In light of Mississippi’s decision to pass a religious freedom bill, Bryan Adams cancelled an upcoming show at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. The performer follows in the footsteps of Bruce Springsteen and PayPal, which pulled out of North Carolina over the state’s recently passed bathroom ordinance.
Adams, known for hits such as “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” from heteronormative classic “Robin Hood,” performed in Arkansas in September 2015. Arkansas passed its own religious freedom bill in April 2015. Granted, Arkansas’ bill has not played out as opponents predicted and restaurants continue to serve people regardless of sexual orientation, because that’s not what religious freedom bills are about. A Muslim prisoner in the state also benefited from a religious freedom bill, albeit the federal version signed by President Bill Clinton. Maybe Adams is taking a nuanced stand.
Actually, no, he isn’t. It seems Adams isn’t so troubled enough about bigotry to skip countries where women and members of the LGBT community are jailed and abused.
Springsteen, to his credit, does not have a history of cashing checks from shows in such countries and did play the role of actual dissident in East Berlin in 1988. Alas, Springsteen’s musical decline has been “obvious for decades,” which stretches back to the late ‘80s, so perhaps “Howard Zinn with a guitar” can be given a tad more leeway for finding a way to remind people other than nostalgic Baby Boomers that he does, in fact, continue to exist.
PayPal, on the other hand, doesn’t need such reminders. It also does not have quite as clean a record on where the company chooses to do business. As noted by North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, “PayPal does business in 25 countries where homosexual behavior is illegal, including 5 countries where the penalty is death, yet they object to the North Carolina legislature overturning a misguided ordinance about letting men in to the women’s bathroom? Perhaps PayPal would like to try and clarify this seemingly very hypocritical position.”
Nah, clarification is unnecessary. It’s all virtue signaling and Selma envy. That is, these aging rockers and various corporations may pine for free love and the summer of ’69, but they only really care insofar as people know they’re good without requiring them to actually put their money where their mouths are. Otherwise, they would boycott large swathes of the world rather than focusing on a couple of states where women and LGBT-identifying folks are free to live their lives without the state coming after them.
But that would require more than posturing and waiting for the tempest in a teacup to pass. It would require actual financial loss and commitment rather than hypocritical preening over the latest new political battle. Of course, maybe they actually mean it this time. As we can learn from Adams and Arkansas, let’s check back in about five months and see just how courageous those convictions are. I’m sure this time they totally mean it.