Thursday, November 29, 2007

Morrissey: Rumbling on

Developments in the Morrissey 'it's not that I'm racist, but...' story:

BBC News is reporting that having not got an apology from the NME, the Morrissey camp intends to sue. It's not quite clear on what grounds.

The paper, expressly, stated it doesn't believe Morrissey is racist. So there's no grounds to sue there - and even if that was the plan, who would want to go to court and argue that there's no way that a fair-minded person could construe his views on immigration as such? Is Morrissey really going to take the stand to explain Bengali In Platforms under oath?

That seems unlikely.

Tim Jonze, meanwhile, has been attempting to explain why his name was taken off the article:

Tim Jonze, the freelance journalist who interviewed Morrissey, told the BBC that he didn't approve of the singer's comments and had found them "offensive".

He said he had asked for his name to be removed from the article because it had been rewritten.

"I didn't want my name on something I hadn't written, even if some of it might have been similar to what I wrote originally," he said.

Which, of course, makes you wonder why True To You claim he emailed Mozzer's management and said the finished piece didn't chime with his "beliefs". Of course, Tim is in a very, very delicate position indeed.

Love Music Hate Racism's blog is currently featuring a post headed Morrissey promising "another statement" soon.

Oddly, this seems to have been used to replace another article which LMHR has taken down. The URL of the object includes "morrissey-needs-to-speak-out-clearly-against-racism-and-fascism", which suggests that was previously the opening salvo of the article; if you Google the URL, it brings up a page preview of the original entry, which is uncached. If you copy the preview text and Google that, it takes you to what (presumably) is the full text of the original piece on Black Information Link:
Whatever the arguments over the presentation of this latest interview, the artists’ directly quoted words are what should be criticised - and it was Morrissey himself who raised the issue of immigration in the interview. Rather than talking of suing the NME, Morrissey should be taking responsibility for those words. A wealthy man, living now in Italy and until recently in LA, he perhaps doesn’t have to think about the potential consequences of his opinions - which come across as confused and out-of-touch.

He starts with an argument that’s all too common from the mouths of racists and fascists like the BNP - that in many parts of Britain “you’ll hear everything under the sun apart from the British accent”. The ridiculous example he chooses for this scenario is London’s Knightsbridge area - hardly your typical British area. Even if this were true - which it patently isn’t - does it matter? Britain is a much better place for being such a multicultural society. When challenged that he sounds “like a Tory”- he backtracks admitting that anyone ought to have the same freedom to travel the world that he enjoys.

Later on, when it’s pointed out that it’s hypocritical for the son of Irish immigrants to scaremonger about immigration, he says “it’s different now. Because the gates are flooded … Anybody can have access to England and join in.” This is total rubbish. Around 500,000 people came into the UK last year, while 400,000 left. At the same time, asylum applications fell 8% to just over 23,000. The same year, over 73% of refugee applications were refused by the government. Many thousands of genuine refugees are also locked up in government detention centres. But when Morrissey is asked if these statements are inflammatory, he says no, “they’re a statement of fact”.

We're a little puzzled as to why LMHR took down the post. It could be because it's quirkily worded in places; maybe the organisation got cold feet - although asking for an unambiguous rejection of fascism is surely what you'd expect from the group:
Morrissey signed the founding statement of our sister campaign Unite Against Fascism - at a LMHR Libertines gig at the London Astoria in 2004, where he also signed a LMHR t-shirt. In the current NME interview he is asked directly if he supports LMHR and says “Yes .. I find racism very silly, almost to silly to discuss” - the families of racist murder victims like Anthony Walker might take issue with the idea that racism is “silly”. In the same interview he calls Jean Charles de Menezes “the face of modern Britain” and condemns Jean Charles’s murder. But if Morrissey is going to continue to make promote racist opinions in interviews - despite years of being challenged and corrected on these opinions - then he deserves to be heavily criticised. David Bowie - a Morrissey hero - flirted with fascism in the late 1970s but recanted and later gave money to an Anti Nazi League music carnival. Morrissey must similarly make it crystal clear that he’s fundamentally opposed to racism and fascism in Britain and the rest of the world today and encourage his many fans to do the same.

Well, not really, he doesn't. It would be nice if Morrissey did or said something rather than send legal threats to a newspaper which published his comments; but at the very least, perhaps he should be more careful how he words things in the first place.


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