Saturday, March 08, 2014 11:48 PM
Published on: Thursday, July 25, 2013
By Donna Broadway
SILVER SPRING – County Executive Ike Leggett says he has an answer to local civil rights activists who are asking: “Can you imagine 2,000 people shouting ‘Kill the Faggot’?”
Leggett’s answer? No.
LGBT activists such as Gabriel Rodriguez are asking this question because, on Aug. 26, Mexican rock-rap band Molotov is scheduled to perform at The Fillmore Silver Spring. Supporters of the LGBT community are calling for the Fillmore to cancel the booking because of the band’s offensive lyrics.
Rodriguez created a Change.com petition asking the Fillmore Silver Spring to change its booking of Molotov. As of Wednesday, more than 140 people have signed the petition.
The petition states that although their 1997 song “Puto,” which translates to “male whore,” or a gay slur in English, is not Molotov’s only song using homophobic lyrics, one of the song’s lyrics, “I love the murderer; kill the faggot” is the most shocking.
“When young gay teenagers hear this stuff, it doesn’t make them feel better about themselves. For teenagers who are homophobic and fans of Molotov, it could be like ‘well, my favorite band Molotov says it’s okay to be violent towards gay people, so I am going to be violent towards gay people.’ It just really sends the wrong message,” said Carrie Evans, executive director for Equality Maryland, an LGBT civil rights group.
Leggett weighed in on the controversy, saying he is personally offended by the booking.
“Bringing what I believe to be hateful sentiments into our county does nothing to contribute positively to our culture, tolerance, or the well-being of our county residents. This is true regardless of the source of those sentiments or the target of those sentiments,” Leggett said. “Just because one might argue that everyone has the right to say, show or sing something doesn’t mean they ought to exercise that right. It also does not mean that The Fillmore should provide a forum for such an exercise.”
Patrick Lacefied, a public information officer for Leggett, said that although Leggett voiced his displeasure about the booking and asked the Fillmore to cancel the event, the county will not take action.
County Councilman Hans Riemer also weighed in on the controversy, saying that while he does not condone the lyrics, it is not the county’s job to police the Fillmore’s bookings.
“I am a music fan, and I am delighted that the Fillmore is bringing awesome bands and their fans to Silver Spring. But I don't think any government official should tell a music venue what acts should be allowed to perform,” he said. “I don't condone hate speech under any circumstances, but that is not the point here. The Fillmore features many acts that are offensive in any number of ways, but it's not the job of our county government to start picking and choosing who gets called out. That's a terrible precedent that should have never been set.”
The county owns the building, but Live Nation, a multi-billion dollar entertainment company that owns several Fillmore venues around the world, pays $90,000 a year in rental costs. Under the lease agreement, the county has no say in artistic content booked at the facility.
Silver Spring resident Angela Chamblee urges residents not to support the booking.
“Silver Spring, don't buy tickets to a band that engages in this hate speech. I do wish the venue would treat anti-gay and anti-women groups just as they would with racist groups. Let the venue exercise their own First Amendment rights and not book them in the first place,” Chamblee said.
Live Nation representatives said there are no plans to cancel the booking. Lacefield said the county will not cancel its contract with Live Nation over bookings.
Equality Maryland is considering a protest if the band is allowed to play.
“I think when artists show a willingness to sit down with the community and hear from the community about how that makes us feel and the potential violence that can occur, it gives them pause,” Evans said. “Perhaps if Molotov did sit down with the Latino gay community, they could have a different perspective and if they are not homophobic, be able to clarify and potentially have a new perspective on the issue.”