While I strongly support freedom of expression, I won’t condone abusing someone or their work to further a cause or argument without their explicit consent. Further, it would be just plain dishonest to present the person or their work in a manner not congruent with their known beliefs. Yet, it happens all the time.
There were two incidences this week in the USA where music was abused by bigoted people to highlight their bigoted causes.
Frankie Sullivan, guitarist and songwriter had every right to be outraged when his song Eye of the Tiger written for Survivor was played at a sympathy rally supported by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, when Kim Davis was released from a Kentucky jail. Kim, a born-again Christian, was tossed in jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Sullivan had previously filed suit against Republican candidate Newt Gingrich who had used the song during his campaign.
In the second incident, Donald Trump used R.E.M.’s song It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) at a Republican rally in the Capitol. Needless to say R.E.M. were not amused and released a statement on Facebook condemning the abuse of their music.
It is being reported on Salon that band member Mike Mills released a further statement from lead singer Michael Stipe which was much more explicit:
Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you–you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.
Neil Young and the Dropkick Murphys have also expressed anger over the use of their songs by Donald Trump.
Surely there are many artists whose outlook on life might lend itself to prejudice, who would not mind their songs being used by bigots like Trump and Davis? How hard can it be it be for bigots to find them?
Update: R.E.M. posted this to their Facebook page today, 11 September 2015. Political Campaigns and Music Licensing.