Yet another woke record store has decided to ban British pop icon Morrissey from its shelves. This time, the Glasgow Evening Times reports that Glasgow’s “Monorail Music said it would continue to sell records by the Smiths but ‘like many of our colleagues’ would not be selling the singer’s 13th studio album, ‘I am not a dog on a chain.’”
This follows last year’s indie music store ban on Morrissey’s last album, “California Son.” Cardiff’s Spillers, which calls itself “the oldest record shop in the world,” declined to carry the record in retaliation for Morrissey’s political views. These views include support for Brexit, saying that the word “racist” is meaningless because it’s used so liberally, and that crime in London cannot be properly dealt with if the perpetrators are viewed as victims.
Morrissey responded to the last round of smears and bans by saying, “I straighten up, and my position is one of hope. The march backwards is over, and life has begun again. With voice extended to breaking point, I call for the prosperity of free speech; the eradication of totalitarian control; I call for diversity of opinion; I call for the total abolition of the abattoir; I call for peace, above all; I call for civil society; I call for a so-far unknowable end to brutalities; ‘No’ to Soviet Britain.”
Of course, the bans and smears don’t work. These kinds of actions will not stop Morrissey’s fans from buying the new album. The Guardian has consistently tried to smear Morrissey, and in response, Morrissey wore a t-shirt reading “Fuck The Guardian.” Fans know that Morrissey being able to speak his mind means that they are free to speak theirs, to hold opposing views, and to still listen to the new tracks Morrissey releases with consistent quality year after year.
Bookshops and record stores are not required to carry anything that they don’t wish to, obviously, but there is something sinister in the refusal to carry selections by such a popular, long-standing pop star, whose music on last year’s “California Son” was not political, and who lifts other artists through collaboration, simply because he’s not afraid to speak his mind.
Writer Fiona Dodwell responded to the ridiculous ban by tweeting: “How about businesses stock and store products and let customers choose what they want? This achieves nothing, Morrissey will still sell albums—with or without your company “banning” his records. People simply go elsewhere (and learn where NOT to shop next time!)”
How many pop stars have heterodox views but don’t say them out of fear of retaliation? Probably plenty, they just don’t say it, because they don’t want their work to suffer the same fate of being banned by distributors.
Morrissey has made his entire career out of being an iconoclast who “will not change and will not be nice.” So much the better for his fans, who strive to lead lives according to their own value systems, and not those imposed by a hypocritical society hell-bent on squashing free thought and individuality while claiming to uphold those very qualities they persistently deride.
When the new album drops on March 20, it will be interesting to see which other shops signal their virtue by refusing to carry it, and which ones instead cater to consumers and offer it for sale. Not carrying “I am not a dog on a chain” has more to do with the owner’s false sense of righteousness than punishing Morrissey. Time and time again, Morrissey has shown that he can’t be shelved and forgotten. His work is too essential and beautiful for that.