Friday, January 9, 2015

800 Words: The Speech I Probably Won't Give Tomorrow

Hi everybody. I’m so glad that you’ve all come out here for the first ever live performance of Schmuck. I say live performance because these musicians have already done lots of performance level work in our rehearsal space, this is just the first performance to which we’ve invited the public.

But I’m out here alone for a moment because I don’t want to give the impression that I speak for anybody in the band but myself. But when the murders happened at Charlie Hebdo, my first reaction was of course horror. The second reaction was, of course, extremely selfish - Dear God, why did this have to happen the week of the band’s first performance?

The main reason to do this project is because the music is so amazing. But as you can probably guess from the name, and the logo or description from those of you who have seen it, this project is in some ways a satire and a parody. As the band moves forward, we’ll see how those elements play themselves out. Like all parodies, it comes from a debt of love for its subject, but like all satires, it comes from dissatisfaction and anger that the subject it satirizes does not behave better than it does.

Many, many people whom I’ve told the name of this band to, not least of which my mother, were a little appalled by the name Schmuck... and god knows what she’ll feel when she sees the logo. But the truth is that the shock which people have when they see certain elements of what we’re doing is exactly what I hoped would happen. People should be going out of their way to make others feel a little more disturbed, a little madder, a little more offended, than they usually do. We’re living in an age when too many people are too afraid to make other people feel unpleasant things. But the price of living in a free and diverse society means that we’re constantly rubbing up against people who believe things we hate. We not only have the right to express those controversial beliefs, but also the necessity - because no matter how offensive someone else might find your opinion, the most basic tenant of freedom is that you can express yourself without feeling that the consequences are too severe to not keep what you believe to yourself. And if more people feel inhibited from expressing themselves than they once did, then we are, by definition, a less free society than we once were - and perhaps less free than we were a short while ago. Because the more we repress those controversial opinions and feelings, the more explosive and violent they’ll be when they erupt at a later date.

But at the same time, we see the murders of Jews in a Kosher supermarket, and we have to acknowledge, even if this isn’t the kind of Jewish band which some Jews want, it’s as Jewish in spirit as any band could ever be. So in a rare spirit of reverance, no matter what you feel about the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, I’d at very least like to call for a moment of silence for the completely innocent victims at the Jewish supermarket.

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