Fame should never excuse sexual assault

Better Off has recently faced claims of sexual assault. (Twitter.com)
Better Off has recently faced claims of sexual assault. (Twitter.com)

By Connor Meany

It is currently 1:44 a.m. on Monday, March 14, where I’m sitting in bed and trying to make sense of what has come to light during past three days. Writing this article is not exactly how I expected to spend my spring break.

On Friday, March 11, Luke Granered of Equal Vision Records’s Better Off posted a lengthy statement on Facebook announcing that he and the rest of his live performance band will be dropping off their current tour with The Maine and Mayday Parade. This announcement comes at the heels of allegations of sexual assault toward David Hobbs, the band’s fill-in bass player.

Granered made the claim that it was best for Hobbs to leave the tour, but the band as a whole decided to drop the remaining dates. Granered said that he doesn’t care “how it affects my band or my career,” but would rather focus on making sure Hobbs doesn’t feel alone in this situation.

Better Off will “be going silent for the foreseeable future,” according to the group’s Facebook post. Yet, the most notable part of the five paragraph post is the final three sentences.

“Lastly, get off the internet. It’s not your reality. Good luck to all those who continue to pursue what they love in the spotlight and try to withstand the constant critiquing of their character.”

As if Granered’s whole post wasn’t enough to ring a bell yelling “rape apologizer” (you can read the whole post on the Better Off Facebook Page), may this last statement serve as the icing on the cake. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what Granered was trying to get at here, but to me, all this statement says is “We as a band will not think about the situation and its victim(s), but instead would rather focus on how people shouldn’t be mean to us because rape culture is institutionalized and this behavior is to be accepted.”

I’d like to make the disclaimer that I am not trying to stir up drama by making false accusations, but based off the information that has been presented to me (and that I’ve found in my searches), the issue of Hobbs, Granered and Better Off should and will be addressed in this manner.

A Facebook user has revealed herself as the victim and spoke out publicly on Better Off’s rape-apologetic status with the following statement:

“David has been admitting it for eight months to me, the victim. He’s written it down on pen and paper by his own merit. He’s admitted to other people. Just because he suddenly wants to take it back doesn’t mean I’m trying to ruin his life. I gave him eight months to reflect and hold himself accountable. Abusers ruin their own lives. None of you will get me to be silent any longer.”

She goes into detail about how Hobbs, a former bandmate, manipulated her into making it seem like it wasn’t a big deal and how she watched the people in her life she thought she was closest to disregard her emotions and experiences for their own personal reasons and gains.

I’m writing because every time something like this comes to light, I falsely fall under the impression that it could be the last time. I know in the back of my head this isn’t true, as something will come out where some member of a band gets called out for violating another human. But it’s wishful thinking at most.

At 1:31 a.m. (about 13 minutes before I decided to quit watching Netflix and began writing this), I received a message in one of my group chats consisting of a screenshot of a Facebook status from an unaffiliated source that is making the claim that Ricky Sampson, guitarist for the emo outfit Foxing, is a perpetrator of sexual assault.

I know what you’re thinking. “Does Connor get all his information from Facebook statuses?” Probably.

I refuse to reject the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but I also believe that context is important. In the case of Better Off, enough information has been presented to me to accurately deem Hobbs guilty and prove that Granered is a rape apologist.

I am writing about Foxing with pure intent to spark discussion on sexual assault, especially within music, rather than to accuse based off initial internet gossip. Many people online are claiming that they knew of this, but in the hours since the initial status was posted, a number of different stories from various outlets have surfaced.

The band has decided to try to clear the air with a lengthy statement on its Facebook page outlining Sampson’s experience.

Additionally, an email thread between Josh Coll, the band’s bassist, and a fan surfaced at nearly 5 a.m. on Monday, March 7, and can be found with a quick Google search.

I’d like to note the language in which both Better Off and Foxing have presented the issue and how exceptionally different their statements are from each other in terms of accepting responsibility and and being accountable for one’s actions. Foxing wrote in its statement, “Our hope is not to squash, but rather to share a view and open a dialogue,” while Sampson himself wrote, “To everyone reading this, I am sorry if I let you down.”

I believe that the most important thing to take away from the past four days is that rape apologists exist and are vocal within society. This is not only dangerous, but also promotes an extremely hazardous environment.

Further, I believe a discussion needs to be held in regards to receiving consent when engaging in conduct with another person. I believe a discussion needs to be held in regards to properly handling situations where one feels uncomfortable. This discussion begins on an individual level.

I plead with you to not let cases of sexual assault in any community go unheard, unseen or unaddressed. I plead with you to not make excuses for people who do bad things just because they’re in one of your favorite bands. I plead with you to speak about the topic, to watch for negative behavior and to call out those that violate others.

I plead for your help in ending sexual assault.

Students share opinions around campus

Sexual assault in music?

Ben Campos, junior physics major.
Ben Campos, junior physics major.

“I feel that (the music industry) shouldn’t promote (sexual assault)… But if they are putting out stuff that promotes it, then they should take it out.”

Danielle Kierner, senior economics major.
Danielle Kierner, senior economics major.

“I would say (that the industry should raise awareness of the topic), but they would need to go about it (in) the right way… If they took a more serious tone, (I would say yes).”