Campus Free Speech

Leftist Students Get Rapper Action Bronson Disinvited: This Time, They're Kinda Right

His lyrics are offensive, but that's not the main problem.

|

Action Bronson
Screenshot via Noisey / Youtube

Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, has disinvited rapper Action Bronson, who was slated to perform during the college's upcoming Spring Weekend. Students had published a petition demanding Bronson's cancellation. His mere presence on campus would make all students—particularly gay students, women, and the trans community—unsafe, they claimed

Who is Action Bronson? He's a white musician who raps about drugs, sex, and violence. One of his most controversial songs, "Consensual Rape," makes frequent reference to violence against prostitutes (a lyric: "Don't get me pissed off / fuck around rip your tits off"). 

But the petitioners aren't just mad about his offensive songs—their chief complaint is that his presence on campus would present an actual safety threat: 

We are lucky that he also has no way of performing his music video, "Brunch," where he kills a woman, stuffs her in his car, rips out her hair, and beats her dead body, since he will not have access to a projector. We believe that someone who creates music like this, who chooses to play the part of the murderer in "Brunch," who has built his career on a foundation of violence and hatred towards women, should not be celebrated, supported, or paid, by Trinity College as an artist, regardless of the music he will be performing. 

…It only takes one person to drunkenly (or soberly) upset Action Bronson by getting on stage, or in his way, for him to violently assault someone. The available evidence suggests men specifically are targeted by Action Bronson, meaning no one is given a safe space at a Bronson concert." 

Students are really making two claims: 1) Bronson's lyrics are so grossly offensive that the mere act of performing his songs constitutes an act of violence, and 2) Bronson has an actual history of engaging in violence at his concerts. 

Obviously, the first claim is hyperbolic. But the second claim isn't entirely off-base. Bronson did shove a security guard who tried to stop him from smoking marijuana during a performance, and he did brawl with a fan who rushed the stage during another performance

One can argue that he didn't start either of these fights, and I would still say Trinity College students who behave themselves are not actually threatened by his presence. Modern college students have a very expansive definition of the word safety: They conflate offensive expression with actual violence. 

In deciding to disinvite Bronson, Trinity's Spring Weekend planning commission explicitly condemned "his lyrics, music, videos, and the misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia that they promote." His music may promote all of those things, but that does not mean the college has some responsibility to shield its students from hurtful expression. 

Still, the assertion that Bronson engages in violence isn't totally dismissable. I usually criticize leftist students for being too quick to accuse visitors of offensive speech and run them off campus, but this situation seems a bit more extreme. While the petition is more concerned with his potential to offend, there's another consideration here: maybe his music is just plain bad.

Frankly, I can't blame Trinity for wanting a different performer.

Taking the opposite view: Gawker

NEXT: Prince, R.I.P.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. His entourage eats like champions.

    1. He eats pieces of shit like you for breakfast.

  2. Obviously, the first claim is hyperbolic.

    I think you mis-spelled “hallucinatory”.

    But the second claim isn’t entirely off-base. Bronson did shove a security guard who tried to stop him from smoking marijuana during a performance, and he did brawl with a fan who rushed the stage during another performance.

    That’s it? Please. This is pure pretext, intended to pretty up their hallucinatory claim that his lyrics constitute actual violence.

    1. It’s very snowflakey, and disappointing. Don’t like his act, then maybe not go? WTF?

      1. It’s very snowflakey, and disappointing unsurprising

        FIFY!

    2. And if I remember correctly, Keith Richards also punched a fan who rushed onto the stage. Does Robbie think it’s acceptable to keep the Rolling Stones from playing because of their “history of violence?”

      1. I saw Geddy Lee shake his head in disapproval when a fan threw a sweatshirt on stage. Come to think of it, I don’t think they played Jones Beach ever again!

      2. Let’s not get into Afroman knocking the fuck out of a chick.

        I do wonder if Rico would make sure to say Afroman is a black musician. That way we could set our expectations to what a black rapper would do or say…like he inexplicably felt the need to do with the white dude.

        1. He was arrested after he finished up his riff.

          Good on the cop for waiting.

        2. “Sadly, the only hit he’s ever had in 15 years.?”

          Youtube commenter from the top rope!

      3. Are you kidding? The Rolling Stones hired the Hell’s Angels as security, and someone was actually killed.

        That’s a history of violence.

        1. Ok well maybe that wasn’t the best example. Still, does that disqualify the Stones from being able to perform?

          1. Of course not. And with that history of violence, it just goes to show what a pretext this guy’s history of violence is.

        2. I thought the history of violence involved Viggo Mortensen hitting a guy across the head with a coffee pot, as well as Maria Bello’s lady mound.

        3. Didn’t that someone have a gun?

          1. By gosh, you’re right. I’d forgotten that.

      4. Doyle from the Misfits hit a guy over the head with his guitar when he tried to climb up on stage.

      5. I really, really wish I would have been here when people were actually looking at the thread. So I could drop this ?

        http://youtu.be/LKrUaY6hgpM

    3. Robby has thought long and hard about how he can acceptably agree with the social justice crusade. He didn’t make much of a case for it here, but bless his beautiful hair he tries.

    4. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

    5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWa2co2qrsE

      At 1:28 some dude in the crowd yanks the mike from Jon Pettibone’s hand, and (eventually) he jumps into the pit and starts throwing swings at him. I guess the mike taking was assault, so this is self defense?

      In any event, how about making calls on who can play your school based on whether they suck or not?

    6. It’s fucking ridiculous. “This man may fight back if you attack him. He’s obviously a danger to the community”

  3. “Frankly, I can’t blame Trinity for wanting a different performer.”

    Then why did they invite him in the first place?

    I’m having a difficult time grasping the argument here, people will violently try to censor him and he won’t take it?

    If Ayaan Hirsi Ali was attacked on-stage and fought back would Reason defend a school disinviting her too? Yeah, maybe.

    1. I’m having a difficult time grasping the argument here

      That’s because your are using dispassionate logic and reason. Also, there really isn’t any argument to grasp, just feelz.

    2. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali was attacked on-stage and fought back would Reason defend a school disinviting her too? Yeah, maybe.

      But,if she wanted to take a dump in the men’s room, they’d have her back.

      1. Only if she started identifying as male, which might make Nial Ferguson confused and/or sad.

  4. It only takes one person to drunkenly (or soberly) upset Action Bronson by getting on stage, or in his way, for him to violently assault someone.

    I don’t know. This still seems like a heckler’s veto. But I agree. They need to invite one of the myriad of rap artists who aren’t misogynistic or violent in their art.

  5. In situation 1. He might have initiated force against the security guard.
    In situation 2. He defended himself against someone that violated his private property (that he had contracted for use).

    The rest of it is students being pussies afraid of lyrics that are no worse than NWA or 2Live Crew’s. They need to stop shitting their pants whenever their sensibilities are offended. They’re making the rest of the world think all they need to do is wait a generation and the US will be incapable of defending herself should they show up near our shores and say “boo”.

    That being said, if it’s a private school it’s none of my business what they do and libertarians shouldn’t give a fuck how private entities contract out their entertainment services.

    Lastly, you said Who is Action Bronson? He’s a white musician who raps about drugs, sex, and violence.

    Why the need to say what color he is, Rico? Is it relevant to the story? Are black rappers held to a different standard in your world than white ones? Or did you say he was white because you’re a social signaler just like the overwhelming majority of your generation?

    1. IMO, the security guard initiated the violence – don’t tell people not to smoke dude, you’re not a cop. Action Jackson’s still a dick for ‘attacking’ him though.

      1. I’d argue that the security guard is tasked with maintaining the venue operator’s policies. I’d wager there was a stipulation in his contract that he would not break the law. I’d have to see a video to make a full judgement. That’s why I said he might have.

        The second situation Rico uses as a mark against him is pure idiocy though. If I rent a space and someone violates it, I’m at liberty to remove them by use of force. Sorry, don’t want to get hit then don’t violate my private property rights.

        1. I can see the first – but most venues will have, even if its an informal one, an understanding that the talent isn’t to be molested. At least not for minor shit.

          And I could also imagine that its not the *venue* that hired security, but the concert organizer, working for the band. They rent the venue, hire security, whatever else is needed.

          1. Though now that I think about it – the security guard probably *was* a cop. Hired because of crony laws requiring security with law enforcement privileges to help augment cop wages.

            1. OTOH, Bronson’s not *dead*.

          2. Gotcha. I assumed the venue had control or at least oversight.

  6. he brawls with fans that know what’s coming when they step on stage.

    he is famous for it. it’s part of his act.

  7. For additional context to this story, which Robbie fails to note, Action Bronson was also recently disinvited from George Washington University largely for his song “Consensual Rape.”

  8. Why the need to say what color he is, Rico? Is it relevant to the story?

    Absolutely it is. They wouldn’t be nearly so quick to disinvite a black musician for exactly the same “offenses”.

    It would be interesting to look at the other musicians that have played on campus. If its big name black rapper, I bet the lyrics are as “bad”, and there is some history of violence, even if its just to claim street cred.

    1. Are you ascribing to the P Brooks school of refusing to make a threaded response? Because ill join you if you are.

      I’ll look for your reply at the bottom of the comments.

      1. I blame the squirrelz.

  9. Bronson did shove a security guard who tried to stop him from smoking marijuana during a performance, and he did brawl with a fan who rushed the stage during another performance.

    If you want me to feel any sort of outrage at his ‘violence during concerts’, or use it to justify their justification of not wanting him to perform, you’re going to have to come up with better examples than these two.

    The first shows he’s an arsehole – but then again its not the security guards place to *enforce the law*, only to maintain some sort of control and adherence to the venue’s rules for attendance for the *attendees*, not the guy cutting his check.

    The second is completely appropriate behavior for anybody who’s douchy enough to rush the stage.

    1. “The second is completely appropriate behavior for anybody who’s douchy enough to rush the stage.”

      I don’t know, if mid-2000s hardcore has taught me anything, it’s that getting your head kicked in by the band can be sort of fun.

      1. In either case, getting your head kicked in is an expected part of the shared experience or you’re a douche (like the chick in the above linked Afroman video), so its a poor example of what constitutes a dangerously violent musician.

        1. Either way I don’t understand the thinking of stage rushers.

          You rush the stage and get beat down – everybody laughs at you. You rush the stage and beat down – now you got umpteen hardcore metalheads/rap fans/people not known for a lot of self-control *pissed* at you for stopping the concert and harshing them.

          You had best *hope* you get beat down because if you win, Gowachin court time.

        2. Right, none of them come close to GG Allin (and that might be a good thing).

  10. I would suppose he has flatulance so it would only be hyperbolic to suggest he would attack the liberal arts building with poison gas.

  11. I can’t believe they are so racist as to un-invite a gangsta rapper…what’s that? He’s WHITE?!?

  12. Finally the left calls out a hip hop artist for the blatant misogyny and homophobia rampant in the genre today! Oh wait, it’s only because he’s white.

  13. Bronson did shove a security guard who tried to stop him from smoking marijuana during a performance, and he did brawl with a fan who rushed the stage during another performance.

    And the problem is?

  14. Baaaahahaha….if you read their entire insipid petition, they actually make the argument that hey, our students get so drunk at this event that one of the might very well start a fight with this guy, so his presence makes us unsafe! No, really:

    “Trinity students drink copious amounts of alcohol throughout Spring Weekend. No one would contest this. It only takes one person to drunkenly (or soberly) upset Action Bronson by getting on stage, or in his way, for him to violently assault someone. The available evidence suggests men specifically are targeted by Action Bronson, meaning no one is given a safe space at a Bronson concert.”

    Oh, and the bogus 1 in 5 stat makes yet another appearance.

  15. The one time Gawker is right about something, Robby steps in to switch-hit for Team Moron.

    As already noted = if Robby’s reason to support disinviting him is that “he’s a bad musician”, that simply leads one to ask who invited the guy in the first place, and why they thought it was a good idea to begin with. Presumably *some* people were fans?

    If the reason to disinvite him is that he’s a big fat mean-meany who can sometimes be violent, that should simply mean “this request should take more security into account”. I wouldn’t attend a Kanye show without a cattle-prod. (not for his fans, but for the opportunity to zap Kanye himself)

    Basically, there’s no good justification being made for dis-inviting the guy at all. If a minority group of students “just aren’t into him” and think its bad music and/or offensive, then don’t @#*&$@# attend the show, you big pussies. that’s not a valid reason for preventing others from seeing him.

  16. So where would this leave Insane Clown Posse then? Too violent to play anywhere anytime ever again?

    1. Too shitty.

    2. There have been entire genres of entertainment built around expecting violence to break out

      1. What, no hockey example?

        1. touche

          I suppose I should have linked to NASCAR

          1. I’ll admit it: I watch mostly for the wrecks.

  17. I see no reason to care about this exercise of Freedom of Association.

  18. The real issue is his cultural appropriation

  19. Who invited this guy? And who un-invited him? If it was the college in each case I don’t see a problem.

    If it was a student group and the college told them to un-invite him, that would at least provoke a discussion of censorship (thought at a private school).

    But if it’s the same entity doing the inviting and the dis-inviting, I don’t even see a free-speech problem.

    It’s like the commencement speaker thing. They in some respect speak for the university, or with the university’s blessing, to an extent that (let’s say) Ann Coulter wouldn’t if she were invited by the Young Conservatives.

  20. You mean he’s not “a bold rebel in terms of image and message, playing with still-prevalent social confines of propriety in behavior, dress, and comportment, mixing sex and religion like they were his own personal possession he was generous enough to share with us”?

  21. “But the petitioners aren’t just mad about his offensive songs?they’re chief complaint is that his presence on campus would present an actual safety threat”

    they’re ?? really?

  22. This is a terrible article. He pushed a security guard, while attempting to smoke weed. So?

    Have you not been to a metal show?

  23. I can’t believe there are over 50 comments yet no mention of Bronson’s amazing good show on television – Fuck, That’s Delicious.

    https://goo.gl/J1Wu1F

    1. I’d totally hang with that dude. Students missing out on life refusing to interact with anyone who might be interesting and different

    2. The guy is a talentless douchebag who I’d never pay a nickel to see…..last time I looked being a douchebag is not against the law. Carry on, dbag.

  24. Fuck this shit! His lyrics are offensive? His videos depict violence? So no john waters or Peter Jackson? No cannibal corpse nor Jerry Lee Lewis rockabilly acts? No NWA nor Jellyroll Johnson? No Stephen King nor the prince of Tides? No HBO programming nor directors? No biology classes nor theater nor agriculture instruction?

    All of these have examples of depictions and roles being played that would seem offensive to someone. Fucking idiotic. If anal cunt were around I’d book them and pay to attend myself. Apparently no one can be inspired by Gwar and lead a normal productive and beneficial life?

    There are much worse artistic dispiriting in various subcultures and genres all around the world. Just don’t watch it, don’t buy it, don’t attend, and say what you like or don’t. People won’t stop finding other ways or similar events and examples of they are curious and want to explore it. Blocking and censoring instead of talking and examining then discussing and awarely and knowledgeablely make a personal decision about your involved participation, not others.

    It offends me.

  25. Dude, How many live acts have you actually been to? How this Bronson guy is described is like 80% of the bands I’ve seen play. If you are a dick at their show and are withing arm’s reach, they WILL attempt corrective measures.

  26. Want to meet a girl? Welcome to http://goo.gl/mxiosK
    the Best adult Dating site!

  27. In 2003, Trinity invited Third Eye Blind to their headline their spring weekend, a good decade since they had been relevant.

    This guy might actually be less offensive.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.