Constitutional law by the dashboard light

Meat Loaf, the man who built his career on the back of Jim Steinman’s phenomenal songwriting, has now entered into the world of social commentary.

From his home in Los Angeles, the motormouthed Meat Loaf filled me in what’s wrong with the Internet, his sucky melodies and how he wants to die. The highlights:

I wouldn’t call this a concept album, but there are themes and threads running through it.

Yeah, the thread is this: The world has gone to hell in a handbasket.

That’s the thread. It’s about people losing the humanity, the compassion, the dignity, the truth. Everything has become about me, me, me. The world has gone completely insane.

Yes, those things are all problems.  Meat has a very specific example.

America: In this one high school, for 50 years a prayer was hung on a wall. And all of a sudden, a daughter and a woman who are atheists (complained). Being an atheist is fine; you don’t want to believe in God, I don’t care, you don’t have to. But something that’s hung on a wall for 50 years? People don’t even see it any more. If you’ve got that much time on your hands, go down and help at the children’s centre. Go help at the homeless centre. Go do something that helps other people. People need to stand up, be responsible for themselves and help other people. The Internet is to blame, the comment pages are to blame. There’s such hatred spewed out over the stupidest things. It makes me angry. For six years, I’ve been saying the world’s gone to hell in a handbasket. So I wanted to make this record.

I’m so confused.  If people don’t even see it anymore, why does it mean the world is going to hell in a handbasket if…nobody can see it anymore (in a government building, that is)?  That makes no sense.

Meat should also realize that the suit was not frivolous.  Had the administrators of Cranston West not been breaking the law, it wouldn’t have mattered if Jessica sued them.  When they were presented with the chance to stop breaking the law, had those administrators flown straight, they wouldn’t have gotten sued.  But because Jessica forced them to abide by the law those administrators are employed to follow, she is driving the world into hell in Meat Loaf’s rather narrow vision.

But Meat, what about the administrators who were breaking the law?  Are you worried about their dignity?

But Meat, what about the huge mobs of believers who demanded that the city spend lots of taxpayer money earmarked for education to lose in court on the off-chance the administrators could continue breaking the law?  Do you worry about their lack of compassion?

And Meat, even though you assure us that nobody could see it anymore, let me assure you that gaggles of believers saw it (and saw also its reverence to their specific religion).

What of the countless faithful who threatened Jessica’s life or well-being over her increasingly firm requests that her administrators not break the law?  It appears that the man presuming to more humanity than most, Meat Loaf, has overlooked the void of compassion in many to go after a young woman who defended the Constitution for all at great personal expense.

Meat worries that we’ve lost sight of the truth.  Here’s the truth, Mr. Loaf: government mixing with religion is illegal.  The truth is that demanding those charged with managing your public school obey the law, ensuring religious liberty for all (including atheists) is a noble task that, thanks to the culture of acceptable bullying in these cases (which you establish by overlooking all the other horrors in Cranston to gripe about perhaps their most dignified citizen) is a thankless but necessary job.  The truth is that what Jessica did is more daunting and charitable an undertaking than most people manage in their lives.  The truth is that taking on that task does not at all prohibit someone from being charitable in other ways if they so choose (and Jessica does).

The truth, Meat Loaf, is that you have greatly mismanaged your moral priorities.  Having a banner on a wall that marginalizes some of the students, even if it weren’t illegal (which it is), is unethical.  But that didn’t concern you.  Your idea that Jessica, the person who never lied, never threatened anybody, who was right as decided by a judge, who withstood wave after cruel wave of threats from people eager to violate the law to pursue inequality, the woman who wanted everybody to be equal in the eyes of the government, is somehow the bad guy, that Jessica is the mark of America’s failing is a monumental inversion of reality.

In an ideal world, a world where qualities like dignity and bravery garner more fame than one’s singing voice, Jessica would be the rock star, while people like Meat Loaf are summarily ignored for their moral confusion.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Gordon

    Jessica did something to help other people, she took a stand.

    What an idiot he is!

  • WilloNyx

    Fucking dammit.

    Now I’m not going to hear another Meat Loaf Song and not have to say “what an ass” when it comes on.

    Good thing they don’t really much play him on the radio anymore.

    • bryanelliott

      “Now I’m not going to hear another Meat Loaf Song and not have to say “what an ass” when it comes on.”

      Sudden inappropriate nostalgia: that happened with me and Metallica in the late 90′s when Jim Hetfield started talking shit about Napster.

      • Neal

        Not to be “that guy” but the Napster thing was Lars Ulrich more than James Hetfield.

    • F

      Since I’ve always done that, what do I do now? Or is this a no-change update for me? :p

  • Neal

    I would do anything for love, but I won’t do Meat Loaf.

  • Timid Atheist

    I love when people play the “why don’t you do something more useful with your time” card. People are starving in our country, yes. And there are some people who are helping them. Not everyone can devote themselves to every cause. And really, what right does he have to tell Jessica her cause isn’t the right one to support?

    I was never a Meat Loaf fan. And now I certainly won’t be a fan of his politics either.

  • Ken

    Wow! Meatloaf hasn’t thought about morals for more than a morsel.

  • John Kruger

    Why is he wasting time writing an album? Shouldn’t he be at the children’s center or homeless center? Is his music more important than children and the homeless!?

    When somebody pulls out the “there are more important things to do” crap to try and change the subject you can always tell they don’t have any real legs to stand on.

  • Ologies

    So, let me just see if I have this right. Because something has been on a wall for some arbitrary number of years, we should just…keep it? I wonder if he’s going to write an album about not taking down Grandma’s wallpaper while he’s at it…

  • Rieux

    In this one high school, for 50 years a prayer was hung on a wall. And all of a sudden, a daughter and a woman who are atheists (complained).

    It took me several seconds to figure out that he meant Jessica Ahlquist. Upon a first read, I really thought he was talking about Madalyn Murray-O’Hair (who had a somewhat broader effect on school prayer in the U.S. than Ahlquist has). But that confused me, because O’Hair’s kids were boys….

  • Zinc Avenger

    Hey, Mr Loaf,

    If you’ve got that much time on your hands, go down and help at the children’s centre. Go help at the homeless centre. Go do something that helps other people.

    Right back at’cha.

  • Vijen

    As one who is only vaguely aware of “meat loaf”, I really can’t see any reason to endorse his ignorance and stupidity by even mentioning it. Unless the purpose it to promote his further career through the Streisand effect.

    • Rumtopf

      Exposure and ridicule, my dear.
      Besides, the Streisand Effect applies to information that people are trying to hide…

  • Greg Laden

    Mr. Loaf also neglects to consider that others before Jessia were certainly annoyed by this violation of the Freakin’ Constitution, and that many people who were involved in this controversy and thought it was stupid to bring it up AT Cranston realized that Jessica was making a valid point and ended up siding with her. In other words, except for the Yahoos who actually want to add more prayers to more walls in more schools, most people who actually were involved or know about what happened have a very different attitude than Mr. Loaf. Perhaps this would indicate something for Mr. Loaf to consider.

  • N. Nescio

    When Eddie said he didn’t like his teddy, you knew he was a no-good kid; but when he threatened your life with a switchblade knife:

    what a guy!
    makes you cry!
    und I deed.

    What the fuck is an ‘und’?

    • F

      “and I did”.

  • Ben Bradley

    The US had slavery for over 50 years, why was it that Lincoln guy got rid of it, Mr. Loaf? Was he messing with a good thing? Why didn’t he just leave it alone?

    This guy’s got holes in his logic big enough to fly 787′s through, and others have done good jobs in pointing many of them out. I just wanted to do my part in saying that just because something has been there for 50 years doesn’t make it right.

  • left0ver1under

    Actually, it was Meat Loaf and Steinman who made careers on the back of Todd Rundgren’s talents as guitarist, arranger and producer. Rundgren was a known talent both before and after the album “Bastard Operator From Hell”.

    Todd Rundgren, “Fascist Christ” (album version)

    Todd Rundgren, “Fascist Christ” (video for edited single version)

  • cag

    Obviously, he loafed through civics class.

  • Randomfactor

    A few years ago, financial skulduggery evaporated a fair percentage of the world’s economy, and nobody’s gone to jail yet over it. A year ago, a United States Congresswoman was shot and others killed by a gunman carring oversized ammunition clips. Just a few days ago, a young man in Florida carrying candy to his brother was killed by a thug with a gun and privilege.

    And the best example of society’s “going to hell” he can find is that a 50-year-old “prayer” was moved intact from a wall so it can be displayed in a more appropriate setting?

    Perhaps Jessica Ahlquist isn’t the one who has a problem with overlooking the important things and focusing on minutiae?

    But then, the guy does have a very accurate opinion of his reputation. From another UK news show: “I should not be on this show… my reputation is I am as dumb as a rock.”

  • F

    The world has gone to hell in a handbasket.

    Well, can’t it just bat right back out?

  • Tim

    I saw Meat Loaf on Much Music, live in the studio, during the nineties. He clearly had mental issues, saying several cringe-worthy things that were unacceptable for TV broadcast, and that would probably have had his publicist briefly consider suicide.

    Informed speculation: Considering his well-known ‘extreme’ work ethic (he’s rumoured to have taken oxygen during his live shows to keep his energy up), I’d venture he may be bipolar. Which can be a pretty crappy disease to experience personally.

    We shouldn’t excuse artists for their crimes any more than anyone else, but Meat Loaf hasn’t committed a crime, he’s just displayed abysmal judgment, and considerable ignorance, for a public figure.

    Let it go. The songs on Bat Out of Hell are still one totally awesome show of passion and spirit, whatever he says nowadays.

    • hypatiasdaughter

      Holy non-sequitor, Batman! Did anyone say anything about crimes?
      More like he is an ignorant asshat, who got a public floor somehow because he is a celebrity, and only because he is a celebrity. (If he hadn’t gotten a public floor, we wouldn’t have known what he said.)

      And I still like “Bat out of Hell”, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. Youthful nostalgia, no doubt.

  • gratch

    Darn it! I’ve been trying to think of a joke about “Two out three ain’t bad” but he didn’t even make two good points.

  • elmarie

    Well at least the atheists on this blog proved that they can be more mature than those stupid fundamentalists. When they don’t agree with someone they don’t resort to petty personal attacks..oh wait,they do Can any of you self righteous protectors of spoilt brats sell more than 40 million copies of a record? Don’t critisize his work just because he happened to say something you don’t like.