John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in March of 1981, was scheduled to play a show at Brooklyn's Market Hotel on July 8. The sold out show has now been cancelled. The venue made the announcement in a statement on social media, writing:

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

This even 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 the 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.


Market Hotel has faced criticism over hosting the event, which was booked by Scenic Presents, and in previous responses had pointed out that "Several darlings of indie music had mental health issues + committed violence / tried to kill people. Daniel Johnston for instance attempted murder more than once and tried to crash an airplane."

Hinckley was fully released from court oversight on Wednesday (6/15), and tweeted, "After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!"

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