Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not exactly "fuckwits", Sir John

Here is an interesting quote from Sir Elton John delivered on-stage at a show in Arizona:

"I have read that some of the artists won't come here. They are fuckwits! Let's face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what the fuck is with these people?"

There is a debate to be had about the efficacy of the boycott; ultimately, such a boycott hurts local promoters, venues, and vendors, and by turn, the music industry and local economy in Arizona, which is obviously not responsible for the law in question (there is a similar debate about the BP boycott hurting individual gas station owners who have no agency in the safety schema the corporation chooses to employ). However, name-calling artists who, out of moral conscience, choose not to play in Arizona is hardly useful to this debate.

Further, Elton John's rhetoric is a little intense here; true, Proposition 8 was a huge disappointment to progressives in California and beyond, but the statement that gays have no legal rights in California is a bit over the top. Unlike many states, we do have domestic partnerships and protections for LGBT people in the workplace; while California is not an equality utopia in any sense, this hardly constitutes having "no legal rights whatsoever".

The comparative logic is also flawed. While marriage equality is an important cornerstone of civil rights for all people, not being detained, questioned, and hassled because of the color of one's skin is absolutely necessary in a free society. As far as I know, the Redlands Police can't legally detain me if I'm walking down the street holding hands with another dude.

As I said, there is a debate to be had about who the boycott actually hurts, but slinging mud and name-calling is a pretty juvenile response, especially when one is working with a fairly flawed premise. Even if one doesn't agree with the boycott, or won't participate in it, it is good to remember that in most cases, the impetus to boycott Arizona in light of this stupendously misguided legislation comes from a morally reasoned and responsible place.

The struggle for civil rights for all segments of society would be much easier if we all started playing team ball a little more.