Insert Foot: Mumford & Sons’ Winston Marshall really inserted his foot last week

Winston Marshall, Mumford and Sons, Mumford & Sons

Insert Foot vs. Winston Marshall and the rule of responsible stupidity. Original photo: Joaquin Cabello/STAFF.

Don’t you hate it when someone, whose work you enjoy, does something really stupid?

This week it was Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall, who last week tweeted to right-wing journalist Andy Ngo, “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.”

Geeeze, come on … I like Mumford & Sons.

Of course, the criticism came pouring down and Marshall deleted his tweet, then later released a statement announcing the usual vacation to become a better human being. Which usually works about as well as that first trip to rehab.

“Over the past few days I’ve come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed …” bleh bleh … taking time to better myself, bleh bleh … understand my pissed-off bandmates losing money when I alienated half our fans … I’m white, good-looking, talented, have more money than you, therefore don’t have to understand you, but I’ll pretend.


Ngo’s book, released in January, is called “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.” Without getting too into it, Ngo preaches much of the conspiracy BS we hear from Trumpers (anti-fascists are apparently anti-democracy, you figure that out).

So Marshall said he liked a book. What’s the big deal? People had a fit, which made more people upset with the people having the first fit. Again, what’s the big deal?

That depends on you and your opinion. I’m guessing his bandmates weren’t overly pleased. I’d be pissed too if I was Mumford or a Son. But not necessarily because I disagree (I do, with a vengeance, but that’s not the point).

That’s 2021. Opinions and the reactions they provoke are extreme and Marshall shouldn’t be shocked into a surprise vacation. Because there are new rules emerging for anyone paying attention.

The first is that people are, and should be, able to say whatever they want. There should be no restrictions on belief, nor someone’s ability to talk about it. For fun, let’s call it “the right to be stupid.”

The second rule is, once someone exercises their right of stupidity, other people have an equal right to hold that opinion and/or its owner in contempt, judge their work, and judge those who choose to associate with that batch of stupid. We can call that “the rule of responsible stupidity.”

And no bringing the First Amendment into it, which is supposed to leash the government, not musicians who don’t understand fascism. They can say it, and we can react.

Yay America!

Whether you believe—as I’m starting to—it’s no longer OK to support art made by people who support racists, fascists, Joss Whedon … whoever. That is beautifully up to you. You have the power; use it.

The viewpoints are becoming too extreme to ignore and the excuses way too flimsy in 2021. We have more information pouring through our phones at any given instant than all of civilization a couple decades ago. We’re running out of excuses.

I won’t say Mumford & Sons need to expel their colleague. That’s not my place. But I can say my opinion of them would elevate if they disassociated themselves with such idiocy (by the way, this is at least the second time Winston Marshall has aligned himself with the extreme right).

We’re out of excuses. I’ve thought about my grandparents and some of their views recently (here he goes, you’re saying). My grandfather never encountered a person of color until he was old enough to be on a train, speeding to a world war). My grandmother was at home with her vivid imagination, praying her new husband would avoid an army of different-looking men trying to kill him. Their circumstances affected their views moving forward. That’s not an excuse. But it is a reason.

But we’ve run out of excuses for not evolving. If the art in which we choose for ourselves has to change because of the dumb ideas of the artist, so be it. It’s become too difficult to separate the two.

Follow music critic Tony Hicks at

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