This is a case of facing the music. Aaron Davis, a patent attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota recently learned that, if you’re gonna dance, you have to pay the band. The former partner at Patterson Thuente was recently ousted from his post after being outed as the owner of Behold Barbarity, a record label catering to the tastes of a small subset of black metal/death metal fans. Note: This article contains strong, hateful language.
This is a case of facing the music. Aaron Davis, an attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota recently learned that, if you’re gonna dance, you have to pay the band. The former partner at Patterson Thuente was recently ousted from his post after being outed as the owner of Behold Barbarity, a record label catering to the tastes of a small subset of black metal/death metal fans. Note: This article contains strong, hateful language.
Mr. Davis, lawyer by day, record label owner by night, got a wake-up call louder than a cheap amp exploding when City Pages, a weekly news source, published a story outing him as Behold Barbarity’s owner. What’s the problem, right? Lawyers are entitled to a side gig, aren’t they? And, whatever happened to freedom of speech?
Yes, yes they are so entitled. However, their employers are also entitled to terminate them if their side gigs could cast the firm in a bad light. As for Mr. Davis’ First Amendment rights… Many people, particularly those engaged in often nasty Facebook arguments, don’t realize one very important fact: the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech only guarantees that the government cannot interfere with speech.
There are, of course, exceptions. Yelling, “Fire!” in a movie theater when there is no fire, creates a dangerous situation (crowd stampede) and isn’t protected. Neither is speech that is aimed at inciting violence. But that’s a digression. The fact is that Mr. Davis was not employed by the government. Ergo, he has no freedom of speech protection from his employer.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to him, unless he skipped those classes in Constitutional Law. Further, it shouldn’t be a surprise that, in this age of abundant access to information, his side hustle was discovered.
So, what exactly was so wrong with Behold Barbarity that it cost the man, once touted as “a key member of Patterson Thuente’s litigation team,” his job?
Behold some of the songs/lyrics of some of Behold Barbarity’s artists:
- The 2010 Deathkey album called, “Behead the Semite;”
- Aryanwulf’s catalog, including such tunes as “Kill the Jews,” and “At the Dawn of a New Aryan Empire;”
- The Raunchous Brothers, whose lyrics include, “You’re of no use to me, you disgraceful fucking dyke, so I’ll shove you in the oven like the glorious Third Reich.”
One can imagine why his employers were less-than-thrilled about Mr. Davis’ side gig. The firm’s representatives state it had no prior knowledge of Mr. Davis’ record label.
In fact, when the news broke, Patterson Thuente issued the following statement:
“In light of allegations in a local article regarding one of our partners, Aaron Davis, Patterson Thuente Pedersen, P.A. has placed Mr. Davis on indefinite administrative leave effective immediately. As a firm, we are in no way affiliated with any of Mr. Davis’ outside pursuits. … We are committed to conducting our business ethically and with integrity. Hate, bigotry and intolerance have no place in our society.”
However, as it became clear that the allegations were true, the firm changed its tune. It later released the following statement to City Pages:
“Aaron Davis is no longer employed by Patterson Thuente Pedersen, P.A. Prior to the story, no one in the firm had any inclination regarding the allegations in the article.”
As of the writing of this article, Behold Barbarity’s website is down.
The record label itself got some attention in 2016. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of” our society, added Behold Barbarity to its 2016 list of active hate groups. In case you haven’t seen the list, the KKK and other white supremacist groups are there, too, as are several black separatist groups.
It should be noted that not all black metal/death metal fans (or bands) are racists, homophobes and misogynists. Many, if not most, are simply fans of the music. The author personally knows the lead singer of one such band (none of the ones featured in this article!), and can vouch for the fact that he is as upstanding a citizen as can be.
However, as with any group of humans, there are those who take things to the extreme. And, unless they violate certain laws, they have the right to do so without government interference.
However, as is the case with Mr. Davis, that right comes with a price. It’s a pretty simple equation, folks: if you have a belief or ideology that drives your life and actions, you must have the courage of your convictions. You must be willing to accept the responsibility for and consequences of your actions. In other words, don’t be this guy. You can’t do whatever you please and then cry (literally) over the consequences. Well, I guess the video proves you can, but you shouldn’t. It’s cowardly.
Exercising your freedoms isn’t free. Mr. Davis exercised his by owning a business that celebrates hate, and now Mr. Davis is out of a job.
For those interested in learning more about our First Amendment rights, I suggest visiting Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. In terms of the First Amendment and “fighting words,” read this; similarly, you may find this information on inciting unlawful actions helpful.
As a parting thought, I offer you this:
Mr. Davis is an attorney. However, his protections (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with that fact. They are the same as the rights that non-attorneys do (or don’t) have in our society. I don’t want anyone to think that this happened to Mr. Davis solely because he’s an attorney. It could happen to anyone. Know your rights (not what you read on Facebook!) and your responsibilities.