Yesterday June 15th, Market Hotel uploaded a text on instagram announcing they had canceled a sold out acoustic set to be performed by singer and songwriter, John Hinckley. The venue cites ‘threats’ as a reason for the cancellation – and also implies that we no longer live in a “free country” in its reasons for the cancellation. 

“There was a time when a place could host a thing like this, maybe a little offensive, and the reaction would be ‘it’s just a guy playing a show, who does it hurt — it’s a free country.’ We aren’t living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse,” the club’s owners said.

The venue disabled comments on the post but that didn’t stop folks from voicing their outrage and confusion on twitter.

Twitter user @sweatyhabibti commented, “lmao they canceled the john hinckley show bc bushwick business owners are fucking cowards,”

The show cancellation announcement came on the day that Hinckley announced that after 41 years of incarceration he was a free man. 

In 1981, Hinckley was arrested for an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. His release after 41 years came as the AP reported that, “Judges have found that Hinckley has shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s, including no violent behavior or interest in weapons.”

The announcement from Hinckley even came with a warm welcome from several notable figures including Founder of People’s Policy Project and podcaster Matt Bruenig who replied to the tweet with a simple, “welcome back bro.”

Another warm welcome came several weeks earlier from Laura Jane Grace, the Emmy Award-winner best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me!.

In the meantime, you can check out Hinckley’s music on most streaming platforms.

The instagram post from @market.hotel be found in full below:

After a lot of serious consideration, we are canceling the scheduled event at Market Hotel with John Hinckley.

This event came to Market Hotel through a third-party promoter, and we approved it because it sounded like an interesting gathering and a memorable night. Hosting provocative happenings for its own sake is valid, and should be part of any venue’s reason to exist. The tour also sends a message that mental health issues and a criminal past can be recovered from and atoned for, after serving one’s debt to society and getting real treatment.

There was a time when a place could host a thing like this, maybe a little offensive, and the reaction would be “it’s just a guy playing a show, who does it hurt — it’s a free country.” We aren’t living in that kind of free country anymore, for better or for worse.

It’s worth reiterating that this guy performing harms no one in any practical way. This is a sexagenarian with an acoustic guitar. All the outrage and concern are entirely about the quote message it sends unquote. Make no mistake: canceling this concert will not deter future assassins and will have no effect on mass shootings, and it certainly won’t reverse the awfulness of what Hinckley did 40 years ago. It’s also ludicrous to claim allowing the show might inspire some future killer – “I wanna be like Hinckley – he got to play Market Hotel.” We’re a little room and it’s just a concert. It does not “matter” – beyond the strong emotions it has been used to stoke.

We do believe that ex-cons and people with mental illness can recover, and that we should want them to maintain hope that they can better themselves and earn a chance to fully rejoin society…. but we are living in dangerous times, and after being presented with and reflecting on some very real and worsening threats and hate facing our vulnerable communities – our family here in nightlife – and after seeing the nature of who this booking has antagonized, and who and what else those same folks are upset about: we don’t see the need to allow someone who did something awful to skip the line and play even our middle size independent community stage – and in doing so put our vulnerable communities at risk (without their consent) – especially if that artist wouldn’t have sold the tickets without the story of who they are and the violent thing they did.

If we were going to host an event for the principle, and potentially put others at risk in doing so, it shouldn’t be for some stunt booking – no offense to the artist. We might feel differently if we believed the music was important and transcended the infamy, but that’s just not the case here (though any artist can get there – even someone who committed awful crimes and suffered mental illness).

It is not worth a gamble on the safety of our vulnerable communities to give a guy a microphone and a paycheck from his art who hasn’t had to earn it, who we don’t care about on an artistic level, and who upsets people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate.


Update: Hinckley posted an update on Twitter stating that since yesterday, his other two tour dates have been canceled since the Market Hotel Announcement and his team is working on re-scheduling.

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