Nick Cave writes letter to homophobic ‘fan’ during Q&A: ‘It’s not too late for you’

'There are consequences to what we say and just because we can speak freely, it does not – and should not – inoculate us against these consequences'

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Monday 22 July 2019 16:01
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Nick Cave has written a lengthy and thoughtful response after a homophobic troll insulted one of his fans during a Q&A on his website The Red Hand Files.

The Bad Seeds frontman has been responding to fan questions on the website for the past year, giving his thoughts on everything from songwriting to his latest performances.

For the most part, the website has provided a space for fans to interact with their hero.

However, one fan who identified herself as Jessica on the site asked: “Do you get any nasty or annoying comments and questions via The Red Hand Files? I hope not! Thank you so much for this project & your music!”

An American “fan” named George then followed up with: “Do you ever get tired of all the pretentious fat lesbians who enjoy your music?” George, from Alabama, asked. “Personally I enjoy a lot of your music, but I find most of your fans insufferable. I’m just wondering if you’re on the same page.”

Responding to George, Cave said: “Jesus said on the cross, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’. “George, I think Jesus may have been talking directly to you.”

“Some weeks ago, I answered a question at one of my ‘In Conversation’ events,” he continued. “I was defending people’s right to say what they wanted. I was defending people’s right to offend. In short, I was defending the idea of free speech. It seems that these days free speech has fallen out of favour.

“The concept has been polarised by some and now a free speech advocate is often seen – I feel somewhat bizarrely – to be aligned to the far-right. However, I do believe that, even though we should have the right to say what we like, there are consequences to what we say and just because we can speak freely, it does not – and should not – inoculate us against these consequences.

He added: “In the interests of free speech, George, I have given you a platform. However, and I am speculating here, I think that probably 99 per cent of the people who read your question will think that you are being, well, a bit of an asshole. I could be wrong. It could be more. Now, you may say ‘so what?’ No one knows who I am. How can this possibly hurt me?” You may say that. But you would be wrong.

“I do not believe that your anonymity protects you, any more than I believe the anonymity of the hate trolls on social media protects them. I feel that there are psychic pathways that exist between us all, and that the negativity we create eventually finds its way back to us.”

He concluded: “The opportunity to act in a better way is one that is continuously afforded to us – to try to make the next thing we do the best thing, rather than the worst thing, the destructive thing.

“In this instance, George, it’s not too late for you. If you close your eyes and apologise to my fans, just maybe that negative attention will begin to dissipate. I think my fans are smart enough and sufficiently forgiving to understand that your words extend only to the margins of your own individual evolution.”

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