July 25, 2013 at 11:38 am EDT | by Mark Lee
Will concert ban demand diminish LGBT credibility?

Like a reoccurring gay nightmare, it’s happening again.

After last year’s controversial and counterproductive Chick-fil-A “hate food” fiasco, primarily a push for illegal bans of the company’s right to conduct business, you’d think both LGBT activists and pandering politicians would have learned an important lesson. It appears they haven’t.

The discord being drummed up this time by some local gay activists involves a “hate speech” complaint. A widely acclaimed and wildly popular Mexican rock, hip-hop and rap-metal band is facing criticism for song lyrics, spurring calls to prohibit them from performing at an area concert venue.

The four-time Latin Grammy recipients and Spanish-language music group Molotov is scheduled to conclude a 23-city Jägermeister-sponsored U.S. concert tour with a performance at The Fillmore in Silver Spring on Aug. 26. The 2,000-seat state-of-the-art concert hall is located five blocks north of D.C. in adjacent Montgomery Co., Md.

Last week County Executive Isiah Leggett penned a letter to contracted venue operator and national concert production company Live Nation, requesting that the concert be canceled. He stated that he was “personally offended” by the band’s use of “homophobic lyrics.”

The management contract for the government-owned facility grants county officials no authority to control event bookings. Ironically, the music genre that Molotov represents has strong appeal among the metropolitan area’s Latin population and was an identified Fillmore demographic programming focus.

To its credit, Live Nation has stood firm and publicly indicated that the show will not be canceled. The U.S. Constitution was undoubtedly an inspiration for the company’s stance.

Echoing the politicians who called for prohibiting Chick-fil-A outlets from opening or continuing to operate in their jurisdictions until government attorneys could rush to rein in such legally preposterous threats, Leggett has now sung his own politically correct hymn – revealing cavalier disregard for protected speech.

LGBT activists are currently promoting a petition demanding show cancelation. “It is time to demonstrate that slurs against sexual minorities are not tolerated,” the text declares, going on to say, “It is now the time to determine whether action will be taken” to “cancel the concert.”

Problem is, there is no legitimate basis for doing so. Objectionable language not designed or likely to incite violent acts causing real and immediate harm is insufficient to warrant a pre-emptive prohibition. A song refrain translated as “kill the faggot” is simply not sufficient to waive free speech rights.

While the band’s assertion that the offensive language is a cultural colloquialism and does not connote anti-gay animus is ridiculous, it is also irrelevant.

The song title of the politically “progressive” band’s anthem-like hit song “Puto,” as with the use of “maricon” in song texts, is intended to negatively characterize citizens fearful of opposing corrupt Mexican politicians and corporate financial interests. Relying on stereotypes conveying a perceived weakness of prostitutes or gay men as translated “fags” and ”man-whores,” this derivation of the word “queer” reflects an offensive and outdated cultural attitude reinforced by use.

But that does not justify misguided calls for infringement of protected speech. It is when the defense of a right is the most difficult that it is most important. When abridgement is allowed due the greater influence or power of one over another is when all lose the guarantee of freedom as a protection and not a privilege.

Even – and especially – when causing great offense.

LGBT rights organization Equality Maryland is reportedly considering staging an informational protest outside the show. Although it is not clear whether the group or its members also advocate event cancelation, their planned educational activity is an appropriate approach.

A community long suffering discrimination must be the first to stand up for the rights of others and the last to demand diminishment. We win no friends and change no minds advocating the dispatch of brute intervention to deny equal protection – as we continue to seek our own.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

  • "Protected speech" is not protected from other people's "protected" right to speak against it, or urge a private business to cancel a concert. "Protected speech" is protected against state actors' attempts to silence it.

  • It’s Molotov’s right to stand on a public sidewalk and sing their lyrics. It’s not their right to perform them in a private venue. A cancellation does not in any way infringe their freedom. Mr. Lee gives LiveNation far too much credit in suggesting that it was the constitution that inspired them to stand firm. I am guessing that money was the big motivator.

  • "Objectionable language not designed or likely to incite violent acts causing real and immediate harm is insufficient to warrant a pre-emptive prohibition. A song refrain translated as 'kill the faggot' is simply not sufficient to waive free speech rights." Mark Lee (a combo of Paula Dean and Ann Coulter) is not sufficient to be writing about about a political movement. Cancelling a show is free speech too. Touché. People can say whatever they want, but it does have consequences.

  • I'm not sure where Mr. Lee got his law degree, but private citizens petitioning a private business to stop promoting anti-gay bigotry cannot possibly violate the First Amendment, as the conduct involves no governmental action. The First Amendment leaves these disputes to the private sphere, which includes private pressure. The fact that Live Nation is a business does not give it some constitutional immunity from private pressure. The entire second half of this column amounts to little more than Mr. Lee attempting to wrap his free market extremism in the First Amendment.

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