When I wrote about Orson Scott Card not long ago, I was doing so from a position of comfort. I’m not a fan of his books, had not really thought about him in the recent past in any context other than, “oh, that anti-gay asshole”, and wouldn’t have been buying a Superman comic he — or anyone else — wrote anyway. I’ve dismissed a lot of his defenders who want to give him a bye simply because he once wrote a book they love.
Well, as they say, God don’t like ugly, and now it’s my turn.
A while back I was listening to an album I love by an artist I had fallen behind on. Michelle Shocked’s Short Sharp Shocked is a fantastic album, and its (comparatively) simple folkiness hit me out of left field at a time when I was venturing out from polished and produced Britpop and towards more jangle-pop stuff. Michelle (it sounds weird to call her “Shocked”) found the common thread in folk, punk, and blues and plucked at it from several angles. The other two albums I have from her never quite reached that point but I think any musician would be glad to have Short Sharp Shocked in their discography.
So anyway, I had wondered where ol’ Michelle was now, and I was going to put together a blog post where we find out together, but I never got around to it until now, and it’s not what I was hoping it would be.
“When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilisation, and Jesus will come back,” Shocked told the crowd at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, before many of them reportedly walked out. “You are going to leave here and tell people, ‘Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots.'”
It seems that Michelle found Jesus, and it opened her heart towards just how wrong homosexuality is*.
Putting Michelle aside for a moment, what is it with people who find religion and immediately set their highest priority as making sure everyone is sexing correctly? What leads them to believe that this is the major theme of Christianity and one that has to be spread far and wide? What the hell kind of God are they finding who looks out on this world and thinks, “Yeah, the big problem here is guys smooching on other guys.”? This weird, petty God of theirs is like a cop handing out parking citations while all around a mob pillages and loots. (That’s not a great analogy, since parking citations represent at least a theoretical societal problem, unlike consenting adults having sex in the privacy of their homes.) Who opens up the Bible, reads through it, and comes away with an overarching method that married heterosexual procreative sex is the only One True Sex?
In this interview from 2011, Michelle Shocked says, “Christianity is the most radical thing going — I’m sorry that left in the hands of Christians it’s just kind of boring and mundane. But it is radical. It has the power to change the world.” If that’s true, why set one’s sights so low? Why use this phenomenal power to wag fingers at people who aren’t doing sex the way you’d like? Even if you genuinely think that homosexuality and fornication are problems that need to be addressed, are either of them really at center stage right now? When you look at the global economy, environmental crises, poverty, drumbeats of war, oppression and hatred, do you really think, “Well, let’s see if we can’t take care of this gay menace?”
And do you start by lecturing to a bunch of folk music fans in San Francisco?
That doesn’t indicate to me that you really do believe in the awesome power of Christianity, Michelle. That’s right up there with Uri Gellar claiming his phenomenal psychic abilities can bring a new era to humanity and he will now demonstrate them by causing subtle microscopic stress fractures in a block of steel.
In Michelle’s defense, she is still something of a radical, and has been a participant in the Occupy movement. She’s not completely around the bend. She thankfully has not joined the Church of Jesus Christ, Shareholder. Still, this bizarre, pointless anti-gay rant of hers is going to isolate her from a lot of allies, and who knows, maybe push her into the waiting arms of those wanting to share the Good News of Supply-Side Economics. I’d think she was too smart and rowdy for that, but I also would have thought her too smart and rowdy for the nonsense she’s already done.
* — Yeah, I know. Years ago in college, a friend called up on a Saturday to ask what I was doing. I told her I was cleaning my apartment and listening to Michelle Shocked and the Indigo Girls. “It’s lesbians with guitars day over here!” I said. I was genuinely surprised when she got engaged to Bart Bull.