In Defense of Joey Briggs’s Right to Believe in Anything
Earlier we talked about how the press was treating Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue unfairly. Today we will be looking at the case of Joey Briggs, and his band The Briggs, who had a show cancelled by German promoters because he is a Scientologist. The promoters admit that Joey’s live tour is not about spreading the message of Scientology. I have been to a few Briggs shows in my life, they have never mentioned religion at any of them. None of their lyrics (that I know of) seem to be about religious topics. But still, the promoters feel that because Joey is a member of a religion that “directly exploit(s) the hopes and dispair of people”, they are justified in cancelling the show.
Obviously as a band with members of various fringe beliefs (Odinism, breatharianism, Rastafarianism, Goethe’s theory of colours, conspiracies, etc.) we are worried about the state of free speech and freedom of association in Germany and Europe. The Ox (the promoter in question, I believe) says that Scientology prays on the weak, but all religions can be said to do that. It also says that the goal of Scientology’s upper management is to make money, the same can be said about the other religions. They claim it is anti-democratic, like every other religion. They say that Scientology violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but they fail to see how they are openly discriminating against someone based on their voluntarily chosen religion. If you’re still having difficulty sympathizing, I would ask you to imagine one of your Christian or Muslim friends being fired from work because of their faith. Joey is loosing work because of this kind of decision, obviously he still has lots of other places he’s allowed to play, but if this kind of thing continues without objection maybe he won’t.
Of course, none of what I am saying should be misconstrued as a defense or endorsement of Scientology. I find their metaphysics irrational, their financial practices questionable, and their pretending to be backed by science abhorrent and gross. But this isn’t about Scientology, this is about open discrimination and how for certain groups it is acceptable to do so in Europe and Germany. One problem is that this kind of thing is legal, but more problematic and worth looking at is the general attitude the community has towards this. I’m kinda concerned about how the scene will view this. I am legitimately worried that a large portion will side with the promoters.
A lot of the comments I read about this were discouraging…
“You aren’t being persecuted. This is one person that doesn’t want to work with you due to your moronic beliefs.
He had every right to not want to work with you. Quit acting like you were just put into a concentration camp. You are a dude in a band that follows the teachings of a science fiction writer. Fuck off.”
“I respect ethnicity, sexual orientation, class/socioeconomic status, nationality, etc., but I don’t respect religion when it’s used to grab and hoard power, to repress others, to kill and maim and inspire fear, etc..”
I just hope this kind of hatred doesn’t win, and that we remember that the Briggs don’t push religion or Scientology in their music or on stage. If I were a German fan, and I didn’t get to see the band because of this shit, I’d be pissed.