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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charity backs foul-mouthed rocker chairman

This news post is over 8 years old
 

Open Secret has defended the appointment of Bruce Hotchkies as its chairman despite him being the frontman of a shock rock band

Bruce Hotchkies
Bruce Hotchkies

A Scottish charity which supports child abuse victims has defended appointing a chair who fronts a shock rock band that sings explicit songs about sex and using physical violence against feminists.

Falkirk-based Open Secret came under attack after giving a prominent position to Bruce Hotchkies, lead singer of crudely named band Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics.

Lyrics in one song include a foul rant against feminists: “You keep up this shit, you’re going to get hit”.

Another is from the view of a celebrity who sleeps with a groupie: “Get your face on the floor and get your ass in the air. You might think it’s love baby but I don’t care.”

There have been calls for Hotchkies to be sacked from his voluntary role.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRgmDh-9c5A

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said his position was untenable and called for the charity to be suspended from the cross-party group on men’s violence against women and children, which she chairs.

The charity, however, vehemently defended Hotchkies’ appointment, which was made only two-weeks ago, describing the lyrics as “tongue in cheek” and saying that what he does in his own time in no way effects his work.

It also suggested the charity has become the victim of a smear because of its role in exposing paedophiles.

TFN understands a disgruntled former employee of Open Secret, which is currently in a dispute over funding cuts from Falkirk Council, blew the whistle on Hotchkies.

However, board member Ellie Collin claimed: “Open Secret has become the victim of sustained attack and we feel this is potentially due to the work that we do and the fact that we have the potential of exposing paedophile rings and recently we have been dealing with some very high profile cases.”

Collin continued: “Our chair is a local business owner and he was selected for the board due to his business expertise. Over the years this has been invaluable to the organisation.

“In his spare time the chair is involved with a rock band. It has never been thought appropriate for the board to involve themselves in prying into the private life of the chair any more than it would be appropriate for the board to look into the private lives of the rest of the board or the staff. Enhanced disclosures are carried out on board members to exclude any risks.

“Our chair did not become involved with an abuse charity because he held negative attitudes towards women or promoted abuse of children. He became involved because he abhorred those aspects that were already existing in society. He wanted to expose them.”

Collin said artists often used challenging and thought-provoking imagery and narratives to stimulate discussion, challenge society’s views and stereotypes and likened the band, whose latest music video features women dressed in seedy bondage gear, as being no different to the imagery presented in some Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Madonna and Kylie Minogue videos, adding they are still able to support charity causes.

She continued: “The exploitation agenda attempts to show hard-hitting imagery to stimulate discussion. One young person in Open Secret said that she listens to music that is far worse and sees worse imagery but Bruce’s material is clearly tongue-in-cheek and it makes her laugh and also makes her think.

“Are we now to become censors and say that to be involved in this field we have not to challenge stereotypes?

“It is this attitude that enables abuse to go unchallenged.”

*Open Secret chief executive Janine Rennie confirmed today (Friday) that Hotchkies has offered his resignation and it has been accepted by the board.

Open Secret response in full

Our current chair has been a board member of Open Secret since 2009. He was appointed through a formal interview process and a probation period of a year. Throughout his time as a board member his conduct has been exemplary. There are no reasons why he would be barred from operating as a director under company law.

Our chair is a local business owner of a number of business interests and he was selected for the board due to his business expertise. Over the years this has been invaluable to the organisation.

In his spare time the chair is involved with a rock band. It has never been thought appropriate for the board to involve themselves in prying into the private life of the chair any more than it would be appropriate for the board to look into the private lives of the rest of the board or the staff. This would be entirely inappropriate. Enhanced disclosures are carried out on board members to exclude any risks.

However following an Open Secret internal issue some staff decided to investigate the chair's band. This was then reported to the press. There were questions raised that the type of band and lyrics made the chair not an appropriate leader for Open Secret.

This paper is the response of the board to these concerns.

Many artists have used challenging and thought provoking imagery and narrative for hundreds of years to stimulate discussion and challenge society views and stereotypes. There are many examples of people in the music industry where song lyrics can be seen as offensive. Some of the most challenging imagery and lyrics have come from female artists: Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Madonna, Kylie Minogue. Having carried out a brief web search of charity causes supported they include, children, disadvantaged youths, women, trafficking and human slavery.

In other areas of the arts films are produced that show imagery of violence, rape, abuse and racism. These do not reflect the views of the film maker or actors but are there to promote discussion. Many authors produce books that have very challenging themes as in society if we hide from the damaging issues that are already there we enable abuse and attitudes to marginalised groups to go unchallenged. John Irving a well known author (The World According to Garp) is an active charity campaigner (in partnership with JK Rowling) but in some circles his books are seen as misogynistic and anti feminist. Other critics see him as promoting the cause of feminism and I have found many articles on both sides so it is a matter of perception.

Our chair did not become involved with an abuse charity because he held negative attitudes towards women or promoted abuse of children. He became involved because he abhorred those aspects that were already existing in society. He wanted to expose them. As a local businessman many charities would have been keen to have him involved but as a husband and father of two children he wanted to make change possible. His videos and lyrics expose the parts of society that are out of sight to many and they parody the ways that such areas are presented such as in 70s rock. Women are shown as powerful in one film and in another the horror of the lives of prostitutes is shown with a soundtrack of Living La Vida Loca.

The exploitation agenda attempts to show hard hitting imagery to stimulate discussion. One young person in Open Secret said that she listens to music that is far worse and sees worse imagery but Bruce's material is clearly tongue in cheek and it makes her laugh and also make her think. Are we now to become censors and say that to be involved in this field we have not to challenge stereotypes? It is this attitude that enables abuse to go unchallenged.

Open Secret are not a feminist organisation as we work with men and boys. We clearly understand the gender aspects in abuse but we work with anyone that has been the victim of trauma.

Open Secret has become the victim of sustained attack and we feel this is potentially due to the work that we do and the fact that we have the potential of exposing paedophile rings and recently we have been dealing with some very high profile cases.

 

Comments

0 0
Eleanor
over 8 years ago
As a victim of abuse and trauma left further traumatised by this Falkirk based organisation on THREE occasions, I certainly do not support the excuses Janine Rennie rants in support of her and her organisations shortcomings, failures and this latest nonsense.