Stevie Wonder Boycotting ‘Stand Your Ground’ States

If Stevie Wonder were still touring, he wouldn't be making stops in states with "Stand Your Ground" laws.


If Stevie Wonder were still touring, he wouldn’t be making stops in states with “Stand Your Ground” laws.

WaPo (“What does Stevie Wonder’s boycott of Florida really mean?“):

Of all the celebrity reactions to the George Zimmerman verdict, the most far-reaching came from Stevie Wonder.

“Until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” he said during a Sunday-night concert in Quebec City. “Wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

It’s a bold statement — and one that could have long-term consequences for Wonder’s career. More than 20 states have Stand Your Ground laws or expansive self-defense statutes; overturning those would take years.

So the question is how Wonder literally adheres to his boycott. Does he avoid just states (and nations) that explicitly mention “stand your ground”? Or all states that have similar provisions? If the latter, that would rule out shows in Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, Detroit and Las Vegas. Does the ban include corporate gigs ($100K and up), or just public concerts?


Indeed, as an earlier WaPo report (“Everything you need to know about ‘stand your ground’ laws“) noted, the list is quite expansive:

Since Florida became the first state to pass an explicit stand your ground law, more than 30 others have passed some version of it, with the help of a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a organization that promotes conservative bills. Here’s a 2012 map of stand your ground laws nationwide



Wonder’s boycott would be rather hard to manage, then, were he not several decades removed from his prime.

“I don’t see this as having a big impact on Stevie or the state of Florida,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, which tracks the international concert business.

Wonder hasn’t done a multi-city public tour for a while, said Bongiovanni. In 2012, he played just eight public performances; this year, there are only three on his calendar. In the past 18 months, two concerts — in Nevada and Alabama — would have been affected by his boycott.

It’s the thought that counts, I guess.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    The core concept of “stand your ground” laws, as I see it, is the declaration that we do not hold all people’s lives and rights equally. We are putting a higher value on those of would-be victims than those of aggressors. Opposition to such laws are akin to those people who support school policies of “zero tolerance” for fighting, and enforce it by punishing equally all participants, regardless of actual culpability for the fight.

    Here’s a famous example of a schoolyard fight. The heavier kid is obviously the victim here of the smaller boy, who repeatedly hits the bigger kid until he gets fed up and body-slams the bully. Under the zero tolerance rules, both should be equally punished. But common sense tells us that the bigger kid’s actions were rough justice, and he should not be punished — or, at least, far less than the smaller kid.

    We should send the message to aggressors that, in the eyes of the law, they are equal to their would-be victims. That we will support the rights of would-be victims to defend themselves, and that aggressors do not have the right to assume they will not be challenged.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    Let me be the first to point out that celebrities who have armed security needs to shut up and get of the public stage. Someone who lives behind velvet ropes, VIP services, and armed services cannot be a bigger hypocrites when discussing crime, self-defense, or gun laws.

  3. Butch Bracknell says:

    This is a good news story. I thought Stevie Wonder was dead.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    The media coverage, including that WaPo piece, completely confuses the two different stand-your-ground laws.

    The first is stand-your-ground, at least a century old restatement of the “no duty to retreat” element of self-defense. Almost every state has situations in their self-defense laws where one has a right to stand your ground. Even New York, as Tom Maguire recently pointed out has limitted situations where one can stand one’s ground. Florida’s self-defense laws appear no different from Illinois’ and most states.

    The second is “stand-your-ground” as an immunity law, which offers a procedure to seek immunity from civil and criminal lawsuits from a judge under the state’s self-defense standards. This is a relatively recent phenomena, and wasn’t invoked in Zimmerman.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    “…This is a relatively recent phenomena, and wasn’t invoked in Zimmerman…”

    Not explicitly…but if you listen to Juror 37b, it most certainly was.

  6. JKB says:

    Stevie Wonder comes out as Pro-Bully?

    Good for him, bullies have it hard these days. What with all these states passing laws allowing someone to remain where they may lawfully be even in the face of the bully’s threat of imminent unlawful force. And get this, those people don’t even have to safely retreat when threatened in order not to be charged with a crime for resisting efforts to force them away from places they may lawfully be? That’s rough on the bully. People may stand up to them and then have the temerity to use the law to argue they had every right to stand up to the bully.

    But not Stevie Wonder or Eric Holder, they are going to fight for the right to bully.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I’d boycott book-touring in SYG states, but by amazing coincidence it turns out people in those states don’t read books.

  8. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: So, you’ll go to Jonesboro, Arkansas, but not Chicago, Illinois? Those are some tough principles.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: Wait a minute:

    McGeorge Law School Professor John Myers says Florida’s self-defense law that led to George Zimmerman’s acquittal is similar to California’s, with nearly identical language.

    micheal, you may have to go back to Italy, or there is always Arkansas.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Damn. Arkansas? That’s harsh.

    Fortunately I’m big in England and Australia.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @PD Shaw: I’m guessing that you’re completely clueless as to just how baldly you’re revealing your unexamined socioeconomic privilege in these Zimmerman / SYG – related posts.

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:
  13. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: I hate to pile on Arkansas, I had a nice meeting with a Jonesboro native yesterday; but one has to wonder if they read in Arkansas, otherwise, they’d have changed that law by now.

    Eugene Volokh is assembling a list of states without a duty to retreat and asking for any corrections. So far:

    Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.

    Midwest/Plains: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin.

    West: Hawaii, Wyoming.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Not to snark too much, but Amazon gives us access to our Bookscan sales figures in a convenient map form and it’s hard not to notice that not a lot of books get sold in Dixie. And come to think of it I never get fan requests on Twitter or Facebook to go to Arkansas or Alabama. Maybe I’m a cold weather dish.

  15. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: I think I’ve told you before, when I was in an independent bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama, an employee was talking up your latest series, and from his manners I think he does it a lot. But its a small town, though I think Fannie Flagg and Winston Groom live there.

  16. Al says:

    Is he still alive? he’s arrogant to think Floridians care what he has to say. Self defense is the greatest civil right.

  17. al-Ameda says:


    Stevie Wonder comes out as Pro-Bully?

    No, he just wants to see the moron who plans to exercise deadly force without justification.

  18. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: Amazon gives us access to our Bookscan sales figures in a convenient map form and it’s hard not to notice that not a lot of books get sold in Dixie.

    All that indicates is that people down South don’t read YOUR books.

  19. al-Ameda says:


    Is he still alive? he’s arrogant to think Floridians care what he has to say. Self defense is the greatest civil right.

    And I thought that in Florida, the act of instigating a series of events that culminates in the following of, and shooting of a kid wearing a hoodie, is the greatest civil right? Many Floridians would probably agree.

  20. stonetools says:

    I imagine James Joyner back in 1956 telling Rosa Parks and her 26 year old pastor that this whole Montgomery bus boycott wouldn’t amount to anything.
    Small acorns, mighty oaks, and all that.

  21. stonetools says:

    Stevie Wonder started something could ripple through the whole entertainment industry. Good for him.We know that the plague began there, so striking at the place of first infection is a good thing.

    It’s even more important that AG Holder has taken up the cause. I hope he goes all in, lest more innocent blood be shed.
    The good thing is that the march of “Shoot First and Win” laws through the nation stopped with the killing of Trayvon Martin. All we have to do is roll back the situation to where it was in 2004.Its doable

  22. Gromitt Gunn says:

    The Tampa Bay Times has analyzed the results of roughly 200 Florida SYG Cases. There’s a lot of interesting findings, including:

    *Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

    *People often go free under “stand your ground” in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim — and still went free.

    Seriously, read the whole article. The amount of inconsistency in what the law means and how it is applied and the future implications are illuminating. I don’t see how anyone, in good conscience, can see anything but a clusterf#$k.

  23. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @JKB: Presumably “our” includes both him and his wife. Seeing as she is a Newbery Medal winning author, which basically puts her on the “must buy” list of every school and public library, it says quite a bit more than you’re implying.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    I think its working as intended. It privileges CCW holders ( most of them white and well off) who want to use their guns to “protect themselves” against you know who, by making it more difficult to prosecute them if something “goes wrong.” In the Trayvon Martin case, it worked as planned.

    *Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

    I don’t think the SYG defenders see that as a bug. They see it as a feature, although they will say different if challenged.

  25. NONE says:

    “What does Stevie Wonder’s boycott of Florida really mean?“
    It means he is not a true American. America was partly founded on the ability to defend ones’ self (the second amendment). Having to retreat or allow a criminal to harm or kill you is Un-american. Stand your ground laws are to protect law abiding citizens against dangerous criminals. In being against SYG laws, he is siding with criminals; very Un-american.

  26. James Joyner says:

    @NONE: I think intelligent people can differ on the parameters of individual gun rights. But, surely, we can all agree that Stevie Wonder should not have a gun.

  27. PD Shaw says:

    @James Joyner: Have you seen Ray Charles shoot a gun?

  28. PD Shaw says:

    @NONE: But Stand Your Ground wasn’t the majority rule at the time of the Revolution. It only became the majority rule by the power of persuasion. And certainly not by picking on a blind musician, what’s wrong with you, son?

  29. Seerak says:


    How often does that really happen, in comparison to the flip-side – someone who defends himself but gets railroaded and/or his life ruined with legal fees, harassment etc.?

    I’ve not seen statistics in any argument like that one, just emotionalistic assertions based on the idea that since there might be guilty men going free (by copping self-defense falsely), we should skew the system in favor of potentially screwing more innocent self-defenders.

    It reminds me of the bad faith behind behind “assault-weapon bans” aimed at rifles, which are hardly ever used in crime.

  30. Seerak says:


    That’s a reflection of the wider problem of the treatment blacks get in the system. So naturally, when faced with this problem, the solution is to shift the legal balance back in favor of aggressors. That makes complete sense. /sarc

    The Leftist bad faith over this issue is the thickest I’ve seen since Sandy Hook.

  31. Seerak says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    Coates fails to note Sullum’s addendum.

    Per Sullum:

    “That language is part of the standard jury instruction [3.6(f)] in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. But it is hard to see how it applies to the facts of this case, since Zimmerman claimed he was unable to retreat and therefore did not base his defense on the right to stand your ground. The fact that a legal provision was mentioned in the instructions does not necessarily mean it was relevant in reaching a verdict. For example, the instructions also mentioned accidental killings and attacks on dwellings, neither of which applies to the circumstances of the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin. ”

    So no, that’s not Bigfoot; it’s a thug hoping to take advantage of the rollback of self-defense you are after. Better run.

  32. L.J. Gates says:

    Who’s Stevie Wonder?