Band cancelling tour dates in Red Deer and two other communities after supporting protests in BC
Small Town Artillery is springing into the national spotlight, but not for it’s “horn-powered riff wagon riding” sound. Back in mid February the band offered a contest on it’s Facebook page, giving away 50 tickets for an upcoming show to “Indigenous Land Defenders & Allies”. That post caught the attention of people in communities the band had booked on it’s upcoming national tour. This has lead to a huge online backlash against the band by people concerned the band opposes the oil and gas industry and by extension people who work in these industries. So far three dates have been cancelled including their show at The Vat in Red Deer.
In the ensuing days the band has responded to the backlash with a couple of well written and passionate posts attempting to further explain their stance. The posts from the group’s Facebook page respond to their first cancelled show in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. The second is in response to two more cancelations including Cold Lake and Red Deer. Here they are:
Posted March 4:
Tom here. I’d like to take a moment to address something.
This band has been an advocate for the move towards renewable energy & continues to try our best to put First Nations rights in front of our audiences. We have written songs about our discontent surrounding these issues. However, we hold no malice towards those working in the Energy sector, or their families – there is nothing more universal than providing for the ones you love, and supporting your family and community. These are the values we hold closest. The feeling of being good at something, using your skills to support yourself & those dear to you – that is something I understand deeply. If there were a movement against touring bands, the thing I have lashed my hopes & dreams & identity to, I would feel attacked no doubt.
We were booked to perform at the Norman Ritchie Community Centre in Kindersley, Saskatchewan as part of our upcoming tour. After seeing some of our videos, the NRCC reached out to me with concerns about our stance on the oil & gas industry, feeling it would harm attendance. They asked if we could keep the politics out of the show, and focus on the music. I was happy to oblige this. A few weeks ago, we decided to go ahead.
In the last 48 hours, we have received messages from some folks, expressing their discontent with the band & our message. I believe they feel that their very livelihood is under fire by some of the messages our band has. This snowballed into a groundswell of resistance to our show, and targeted the community group bringing us in as well. It got to the point where there were threats to cut off the gas to the building during our show, and “run us out of town”. The Mayor of Kindersley stepped in and advised the venue to cancel the show. After discussing with the NRCC at length, we all decided it was in everyone’s best interests to do just that. So we will no longer be playing in Kindersley on April 9th.
Our intention with our music is not to personally attack hard-working Canadians. It is to keep the conversation moving forward with an open mind. We burn fossil fuel, we participate in capitalism, we have great privilege to be able to do what we do.
Our aim is to work toward what we believe to be a better earth in the future, though it will take time. Our goal with this post is not to back down from these views, but to let you know that we tour with open hearts and it is only through conversation that we can make steps in this direction. I cannot claim to know the whole story, and my hope with this tour is to get to speak with & play for people with many different points of view & ways of life.
We are disappointed that we won’t be coming to Kindersley to play this time around, and that we are letting down the fans in Kindersley who responded so positively. We’d also like to credit the NRCC for being diplomatic and reasonable in all of their dealings with us, and know this doesn’t reflect the whole town.
We come with open arms, and we come to play.
Tom & BAND.
Posted March 7:
Hello! We are posting to address the national media attention our band has garnered over the past few days. Due to the online actions of a few individuals, controversy over our national tour has led to 3 shows being cancelled: Kindersley (SK), Cold Lake and Red Deer (AB). It stems from differing opinions surrounding the move toward more renewable energy sources and our views on the matter, which have been skewed to say that we are against people who work in the oil and gas industry. We are not. As we’ve repeatedly stated, our band is about music & community first, though we do not shy away from conversations about such topics, especially with those of differing opinions. We are not on tour with a political agenda, we write songs about issues we care about.
The majority of the backlash stems from our decision to support the protests in BC. We did this because they were focused on Indigenous land rights, and challenging the system to take a different approach toward reconciliation.
In the last week, we have learned so much about people who work in the oil & gas industry and how they also feel threatened by the changes we are all struggling to understand. I called Rod Perkins, the Mayor of Kindersley, and we had a good talk. He opened my eyes to the challenges people in his jurisdiction are facing, and it brought home the point that there are so many nuances to every story, this one included.
We have spent our career listening to & trying to amplify voices that need it. We believe this is the duty of an artist, to recognize and address social issues. Art is a commentary on the world around you at any given time, with the information you have at hand. We will continue to hold our heads high and do our best to navigate this – music is meant to unite, not divide.
The Negation of Reality in Roald Dahl’s Literary Classic
From the Brownstone Institute
Last weekend it was reported how books by the popular children’s book author, Roald Dahl, are now being republished after significant changes to the texts. According to The Guardian, the changes are only about removing “offensive language” from his books. The Roald Dahl Story Company says the changes are minor and only about making the text more accessible and “inclusive“ to modern readers.
Gerald Posner covered the issue on February 19th, citing a few examples of changes, which are certainly not minor; entire paragraphs are removed or altered beyond recognition. There are hundreds of changes, Posner says, agreeing with writer Salman Rushdie who has called these changes “absurd censorship.”
Nick Dixon has published a short piece on the matter in the Daily Skeptic, pointing out how some of the changes make Dahl’s text lifeless and flat and how all humour is carefully removed. Example from Matilda: “Your daughter Vanessa, judging by what she’s learnt this term, has no hearing organs at all” becomes “Judging by what your daughter Vanessa has learnt this term, this fact alone is more interesting than anything I have taught in the classroom.”
In other cases, the meaning simply disappears: “It nearly killed Ashton as well. Half the skin came away from his scalp” becomes “It didn’t do Ashton much good.” Some of the changes are outright absurdly silly, considering when the original text was written. One example Dixon takes: “Even if she is working as a cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman” becomes “Even if she is working as a top scientist or running a business.”
“Mother” becomes “parent,” “man” becomes “person,” and “men” become “people.” “We eat little boys and girls” becomes “We eat little children.” Boys and girls have no right to exist anymore, no more than mothers or fathers; biological sex is prohibited. But the censors, sarcastically called Inclusive Minds, don’t seem to be bothered by the practice of eating children.
References to authors currently banned for unfashionable beliefs are removed or changed. Joseph Conrad becomes Jane Austen. Rudyard Kipling becomes John Steinbeck.
Nothing is mild enough to escape the watchful eyes of the censors, Dixon says, noting how “Shut up, you nut!” becomes “Ssshhh!” and “turning white” becomes “turning quite pale.” To the “inclusive,“ “white“ is a forbidden word of course.
Suzanne Nossel, president of the American branch of the PEN writers’ organization, expresses her dismay in an interview with the Washington Post. “Literature is meant to be surprising and provocative,” Nossel says, explaining how attempts at purging texts of words that might offend someone “dilute the power of storytelling.”
Roald Dahl is by no means uncontroversial. But his stories are the actual stories he wrote. The watered down and sanitised texts of the censors are simply no longer the author’s stories.
Or, as Posner concludes: “Words matter. The problem is that the Dahl sensitivity censorship sets a template for other hugely successful author franchises. Readers should know that the words they read are no longer the words the author wrote.”
The destruction of Roald Dahl’s books is yet another sign of the all-pervasive negation of reality we now face. We see this negation all around us, in literature, history, politics, economics, even in the sciences. Objective reality gives way to subjective experience, emotions, or preferences in place of what is true.
It gives way, in fact, to radical subjectivism, which might just be the logical, yet contradictory conclusion of the victorious march of individualism in the West over the past few decades. It gives way, until all our common points of reference are gone, until our common sense has all but disappeared; until, atomised, lonely, incapable of meaningful communication, we no longer share a society. What takes its place will surely be no fairy tale.
And what better example of this negation of reality than the Guardian’s headline, whereby the total destruction of the work of a beloved author becomes “removing offensive language” in a few places?
Republished from the author’s Substack
Visitors can see famed Florence baptistry’s mosaics up close
By Francesco Sportelli in Florence
FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Visitors to one of Florence’s most iconic monuments — the Baptistry of San Giovanni, opposite the city’s Duomo — are getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see its ceiling mosaics up close thanks to an innovative approach to a planned restoration effort.
Rather than limit the public’s access during the six-year cleaning of the vault, officials built a scaffolding platform for the art restorers that will also allow small numbers of visitors to see the ceiling mosaics at eye level.
“We had to turn this occasion into an opportunity to make it even more accessible and usable by the public through special routes that would bring visitors into direct contact with the mosaics,” Samuele Caciagli, the architect in charge of the restoration site, said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Caciagli called the new scaffolding tour of the baptistry vault “a unique opportunity that is unlikely to be repeated in the coming decades.”
The scaffolding platform sprouts like a mushroom from the floor of the baptistry and reaches a height of 32 meters (105 feet) from the ground. Visits are set to start Feb. 24 and must be reserved in advance.
The octagonal-shaped baptistry is one of the most visible monuments of Florence. Its exterior features an alternating geometric pattern of white Carrara and green Prato marble and three great bronze doors depicting biblical scenes.
Inside, however, are spectacular mosaic scenes of The Last Judgment and John the Baptist dating from the 13th century and created using some 10 million pieces of stone and glass over 1,000 square meters of dome and wall.
The six-year restoration project is the first in over a century. It initially involves conducting studies on the current state of the mosaics to determine what needs to be done. The expected work includes addressing any water damage to the mortar , removing decades of grime and reaffixing the stones to prevent them from detaching.
“(This first phase) is a bit like the diagnosis of a patient: a whole series of diagnostic investigations are carried out to understand what pathologies of degradation are present on the mosaic material but also on the whole attachment package that holds this mosaic material to the structure behind it,” Beatrice Agostini, who is in charge of the restoration work, said.
The Baptistry of San Giovanni and its mosaics have undergone previous restorations over the centuries, many of them inefficient or even damaging to the structure. During one botched effort in 1819, an entire section of mosaics detached. Persistent water damage from roof leaks did not get resolved until 2014-2015.
Roberto Nardi, director of the Archaeological Conservation Center, the private company managing the restoration, said the planned work wouldn’t introduce any material that is foreign to the original types of stone and mortar used centuries ago.
“It is a mix of science, technology, experience and tradition,” he said.
The origins of the baptistry are something of a mystery. Some believe it was once a pagan temple, though the current structure dates from the 4th or 5th centuries.
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