The Slants, a self-described “Chinatown Dance Rock” band arguing a case before the Supreme Court in January, dropped a new anthem in advance of their oral argument.
Veteran high court correspondent Tony Mauro at National Law Journal noticed this “possible first in the annals of Supreme Court litigation.”
The band is bringing their longstanding fight with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to the justices Jan. 18. The PTO claims they are precluded by federal law from registering offensive or disparaging trademarks, and contend the band’s name is derisive to Asians.
Simon Tam, the band’s front man, says his intent is not to offend, but to strip a racial epithet of its potency and power.
“Simon Tam is not a bigot; he is fighting bigotry with the time-honored technique of seizing the bigots’ own language,” Tam’s lawyer John Connell wrote in court documents. “Only an uninformed philistine could find the band’s name disparaging.” (RELATED: Supreme Court Will Hear Ban On Offensive Trademarks)
The song, called “From the Heart,” was released on Tuesday in connection with the White House Initiative on Asian Pacific Islanders’s anti-bullying and oppression campaign.
“Our song, From the Heart, is like an open letter to the Trademark Office and reflects our experience of spending almost a decade in the legal system,” the band said.
Key lyrics read:
Sorry if we try too hard
To take some power back for ours
The language of oppression
Will lose to education
Until the words can’t hurt us again
So sorry if you take offense
But silence will not make make amends
The system’s all wrong
And it won’t be long
Before the kids are singing our song
The band is also crowdsourcing money to fund a trip to Washington so they can be present for oral arguments. They also hope to stage a protest on the Court’s steps that day.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, an appeals court which hears patent and trademark cases, found in Tam’s favor last year.
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