The New Puritans, #3,737 in a series

It takes something pretty incredible to shock me regarding the potential for lunacy among humans, but this:

is almost impossible for me to believe!

(emphasis mine)

An acclaimed British conductor has been fired from a prestigious American music festival after a seemingly innocent joke he made to a black friend was labelled racist.

Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley.

It is understood a white woman who overheard the joke reported it to officials at the University of Oregon, which runs the festival, claiming it amounted to a racial slur.

Shortly after Halls, who has worked with orchestras and opera houses across Europe and the US, was told by a university official his four year contract, which was to have run until 2020, was being terminated.

Mobley, a countertenor who regularly performs in the UK, has now spoken out to defend his friend, saying there was nothing racist about the joke and describing the university’s apparent treatment of Halls as deeply unjust.

“He has been victimised and I’m very upset about it,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. ”It was an innocent joke that has been entirely taken out of context.”

… Halls and Mobley had been chatting at a reception held last month during this year’s Oregon Bach Festival, when the subject turned to a concert in London in which Mobley had performed.

The singer, who was born and raised in the southern state of Florida, said the concert had an “antebellum” feel to it, of the sort associated with Gone With the Wind and other rose-tinted representations of the pre-Civil War south.

In response Mobley says that Halls “apologised on behalf of England”, before putting on an exaggerated southern accent and joking: “Do you want some grits?”, in a reference to the ground corn dish popular in the south.

“I’m from the deep south and Matthew often makes fun of the southern accent just as I often make fun of his British accent,” said Mobley. “Race was not an issue. He was imitating a southern accent, not putting on a black accent, and there was nothing racist or malicious about it.”

But the singer suspects that a white woman who overheard their conversation and spoke to him moments later went on to report it to the university, alleging Halls had made a racist joke.

… However, Mobley was not invited to give evidence and he says there is a deep irony in the fact the authorities appear to have assumed on his behalf that he would have objected to the joke.

“I’m the subject of a falsified story, without having the chance to have my say,” he said. “My voice has been taken away in a conversation about race that involved me, and technically that’s racist.”

Meanwhile Mobley fears his friend’s career will suffer after being tarnished with the incendiary label of racism.

“Matthew is obviously upset, and part of his anger would have to come from the fact he’s been accused of saying something so insensitive to a close friend,” said Mobley.

…“A lot of our allies have become so eager to help the race and fix the scars they almost go too far,” said Mobley. “They think they are at the point where they understand racism more than those who have really encountered it in their lives and they make assumptions on our behalf about how we might feel, as if we don’t understand when something said to us or done to use is racist.

“It’s well meaning, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

“It also demeans and cheapens the very serious work done by civil rights activists and abolitionists to have the difficult nuances of racism and microaggressions taken seriously.”

(more at the link)

12 comments to The New Puritans, #3,737 in a series

  • Don’t speak, she knows just what you’re thinking …

  • Raoul Ortega

    You just know that, as children, the favorite phrase of these informers was “I’m telling Mom on you!” And, unfortunately, Mom listened.

  • Everybody’s always against totalitarianism, when somebody else is doing it. But when *I’m* being a totalitarian, it’s OK. Because my motives are pure. And I’m smarter than you. And shut up.

    • Rufus

      It’s so cowardly. Hiding in the background, jotting down offenses and lobbying anonymous charges.
      Wouldn’t someone who really hated racist behavior speak up and try to correct the situation in real time?
      Why do we coddle and accommodate these creeps?

  • Rufus

    “… just as I often make fun of his British accent…”

    So shouldn’t the black singer lose his contract for ethnicism?

  • Where would black people like Mobley be without white liberals (who know what’s good for him) telling him what to think?

    • Rufus

      That is one of the worst things about this, JimmyC. The person who turned the Conductor in for WrongSpeak and the panel who met and rendered a death penalty verdict without the accused or “victim” present are tacitly implying that Mobley would not know what is best for himself, or his own interests.

      Believing someone is too simpleminded to not recognize when he is being mistreated seems… oh… what’s the word? I know I’ve heard a word that defines people who think that way, but I just can’t remember it right now.

  • kishke

    I’m fine with this, b/c this is exactly what the leftists in academia do to everyone else all the time. Maybe if some of them get bitten, this will change.

    That said, if these people do not sue the pants off the college, they are nuts.

  • You know Lena Dunham is lurking around every corner waiting to tattle on you for your thought crimes…