So, Barack Obama was sworn in yesterday (Martin Luther King day of all days) for his second term as President of the United States of America, which means parties, concerts and celebrations galore in Washington, DC.
One such party has garnered a bit of attention thanks to one Lupe Fiasco. As the story goes, at the particular inauguration concert he was performing at, he did his song âWords I Never Saidâ which included the lyrics “Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit, That’s why I ain’t vote for him, Next one either, I’m part of the problem, My problem is I’m peacefulâ. Lupe Fiasco didn’t make it to the end of his allotted time, being kicked off the stage about 30 minutes into his set.
Of course this has been jumped on by seemingly every media source, social, unsocial, anti-social, or what have you, and the accusation is that this was a violation of free speech. But was it? According to a statement released by the organisers of the event, StartUp RockOn, “… as you may have read, he left the stage earlier than we had planned. But Lupe Fiasco was not ‘kicked off stage’ for an ‘anti-Obama rant.’ We are staunch supporters of free speech, and free political speech. This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act”.
Now, to be fair, Lupe was on stage for 30 minutes playing the same song…for 30 minutes. Again, thatâs 30 minutes. Can anyone think of any concert or festival promoter that would be too pleased with this guy if he came on stage and played the same song for 30 minutes? Heâd most likely be booed off of the stage and the promoters might suggest in a rather straightforward and profanity laden way that they would prefer not to pay him.
So, was his free speech (an extremely important right that must be respected) impeded upon? Well, he did have the stage to play the same song for 30 minutes. He was cut off, which is obvious by the video, but as far as I know he was guided off stage and presumably out the door. He was not arrested. He wasnât beat down. He did his bit, the organizers pulled the plug, end of story really. If we take the organizerâs word for it, he was removed not because of the content of the song (that he played for 30 minutes) but because he played the same song…for 30 minutes. If we take the word of some media sources, the greatest injustice in the history of mankind has been done to Lupe and the United States is under a fascist regime.
In the end, this is a situation that Pussy Riot would probably kill for.
Words by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.