A U.S. congressman who represents portions of Greensboro, N.C., is accusing Bruce Springsteen of being a “bully” after the rock star canceled a concert there to protest a new law some activists call anti-gay.
“It’s disappointing he’s not following through on his commitments,” said Rep. Mark Walker, a Republican freshman congressman.
“We’ve got other artists coming soon — Def Leppard, Justin Bieber,” the congressman told The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’ve never been a Bieber fan, but I might have to go. Maybe artists who weren’t ‘born to run’ deserve a little bit more support,” he said, referencing one of the rocker’s most famous song titles.
“Bruce is known to be on the radical left,” Walker continued, “and he’s got every right to be so, but I consider this a bully tactic. It’s like when a kid gets upset and says he’s going to take his ball and go home.”
Springsteen was set to play Greensboro on Sunday but canceled because he objects to North Carolina’s recently passed House Bill 2, which requires people to use the bathrooms of the sex reflected on their birth certificates.
Activists say the law discriminates against the transgender community, and many in the entertainment industry agree. After speaking out against the law, Lionsgate moved the production of its Hulu pilot Crushed from North Carolina to Canada, for example.
Lawmakers, though, say the new law is meant to keep would-be criminals from using legal loopholes to access women’s bathrooms.
“I choose to stand with our sheriffs, who support this bill, which doesn’t target the LGBTQ community; it targets imposters,” Walker said. “It’s a little crazy to think sexual predators wouldn’t be devious enough to pull something off if they were free to go into any bathroom they want.”
Walker accused Springsteen of a history of poor judgment, criticizing him, for example, for singing “Fortunate Son” 18 months ago at the Concert of Valor, which aired live on HBO.
“This is a guy who has such a lack of discernment that he sang a draft-dodging song at a Veterans Day concert meant to honor those who have actually served,” Walker said.
“Using inflammatory vitriol is not where I am,” he said. “I would just like to intellectually explain to Bruce Springsteen the safety aspect of this bill, which is about four pages long. Sometimes people only hear one side of the story.”
When canceling his show, Springsteen issued a statement at his website reading, in part: “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.”
This article originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.