Singer/songwriter Michelle Shocked found herself in hot water and potentially out of work after making anti-gay marriage comments at a San Francisco concert. According to MSN Music, Shocked was playing a show at Yoshi’s on St. Patrick’s Day and when returning for her second set, she went on a rant against gay marriage. Her alleged comments contained, “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 reportedly said, and "You can go on Twitter and say, 'Michelle Shocked says God hates fags.'” According to the San Francisco Gate, about two-thirds of the crowd walked out after the rant. The venue then shut off her microphone and stated that the show was over. Refunds were provided.
As news of Shocked’s comments traveled across the Internet, venues began to cancel Shocked’s upcoming tour dates in April and May. Only one venue, the Harmony Bar in Madison, Wisconsin had not cancelled her performance. When asked about the show, staff could only comment that the owner was in Mexico and unavailable but told local press, “there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll cancel this,” per the Hollywood Reporter. Shocked’s volunteer publicist also walked off the job. Shocked has said she plans to show up to her schedule show in Los Angeles despite the cancellation and talk about gay bashing in L.A. mayoral race. The owner of the club she was to perform at, McCabe’s in Santa Monica, has stated she is not welcome in any way.
Controversy over beliefs and comments to the press are no strangers to popular music. The biggest example is of course The Beatles in 1966 when John Lennon as quoted as saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. This sparked controversy from Christians all over the world but most notably in the United States. However, only one show was cancelled from the band’s 1966 US tour in Memphis and then was worked out so they performed anyway. There was an incident when a firecracker was thrown at the band in Memphis but no other issues. It’s rare that an artist’s comments end up with a whole tour being scrapped. I don’t think there has been another incident where is occurred. This incident shows the fine line of being an artist and not going over the line. It also wasn’t that Shocked expressed her views in song but in a blunt rant to the audience. I applaud the venue for shutting down the show and issuing refunds and other venues for cancelling her shows. While there should be room for free speech, spewing hate has no place in the music industry.