How shocking

Of minor note these days are reports of lefty, acoustic folk singer Michelle Shocked leaping into a “anti-gay rant,” at Berkley jazz club “Yoshi’s” several days ago. (I used to work down the street from the club in the early 2000s.)

When I first heard tell of this I didn’t think much of it. I’m almost entirely unaware of Shocked’s oeuvre but, since I’m not a giant fan of folk, I figured it was forgettable (Hey, that could be a folk song lyric!) It seems like a lot of people make a seemingly overnight 180 degree turn in their belief systems; why couldn’t Shocked be another example? (It had already been reported that she’d become a evangelical Christian.)

My thoughts started to change when I read a transcript of the show. If anything her comments seemed tangential and deluded, but in regards to her main statement, it seemed pretty clear to me that she was saying people she knew and loved — fellow evangelicals — were opposed to homosexuals, but not necessarily her. (Her comments were, as I just said, confusing, so I could understand people having other interpretations but that was mine.) Her motivation for her now infamous comment at the show, “You can go on Twitter and say ‘Michelle Shocked says God hates faggots,” is unclear, but to me comes across as a rather clumsy form of satire — essentially an acknowledgement that her views do not synch up with her audience and they might be tempted to suck any nuance out of what she was saying.

I don’t close of the possibility that Shocked is, simply, a homophobe, but I don’t think that’s as certain as do, well, 98% of the commenters on the subject. My thoughts don’t change after hearing the actual audio of the event. (You can dig it up online somewhere.) It made clear to me that the audience was not nearly as set against her as reports indicated; at the end of the night she gets a healthy sounding round of applause.

My main point: I don’t think we know exactly what’s going on with Shocked and it ain’t going to kill anyone to withhold judgment for a while and let the air clear.

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