Ted Nugent and the question of whether a zebra can change its stripes

Rocker Ted Nugent said he will no longer engage in “hateful rhetoric.” (STEVE MARCUS / REUTERS)

Conservative rocker Ted Nugent, who has a history of inflammatory remarks, vowed Thursday to tone down his act and called for civility on both sides of the political aisle. “I have reevaluated my approach,” he told Curtis Sliwa and Eboni Williams on ABC radio in New York. He said he was a “street fighter” who used “certain harsh terms.” He did not mention the terms, but he has called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch,” among other things…. “At the tender age of 69, my wife has convinced me that I just can’t use those harsh terms. I cannot, and I will not,” he said[.]

Today’s “Wait…what???” moment comes to us courtesy of Ted Nugent. When we last checked in with the Nuge, he was grossly insulting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Over the years, his racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and homophobia (I may have missed one or two “phobias”) have been legendary for their meanness of spirit. To be charitable, Nugent has demonstrated himself to be a rather grotesque excuse for a human being.

When I first came across this news, my first reaction was to check the calendar…because it had the feeling of an April Fools joke. Given that it’s June, I’m cautiously optimistic this might be the real thing.

After insulting most every biped who dares to disagree with him or (even worse) whose lifestyle can’t be described as “White, Christian, Conservative, and heterosexual,” Nugent says he’s changed. At age 69, Nugent 2.0 is, to hear him describe it, a kinder, gentler version of his previous thoroughly objectionable self. If true, it may be late but it would certainly be a welcome change. Pardon me if I’m a wee bit skeptical, but I’m willing to see if the change takes.

And I encourage even my friends/enemies on the left in the Democrat and liberal world that we have got to be civil to each other, that the whole world is watching America, where you have the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we have got to be more respectful to the other side.

Ted Nugent vowing to be respectful is akin to the sun deciding to rise in the West or global climate change magically reversing, but anyone talking about civility is worthy of listening to. IF Nugent is serious and tones down his inflammatory and insulting rhetoric, it will be a positive step.

Will his alleged newly civil demeanor change anything? Who knows? Regardless of whether it impacts the big picture, civility, to whatever degree or from whichever previously toxic personality it emanates, is a very good thing.

Nugent said that people really are angry and that it’s “crazy” that “people on the left don’t want secure borders.”

But he said he wanted civil discourse over this and other issues.

“I’m going to take a deep breath, and I’m going to back it down, and if it gets fiery, if it gets hateful, I’m going away,” he said. “I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore.”

Nugent said he wouldn’t make excuses for his “wild-ass comments” made while on stage but blamed it on the “adrenaline and intensity” when performing.

He said he would be “feisty” and “passionate,” but added, “I will avoid anything that can be interpreted as condoning or referencing violence.”

Good people can, do, and in some cases should disagree. Democracy can be messy, but the exchange of ideas is something which contributes to its continued good health. Ideas aren’t the enemy; nor are they comments on a person’s worthiness or value to society.

I will very likely never agree with Nugent on issues of substance…and that’s OK. I don’t expect everyone to march in lockstep with my ideas, nor do I believe insulting those I disagree with to be a wise course of action. I try hard to respect differing opinions and those who hold them (I fall short on occasion, but I do try).

There’s more than enough anger and violence in America today. Anything able and anyone willing to turn down the temperature should be welcomed with open arms. While I’ll continue to view Nugent’s change of heart with a healthy skepticism until he proves himself, I’m willing to give him a chance. People are capable of change, and when they reach the point where the recognize the need for change, we should applaud them for doing the hard work.

I hope the change takes; I wish Nugent well in that respect. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Ted Nugent and the question of whether a zebra can change its stripes

  1. screech

    Fuck Nugent. I didn’t hear him apologize for a single one of his past crap statements. The man is a piece of shit. You think he’ll turn into a man of peace? I’ll believe it when I see it. He’s going to have a lot of work to do to turn that corner. He could start by resigning from the board of the NRA and denouncing the unhinged stupid gun culture we have in this country. But, of course, that aint going to happen.

  2. Jack Cluth Post author

    I agree; it would have helped for him to apologize about his past lunacy. Still, if he’s better behaved going forward that’s a win for humanity.

  3. Ken Thomas

    If he were sincere, he would apologize for all the hate he spewed. Don’t look for that to happen. He’s an opportunist. He’s a coward. He’s a patriot when his ass isn’t on the line. To hell with him. Freaking piece of filth.


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