Miss Cooper writes:
Chapter 2 is a different story. God first made man then realised He had made a mistake: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an helpmeet for him." God takes one of the ribs of man and makes woman.
In this rib-tickling version, woman is not conceived as the partial reflection of a God who is jointly male and female. She is a glorified helper. Having started life as one of the ribs of man, she is stuck to his side. She has no agency. Her sole function is to make life easy for 'bafan' man. "Is not me seh so; is di Bible." Despite these variations, the moral is the same: the pairing of male and female is divinely ordained.
Not surprisingly, the second creation story introduces the subject of sex. 'Man a yard' quickly realises that woman, this gift of God, can serve a delightful purpose: "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
The wicked serpent 'mash up di dolly house' by inveigling them to disobey God and eat what they were not supposed to eat. 'Dem bow.' Thanks to the devil, sex was pathologised for good. The man and the woman discovered that nakedness was shameful.
Furthermore, the Bible condemns variations on the coupling of male and female. In both the Old and New Testaments there are recurring warnings about the fundamental evil of homosexuality. Leviticus 20:13 explicitly sentences homosexuals to death: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
Here is the genesis of the bloody lyrics of many dancehall DJs. Fundamentalist Christian interpretations of the Bible provide the divinely sanctioned justification for attacking homosexuals. As an impressionable teenager, brought up in Jamaica, Buju Banton can be forgiven for composing the infamous lyrics of Boom By By . The story goes that he was inspired to write the lines in response to the rape of a boy by an adult male. The youthful DJ translated the archaic language of the King James Version of the Bible into graphic street talk. The imported Hollywood gun culture provided the primary image for the song in which the sound of bullets ricochets with rhythmic precision. In the best biblical tradition, the song called down judgement on sinners for the crimes of paedophilia, buggery and rape.
After 'Boom By By'
Buju Banton no longer includes Boom By By in his performance repertoire. I speculate that, like many liberated Christians, the mature artist now knows that you really can't take everything in the Bible literally. Both adulterers and homosexuals are sentenced to death in the same chapter of Leviticus. So why attack only homosexuals?
It could also be a case of responding to the pressures of the market. At the April launch of his Rasta Got Soul CD at the University of the West Indies, Buju said his music was for everybody: "the young, the old, the gay, the lesbian, the obese, the slim."
But some hard-core gay-rights activists will have none of it. They are fixated on Boom By By. Buju's US tour this year has been bedevilled by protests and show cancellations. It makes you wonder if it's not a particularly perverse pathology that makes these activists hug up Boom By By.
Is not an easy road
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has now said that enough is enough. A joint statement issued by Howard Simon, executive director, and Robert Rosenwald, director of the Union's, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) Advocacy Project, condemns the censorship of Buju Banton and the cancellation of concerts.
Simon and Rosenwald rightly argue that "the Buju Banton song in question is vile and offensive. But despite its hateful message, it is protected speech under the Constitution." They also assert that, "as to the claim that the song lyrics are incitement, Banton has sung his song many times, including during a previous appearance in Miami, with no ensuing violence. There is no basis to make the leap from a hateful and offensive pop song to incitement to riot".
Lyrical violence may even be cathartic. It could be a cleansing alternative to literal acts of violence. If the ancient Greeks could have had their catharsis in the theatre, why can't Jamaican youth have theirs in the dancehall?
Is not an easy road. Buju Banton is still being victimised because of a single song recorded more than two decades ago. Jamaican proverbial wisdom warns, "is not everything good to eat good to talk." Or in this instance, "is not everything not good to eat good to talk." Is a pity Buju didn't learn this fundamental lesson early in his career.
Carolyn Cooper is professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Send feedback to: email@example.com