Solidarity with Róisín Murphy
The audience members who tried to boo Sinéad O’Connor off stage when she performed at Bob Dylan’s tribute concert in 1992 were most likely to have been former hippies, people who considered themselves progressive minded, vaguely radical and counter cultural. That didn’t stop them from trying to destroy a woman whose perceived offence was to have publicly criticised the industrial scale child abuse of the Catholic Church.
History has not been kind to those people.
Róisín Murphy is now getting the 21st century version of what O’Connor endured. A major difference is that whereas O’Connor went on American television to make her point, Murphy expressed a personal opinion in what she thought was a private discussion on Facebook.
She wrote: “Puberty blockers are fucked, absolutely desolate, big pharma laughing all the way to the bank. Little mixed-up kids are vulnerable and need to be protected, that’s just true.”
Leaving aside the swearing, Murphy merely voices an understanding that puberty blockers harm, something which has underpinned the decision in several countries to move away from prescribing them for children with gender distress.
Her new album Hit Parade is described by the Irish Times as “joyous, joyful songs about not taking life for granted and filling it with love and wonder…A cracking collaborative masterclass from two of modern music’s most innovative outliers.”
Offered a choice between supporting one of their most successful artists and trying to ruin her career, her label Ninja Tunes have made it known that they will not be promoting the release. In store appearances have already been cancelled. The company will not be organising the rounds of radio and press events that normally accompany a major release like this, and it is certain that venues will be pressurised to cancel her concerts.
When Sinéad O’Connor was being abused in public, Kris Kristofferson was the only person in the auditorium to show his solidarity with her in front of the mob. Similarly, Murphy has stood alone save for a supportive tweet from a single figure in the music industry, former Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam. Musicians, like so many others, are being coerced into silence.
Róisín Murphy did not set out to take a public position on the politics of sex and gender identity. Her trust was betrayed when she shared her thoughts with people with whom she felt she could be open. In the circumstances she does not deserve criticisms she has received for what was clearly a carefully crafted and measured public statement in which she states her disinclination to be a campaigner. To express regret at hurting some fans (and ex-fans) does not signal a retraction of anything she has said on the substantive issue of puberty blockers, and shows her to be the bigger person.
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