This Charming Man’s not so charming

Former Smiths  front man Steven Morrissey should realize that animal-rights violations are not a justification for racist remarks. If you are a fan of the Smiths or the band’s former front man Steven Morrissey, or

Former Smiths  front man Steven Morrissey should realize that animal-rights violations are not a justification for racist remarks.

If you are a fan of the Smiths or the band’s former front man Steven Morrissey, or if you’re an animal-rights activist, or a racist for that matter, you probably weren’t surprised to learn that Morrissey referred to Chinese people as a “subspecies” in an interview with the Guardian’s Simon Armitage a couple weeks ago.

“Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific,” Morrissey said in the Brittany-ThomasSept. 3 interview. “You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.”

This isn’t the first of the “Meat is Murder” singer’s racial ranting. He’s made several alarming statements in the past, mostly fueled by animal rights, the cause Morrissey is best known for.

“I’m surprised at how blatantly he said what he did,” said Edward Avery-Natale, a sociology instructor and doctoral student. “It’s just such old-fashioned racism ¬– he didn’t even try to disguise his opinions. The very use of the term ‘subspecies’ is so ridiculous and outdated.”

Armitage, who interviewed Morrissey, is a long-time fan and defended the singer’s statements.

“But clearly, when it comes to animal rights and animal welfare, he’s absolutely unshakable in his beliefs,” Armitage said in a Sept.3 article for the Guardian by Alexandra Topping. “In his view, if you treat an animal badly, you are less than human. I think that was his point.”

Later, Morrissey followed up with, “There are no animal protection laws in China, and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet.”

This doesn’t excuse Morrissey from singling out an entire race in a careless, vulgar way and placing blame on Chinese citizens for their government’s lack of lawful protection.

A friend of mine, Derrick Crucius, a digital filmmaking and video production student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and fan of the Smiths, took another perspective.

“Is his album ‘Meat is Murder’ going too far?” Crucius said. “Because that’s basically insulting anyone who’s a carnivore. People didn’t throw that out of proportion – isn’t that also targeting a certain group?”

Another friend and Smiths fan, Ian Van Kuyk highlighted that just because Morrissey is a celebrity doesn’t mean he never carelessly makes rash statements. Van Kuyk, a second-year film and media arts major at Temple, said he could “totally see him saying that.”

“I don’t know if he intended to straight-up attack the Chinese. He could have chosen better wording,” he said. “But I know he’s aware of the cruelty that goes on in every country, and he’d probably say the same thing about the British who treat animals this way.”

For a public figure and a prominent animal-rights sponsor like Morrissey to make such an insulting word choice, though, is obviously going to cause quite a warranted upheaval, especially in a society where racism is by no means a thing of the past.

Surely not all Chinese people support the animal cruelty that goes on in their country, just as not every American is responsible for the brutalities that take place in our country’s daily agribusiness practices.

“Just like different activist groups will associate things like the Holocaust with chicken farms, this sort of statement completely turns people off from the whole movement,” Avery-Natale said. “And what he said very much projects the idea that the West has learned animal rights because we have laws against cruelty, but that really has nothing to do with what actually goes on here and around the world.”

Fans could also argue that Morrissey hates all humans, not just the Chinese. The singer left the stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., during a performance earlier this year after he smelled meat, or “burning flesh,” being cooked nearby.

“I hope to God it’s human,” the singer said at the time.

When it comes down to it, Morrissey’s racist remarks and the similar words of other public figures, for that matter, prove there’s still a long way to go until we can entirely rise above racism and stereotyping. Just because he’s a glorified and talented musician doesn’t mean we should take his opinions lightly.

“I’m sure any Chinese student of mine would be very offended by Morrissey’s statement,” Avery-Natale said. “And it goes to show that a race problem still exists. We haven’t completely moved on from it, we’ve just changed the face of it.”

Brittany Thomas can be reached at


  1. To be honest, I did not feel offended by Morrissey’s calling Chinese a ‘subspecies. , which is quite surprising considering the fact I am chinese myself. I think he was just completely outraged by those unwatchable footage which i personally belive must be true. So it is obvious that his intention was not the least to attack on chinese people as a whole. It is not fair to interpretate his remarks as completely racism or anything of that kind. Instead of critising Morrissey for his applalling comment, i think we all should be glad to see there is someone in the pop music who is actually saying something however controversial or alarming it may be. For most of those celebrities simply just stand aside and avoid being involved in these issues.In this sense, Morrissey is needed and should be given more tolerance.

  2. first like to say i dont usually comment on these sort of blogs, and that although i love morrissey i am not totally blind eyed to see why he has caused controversy.
    i just dont see how morrissey is racist, yes i have followed his music and i for one and i know many other fans who were not surprised by this latest comment. but for him to be described as racist is taking it out of context, he could have chosen a more appropriate word i agree but as morrissey has said himself, what would be gain from being racist.
    he has homes around the world in chester, LA, south france etc so hes not a recluse to his own place of origin, i have read loads of comments on this subject in the british press, a lot of people are saying why listen to a washed up pop star, but if no one cared what moz thought they wouldnt take there own time out to comment on a blog about him. he has the media in the palm of his handm he was probably getting himself in the news in time for his single release in october. listen to the song ‘all you need is me’ he is laughing at them.
    he is one of the last remaining pop stars, who wants manurfactured talentless clones like justin beiber or jls, an artist who speaks his mind in this day and age is so rare and when they do they get slated, for speaking there mind. he should be admired for his morals and beliefs on such a controversial subject that he sticks to his own.
    i would really advise you to listen to some of his solo work, it might not change your opinion but you would appreciate the worlds greatest lyricalist a little more, and see how mis understood this great man really is.

  3. This statement has been blown out of proportion, and I’m tired of hearing about it. I am convinced it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with Morrissey’s abhorrence for animal cruelty. Morrissey would have just as readily called any other nationality (the Brits included) a “subspecies” if he were disgusted with their animal rights laws (or lack thereof). Personally, I think people should be less concerned with Morrissey’s statement and more appalled at the lack of animal cruelty laws in China.

  4. Blabla bla. You’re irrelevant and dull and boring, reposting stuff that’s been chewed out a long time ago, all of which untrue. How old are you? 15?

  5. Morrissey is not racist. What he said about the Chinese has nothing to do with anything about them other than their long record of well-documented animal abuse. I admire Morrissey for rejecting the need for artists to embrace PC standards and for speaking his mind when he’s greatly offended.

    I do wish he’d chosen different language for two reasons though. 1. Because it allows the PC police (like you) to rant against him and to possibly convince the unthinking masses that he is possibly a racist and 2. because calling the Chinese a “subspecies” isn’t even an insult and doesn’t make a lot of sense. He was obviously just enraged and spitting venom. I can’t say I blame him one bit.

  6. This article is ridiculous.

    Anybody who is literate and somewhat rationale must realize that the comment refers to the people who participate and support the horrible treatment of animals in China.

    Oh, and by the by, Chinese is not a race.

  7. “A friend of mine, Derrick Crucius…”

    haha, wow. really?

    i try to find merit in every field, but this is why i can’t take journalism seriously.

  8. Well, it was his opinion at that age. Now I do believe that his thoughts about Boz had completely changed.
    Before Moz became famous he tryied to get an interview with Echo and the Bunnymen, however, after some years Moz had spoken badly about them.

    Let’s take some brooze and forget it.

  9. What a lazy piece of “journalism”. Did you just reissue, repackage, and regurgitate everything that’s already been written on the interview?

    Law is dictated by the wishes of the masses. If enough people cared enough about animal rights in China wouldn’t there be some semblance of change in the future? Clearly there aren’t enough people in China who do care, or innocently hide behind ignorance simply to be oblivious to it all.

    As for the “Meat is Murder” album singling out the people who eat meat – those people are just as bad as the butchers and slaughterers that do the torturing, murdering and exploitation of animals because humans “need” to eat meat.

    I’m not saying that Morrissey’s choice of words weren’t ideal, but you’re looking at the wrong point here.

    It takes the lowest of the low to willingly devour the flesh of another living creature – a “subspecies” if you will. There’s now way to phrase something like that and not have it offend someone and if you know anything about Morrissey – you’d have some insight to know that Morrissey is never one to hide his opinion.

    The only redeeming thing about this article is that you go out of your way to call him the “pope of mope”.

    It’s clear, and unfortunate, that Morrissey is playing easy to get with this quote. It’s crashing bores like yourself that try so hard to find a secondary meaning that you completely miss the first.

    Why don’t you write an opinion piece once you have a disagreeable opinion.

  10. Love Morrissey. He is absolutely right saying that: “There are no animal protection laws in China, and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet.”

    The Chinese leaders are to blame. BTW: The Chinese leaders do have very small cocks.

    Agree with Lucas: “Anybody who is literate and somewhat rationale must realize that the comment refers to the people who participate and support the horrible treatment of animals in China”.

  11. Oh hello you all. Just realized all these comments were here, and thank you oh so much for having nothing better to do than post comments to my “boring” article. Not all of yours were offensive, but those of you who took the time to throw insults at me over this, seriously get a life. I am a Morrissey fan and I never called him a racist, all I did was simply express my opinion that the statement was racist. MY OPINION. It’s fine if you don’t agree with me, but this was my interpretation and I took the time to include his apology quotes but my main point was that there are many people scarred off by the animal rights movement for whatever reasons and when they here a famous activist like Morrissey speak out in such irrational terms, it only adds to people’s apprehensions. I made also made a point to the fact that Morrissey doesn’t just single out certain racial groups, that he has even left his fans hanging at shows because of the meat cooking. And if you think I’m just some idiot that caught wind of this story without knowing anything about Morrissey, you are quite wrong. I have been listening to The Smiths and Morrissey since I was about 15, Jeremy 🙂 . And for Dan, I’m not going to waste my time naming off the solo albums I own. And for Rachel, this is an opinion piece, okay? That means that I’m allowed to get others opinions and the commentary of my friends. It’s different than other sections of the paper, and its the fucking Temple News! If you take it that seriously and you even take the time to read this article when even I don’t, YOU my friends, are the “crashing bores”. Thank you!

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