It was disappointing that a Philadelphia venue cancelled a Cold Cave/Boyd Rice performance this month due to public pressure over Rice’s philosophy and politics.
By his own admission, Rice is a right-leaning member of the Church of Satan organization, a fascist, elitist, and Social Darwinist (the strong must rule over the weak, the clever over the strong). What he is not is racist, antisemitic, or homophobic.
One need only review his career, collaborations, and interviews. As an artist, Rice was one of the most innovative of people in the late 70s and early 80s, inventing the noise music genre and, arguably, the analog sampler.
We still appreciate the work of composer Richard Wagner, poet Ezra Pound, and film director Leni Riefenstahl, despite their personal views; their aesthetics have a lasting value. For all of Rice’s views (which some have suggested might even be an ironic ploy, since Rice is known for the art of the practical joke), he has never once expressed hatred toward any group, reserving his misanthropy for individuals and their own weaknesses and failings.
Rice, perhaps, has courted controversy with his fascination with fascist imagery and Nazi aesthetics in his performances, art, and videos. However, in today’s pluralistic society (a tenet of any liberal and open-minded society) Rice’s voice, however misguided or different, should be allowed to be heard.
Christopher Hall, Philadelphia