NEW HAVEN — Barbara Fair will be outside Toad’s Place Tuesday night picketing Ted Nugent’s appearance at the music venue, and she says she really wants is to talk to the controversial figure.
Fair and others will be protesting statements Nugent made about immigrants, blacks, gays and Trayvon Martin. Some 70 people committed to joining the picket line and thousands signing a petition asking that Toad’s cancel the “Motor City Madman’s” concert.
“I would want to have a conversation with him to get him to think about some of the things he says. Like he thinks he is not racist because he has a black band leader — that’s like ‘oh, my best friend is black.’ That means absolutely nothing. The words that spew out of your mouth show that you are a racist,” said Fair, of My Brothers Keeper.
Ina Staklo, another protester, said both sides have used the free speech argument to support or criticize Nugent and the decision by Toad’s Place to book the hard rock musician him is not a constitutional issue that requires it to bring him to their stage.
“It is up to (Toad’s) discretion whom to allow to speak, whom to allow to perform on their premises based on their track record. So, they understand what Nugent’s background is, they understand what his views are, they understand what he has said and what he is going to say and how that impacts this community.
“They chose profit over curbing that speech and that is entirely their decision,” Staklo said.
Because they have not been able to talk directly with Brian Phelps, the president and owner of Toad’s, they feel a picket line is their immediate option to make their views known, and additional picketing of Toad’s is possible. “We are going to protest and think about future boycotts of the business since that is what seems to affect him,” Fair said.
They pointed out that shows get cancelled all the time.
“Remember the Dixie Chicks?” said Chris Graffa. “They were getting banned all over the South.”
The Dixie Chicks were boycotted by country stations in 2003 for criticizing President Bush’s plans for war in Iraq.
When the Nugent booking was announced, Phelps defended his decision, although he has refused to comment lately. His attorney was unavailable for comment Sunday.
“Ted Nugent is an entertainer and he has his own views on a lot of stuff. The entire spectrum of entertainer folks go from extreme right to extreme left, and some in the middle,” Phelps said last month. “But that’s got nothing to do with his show here, nor does it have anything to do with Toad’s Place. This is just a music show. His political views are his, and the media that gets involved with him.”
Most recently, Nugent’s blog on George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of all charges in the death of Trayvon Martin, has kept him in the spotlight.
“George Zimmerman is thankfully and rightfully not facing jail time for legally defending himself, but he is far from a free man … While there is little he can do to protect himself from a civil-rights charge by our gun-running, pro-New Black Panthers attorney general, Mr. Zimmerman may have some legal room to move regarding a wrongful death lawsuit by Trayvon Martin’s family,” he said.
He described Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, as a “17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe.”
He said the black community has a “mindless tendency to violence.”
Last year, Nugent told the National Rifle Association,”If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year’” That prompted a visit from the Secret Service.
The New Haven Register this week stood by its editorial criticizing Nugent and continued to call on “Fox News to challenge and condemn the hatred and racism advocated by guests such as Ted Nugent and Ann Coulter instead of continuing to give them a platform.” but it apologized for “a poor choice of words.”
Nugent, in an interview for the nationally syndicated radio program “The Weekend” that was aired on WGAN in Maine and dozens of other stations across the country Saturday, called the Register editorial writers and their supporters “subhuman numb-nuts.” He called the protesters “idiots.”
“People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom,” he said.
Addressing the radio’s host, Nugent said: “You and I stand on the line of reason” and we must continue to speak out.Gregory Williams of Seminarians for a Democratic Society said they were unable to speak with Phelps on Friday when they went to Toad’s, but they were told by others there that they could only protest across the street from the business.
Williams said the law protects a moving picket line on a public sidewalk if access to the building continues. “It is entirely legal,” Williams said.
The New Haven police have said Toad’s has hired a couple of extra duty officers as they typically do with large events.
Staklo said supporters are saying the not only are “personally offended by his Nugent’s hate speech, but … feel betrayed by Toad’s Place where they went as teenagers or where their kids go. They always considered it a welcoming multiracial place. … Now people are saying they are not letting their kids go there.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Ted Nugent conducted an interview with WGAN. The interview was nationally syndicated and not done by WGAN.