Like a gladiola trampled beneath hobnailed boots just because it occasionally says racist things, Morrissey has time and again been the subject of searing commentary in the media—particularly NME, who has spent nearly 20 years now dogging Morrissey’s every public misstep when it isn’t trying to get Noel and Liam Gallagher to hit each other. But of all these totally unfair characterizations of Morrissey based on listening to the things that he says and then writing those things down, none has wounded him more than the 2007 NME interview that quoted the singer as sharing such anti-immigration sentiments as “The gates of England are flooded… the country’s been thrown away” while bemoaning of the loss of his country’s identity to incoming ethnic groups.
Morrissey has fought back against the interview and the resulting controversy several times over the years—most notably writing an angry takedown of NME and its sniffling ignorance of David Bowie—but always lingering in the background was the threat to sue them outright for libel. Now The Guardian reports that a British judge is deciding whether that long-gestating case will actually go to trial, which could see an actual appearance from, and cross-examination before a jury of, Morrissey himself.
As ever, Morrissey’s chief argument remains that his reputation has been damaged ever since the article’s publication, which created the image that Morrissey is a racist who says awful, racist things by craftily printing the awful, racist things that he said. By way of counterargument, representatives for NME’s side plans to point out that Morrissey has said awful, racist things since—fresher, newer, and even racist-ier racist things like calling Chinese people a “subspecies.” They also argue that such incidents—to say nothing of more recent comments, such as comparing the Norway massacre to the fast food industry—haven’t exactly prevented fans from continuing to turn up at Morrissey shows and buy Morrissey albums. Nevertheless, Morrissey’s representatives say the NME article remains the go-to example for most of those racism accusations, which is why they’re seeking “vindication.” Because surely once he wins his lawsuit, no one will be able to accuse Morrissey of saying racist stuff anymore, at least until he does again.