WHEN heavy metal band Odin's Law played a gig at a community hall in a Vancouver suburb in early summer, only their few dozen fans knew about it. They were not famous. And although heavy metal is hardly lyric-driven, at least some of those who attended must have come across words like these: 'We say white race is the only solution. 'We've got to put a stop to this alien intrusion.' This month, when Odin's Law scheduled a second show in the same ethnically diverse suburb of Surrey, they were met by a throng. Anti-racist activists had put out word that a Nazi-loving band of thugs intended to foul the air. Protesters outnumbered the concert-goers, most of whom skulked into the hall with their faces hidden behind scarves or T-shirts. Police showed up to keep the two sides apart. Also watching were curious locals, various political figures and reporters who had given wide coverage to the preceding row over whether the city could ban the show by law. Things warmed up when swastika-painted rocks were thrown through the lounge window of a councillor who opposed the show and an anti-Nazi message was sprayed on the hall's front door. The show did go on, but now Odin's Law, whose only claim to fame had been playing at Aryan Nation's yearly gathering in Idaho, had made a name for themselves. Reactions to the two concerts crystallised the opposing views on how racists ought to be treated. Those who believe they should be ignored cite the virtues of free speech, claiming neo-Nazi views will wither under the glare of public decency. Some also say racist groups are too insignificant to merit our attention. One investigator estimates their membership in British Columbia at just 2,000 people. Then there are those who insist hate groups must be fought before they can fester. Vancouver police report 45 hate-related incidents this year already. And the white supremacist group Heritage Front is now recruiting in Surrey with leaflets that show a man in army fatigues shoving a staff down a man's throat. The slogan reads: 'Say no to multiculturalism.'