes on to explain that the First Amendment should afford those with the right to explore and examine speech from all angles, not just angles that aims to be “positive”. In other words, Kennedy advocates putting facts before hurt feelings, writing…

“The First Amendment’s viewpoint neutrality principle protects more than the right to identify with a particular side. It protects the right to create and present arguments for particular positions in particular ways, as the speaker chooses. By mandating positivity, the law here might silence dissent and distort the marketplace of ideas.” […]

 

“A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society. For these reasons, I join the Court’s opinion in part and concur in the judgment.”

According to The Slants, the idea was to take a negative and derogatory term and turn it inside out. Words only have the power to offend when people empower those words to offend.

In their case, the word “slant” – relating to the epithet directed at Asians for having slanted eyes – would be used to empower the group; and convey that empowerment through creativity, their community, and their own cultural identity, as opposed to allowing the word to define them as oppressed individuals.

Disenfranchising the word of its negative connotations was the whole exercise of the group, and the Supreme Court seemed to agree with them.

Near the end of their statement on the website, they explain…

“[…] we’ve worked with dozens of social justice organizations, and that we could humanize important issues around identity and speech in new and nuanced ways. So we became part art and part activism.

 

“We dedicated our newest release, “The Band Who Must Be Named,” as an open letter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to articulate these values. Music is the best way we know how to drive social change: it overcomes social barriers in a way that mob-mentality and fear-based political rhetoric never can. Language and culture are powerful forms of expression and we are elated to know that the Supreme Court of the United States agree.”

In an era where the WIPO is negotiating the process of making “cultural appropriation” illegal, it’s nice to know that some aspects of our societal infrastructure still values common sense and individual freedoms over collectivism and moral imperialism.


Ads (learn more about our advertising policies here)



About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Raging Papist

    Im always suprised that people are bewildered that I openly call myself “papist.” I mean damn, Milo calls himself the “glorious faggot.” These guys get it.

    • Off-topic… but you were asking about Starfield? Bethesda said there was no announcement about the game at this year’s E3 and they had nothing to share at the moment.

      • Raging Papist

        Holy crap! You listened! Thank you. Thats disheartening about Starfield as it was my only reason for E3 hype thanks to the leaker. But wow, thanks for looking into it!

    • Off-topic… but you were asking about Starfield? Bethesda said there was no announcement about the game at this year’s E3 and they had nothing to share at the moment.

  • Alistair

    Speaking of censorship I found this but first have a look at this, https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef448029b35efe94518952c113547d93f7dbac07eb55d375e78da6ada5e55017.jpg

    Then take a look at the 2nd picture. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/720ad003f169735a82721988492bd4dfd1497c86e361ab621eb951056aa4d545.jpg

    Do you see something scary below in those text from the queen speech.

    “Control of imports and exports” after briexit

    Customs new powers that what that is (censorship)

  • Bamf

    I can’t wait for “the Blacks” to release their debut album.

  • BooBooBaby

    Good! In your Face…to all of those:

    FemiNazi SJW DemonRat Whiny CryBaby Racist Race Baiting Whiny Hypocrite Unhinged Snowflake Brainwashed Uneducated Jealous Triggered Looney Lying Lefty Libt4rds!!
    Bwhaaaaaaaa! Bwhaaaaaaaa! Bwhaaaaaaaa! Bwhaaaaaaaa!

  • ThyPancakeConsumed

    Glad they won. And glad “mah feelings over your rights” lost.

  • Mr.Towel

    So blacks can call themselves niggers but asians can’t call themselves slanted?

    That’s racist.

  • tajlund

    The fascinating part here is that the band basically admits to being SJW’s. But, they just struck a massive blow against the SJW’s attempt to control the language. Sometimes common sense wins out.

  • RetroGamer

    A normal, stable-minded person wouldn’t even find that offensive. If someone made a band called “The Crackers,” I’d find it amusing.

    • Akai Kiri

      what was the “offensive part anyway? the name “slants”?

      • RetroGamer

        Yup, they likely associate the name with the stereotype of Asians having slanted, narrow eyes.

        • Akai Kiri

          oh jesus christ.

          im done

          i quit.

          i cant even right now….

    • Disqusted

      Friends find it hilarious when I tell them of Australia’s Coon cheese. But the U.N. will put a stop to that blatant racism soon enough!
      https://s5.postimg.org/lqocx49x3/coon2.jpg

  • Alistair

    Hurray a victory of common sense, take things to court and the court see common sense they will chuck the case out.

    In favor of the trademark over feelings any day.

    This must be due to the NA freedom 1st act then kicks in. It such a pity that the 1st act doesn’t apply to video games doesn’t it.

    I have zero sympathy for retarded cucks that get offended easily.

    And well done to the slants.

  • Disqusted

    What the hell is the problem if they’re referring to themselves?

    If the censors want to be consistent about this shit, they should ban everyone from using colors that refer to skin color, like yellow, white, black, brown. Or colors that refer to political parties or spectrums, like red, blue, whatever. Then we can all live in grey forever! Woohoo~

  • AlecJ

    Only government bureaucrats would try and weaponize the Patent Office.

    Hey, has anyone seen the ROM:2064 dev Tweet telling Trump voters and everyone who doesnt think like them to F- Off and not buy their game.

    I think its time to get them pulled off the places like the Playstation Store and make sure it they get publicized as the bigots they are.

    Im sick of these kinds of left wing loons running rough shot over gaming. We need to make sure everyone knows who they are and make sure no one buys games from people like this….

    • Disqusted

      Another one? Maybe it’s the same dev and I forgot because they are very forgettable.

    • BooBooBaby

      I am so sick of these Lunatic Lying Lefty Racist Race Baiting Whiny Loser Nutjob LIBERAL DemonRat CryBaby Hypocrite Brainwashed Unhinged Dishevelled Uneducated Uninformed Jealous Violent Triggered Idiot Snowflake Filthy Libt4rds!

      Let’s add that game to our Boycott Forever List!
      We have the power. Just look what we did to Target, Starbucks, Macy’s, Kellogg’s and etc.

      Let’s spread the word!

  • AlecJ

    Only government bureaucrats would try and weaponize the Patent Office.

    Hey, has anyone seen the ROM:2064 dev Tweet telling Trump voters and everyone who doesnt think like them to F- Off and not buy their game.

    I think its time to get them pulled off the places like the Playstation Store and make sure it they get publicized as the bigots they are.

    Im sick of these kinds of left wing loons running rough shot over gaming. We need to make sure everyone knows who they are and make sure no one buys games from people like this….

  • Grey

    While nothing will stop the perpetually and professionally offended from screeching in rage at nearly everything, it’s great that this ruling makes it clear they’re full of shit when they try to claim legal justification for their warped ideals in one area. The Supreme Court absolutely made the right call here.

    This whole battle got so little coverage, I wasn’t even aware it was happening until the ruling was made. Never heard of them before, might have buy an album just to support The Slants for being willing to take it this far. They did us all some good here.

  • Grey

    While nothing will stop the perpetually and professionally offended from screeching in rage at nearly everything, it’s great that this ruling makes it clear they’re full of shit when they try to claim legal justification for their warped ideals in one area. The Supreme Court absolutely made the right call here.

    This whole battle got so little coverage, I wasn’t even aware it was happening until the ruling was made. Never heard of them before, might have buy an album just to support The Slants for being willing to take it this far. They did us all some good here.

    • Alistair

      Hmm that rather interesting it wasn’t cover on BBC news TV and Website.

      It they Agenda you see, it was a blow for them of course they not gonna report on it.

      • Disqusted

        Or they know people would be like, “what is this shit” and are quietly pushing Soros’ agenda under the radar.

        That’s part of how he made it this far. People kept denying that SJW shit had any effect on reality, until it became undeniable. Although SJWs themselves are still denying that they exist.

    • RichardGristle

      Unfortunately they’ll remain in denial as the Constitution and court rulings don’t mean much to these people. Just look at the 2nd amendment.

  • MONAD

    Honestly, how would you enforce “cultural appropriation” illegality? They’re not going to do that. It’s too much trouble to even ATTEMPT. I really do hope this puts a stop over people wanting to sue for “offensive” team mascots, because let’s face it, that’s just bullshit in of itself. I still don’t get how the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins could be deemed “offensive”. Especially considering Native Americans have actually embraced both mascots. The only people “offended” by them are upper middle class white people (which, I’m ashamed to say I’m white) trying to think and speak for a group that doesn’t want to be spoken for.

    An individual can be offended all they want, but a group of people? You’re going to sit here and tell me that just because a few people are offended that the rest of the group is going to be? Fuck you.

    • BooBooBaby

      Also, all of those Low Class Brainwashed Unhinged Dishevelled Uneducated Uninformed Jealous Violent Triggered Looney Lying Lefty Racist Race Baiting Whiny Loser Nutjob LIBERAL DemonRat CryBaby Hypocrite Welfare Leaching Idiot Snowflake Filthy Libt4rds (of All Races and Nationalities), that are always offended for themselves and everyone else.

      Lolz! I can’t stand those f00ls! 😉