So you don’t like what guitarist Ted Nugent said about President Barack Obama? That’s understandable, and it may be enough to cause you to skip his Bangor concert in July. But it’s not a reason, as two Bangor city councilors recently suggested, to cancel his performance.
The councilors are right to be concerned about Nugent’s threatening comments. What Nugent said at a recent National Rifle Association event — that if Obama is re-elected Nugent “will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” — was repugnant.
His statement, though, should not bar the Motor City Madman from opening for REO Speedwagon and Styx at the Waterfront Pavilion on July 8, as Councilors Joe Baldacci and Charlie Longo suggested.
Baldacci and Longo have the right to ask Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray to stop Nugent from coming to Bangor, and it’s fine that they made their plea publicly. But just as they are protected by a First Amendment right to free speech, so is Nugent. The people who pay Nugent should make the call about his performance.
Making incendiary remarks about a president is nothing new. George W. Bush was pounded by attacks from the left, which labeled him a terrorist and unintelligent. To say they were over the top is a gross understatement, and one Iraqi journalist went even further, hurling his shoes at the president in 2008.
Absent a more serious threat than the antics of an old rock performer, the decision whether to keep Nugent on the schedule is up to the entity responsible for bringing him to Bangor. This holds true because the Secret Service said that after interviewing Nugent it resolved questions about his comments and determined it would take no further action.
Even though the Secret Service sees no need to act, hurling insults does have repercussions. Leaders of Fort Knox in Kentucky opted to cancel Nugent’s performance at an annual concert there this summer after learning of his remarks. Their decision is understandable and different from the situation in Bangor, considering Obama is the commander in chief of the Army post’s soldiers.
Just as it is Fort Knox’s decision to cancel, it’s the Bangor pavilion’s prerogative to keep Nugent on.
If you don’t like it, don’t go.