The abuse of artistic work for bigoted causes

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.

Religion, Politics and Culture or Religionists, Politicians and Culture. What’s the Connection?

A heady mix, especially religion and politics. Most people don’t recommend discussing either when in polite company; or in any company for that matter, especially when alcohol is available to lubricate the tongue. But where does culture fit in, if at all? Recently I came across a post on a social networking site which claims that religion and culture are one and the same. So, if culture is related to religion, is it also related to politics; and is politics for that matter related to religion. If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to attempt to uncover any connection, relation or association between religion, politics and culture, through a logical or mathematical approach.

Apart from the observation that nearly everyone has an opinion on religion and politics, and seem to want to assert that opinion, both are connected in other, rather ignominious ways. If you accept that regulation of  policy is derived through politics and that politicians formulate and administer, said policies, then it follows that politics revolves around politicians. What’s that got to do with religion? Well, Comedian, George Carlin commented that “When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion.” In truth, politics (and politicians), like religion, thrives on false promises and exaggerated, even absurd, claims. There’s your first connection, right there.

The second connection between religion and politics may not be that obvious, but it’s real, even if contentious. Religion owes it’s continued existence to it’s ability to enthrall poor, needy and desperate people. A politicians career also depends on his ability to mesmerize the poor, needy and desperate (with, yes you guessed it; false or exaggerated promises). Obviously, education also plays a role, but it goes without saying that generally, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be scammed by religious and political scumbags (in other words, Evangelists and Right-wing Conservatives).

What’s the connection between religion and culture? Although some people assert that there is not much difference between the two, there actually is. The fallacious association is made when one examines how they both evolved and were adapted in different parts of the world. The reason one may find them indistinguishable from each other, is because religion and culture have merged to such an extent over time. However, when you look at the origins of religion and culture, the distinction is obvious. Religion is associated with base, primal instincts. It evolved out of a need to make sense of the world, in the absence of philosophy and science. Culture is associated with advancing civilization, and a more sophisticated, philosophical, even scientific way of life. It is safe to postulate that culture set in when religion stopped providing all the answers. The problem with religion is that it is a nasty, vicious animal, and won’t lay down and die. To ensure it’s survival, religion has crept so far up the ass of culture, they’ve become locked into an indistinguishable mess.

And what about culture and politics. Is there a connection? Well, all I can really say about this, is that the culture of politics is to perpetuate lies and deceit, and the lust for power at all costs. Enough said…