ControversyMorrissey Controversy Over Music and Free Speech!

Morrissey Controversy Over Music and Free Speech!

This year at Glastonbury Festival, The Smiths Johnny Marr and The Killer’s Brandon Flowers performed “This Charming Man” on the famed Pyramid Stage. An NME music journalist remarked that Flowers nearly appeared to be “auditioning to be the new Morrissey.”

We could use one,” was a reference to the current controversy involving former Smiths vocalist Steven Patrick Morrissey’s political views. But not just music enthusiasts are interested in the issues surrounding Morrissey’s connection to the British far-right and his artistic legacy.

They draw upon larger philosophical discussions concerning the confluence of fandom, free speech, and far-right ideology.

Morrissey has been a contentious figure since the middle of the 1980s, and in recent years, numerous comments have alleged that he has connections to the far-right. Although Morrissey has refuted charges of “racism” and “fascist,” many of his remarks regarding Islam and immigration seem to contain far-right cliches.

The singer, for instance, has claimed that Theresa May’s immigration policies are to blame for the Manchester Arena bombing, that certification for halal slaughter “can only be given by supporters of ISIS,” and that silence on halal slaughter practices occurs because “it is exclusively popular with Islamists, and both Labour and the Conservatives desperately want the Islam vote… Migrant boats mean migrant votes, and so on.”

According to Morrissey, London has experienced more acid attacks than Bangladesh. Political correctness prevents the British government, the Met Police, or the BBC from responding to the attacks honestly because they are all non-white. They also deemed the term “racist” to be “meaningless,” claiming that “Everyone ultimately prefers their own race… does this make everyone racist?” ’

morrissey controversy

United Kingdom

Morrissey stated in an interview in 2018 that Anne Marie Waters, the leader of the far-right For Britain party, “believes in the British tradition, freedom of speech, and she wants everyone in the UK to live under the same legislation.”

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I find this compelling right now because it’s clear that neither Labour nor the Tories support free speech—just look at how horrifyingly Tommy Robinson was treated in May this year. He wore a For Britain badge both times, once during an appearance related to his Broadway residency and once more on an American talk show.

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Britain complains that “Islamic ideals” are becoming more and more common in Britain and claims that the impact of Islam “is directly accountable for unspeakable violence to women, to atheists or apostates, to children, and to animals.” A For Britain candidate was linked to National Action and the far-right group Generation Identity, according to an investigation by the advocacy group Hope not to Hate.

Its manifesto also addresses the “displacement of the native British” and claims that “mass immigration has resulted in a fractured and divided Britain, where the native population is insulted and degraded.” Ingrid Calqvist, a writer who has been charged with Holocaust denial, and Robert Spencer, a writer whose writing has been labeled Islamophobic, were both invited to speak at the group’s 2018 conference.

Morrissey is having a significant impact on the party beyond only expressing his support for For Britain. For instance, he is supported on a page on the For Britain website. We received another unambiguous support from Morrissey! Before urging readers to donate money, join the party, and buy party swag, it makes a boastful statement.

Morrissey supported For Britain, according to Waters, who also thanked him for wearing their pin in a recent video. Waters said: “I can tell you that the traffic to our website exploded with the story breaking of you wearing the For Britain button badge… We have sold out of those… they are selling like hot cakes.”

morrissey controversy

Individuals in Conflict

Morrissey’s political beliefs and acts are controversial for some people, yet they are irrelevant given his reputation as a musician to others. A much-lauded reaction to the dispute was written by well-known artist Nick Cave.

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According to Cave, “[Musicians’] opinions and behavior are separate concerns.” He argued for the right to express oneself freely and came to the following conclusion: “Perhaps it is better to simply let Morrissey have his views, challenge them when and wherever possible, but allow his music to live on, bearing in mind that we are all conflicted individuals – messy, flawed, and prone to lunacies.”

The Spectator (USA) describes Morrissey’s wearing of the For Britain pin as a component of a “provocateur” persona, and the controversy is seen as evidence of the suppression of free speech, according to The Spectator (USA).

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If some members of the public disagree with Morrissey’s political convictions, that is one thing. But are we really so uncomfortable with being spurred into thought? asks another piece that is linked on Morrissey’s website.

Are we opposed to having the discussion at all? So much so that we would prefer to stifle or intimidate different voices? It is believed that Morrissey is engaged in a “battle for free expression.”

However, these interpretations of Morrissey’s political career as a component of his provocative performativity or the assertions that the singer is the subject of a deliberate campaign fall short in the end.

Conflicts regarding the relative importance of political ideology and artistic personas are not new nor specific to Morrissey. Artists have long been subject to various forms of accountability for the claims they make. Consider how Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of the Pope on live television or Eric Clapton’s explosive remarks on race that inspired Rock Against Racism.

Due to their positions, both people encountered some rejection. Due to #MeToo and revelations about sexism and racism in the entertainment industry, art enthusiasts, moviegoers, and TV viewers have been debating whether or not to view works of art that are connected to people who have been accused of discriminatory behavior or serious, (sometimes criminal) misconduct.

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Consumers must continuously decide what they are ready to accept from those who wish to provide them with entertainment.

morrissey controversy

Deliberate Choice

In addition, some see the Morrissey controversies as timely given recent narratives about a “cancel culture.” On various social media platforms, users have repeatedly labeled the former Smiths frontman as “canceled” for his opinions; according to his supporters, this amounts to limiting his right to free speech.

This, however, undervalues the singer’s contribution. Morrissey has been able to keep making these claims in interviews and to publicize them even more on his website, which is why these controversies continue. Morrissey’s replies to criticism of his views, however, reveal that he is not ignorant when it comes to debates about how far-right groups have used them.

It is not out of ignorance that he keeps praising a far-right group and making such statements; rather, he deliberately chooses to spread these beliefs. Due to Morrissey’s fame, these statements receive additional attention and amplification. This is why Waters expressed gratitude.

Some contend that the controversy surrounding Morrissey should serve as a warning sign for the impending arrival of a repressive, overly-sensitive “PC” culture that suppresses dissenting viewpoints.

But the reality is that Morrissey keeps getting a hearing. Instead, his continued popularity despite his claims ought to make us think about a number of deep, introspective issues: Can the creator and the art be separated? What occurs both if we act and if we don’t? These questions will unavoidably elicit varying responses from people.

Morrissey may find certain audiences less eager to follow his lead if cultures see an increase in far-right ideology and violence.


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