Bryan Adams cancels Mississippi concert over new "anti-gay" law after playing Egypt last month

For the benefit of younger readers wondering, “Who’s Bryan Adams?”, he had some hits before you were born. Ask mom and dad.

I missed this yesterday but BizPac Review, along with various conservative tweeters, were all over it. This is the right way to counter celebrity boycotts, I think. They have every right to withhold services due to a deep moral objection (unlike, say, the average Christian baker being asked to cater a gay wedding in many states), but if they’re going to make a show of conscience, let’s at least test whether that objection is principled or mere virtue-signaling.

Adams, who was set to perform on Thursday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, called the state’s measure “extremely discriminatory.”

“I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation,” Adams wrote on his website.

The law signed in Mississippi last week allows people with religious objections to deny wedding services to same-sex couples and permits employers to cite religion in determining workplace policies on dress code, grooming and bathroom and locker access.

This guy toured Egypt just last month and his biggest complaint at the time was that customs officials scribbled on one of his vintage guitars. Being gay isn’t technically illegal there but it is, after all, a Muslim country so gays are arrested on euphemistic charges like “debauchery.” Punishment can be harsh too: The CNN story at the last link mentions one sentence of 12 years. Egyptian police are known to pose as gay men and women on gay dating apps like Grindr to try to entrap locals; humiliations like anal probes also aren’t unheard of during arrests. The dark irony, per this Independent story on persecution of gays in Egypt, is that “secular” regimes like Mubarak’s and Sissi’s have cracked down harder than the Muslim Brotherhood did during the brief period a few years ago when they ruled the country. The reason is politics: Because the secularists are forever under suspicion of being “un-Islamic” compared to the Islamists, they try to prove their piety to Egyptians by making an example of gays. You would think all of this would weigh heavily on a right-thinking pro-gay bro like Bryan Adams, but like I say, either he didn’t care or didn’t care to know. How come? It’s strange, unless his Mississippi boycott is nothing more than moral peacocking.

This isn’t the first time he’s played a strict Muslim country either:

Either his consciousness about gay rights was raised only very recently or Adams is less concerned with draconian persecution of gays abroad than with the off-chance that someone who wants a devout Christian to photograph their gay wedding might not be able to force them to do so. You could try to defend the double standard, I guess, by claiming that Adams’s boycott might have some small modicum of influence over public opinion here whereas a boycott of Muslim states would have none whatsoever, but that argument doesn’t fly. For one thing, a sincere moral objection — “I cannot in good conscience” — doesn’t depend on whether your objection moves others. It’s a statement of where you, personally, draw the line. If Adams is bothered by the persecution of gays, he should find the thought of playing Egypt more repugnant than playing Mississippi. But it’s also not true that even a has-been like Adams has zero influence over how foreigners behave. If he made a show of boycotting Muslim countries for their treatment of gays, some Americans would pay attention. That would put public pressure on better-known stars to start practicing what they preach too. A broader boycott by American entertainment, depending of course on how broad it is, would at least give the powers that be something to think about. Adams boycotting Egypt surely would have been more influential long-term in raising awareness of how gays are treated in less liberal nations than his “who cares?” boycott of Mississippi will. When push came to shove, though, he held the third world to a different moral standard than the first. Reactionaries abroad should thank him.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about Bruce Springsteen, who canceled a concert in North Carolina because he objects to their law about public bathrooms and transgendered people, turns out Bruce has stuck to the U.S., western Europe, and Australia in his last seven years of touring. Better get those European concerns in now while he can, though. The way they’re headed, they might need a celebrity boycott soon too.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on October 03, 2022