Lithuanian DJ Ten Walls (Marijus Adomaitis) has been introduced this week to the power of social media and the free market. After he posted some homophobic statements on his Facebook page he has been dropped off the bill of several festivals (Pitch, Mysteryland, SONAR, Creamfields and Urban Artforms), but also by his booking agency, his opening act – and the list might be even longer by now. Of course, Ten Walls have offered the usual obligatory apologies (much like South Park’s portrayal of Alec Baldwin: “I don’t think that way – I just type that way”) and he has since decided to cancel the rest of his planned gigs for the year. What can we take away from this? Well, first of all, Ten Walls seems to have reached a bigger audience than ever, because before this I had never heard of him. But, more importantly, the overwhelming response from the music scene is proving that we are finally becoming civilized enough to let the free market handle these situations, rather than having to create laws to tell us what we can and cannot say, while most of us are perfectly capable of telling right from wrong.
While the example of a bakery refusing to bake a pro-gay cake (whatever that may be) has been dominating the public discourse on anti-discrimination legislation, the dance scene is showing us what we already knew: we can make a difference, and we don’t need laws and governments to do so. It seems to strike a nerve with a lot of people when someone suggests to end all anti-discrimination laws, and just allow people the right to free speech and free association – which means we can all say what we want (personally, I draw the line at inciting violence) and where no one can be forced to associate (or do business with) people against their will. Yes, I do think that is the way forward and no, that does not mean that I support segregation or discrimination. It means I have enough faith in people to establish a fair world, where businesses that discriminate will do poorly, while those who welcome all will flourish. This may not apply to the entire world just yet, but we are on the right track and we should not be afraid to abolish laws once they become obsolete.
A recent episode of Community showed the moral gymnastics we are involved in when it comes to these issues. Social Justice Warrior Britta finds herself fighting to protect a controversial comedian’s right to free speech, even though she intended to protest his show before a group of hackers threatened to prevent it from taking place. Although it seems hypocritical at first, Britta actually got it right for once. Freedom is only freedom when it applies to everyone equally, and that includes people whose opinions we’d rather not hear (freedom does, however, need to be protected against those who seek to use freedom to destroy it). In the end, we don’t want other people telling us what shows we can and cannot see, what books we can and cannot read, what music we can and cannot listen to – whether it is a group of hackers, the government, political activists or religious zealots. We want to be trusted to form our own opinion of what message someone is trying to convey. Thanks to the rise of individualism and humanism people are increasingly capable of coming to logical and fair judgements of the world around them, unencumbered by the indoctrination of political, religious or other affiliations.
Right now the most well-informed and freedom-loving generation of all time is growing up. When their time finally comes, they will not need governments to tell them to be tolerant of others, because they have already figured that out for themselves. And it naturally follows that the businesses that intend to serve them (and the DJ’s that want to play for them) will have to get with the program, or lose their customers.