“Everybody’s talkin’ about Bagism, Shagism, dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism, ism, ism, ism.”
–John Lennon, “Give Peace A Chance”
Call me a washed-up hippie wannabe burnout (in the Comments section below, please, as quickly as your jizm-encrusted little troll fingers can) but I believe in the power of protest, man. I’m a dyed in the wool progressive, the kind your obnoxious fat fuck of an uncle warned you about when he bounced you roughly on his knee just inches away from his creeping hard-on. With patchouli-stinkin’ dreadlocks and a Noam Chomsky tramp stamp, I marched boldly against the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. More recently, I joined with a collection of unions for a solidarity rally with Occupy Wall Street, a movement whose spirit I still admire despite the muddled execution and uncertain outcomes.
If there’s one thing we loathsome Lefties love more than Mother Russia and multiculturalism, it’s a boycott. Man, those are like raging swingers parties for us mincing liberal weenies, exquisite collective actions where everyone votes with their dollars and decisions. Real Power To The People shit, if you catch my drift. So Terror’s announcement that they’ve cancelled their planned August concert in the Czech Republic in support of that Heavy Metal Mumia we call Randy Blythe should have me dancing in my Grateful Dead branded silk boxers, right?
Let me precede the rest of my comments by stating what should be obvious. I consider Terror’s decision to boycott the Czech Republic a legitimate form of protest, a poignant symbol of the band’s undying support for their incarcerated peer and friend. Right on, right on. They have a right to stand up in this manner and make a statement same as scores of LGBT rights advocates are currently doing with homo haters Chik-fil-A. But even if I support the action in principle, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with them or go along with this.
With so much injustice in the American criminal justice system, from corrupt policing all the way through to the abhorrent state of our correctional facilities, I’m dismayed that this is the straw that breaks the hardcore camel’s back. (Oh, and then there’s still that niggling little matter of those still-detained prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, held indefinitely without charge for more than a decade now.) Terror apparently have the courage of their convictions when slighting hashtag activism surrounding the outcry over Blythe’s detention, yet innocent men and women in their own backyard suffer far worse, imprisoned unjustly for myriad reasons. Has Scott Vogel even heard of The Innocence Project, a courageous non-profit that fights to free the wrongly convicted? Surely an organization like that would benefit from having a group like Terror as an advocate.
Furthermore, their choice impacts no one with power to help Blythe, unless the judge or prosecutor happen to be big fans of basketball shorts, pile-ons, and gang vocals. This won’t amount to a hill of beans, or whatever legume they enjoy most in the Czech Republic. It’s an easy knee-jerk move that lands the band some ink in advance of their tour dates. It’s a symbolic boycott full of sound and fury, but generally these sorts of things only work when there’s critical mass and the infliction of collective economic pain. I’m willing to put a buffalo nickel bet down that the Czech Republic will not crumble over this, another arrogant American snub from a band that has little regard for justice for a dead young man.
Terror’s convenient act of selective outrage, a product of selective politics, undermines the sincerity behind their action, ascribing a pseudo “ism” suffix to their expressed value set. Cases that impact us personally or emotionally are always going to yield the most powerful responses, but Scott Vogel and the fellas are engaging in little more than one-upmanship wrapped in an idealism that falls short immediately upon exposure to sunlight.
There are real political prisoners in music right now, namely Pussy Riot. Terror may not have any Russian dates on their upcoming European tour, but for the sake of their boycott they’d better not add any.