There are two perceived issues at play here: firstly, the band’s violent and explicit lyrics, and secondly, their posing a “potential threat to public order”. Though the band’s appearance at the Big Day Out in 2012 was cancelled after protests about the former, they were permitted to enter the country (and perform a solo show). This time, they weren’t – on character concerns, informed by incidents at past performances in which they’ve incited violence.
Yesterday afternoon, Immigration New Zealand confirmed that six group members had their visas revoked, not because of their lyrics, but because they posed a “potential threat to public order and the public interest”.
I think this is a key distinction. I am against anyone being banned because of their language or lyrics. But direct incitement to violence is a different issue.
The authority’s decision to bar Odd Future was informed by an incident in Boston in 2011, when an autograph signing by Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator, was cancelled at last minute, resulting in a “riot” in which some witnesses claimedgroup members incited fans to attack police officers. (Whether or not that’s true, matters weren’t helped by Tyler’s subsequent tweet “F… POLICE F… YOU ALL I HOPE YOU DIE”.)
Indeed. And the fact that some of their supporters seem like minded doesn’t help, as the Herald reports:
The organiser of a group which campaigned against a visit to New Zealand by hip-hop group Odd Future says she has fielded death and rape threats after some of its members were refused entry to the country.
The Los Angeles collective was meant to be playing at the Rapture hip-hop festival in Auckland tonight but was refused entry after being determined by Immigration New Zealand as a threat to public order.
Immigration NZ’s decision came days after anti-sexual violence group Stop Demand emailed Auckland councillors, criticising the decision to allow the group to perform at the Western Springs event. The email quoted several lyrics from Odd Future which referred to rape.
Stop Demand founder Denise Ritchie said the organisation had been inundated with hate mail since the decision was made public.
“Our Facebook page, I was told by a volunteer of our organisation not to go into it because it was too vile … It included a rape threat against me, a death threat and a threat to burn my house down.”
Odd Future’s lyrics are, to the vast majority ofmen on the Clapham omnibus, completely unpalatable in their sometimes deadpan, sometimes gleeful depiction of violence, in particular sexual violence against women – and, while no member has been charged with or convicted of such crimes, it’s hard to entirely dismiss their words as shock value or ironic posturing, even if that would make them acceptable.
Ringleader Tyler, the Creator is the kind of person who thinks it’s acceptable (or, more likely, funny) to respond to Canadian indie duo Tegan and Sara’s “Call for Change” against the music industry’s enabling of Odd Future and others’ misogyny with the tweet, “If Tegan And Sara Need Some Hard Dick, Hit Me Up!”; the kind of person who abused a 23-year-old student who petitioned against the band’s Sydney show last year, and invited his 1.7 million Twitter followers to do the same.
And Radio NZ interviewed the student who was targeted. It was appalling what he directed towards her.
However having said all that, I don’t think the ban was the right call. I’d have them perform in NZ for those who want to listen to them, but if they say or do anything that does break the law, then you charge them with the appropriate crime.