I’ve been a Morrissey fan for over a decade now. I discovered The Smiths at college, and fell instantly in love with the fop-haired frontman’s lyrical style. A refrain in ‘The Boy with the Thorn in His Side’ hit home particularly hard:
“And when you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go? Who do you need to know?”
I lived then in a small town with few opportunities for escape. With the line above, and many others like it, Morrissey captured the angst of my situation with needle-point accuracy. Since then, I have seen him perform live in Birmingham, and own most of his albums and DVDs.
But the singer has long led a secret double-life – intelligent lyricist by day, loudmouth dogmatist by night.
Morrissey is an animal rights activist. Nothing wrong with that, you might say (and I agree). But in a Q and A on his fansite in the past few days, the singer sought to emphasise his position with two quite ridiculous comparisons.
First, he claimed there was no moral distinction between eating meat and engaging in pedophilia. And secondly, he remarked that there is no difference between a modern meat abattoir and the Auschwitz death-camp.
Both of these statements are wildly offensive. I am personally a carnivore and always have been. To be told there is no difference between my behavior and the rape-torture of children is astonishing, illogical and infuriating. The latter comparison meanwhile, is clearly offensive to the descendants of Holocaust survivors and is especially foolish for a singer with a large fan-base in Tel-Aviv.
Animal rights remains a tricky area of moral philosophy. To oppose animal cruelty is an admirable human instinct. I can’t however accept the argument that animals who wouldn’t be around if not for the demand for their flesh (cows, sheep…) are wronged by its consumption. But whatever your view, comments of the kind mentioned are inappropriate and excessive.
Stick to singing, Morrissey.