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Calgary rock fan takes issue with city listing music as a gateway to hate groups

Calgary police list listening to heavy rock music as a warning sign online

Robert Riggs, member of the local heavy metal community

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Robert Riggs, member of the local heavy metal community

A Calgary rock fan is taking issue with a list put out by the Calgary Police Service detailing the “Signs of a child being part of a hate group.”

Specifically, one of the signs on the list (which is posted on the City of Calgary website) reads, “Playing loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics.”

Robert Riggs‎ believes the idea that youth who listen to rock or heavy metal will turn out to be bad kids is an outdated stereotype.

“My son, he listens to heavy metal, and he’s one of the nicest kids ever, but I tend to see him lumped into a group he doesn’t belong in,” Riggs said, adding the violent lyrics don’t turn people towards violence.

“It’s kind of gone the way of video games cause violence and things like that. It’s not monkey see, monkey do. Kids see their parents go to work all time, and they don’t suddenly get up and find a job at seven-years-old.”

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Calgary police spokesman Corwin Odland said the reason that point is on the list is because their own research says that it’s a common trend among the groups they deal with.

“We’re not saying all people who listen to rock music are part of hate groups, but there tends to be a correlation – people who are involved with hate groups tend to be involved in that kind of music,” he said.

He added that the point isn’t meant to be taken by itself – it’s in context with other items on the list, like making racist or bigoted comments, wearing Nazi propaganda and showing overt hostility to parents and family.

While police won’t remove the point, Odland said they might consider taking the ‘rock’ word out.

The list on the City of Calgary website

City of Calgary

The list on the City of Calgary website

Michael Adorian, a sociology professor at the University of Calgary, agrees with the warning signs on the list, and that “hate music bands” are a tool hate groups use to convert youth to follow their beliefs.

However, with their phrasing, he said it’s important to take the items on the list as a whole, and understood within a context of a youth’s lived experiences.

Here Riggs agrees, as some of the items – like a sudden lack of interest in school – are just normal things kids go through.

He just doesn’t want to see fans of a particular type of music, particularly youth, to be unfairly judged because of it. He noted that there are many heavy metal bands that do lean to the left of the political spectrum, just like there’s diversity in opinions within other genres of music.

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