Big Day Out has withdrawn the invitation to Beenie Man, which is the right thing to do.
Prior to that, No Right Turn blogged (as I did) that he did not agree with Charles Chauvel’s call to ban Beenie Man from entering New Zealand. He says:
In case Chauvel has forgotten, we are a country which supposedly respects freedom of speech. And that liberty applies to people we disagree with as well as those we like. The widely accepted limit on freedom of speech is “shouting fire in a crowded theatre”. While Beenie man’s music is hateful, like David Irving’s, it simply does not reach that standard. I am not denying the social consequences of his hate, but they are far too distributed and distant to provide a justification for censorship.
Now as I said, I agree with NRT that banning Beenie Man on the basis of some previous songs is inappropriate. But it has got me wondering – where do you draw that line, the so called shouting fire in a crowded theatre.
The lyrics to some of his songs have been criticized for inciting the murder of homosexuals, with lyrics such as, “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays”. In “Mi Nah Wallah”, he says he would like to cut the throats of all gay men. In “Bad Man Chi Chi Man” the lyric instructs listeners to kill gay deejays, and in “Han Up Deh”, the lyric suggests hanging lesbians with a long piece of rope.
Now since 2005 he hasn’t performed such lyrics. He claims that by homosexuals he meant pedophiles – old men picking up young boys. Personally I regard that excuse as disingenuous considering one of his lyrics is also about hanging lesbians. But the fact is he has not sung such lyrics or advocated such acts since 2005.
The question I ponder is, what if he still advocated such actions through his songs. Would that be sufficient reason to bar him entry?
I think of the comparison to David Irving, whom I also did not think should be banned. Irving is an anti-semite and a Holocaust denier. But he doesn’t actually advocate the executions of Jews. If someone actually did actively advocate the extermination of Jews, I would say that crosses the line.
Now likewise, if Beenie Man still actively advocated the murder of gays and lesbians, I think that would cross the line. There is a difference between mere bigotry and actual incitement to violence.
I’d be interested to hear NRT’s thoughts (and others) on where he thinks the line is. Of course to some degree the line might be like spam – hard to define, but you know it when you see it.Tags: Beenie Man, free speech, No Right Turn