When I heard the news yesterday about Morgan Wallen I wish I could say that I was surprised. I was surprised in the form that it took, but not particularly surprised that Morgan was in the news for another mistake made due to his excessive drinking. It's become an unfortunate pattern of behavior. I was asked several times yesterday if The Maverick would be following the lead of multiple other radio stations around the country and pulling his music. I didn't respond because I honestly hadn't decided. I'm not going to excuse or try to explain Morgan's behavior. It's unconscionable. I am going to explain The Maverick's decision.
If you haven't been following along, Morgan Wallen is about the hottest thing in country music right now. He just put out an album that had strong potential to walk away with every award in the CMA's and ACM's. Over the weekend he and some friends got drunk and came home to Morgan's house in Nashville carrying on after midnight like, well, a bunch of drunks. During that time a neighbor filmed them and recorded Morgan using a racial slur while telling one of his friends to take another one home. I won't repeat what he said here, you can find it with very little effort if you're interested. It was foul enough that I was actually embarrassed to read a transcript in front of the women that work here at The Maverick.
I do feel the context here is important, for a couple of reasons. First, when I first heard the story and read the headlines I thought he had used the slur maliciously in anger towards someone. Finding that it was instead used privately in drunken reference to one of his friends didn't alleviate the seriousness, but did provide some important background.
The fallout from this has been huge and appears to be getting bigger. Cumulus Radio immediately pulled Morgan Wallen's music from 400 stations. Entercom and IHeartMedia followed suit. His recording contract with Big Loud Records has been suspended indefinitely. CMT has pulled his music and the Academy Of Country Music has said he will not be eligible for the ACM Awards this year.
How dare these corporations pretend they hold some moral high ground. One look at the countless controversies regard artists behavior across all genres of music show that they don't care what he or any other artists calls someone. They didn't care when Morgan got in a drunken fight outside of Kid Rock's bar, they didn't care when he lost his slot on SNL for drunken reckless behavior, they just sent a case of Jack Daniels to his shows in hopes that his antics would increase their sales. Now he's done something they are afraid will cost them money. The "Cancel Culture" is a threat to them and so they acted proactively. It's their prerogative, but don't think for a moment that it is done for an reason more noble than their bottom line.
The "Cancel Culture" is an interesting thing. When an artist, celebrity, or company makes a political statement is it ok to send backlash with a boycott? Of course. Is this applied equally to everyone? Is every artist, celebrity, or company held to the same standard? Never. Again, don't pretend some moral high ground that does not exist.
We live in a world where our every move can potentially end up on national news. Everybody has a camera, every moment is recorded. No one can survive under that level of scrutiny. Everyone-celebrities, normal people, everyone, complains about paparazzi and tabloid reporters, but we happily buy what they sell us and without a second thought judge their targets without a single look at ourselves.
Again, I am not for a moment going to defend Morgan Wallen or try to make any excuses for him. I think he has a problem. Three times in the last nine months has gotten drunk and done something that negatively impacted his career. The best course of action is for his record company and his yesman friends and hangers on to urge him to get to rehab.
There are two places I go for wisdom and, as always, when I looked today I had no trouble finding the appropriate passages for Morgan Wallen's situation. Without any trouble at all I found thirty Bible verses warning of the dangers of the tongue.
My four favorites are these:
James 3:6-9 "And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God."
Proverbs 13:3 "Whoever guards his mouth preserves life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin."
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."