Earlier this week, we saw reports that someone completely irrelevant (folk singer Michelle Shocked) said something stupid, oh wow. The news was sparse and hazy, something along the lines of "Michelle Shocked told her audience to tweet that she said that God hates fags." Was she being straightforward? Was she being sarcastic? She couldn't possibly be aligning herself with the kooks of the Westboro Baptist Church by invoking one of their dearest slogans, right?
Well, now via the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online, we have her full, 23-minute set second from Yoshi's San Francisco and after listening to her words within context, I still have no clue what this woman is talking about. The meat of her argument is excerpted above. Here is what the born-again singer told the increasingly hostile crowd:
It's not too late. You can jump into this Jesus gang anytime you want. But, um, I was in a prayer meeting yesterday and you gotta appreciate how scared, how scared, folks on that side of the equation are. I mean, from their vantage point, and I really shouldn't say ‘their,' ‘cause it's mine, too, we are nearly at the end of time and from our vantage point, we're gonna be, uh, I think maybe Chinese water torture is gonna be the means, the method, once Prop 8 gets instated 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. You said you wanted reality. If someone would be so gracious as to tweet out that Michelle Shocked just said from stage, ‘God hates faggots.' Would you do it now?
...They're confounded. Matt, you might need to come back up here. (Male voice: There's gonna be a lot of talking about that.) I ain't scared. I ain't scared. This is not a tribunal. This is one woman's opinion, and it's fun. It's a lot of fun. I am so committed to loving each and every soul in this room tonight that I could not come here and ignore you. I could not come here and pretend that I was above the conversation and I could not pretend that I was beneath it, either. I had to join it. Thank you for that one hand clap.
Prop 8 was, in fact, instated in California in 2008 it's the reason why gay people in California can't get married. The word she meant was "overturned," I think, but who knows what she meant. And doesn't she want Jesus to come back? Isn't that her point? So gay marriage is a good thing, right? Or no, it means the end of time. But maybe that's gonna be one big gay wedding reception, which can't all be bad because you know the music will be great.
Michelle Shocked's words are words of nonsense. Take solace in them — this is what homophobia looks like today. It looks insane.
Shocked goes on to share an anecdote about being a white girl in a black church and irritating people. Imagine. People in the audience respond with dissent to what sounded like anti-gay words but were maybe just a weird pagan spell she performed to cloud everyone's brains and make them buy her sheet music. And then she goes off-mic to scream, "I am sick of Christians filled with hypocrisy hiding behind the symbol of the cross...I believe that the word of God is just what it says it is: the truth." K.
Then she quotes John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world...") in Spanish. Then she plays her song "Wanted Man." She continues to play the role of babbling zealot until the venue turns off her mic and she still keeps going. When she finishes singing a second time, she begins panhandling (how very Amanda Palmer of her), passing her hat and asking for a dollar for "the folk singer, for the busker, for the street performer...and if that's too kind, maybe you'll support my initiative: a songbook with sheet music in it."
The last thing she says to the crowd is, "All I'm trying to say is god bless us, every one!" Don't try to convince us that you're Tiny Tim after getting all Ghost of Christmas Future on our asses, lady.
Here's the full audio. It is squirmy and morbidly fascinating.
Even before the full context of Shocked's words were available, the fallout from this display was severe: Her tour has basically been canceled because 10 out of the 11 venues she was to play have banned her. The criticism has been widespread, including from "fan, mentee," collaborator and fellow folk singer Erin McKeown, who tweeted "this is no surprise and not the 1st time." Indeed, take a look at this 2008 article, in which Shocked disavows her status as an honorary lesbian and indulges in that being-gay-is-a-sin-but-we-all-sin half-condemnation.
Buzzfeed ran a purported apology from Shocked, which reads in part:
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.
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.
Of course, she did implicate herself in this line of thinking when she said, "I really shouldn't say ‘their,' ‘cause it's mine, too."
And then she supposedly followed it up with another statement that ended:
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.
At this point, it's like blah blah blah, why the fuck are we still paying attention to what this person has to say about anything, other than for the derisive entertainment value in watching a public communicator utterly sabotage herself with her own words? Her internal conflict seems to be of biblical proportions.
[Image via Getty]