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Michelle Shocked Jumps the Shark

MichelleShocked_BellyUp_2010I try to ignore celebrities, or the “celebrity” of celebrities . . . that is to say, I try to see through their status into their personalities. But I’m terribly sad this week. I’ve been a Michelle Shocked fan since the late 1980s and consider “Arkansas Traveler” and “Short Sharp Shocked” folk (with dash of punk) classics. Michelle was also a friend, albeit an indirect one; she was an early fan of the “Shared Sacrifice” page seemed engaged in politics through social networking. Her conversion to Christianity didn’t phase me. Most Christians I know don’t hate LGBTs or believe that “God” hates LGBTs–regardless of how anyone feels about the morality of same-sex relationships. Plus, she supported the Occupy movement, and was even among the evicted in Occupy L.A.–hardly something a conservative evangelical would do.

That’s why I searched in vain for ANY news source correcting or clarifying Michelle’s outrageous and inexcusable remarks the other night in San Francisco. But she really said them, and neither she nor any of her people are clarifying, correcting, or apologizing for them.

What she actually said, by the way, was (among other things): “When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back.”

Her FB page contains only the messages of heartbroken ex-fans, and her web page doesn’t mention the incident. And the only news items coming out are story after story of cancelled tours and outraged fans.

Twenty minutes ago, USA Today reported a couple of vague tweets by Shocked that might show the promise of later clarification:

Shocked responded to the controversy with a couple of vague tweets:

First: “I’m abiding, letting everyone’s true colors show before I undertake a personal response to each & every tweet.”

“Am neither against a woman’s right to choose nor gay marriage. Am a fundamentalist tho”.

(This is a section I’m clumsy with: I’m inclined to wonder whether her well-documented schizophrenia is responsible for this abhorrent behavior–but I am reluctant to vilify schizophrenics or excuse someone’s moral choices. I refuse to believe it’s publicity-seeking. After 30 years of doing her own thing, there’s no need for that. So I can only guess that she is very, very sick.)

I don’t know what else to say. I still love her, and I still cherish her music. And I ask the universe for clarity–for her, and for those of us who love her.

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About Matt J. Stannard

Policy Director for Commonomics USA, longtime writer, speaker, and legal & policy consultant on economic justice and public deliberation.