Why I’m not going to Amherst Early Music Festival

To Marilyn Boenau and assorted staff at Amherst Early Music Festival, and the Connecticut Department of Tourism:

I’ll be going to Madison Early Music Festival in July rather than to AEMF as last year. There are many reasons for this, which boil down to personal preference and have nothing to do with your fine festival, which I have enjoyed and learned from, nor in any direct way with Connecticut College in New London, which has bent over backwards to be helpful. On the merits of the course, it really was about a coin toss.

But that “New London” sticks in the craw. I somehow managed last year to ignore the fact that I was visiting the city made infamous by Kelo, the Dred Scott of our times (or rather, the city that made itself infamous by nullifying property rights with the Supreme Court’s help). I had little occasion to spend money off-campus, though, alas, I did buy a laptop in one of the suburbs. I was more concerned with getting back to New Jersey without paying the exhorbitant gas taxes of NY and CT.

This year, the State of Connecticut has upped the ante by declaring war on the Catholic Church.  I would find this behavior offensive even if I were still a Wiccan; as a Catholic of some sort (if only Anglican), I have to wonder whether paying sales tax to such a government would constitute a sin. I also observe that apparently they find the free speech parts of the Constitution as odious as the Establishment Clause. I will agree that Hal Turner’s rhetoric was excessive and probably evil; it was also not a credible threat, and not uttered within the jurisdiction of the State of Connecticut. If the Capitol Police Department thinks that capital punishment is an excessive penalty for wholesale violation of the 1st Amendment, then what does it think would be an appropriate punishment for the (dis)Hon. Reps. Lawlor and McDonald and Thomas Jones, and when will it issue the warrant? Since the State believes that too-vigorous use of the 1st Amendment deserves 1-10 years in prison, perhaps violators of it should get an equal penalty.

Under such circumstances, I’m sure you can understand my desire to not spend one penny in Connecticut. That part of the country in general makes me feel as welcome as a northern black man with a white wife in 1930s Georgia, but this is beyond the pale. I understand that I hold minority views within the early music community. I’ll miss all the folks there, and maybe someday I can come back. But right now, I’ll just spend my money somewhere else.

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