As members of a democratic society that presumably values the dignity afforded by a firm, professed belief in the equality of humans, we have a duty to oppose racism in all shapes and forms. That could mean outing a high school teacher who implores President Bronzer Stain to “remove the illegals from Fort Worth” or severing associations with bands that appear to be affiliated with the KKK. Tin Panther owner Tyler Stevens recently engaged in the latter after finding her bar’s name in a KKK recruitment flyer, which advertised the availability of “enrollment packets” at a pair of gigs featuring local metal band TowerHigh, who were supposed to play the Tin Panther last Saturday.
TowerHigh is not affiliated with the KKK, and according to one member of the band, they also aren’t racist, though you’d be forgiven for wondering about that, seeing that their Facebook cover photo shows a guitarist playing a guitar painted like the Confederate flag.
I’ll come back to the dude’s choice of axe, because in my opinion, perception is reality, which is precisely why Stevens was quick to post the following on Facebook: “We would like you to know that we at the Tin Panther knew nothing about [TowerHigh’s] plans to spread hate. We do not tolerate this kind of behavior and hate is not welcome in our house … This show was CANCELED.”
TowerHigh, however, does not spread hate, and that flyer has plagued the band for more than a decade. “Someone is doing a sick joke in our name that has been done for over 10 years,” wrote the TowerHigh representative via email. “The Tin Panther decided to speak up and say they canceled us because of this. We canceled the show the day before this all happened because they double booked. Since then, they apologized.”
Stevens was unaware that the flyer was fake, and she admits that the wording in her initial post was confusing, since she and TowerHigh had, in fact, canceled the gig before the controversy made its rounds. After learning that the flyers were a malicious prank, she edited her post and apologized on the original before deleting it altogether and offering a more detailed apology to the band in a new one.
Obviously, whoever made the mendacious flyer is a piece of shit, and no one deserves to be falsely accused of racism. But I can’t help but say something about that fucking guitar: If you’re not racist, why play a guitar emblazoned with a symbol of racism? I found TowerHigh’s response to be predictable: “We play with a rebel flag guitar only because of our passion and love for Dimebag Darrell from Pantera.”
Of course that’s why, but I pointed out that the Confederate flag Dean isn’t the only signature Dimebag model. There’s the one with the lightning bolts, and the Razorback, and the Dime Slime model with the green finish. “Don’t bitch at me,” the TowerHigh guy replied. “I have a collection of several I play with. I play them all, and why shouldn’t I? That does not make me racist.”
He also pointed out that their fanbase, a.k.a. TowerHellions, includes a lot of African-Americans. “They know what we’re about,” he continued. “It’s all about the music.”
I don’t doubt that, but it stands to reason that in an age when a black man arrested for selling loose cigarettes is choked to death in the process while a white man arrested for killing 22 people in a Walmart is calmly escorted into custody, we should probably err on the side of standing up against racism without hesitation, even if it means eating your words after the fact. And sorry, not sorry: Pay homage to your guitar hero another way. That Confederate flag bullshit doesn’t do Dimebag’s legacy any favors, and it ultimately reflects poorly on your band.