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Why We’re Taking a Break from Covering Kanye West News at SPY.com

Over the past six months, Kanye West, aka Ye, has been generating headlines with his every waking breath. Most recently, he’s been both losing and gaining fans for controversial behavior (wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt to Paris Fashion Week) and downright hateful behavior (making anti-Semitic comments).

Most recently, he’s publicly broken up with both Gap and Adidas, fought Kim Kardashian over custody of their children, threatened Pete Davidson, and appeared in a primetime interview with conservative Tucker Carlson. It was a fawning, partisan interview in which Ye was held up as a bold visionary under attack from the left. Then, Vice reporter Ana Merlan got her hands on the uncut Carlson-Ye interview, which included more anti-Semitic language, bizarre digressions, and the revelation that Kanye believes he’s getting “visions from God.”

In short, Carlson cut critical portions of the interview that would have given viewers an honest look at Ye’s state of mind.

In the past, Ye has been open about his struggles with mental health in general and bipolar disorder in particular.

So after Ye’s anti-Semitic comments about “going death-con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” went viral — and got him locked out of his social media accounts — many fans (and former fans) openly speculated that the artist might be in the grips of a manic episode.

As a result, many Twitter commentators declared that you can’t blame Ye’s alleged anti-blackness or anti-Semitic comments on mental illness.

This kind of black-and-white thinking performs well on Twitter, but it falls short of the truth. In our age of tribal politics, everyone must be sorted. You’re either part of the in-group, or you’re part of the out-group, nuance be damned.

In reality, two contradictory ideas can be equally true. Such ideas often are. In this case, it’s absolutely true that mental illnesses like bipolar disorder can lead to lowered inhibitions, conspiratorial thinking, delusions of persecution, and rage, and thus can trigger outbursts like those we’ve seen from Ye recently. At the same time, it is also true that Ye is ultimately responsible for his behavior, and mental illness doesn’t absolve him of responsibility.

Writer Freddie DeBoer, who has also been open about his struggles with bipolar disorder, made exactly this point recently:

“Because to consider the other possibility, that his serious mood disorder has indeed played some role in his tempestuous behavior, is to invite that which modern political culture can’t abide: moral complexity. In this era of social justice, everyone is divided between the perfectly unblemished victims and the permanently discarded oppressors. If West’s erratic behavior was influenced by his bipolar disorder, we might feel compelled to extend sympathy to someone who’s guilty of saying some unfortunate things; we would sully the perfect distinction between goodies and baddies. We would not be able to sit back in perfect judgment of West and comfortably assign him a place in our binary moral universe. We would be compelled to invite complication, equivocation, uncertainty. And we can’t have that.”

As a site that covers fashion and product news, we’ve done our best to keep up with Kanye in recent months. Months before he ended his deals with Gap and Adidas, Kanye had been openly feuding with both companies. And, if we’re being honest, a lot of his recent designs have been pretty uninspired.

His new YZY SHDZ sunglasses are at least unique, but they’re also just polarized versions of the medical sunglasses you wear at the dentist’s office.

With West’s behavior looking increasingly manic, it’s all but guaranteed that there will be more Kanye news to cover in the months ahead. But for the time being, we’re hitting pause on covering Kanye at SPY.com.

Based on the unaired Tucker Carlson footage, it certainly seems like Ye is in the grips of mental illness.

For now, we believe that two things are true:

First, there’s no excuse for Ye’s comments about Jewish people or his “White Live Matter” stunt. Second, we should offer Ye compassion and empathy.

If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues, there are resources for support online. You can contact the National Alliances on Mental Illness for more information.

  

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