Unless you live under a rock with the scorpions in Arizona, you have most definitely heard of the state legislation SB1070. The legislation was put into effect on July 29, 2010 due to Arizona’s on-going battle with illegal immigration. The law makes it a misdemeanor for illegal aliens to be caught without immigration documents, proving that their presence in the state is lawful. Proponents of the legislation view it as a way to ferret out individuals who are in our country illegally. But, some Arizonans feel it allows law enforcement to racially profile anyone they feel may be an illegal immigrant. While these measures represent one possible solution for the state’s problem, it is a very controversial topic.
Many musicians are boycotting the state since the legislation has gone into effect. The Sound Strike, led by Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, is a coalition of artists who support the boycott. To date, the artists involved include: Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Sonic Youth, Joe Satriani, Cypress Hill, Los Tigres del Norte, Calle 13, Serj Tankian, Ozomatli, Rise Against, Sabertooth Tiger, Massive Attack, One Day as a Lion, Street Sweeper Social Club, Spank Rock, Tenacious D, My Chemical Romance and Mos Def.
Veteran piano man, Elton John stands alone, vocally opposing the coalition of musicians who are banning the state. In July he said he was “pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won’t come here. They are f***wits! Let’s face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what’s the (expletive) with these people?”
If you are a music fan, and you are currently not living in Arizona, you may think this doesn’t affect you, but think again. Reportedly, another 25 states intend to introduce similar legislation.
I wonder if the artists participating in the Sound Strike will think twice about the boycott if it means sacrificing a larger portion of the market. If half of the states in our nation enact legislation like Arizona’s SB1070, that could make principled touring a lot more challenging and costly.