Let’s just get this out of the way right up front: I’m a Springsteen fan. Have been since I was a very young man and always will be.
With that said, it’s worth noting that The Boss has delivered a smack in the face to his fans in North Carolina this week, cancelling on short notice a concert he was scheduled to play there because of his objections to the state’s new bathroom privacy law. He took to his Facebook page to break the news.
As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters.
We’ve covered the North Carolina law here until I’m blue in the face, explaining why it’s not “discrimination” in any sense of the word and was, in fact, a necessary response to the ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte. Had they been reasonable and willing to accommodate everyone, as well as respecting the basic privacy rights of their own citizens, none of this would have had to happen. Instead, they chose to go far beyond even the compromises we saw in San Francisco and other liberal enclaves where separate, unisex or single user facilities will exist alongside normal, single gender facilities, leading to the promised pushback from the state government.
Springsteen isn’t just a legendary classic rock musician, but also a businessman. He has to make his own decisions as to how he manages his professional affairs and it’s not the government’s place to force him to play or stay away. No doubt many of his fans are very disappointed, but the market will react to his decisions as it does in any line of private enterprise. (Though frankly, Bruce is probably immune to market forces at this point because he clearly doesn’t need to sell any more tickets or albums at this late stage in his career.)
This is still disappointing to me personally, and it’s a subject which keeps coming up year after year throughout the entire entertainment industry. There was a time back in the day when Bruce seemed to have a far more grounded attitude about politics and culture, but in an odd reversal of the evolution of most folks on that score, Springsteen seems to have grown increasingly more liberal, if not socialist, as the years have gone by. Perhaps that’s a luxury afforded to those who make it to the big time very early in life, become financially secure and rely on big city liberal markets for their ticket sales. Who knows, really?
But as I already mentioned, this is something we wrestle with not just in the music industry, but television, movies, stand up comedy and all the rest of the entertainment spectrum. As a rule, I generally try to simply ignore the political views and rants of entertainers I enjoy, partly because it’s their right to hold any beliefs they wish. But it’s also due to the fact that if I refused to watch any movie or show, listen to any music or laugh at any jokes by people who are flaming liberals, entertainment options would probably come down to a choice between Ron White or watching paint dry. (Yes, I know there are other exceptions, but you get my point.)
Of course, there are cases where it’s shoved in your face so often that you can’t ignore it and simply give up in despair. (Chris Hardwick is a hilarious stand-up comedian who also has a great podcast, but his show @Midnight has pretty much devolved from funny observations on internet culture to a half hour of insulting conservatives every night, which is sad.) But plenty of other entertainment options are out there which don’t veer into the political very often, if at all.
The one redeeming point about all of this is that I don’t have to take advice on social, economic or foreign policy from actors, singers or comedians. I’ll leave that to our friends on the Left. If Springsteen doesn’t want to do business in North Carolina so be it. He simply opens up a market opportunity for others to fill the void.