An Asian-American dance-rock band scored a victory for free speech earlier this month when the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not refuse to trademark their name: The Slants.
The unanimous decision also affected the Redskins football team’s trademark rights. The Department of Justice conceded their case against the team attempting to rescind their right to trademark the name, which the Obama administration said was a slur toward Native Americans.
Pat Gray, Stu Burguiere and Jeffy Fisher talked about why the band’s Supreme Court case also protected the Redskins’ trademark this week on “Pat & Stu.” Stu clarified the distinction between the two names and their respective backstories.
The Slants formed in 2006; their latest release is an EP called “The Band Who Must Not Be Named.” Their trademark was first rejected in 2010 because it was viewed as offensive. The band’s members said they were purposely using an offensive term in order to reclaim it.
“The First Amendment protects speech even that we disagree with,” The Slants’ frontman, Simon Tam, told the New York Times. “You can’t say you want to shut down the conversation for other people, because that doesn’t advance progress. No one builds better communities by shutting people out.”