Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Messengers Of Hate Are Never Cool

Buju Bantonby Dick Mac

Buju Banton (Mark Myrie) is one of a number of Jamaican musicians who advocate the murder of GLBT people. Along with Capelton (Clifton George), Beenie Man (Anthony Moses Davis), Bounty Killer (Rodney Price), Elephant Man (O'Neil Bryan), Sizzla (Miguel Orlando Collins), T.O.K. (Alistaire McCalla, Roshaun Clarke, Craig Patrick, Anthony Thompson, Xavier Davidson), Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer), and others, Banton writes and performs songs that advocate killing sexual minorities and trans-people.

I know that many people, including some of my friends, admire Jamaican culture and music because Jamaicans are people of a poverty-stricken nation whose music has a jamming rhythm, and they promote the consumption of marijuana, which everybody considers harmless, cool and progressive.

When this hip sound and cool culture hides deep homophobia, it must be exposed.

In 2004, I wrote to B.B. Kings music club in New York City, asking them to cancel a performance by Capelton, because of his violent homophobic songs. They had no use for my discussion but pointed out that people who come to their club enjoy popular music, great service, and good food! So, come on down and listen to the black guy sing about killing queers and smoking ganja!

There has been international pressure on this klan of Jamaican homophobes, and some of them have attempted to repackage and re-market themselves as voices of freedom and equality.

According to the New York Times
Mr. Banton signed a "reggae compassionate act" in 2007, saying that he would not make homophobic statements in public, release new homophobic songs or authorize the re-release of previous homophobic songs.

It's lovely that Banton and others of his klan have signed a non-binding non-legal document saying they will promote peace; but, that is crap! Sorry, it's just crap!

In fact, Banton has sung violently homophobic songs live in concert, in the United States, since signing that "pledge." The compassion act is meaningless.

To put this in a historical context: When Disney eventually agreed that the movie "Song Of The South" portrayed African Americans in a less-than-favorable light, they pulled the movie from the shelves. You can't buy it, and you can't see it on television or in the theaters. This is what you do when you realize something you've created is bad, wrong, morally repugnant, and offensive: you disown it and remove it from distribution, you apologize and hope that your future actions can help undo the harm you've already done.

This klan of Jamaican homophobes have signed a document that nobody really cares about, but their records calling for the killing and maiming of homosexuals are still for sale, and they continue singing the songs in concert! They are still profiteering from their message of hate and violence.

Enough already! These people need to be stopped. They need to lose their stage. They need to be kept out of the United States. They need to be marginalized. These are dangerous, hateful people.

Banton begins a tour of the United States during the month of September, and change.org has called for action against the promoter. After an email campaign to Live Nation, the promoter has cancelled four shows at House of Blues venues, and individual venues in LA and San Francisco. In reality, the venues have cancelled the shows, but Live Nation is cooperating with the cancellations and responding positively to the campaign.

There are still many shows being sold on Ticketmaster, and the only way the shows will be stopped is if you write to the venues and tell them that Banton is bad for business. it's OK to boycott a venue that promotes hate. Boycotts and threats of boycott work! Boycott is an effective tool to make your point.

Find the venue closest to you and send them an email about Banton's message of hate and express your concern that the venue is promoting such hate.

Ticketmaster list of Bujo Banton shows for sale

More links:

My article about Capelton and this hateful klan of musicians, originally published in 2004: A Jamaican Message of Hate

The article about HoB cancellations at change.org: Live Nation Cancels Concerts with Artist Who Sings About Killing LGBT People

A brief report of the controversy in the New York Times arts section:
Arts Briefly

Images of the so-called "compassion act" signed by these hateful homophobes in an effort to deflect bad publicity: Reggae Compassion Act images

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