When Rhonda and I started this blog, we promised ourselves that we would never shy away from topics that might create some sort of stir. Today’s blog is one of those. Consider this a warning to you (and to me!).
Yesterday, DDHQ posted a few pictures of John Taylor at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles, a march advocating gun control. I’m certain that DDHQ knew that posting these pictures would get people excited. Some people might love it and others…not so much. Normally, I just look at the posts and move on as I rarely read the comments for a variety of reasons. Yet, something possessed me to look at them yesterday. On Twitter, the reaction to the photos and John’s participation in the march was generally positive. Facebook, on the other hand, was a very different story.
Within an hour or so of being posted on Facebook, comments numbered in the hundreds. Some loved that John demonstrated and others expressed negative reactions ranging from concern to disappointment to anger. Instead of responding on the thread, I am opting to respond to some of what I saw here. This way I can address the negative reactions as a whole rather than individual comments.
A number of fans responding to the photos commented on the fact that John Taylor is British and should not have a say. Indeed, he is British, but, he is also an American citizen now after going through the process of naturalization. He lives in the United States, pays taxes and votes. In my opinion, this gives him every right to speak about what takes places in the U.S.
Others did not appreciate him speaking out because he is a celebrity. Some expressed concern that by doing so, he was in danger of losing fans. Let me dissect both of those ideas. First, I don’t really get the idea that famous people should not express their opinions. Why does having a certain career mean that they should stop having political opinions? Is it just celebrities who should stop being political? What other careers should not express political beliefs? Should I be silent on politics outside of my classroom simply because I’m a teacher? Should a lawyer because they might challenge or defend laws? Should judges? Now, obviously, in the last examples, there are times when politics should be put away. For instance, I do not push my students to believe like I do. I push them to be able to defend their opinions with facts and evidence only. Likewise, judges need to be impartial when hearing cases. Other than that, teachers, judges, etc. can have political beliefs outside of those specific cases. John’s job is to write and perform music. If we compare John’s job to a teacher, for instance, then some might argue he should keep politics out of his job, and thus his music. What he did yesterday is not about the music. It is something he did outside of his job. He didn’t tell people that they had to agree with him, politically, to buy his music.
The other concern that I saw a lot of people express is that John’s political activity might alienate fans. This idea makes me sad. Is that really where we are? Do we really have to agree completely to be a fan? Do we apply this for our families and friends? I don’t know about the rest of you but I definitely know people who disagree with me on various issues. This doesn’t make me like them less. Perhaps, the key with me is that I separate what someone thinks about this or that issue from that person’s behavior and treatment of others. I also believe strongly that I’m not going to love everything done by Duran but that this does not diminish my love for the band either. Goodness, my love ones do or think things that I don’t like and that doesn’t make me love them any less. Let me give you an example from Duran’s history to explain what I mean. Was I thrilled that they worked with Timbaland in order to reach a broader audience and get more commercial success? I was not. Does this mean that I shouldn’t be a fan anymore? No. It means I don’t like this one thing they did and disagreed with their approach.
Some reading this might say that this is easy for me to say. After all, I was out marching yesterday, too. I agree with John on this political issue. While I’m sure that it does make it easier to me, I can think of other bands that I like, musically, that I’m not in alignment with, politically or otherwise. Again, I can separate the two.
Beyond all of that, I believe strongly that everyone should be able to speak about what they think. Therefore, I was totally fine with those fans who came on to say how they love John and the band but disagree with him. What I was not okay with were some of the comments insulting John or bringing up things like his past drug use. Those kind of comments are never necessary. There was nothing that John did yesterday that deserved mean or insulting comments. All he did was express his opinion as an American and a human being. That’s it.