Last Sunday, Michelle Shocked managed to trash her reputation by standing on stage in San Francisco and announcing that gay marriage would bring about Armageddon (the Jesus not Willis version).
After three days of being called out, gigs being pulled and former fans back-masking The Texas Campfire Tapes to see if she'd hidden 'Jesus is Lord' messages in the songs, Shocked has finally responded with a statement.
Why, yes, of course there's a reasonable explanation - she wasn't talking about what she believes, it was just what "some folks" believe:
I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that. I believe intolerance comes from fear, and these folks are genuinely scared. When I said "Twitter that Michelle Shocked says "God hates faggots," I was predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted. The show was all music, and the audience tweets said they enjoyed it. The commentary came about ten minutes later, in the encore.Here's the thing, though. You know that the couple of paragraphs wasn't my words, but somebody else's, because I introduced it as such (and formatted it differently).
And to those fans who are disappointed by what they've heard or think I said, I'm very sorry: I don't always express myself as clearly as I should. But don't believe everything you read on facebook or twitter. My view of homosexualty has changed not one iota. I judge not. And my statement equating repeal of Prop 8 with the coming of the End Times was neither literal nor ironic: it was a description of how some folks - not me - feel about gay marriage.
Shocked doesn't appear to have used a framing device.
Likewise, if I decided I wanted to draw attention to people who want to punch kittens, I'd not do a post which simply said "Let's punch kittens" as I think I'd be unwise to expect readers to somehow grasp that I'd lurched unannounced into the character of a kitten-puncher.
And even if I did do that, I think I'd not need three days of 'Music blogger calls for kitten pain' response before realising that people had thought I wanted cats attacked and grudgingly released an explanation that, no, I was just pretending to be a feline fighter. For some reason.
The bigger problem with Shocked's explanation is that people were taping the gig and a transcript destroys this idea that there was some sort of third party defence:
"From their vantage point – and I really shouldn't say 'their', because it's mine too – we are nearly at the end of time," she is heard to say, "and from our vantage point, we're gonna be – I think maybe Chinese water torture is going to be the method. Once Prop 8 gets [repealed] and once preachers are held at gunpoint and forced to marry the homosexuals, I'm pretty sure that that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back."
But, hey, maybe it she wasn't simply doing it in the character of a person who believed this shit, but doing it in a metacharacter of someone who believed it, but wanted to distance themselves from it slightly.
Back to the statement, then. Having opened the sluice gates of asshattery, Shocked then calls for people to forgive the asshats:
The show, and the rant, was spontaneous. As for those applauding my so-called stance that "God Hates Faggots," I say they should be met with mercy, not hate. And I hope that what remains of my audience will meet that intolerance with understanding, even of those who might hate them.Yes, that's right. If someone hates you because of who you love, it's up to you to make the adjustments to tolerate their hatred.
On she ploughs:
Folks wonder about my sexuality, but denying being gay is like saying I never beat my husband.I think this is meant to be a reference to the loaded 'when did you stop hitting your wife' question, but... this is meaningless, right? The model would only work if she said 'being asked if I'm still gay is like being asked if I'm still beating my husband'.
My sexuality is not at issue.That's the first sensible thing she's said so far. This isn't about her sexuality at all. Other things it's not about are cheese, horticulture and water towers.
What is being questioned is my support for the LGBT community, and that has never wavered.Except for a few moments ago when you suggested that it's incumbent on the LGBT community to understand and tolerate people who would see them dead, or degayed-through-prayer, or whatever.
Music and activism have always been part of my work and my journey, which I hope and intend to continue. I'd like to say this was a publicity stunt, but I'm really not that clever, and I'm definitely not that cynical.Also, Michelle, if it had been a publicity stunt, 'reminding people I exist and then making them wish I had never made a record' would have been a pretty dreadful stunt.
But I am damn sorry. If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor, and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them. I say this not because I want to look better. I have no wish to hide my faults, and - clearly - I couldn't if I tried.How would you go about making the distinction clearer, Michelle? Perhaps by not saying "it's my vantage point too".
Or maybe the only distinction between you and a standard class asshole is the other assholes haven't just had an entire US tour axed.
There was a second statement which followed, which somehow tries to suggest that there's something "punk" about putting the doctrine of evangelical fundamentalists ahead of just letting people who love each other say so in a public forum:
I believe in a God who loves everyone, and my faith tells me to do my best to also love everyone. Everyone: gay or straight, stridently gay, self-righteously faithful; left or right, far left, far right; good, bad, or indifferent. That's the law: everyone.Let's not see this as a shabby attempt to try and salvage a career, and take it at at least one of its faces' value and ask: if Shocked really was trying to 'speak up for evangelicals', why did she feel the need?
I may disagree with someone's most fervently held belief, but I will not hate them. And in this controversy, that means speaking for Christians with opinions I in no way share about homosexuality. Will I endorse them? Never. Will I disavow them? Never.
I stand accused of forsaking the LGBT community for a Christianity which is – hear me now - anathema to my understanding of faith. I will no doubt take future flack for saying so. I'm accused of believing that "God hates fags" and that the repeal of Prop 8 will usher in the End Times. Well, if I caused such an absurdity, I am damn sorry. To be clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any so-called faith preaching intolerance of anyone. Again, anyone: straight or gay, believers or not: that's the law.
That means upholding my punk rock values in the most evangelical enclaves and, in this case, speaking up for the most fearful of fundamentalists in, well, a San Francisco music hall full of Michelle Shocked fans.
As an artist in this time of unbearable culture wars, I understand: this means trouble, and this is neither the first nor last time trouble has come my way. And that's fine by me.
I know the fear many in the evangelical community feel about homosexual marriage, as I understand the fear many in the gay community feel toward the self-appointed faithful. I have and will continue speaking to both. Everything else – facebook, twitter, whatever – is commentary.
Does she really think that people in San Francisco haven't heard the bullshit over and over again? That with Fox News, and Westboro Baptist Church, and Utah-based attempts to rig the Prop 8 vote through endless TV commercials, that people in the city might not have heard what fundamentalists think, again and again and again and a-fucking-gain.
There are many, many platforms where these groups express their views, where they wave the Holy Books they don't quite understand, and declaim.
What gap in the discourse did Shocked think she was plugging?
But even if you do buy this line - then how was merely parroting their words supposed to be of value?
You could imagine Shocked doing the ranty bit, with quote marks around it, and then - like a Culture Wars Yarwood - segueing into a 'and this is me' bit, perhaps trying to find some common ground, or saying 'look, here's the reason why these people think this...' But there was none of that.
Standing in a room and saying 'let's punch kittens' isn't moving on a debate about punching kittens.
Michelle Shocked isn't so stupid as to not understand that.
And it's every month I tear it up and mail the damn thing back/
Did you think that would make it alright, did you think I would fall for that?