Kid Rock and Free Speech
Kid Rock and Free Speech
A little local information: Robert Ritchie, also known as Kid Rock, is the opening act at the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit. He has invested in the arena with a restaurant. So, his opening of the arena sort of makes sense. Other than a few facts: this is Detroit. A city which is not exactly wealthy and is about 85 percent African American. And for kind of obvious reasons, Kid Rock’s, um, interesting taste in backdrops is not exactly popular. Sarcasm fully intended. Then that free speech thing comes into play. National Action Network (Sharpton’s goup) is protesting Kid Rock. They want the show canceled.
Noting that the Confederate flag is NOT representative of Michigan or Detroit in any way, dude. I am guessing he missed the part about Michigan Troops wearing blue uniforms fighting for the Union in school. Or that Detroit is rather far north of the Mason Dixon Line and said flag has a very different meaning up here. Or that the flag is incredibly insulting in the black community. Detroit has a rather messy racial history, and protests come with use of that particular flag, dude.
Other than Robert Ritchie/Kid Rock being from a wealthy family near Romeo Michigan and living in Nashville Tennessee, I am just not connecting the stars and bars with Michigan. Michigan is a northern state and is not on the flag behind you. On the other hand, I have to ask, “What do Sam Riddle and his group want?” Do they want a sit-down with Kid Rock, or do they want to protest and increase their visibility? If the desire is dialog, that failed miserably. The rather profane tirade towards Mr. Riddle was the response. And so were the protests, unfortunately. Who wins? The media. Not Detroit, or Kid Rock.
There is a better way to get the message across, Mr. Riddle: a conversation is a great starting point. Not trying after you made the guy so mad he cussed all over his Facebook page. Kid and Sam, that is not the way to change hearts and minds, sadly. Most people forget that freedom of speech means icky yucky things get said. And that talking to the person saying icky yucky things may work if both parties are adults. And most importantly, Michiganders come in all races, colors and creeds.
Here is a story that explains how this works: someone did some research about a bar owner on the internet and found something awful. For some utterly inexplicable reason this guy decided to cosplay Nazi symbols and salutes. He called it a joke, but no. That is anything but funny. And Antifa and a lot of people in Kalamazoo and the internet went ballistic. And yes, people, there is a reason people post kitten and puppy pics: the internet is forever. The bar closed down (most musical acts, vendors and staff were less than fond of this whole kerfuffle, and some behaviors of the bar owner were not so great. However, there is a happy ending of sorts: Reverend Strickland, the NAACP head in Kalamazoo, lived his religion and reached out to the bar owner and they had a discussion about why people were ticked:
Reverend Strick Strickland, the president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo branch for the NAACP, reached out to Aaron VanArsdale to have a productive conversation about the photos and how he can learn from it moving forward.
Why? Because he is a grown man and is living his faith. Humbling really.
“I felt as though it would be unfair for me, as a community leader, to perpetuate this and not have reached to him and given him a fair opportunity to influence my thinking,” Dr. Strickland said.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how to change hearts and minds. Not breaking things and toddler tantruming. The results:
Both men agreed the meeting was a positive one.
“It was a humbling experience for me to be invited here and have him sit down and share some things with me, a good learning experience,” VanArsdale said.
Guess what, this works, folks. And it is hard and, yes, icky yucky at times, but this is how adults interact.
Dr. Strickland added he found VanArsdale’s intentions for the meeting to be genuine.
“I found Aaron to be extremely sincere and apologetic and I’m excited about the future and moving forward,” he said.
This is how you change hearts and minds. Treating each other with dignity and respect. Sharpton and Riddle did things differently and had a less-than-impressive result. Perhaps had they tried talking to the star, they might have had an impact. Pissing him off with the calls to cancel was as helpful as throwing gasoline on a fire. Michigan deserves better than a clown show. Kid Rock is a polarizing figure and, in my opinion, he really has no business in national politics, but he has every right to perform. And to run. I also have the right to refuse to vote for him. Sam Riddle and friends also have every right to protest. And the public can vote with their wallets and feet.