The Slants, an Asian-American rock band from Oregon, have won a Supreme Court battle over their controversial name, and they’re officially allowed to copyright it after years of fighting. Do you think the ruling was fair?
The Slants — AKA Simon “Young” Tam, Ken Shima, Joe X. Jiang, Yuya Matsuda and Peter Cho — have the right to officially call themselves that name, according to a Supreme Court ruling on June 19. Simon filed a lawsuit when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office blocked the band from registering, and a federal court agreed with the band. However, the Trademark Office sued, still refusing to register the name, and the battle went on for almost eight years!
Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the band. “The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote, meaning that it’s the band’s right to call themselves whatever they please. “Contrary to the Government’s contention, trademarks are private, not government speech.” The band is celebrating their victory, and shared a post on Facebook detailing the tricky case. “This journey has always been much bigger than our band: it’s been about the rights of all marginalized communities to determine what’s best for ourselves,” they wrote. “During the fight, we found the Trademark Office justifying the denial of rights to people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, and political views, simply because they disagreed with the message of these groups.”
Simon has also explained the reasoning behind the band’s name, saying that they intended to reclaim what is considered by many to be a slur. “We grew up and the notion of having slanted eyes was always considered a negative thing,” he said in an interview. “Kids would pull their eyes back in a slant-eyed gesture to make fun of us. … I wanted to change it to something that was powerful, something that was considered beautiful or a point of pride instead.”
HollywoodLifers, what do you think about all of this? VOTE and let us know if the band should keep their name!