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Why Was Michelle Shocked Shell-Shocked?

Between musical numbers, the singer-songwriter spouted what appeared to be a fanatical Christian anti-gay rant at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

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Michelle: “Paul, can I hold your feet to the fire? As the original Zen Bastard, you did not provoke for the sake of provoking, you would never ridicule an audience simply to express some sense of smug superiority. There was always a point and a purpose to the endeavor, and so I would like to submit to you that my efforts were to confound an audience that has grown so self-righteous that they needed a little prick, they needed a little poking. What was that Abbie Hoffman quote? ‘Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.’ I gave them a little taste of the medicine, and they did not like it, not one bit, no sir.

“I am reflecting back that your sensibility was not that of a provocateur, but always of one that would inspire people to think, and my experience with this is that they had grown so entrenched in their dogma that, rather than think, rather than rush to curiosity, I was subjected to a rush to judgment, and I cannot think of anyone that I would like to give more tribute to inspiring [laughs] my instigation than you. I’m blaming you for all this, Paul [laughs].”

“Yeah, right—I’m the little prick that you referred to.”

Michelle confirmed that she would be at the Gay Pride celebration on Sunday morning, “but I will be part of the contingent that is making a statement that San Francisco is proud of Bradley Manning for pursuing his duties as a whistle-blower in revealing secrets that the government would rather not listen to. And we’re basically just all gonna raise points that San Francisco Pride leadership rejected the election by all of the former SF Pride grand marshals to name Bradley Manning as this year’s grand marshal in favor of allowing their sponsors, their military and their corporate sponsors, to dictate the conscience of a community they claim to speak on behalf of, and I would love to be in that great number, marching, proud of a gay soldier who has the interest of everyone in this country above the interests of a few in this country.”

On Monday, I emailed her and asked how that event went.

“The Bradley Manning contingent in the SF Pride parade was a feisty attempt to put context to the Yoshi's fracas,” she replied. “My story, the one I'm sticking to, is that it was a laugh riot, a second line of soul in the middle of a privilege parade. The truth is that I saw and heard countless reasons why any spirit of passionate resistance that once existed has left the disco long ago. It now resembles a Bourbon Street Mardi Gras without King Zulu. Show us yer tits! It's the Rose Parade, and the corporate sponsors write the script. Even the Manning contingent played to the half empty grandstand like dutiful dissidents. The Star-Spangled Burqa was a hit, waiting for the photographic/video evidence to appear. So far so censored. I've got this nifty little shot occupying Google at the parade.”

And so, returning back to that night at Yoshi’s, was Michelle homophobic? Please pass the analogy. In 1952, there was a French-and-Italian film, Seven Deadly Sins, consisting of seven vignettes, one for each sin—greed, lust, avarice, pride, Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful – and at the end of the seventh sin, the narrator told us that we were going to see the eighth sin.

On the screen were all those images that we had been conditioned to associate with the intimations of sin – sailors, hookers, an opium den – and then the narrator explained that the eighth sin was the desire to see sin. The audience groaned with a spontaneity that served only to underscore the narrator's point. Sometimes the ultimate target of satire should be its own audience.