Some of you will have heard via Twitter and Facebook and other sources, but the concert that was due to be held at Fort Bragg, NC on April 2nd has been cancelled because the Army administrators reneged on their commitment to provide "equal support" to the event after sponsoring an evangelical christian concert on the base last year to the tune of over $50,000. Masala Skeptic over at Skepchick put it perfectly: Fail Beyond Belief.
As if this wasn't hypocritical enough, I recently heard from one of the organizers and apparently the Fort Bragg admin people are now trying to justify their decision to pull the funding and downgrade the venue by pointing out that the performers hadn't signed a "Statement of Intent" with the concert organizers. So they asked me to write a short letter confirming that I had indeed intended to be there. This is starting to take on the same surreal feel as the Dover Intelligent Design trial which put the whole "Liars for Jesus" phenomenon on full display. Anyway, here's the letter, now public:
Subject: Statement Of Intent
ATTN: Erica Walker, Benjamin Abel, Stephen Sicinski
It has recently come to my attention that questions are being raised as to the seriousness of my compact with SGT Justin Griffith to perform at a concert event he was organizing at Fort Bragg for April 2nd called "Rock Beyond Belief". Please allow me to clear up any confusion by saying that I did confirm this gig with SGT Griffith, in writing, and although my usual fee to perform is around $2,000 I had also agreed in writing to waive my honorarium for the event, because the cause (equal treatment of those with divergent religious beliefs, including atheists) is one I believe in strongly.
My written confirmation was sent to SGT Griffith via email on February 6th, and on February 13th I wrote a blog announcing the event to my fans online, which you can read here: http://babasword.blogspot.com/2011/02/shows-tours-vids.html. I also followed up with a newsletter that went out to my personal email list of more than 7,000 individuals, and I received many encouraging responses and expressions of interest from fans around the world. If you have any doubt about this I would be happy to show you the messages and/or send out a follow-up newsletter asking everyone on my mailing list to individually write to you via email in support of SGT Griffith and in protest of Fort Bragg's discrimination against his event on religious grounds, in clear violation of the US constitution. I was very disappointed to hear that the event was cancelled, but under the circumstances I think SGT Griffith made the right choice.
I should also add, in case anyone is foolish enough to quibble over the "official" status of email confirmation as a form of written compact or "Statement of Intent", that I currently perform more than 100 gigs per year and the majority of those events are confirmed via email with no formal contract, and never once have I canceled a gig for anything other than grave illness. Once an event has been confirmed via email and announced online and one's name has been added to the poster, it would be career suicide to treat such commitments frivolously. The music industry, like many other professions, is mostly governed by a code of honour enforced by peers with a strong interest in each others' reputation for integrity, something that is worth more than a signed contract in many spheres. I am proud to say SGT Griffith took me at my (written) word that I would be there, just like he seems to have (mistakenly) taken the word of Fort Bragg's administrators that he would receive "equal support" for his event.
At any rate, I sincerely hope SGT Griffith is able to resurrect Rock Beyond Belief at a future date, and please be assured that I will do everything in my power to attend and perform. As we say in the hip-hop world: "word is bond".
The Rap Guide to Evolution
PS - if anyone does want to support SGT Griffith and the Foxhole Atheists by donating or writing in, here's how you do it.