Is Michelle Shocked The Victim Of Knee-Jerk Censorship?
After telling a San Francisco crowd that “God hates faggots,” ’80s/’90s singer-songwriter (and more recently, born-again Christian) Michelle Shocked saw the entirety of her current U.S. tour cancelled practically overnight by venue promoters. Though deeply offensive, her homophobic rant was clearly protected by Free Speech. So can we consider the cancellations acts of censorship? One music industry insider thinks so.
While many in the press and on social media have publicly applauded the venues for wiping out Shocked’s tour, music producer and former A&R representative Tim Sommer, who helped launch the careers of the Beastie Boys and Hootie & the Blowfish, stands in staunch opposition to the cancellations, calling the situation “a dangerous precedent to set.”
“She really disappeared from the public eye in the late ‘90s, and I think a lot of people haven’t realized what happened to her since then,” Sommer, who has previously interviewed the artist on multiple occasions, told Radio.com. “She did become a born-again Christian, a relatively private conversion she made in the last few years. Likewise, she had burned a lot of bridges before this. She had made a lot of bad business and personal decisions in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, and offended a lot of people in the music industry. Since I knew about that and her conversion, I wasn’t very surprised by what happened onstage in San Francisco.”
In regards to Shocked’s now-cancelled tour, Sommer is adamant in his belief that the show promoters are doing the wrong thing and essentially encouraging censorship.
“On one hand, that is the judgment of the promoters, who could be saying [to themselves], ‘I don’t want angry people showing up to my venue throwing rocks at my windows or boycotting,” Sommer offered. “On the other hand, you can’t decide what is politically correct or politically incorrect to say. If you cancel someone’s show because of something they said, you lose the right to protest when someone cancels a show for making a pro-choice statement, for example. She’s not advocating violence. She’s speaking a personal thought about what she believes based on her interpretation and belief in the Bible. What she’s saying does not fall under the definition of hate-mongering.”