Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Michelle Shocked and political boycotts

Jerry Stratton, March 21, 2013

If you believe in math, or if you believe in good and evil, you’re always at odds with the popular culture, for whom the consequences of math are far too absolute, and absolutism is the replacement for evil, regardless of whether it comes from a person or the laws of reality.

I’ve been a big fan of Michelle Shocked’s music since I heard her sing Anchorage, Alaska on TV in Ithaca back in about 1984 or so.1

If you believe in math and morals, you either don’t listen to popular music and don’t watch Hollywood movies, or you learn to live with other viewpoints. I’ve been to a Michelle Shocked concert. She uses them to make impassioned speeches about leftist2 and anarchist3 causes she thinks are important; she seems to time them to be after you’ve gotten into listening, i.e., around the transition between first and second set.

So I wasn’t surprised to hear that Michelle Shocked angered some people at a concert a few days ago. I was surprised to find it was in San Francisco.

She said she was tired of Christians hiding behind the cross. “When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back,” she said. Loud gasps were heard from the audience. Many fans walked out. “I believe the Bible is the word of God,” Shocked continued… In response to audience reaction, Shocked offered a Spanish prayer that “God loves you. God loves us. God loves us all everywhere.” Later, in English, she said: “God bless us everyone.” Many fans questioned the singer out loud: “What are you saying?” With a broad smile, Shocked said “You are going to leave here and tell people ‘Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots.’” That comment produced more gasps and more departures. Two-thirds of the audience had walked out by this point.

In this case, I’m with those who disagree with her—but not to the point of walking out of the concert or boycotting her albums. I didn’t walk out of her concert at Brick By Brick here in San Diego when she went on a rant about inclusion; I’m not going to stop listening to her now, either.

I don’t refuse to buy Joyce Carol Oates books even though she hopes I become a victim of violence. I still enjoy Stephen King’s Gunslinger series even though King blames me for mass killings.

So forgive me if I lack outrage over Michelle Shocked voicing probably temporary4 opposition to the California Supreme Court invalidating a ballot issue that Californians passed five years ago.

It almost goes without saying that nine of her upcoming tour dates have been cancelled by the venues themselves.

Tolerance only holds on the left until it’s one of their policies being criticized. Then it’s time to hurt people. The left is always acting on their intolerance with more than speech. It’s one of the reasons that the left often seems to be far more successful in the short term5: they are far more willing to boycott and threaten boycotts than conservatives and libertarians are6. At best, conservatives can do successful buycotts, but those gains are easily lost. Enacting policies, or putting companies out of business, is permanent. Sustaining a business today, or maintaining openness today, can be lost the next day just as easily as it could have been lost today. They have to succeed once; we have to succeed every day.

We can protect the right to choose our doctors and for our doctors to choose us, in January, and then lose it in March. We can protect the right to self-defense on September 12, and lose it on September 13—and as often as not, the loss will come from a politician we thought was “on our team” as it did with Bob Dole back in 1994.

Freedom is always easier to lose than it is to restore. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t understand it: freedom means not passing laws. They don’t want to go to the media and say “I protected freedom this term. I did nothing but fight the passage of laws.” If I ran the world, well, first of all, I wouldn’t. But I might put in place changes such as that all federal laws must sunset after seven years. After they sunset, they can only be restored by a supermajority of 75%. If their utility isn’t that obvious after they’ve been in place for seven years, they shouldn’t be federal law.

  1. I could have sworn it was Austin City Limits, but according to their online records they didn’t have Michelle Shocked on until after I’d moved out of Ithaca.

  2. She’s annoyed that we don’t let more black people come to her concerts—seriously, this was her speech at Brick-by-Brick.

  3. She supported, and went to, the occupy “protests” as an punk-rock anarchist.

  4. She’s already started awkwardly walking it back as I write this.

  5. The left can never be successful in the long-term: if they are fully successful in getting their policies fully enacted, math will have its day.

  6. Occasionally, some conservative group or personality will call for a boycott. Occasionally, two or three people actually join in.

  1. <- Homicide rates
  2. California 2013 ->