10 band names that may be surprisingly offensive

March 4, 2015

Let’s get one thing straight, here: We’re not the gatekeepers of what’s offensive and what isn’t. So when, for example, we write about the current controversy surrounding Calgary post-punk act Viet Cong—who had a show cancelled at Oberlin College recently because of their name—we’re not simply shouting that their name’s offensive, or calling for Tipper Gore-esque censorship.

Instead, we’re acknowledging that we don’t get to decide what’s offensive—we don’t decide what’s hurtful. The people being hurt, however, do.

Viet Cong—whose name references the Vietnam War’s North-allied army and all the atrocities they committed—by their admission, have been told multiple times that their name’s offensive. It’s gotten to the point that Oberlin’s promoter cancelled the show, writing that “I believe it is important for me to listen to the concerns raised by those who do understand and are affected on a deep emotional level. I cannot with good conscience put on this show knowing that it hurts others, and the onus should absolutely not be on those who are hurt to educate the rest of the community on why this name is offensive.” We’re with him.

But they’re hardly the first musical act to name themselves something offensive. Some bands choose an offensive moniker out of sheer cluelessness, like Viet Cong. Others choose their titles ironically. Others, still, do it with the intent of stirring the pot. Either way, above, check 10 bands with questionable monikers.

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