Sunday, November 1, 2009
"Part of the responsibility for this, it has been suggested by some, are antigay violent lyrics by local artists calling in their songs for the murder of gays and lesbians. Here's the take of a local academic arguing that gays and lesbians who call for such artists' concerts to be canceled and boycotted are 'pathological'. Check out her take on the issue first, and then read my commentary below. I sent it to the paper that published her OpEd, I doubt you will see mine there, though."
To whom it may concern:
Professor Cooper's editorial, well-intentioned and unusually considerate (by Jamaican standards) doesn't add up. She complains essentially that a Jamaican singer whose repertoire included a song calling for the killing of gay people is still subjected to boycott campaigns by gays and lesbians in other countries. She calls such campaigns 'perverse'. Cooper considers the offending song's lyrics 'infamous', however anyone not wanting the singer to perform in their neighbourhood is acting under a 'particularly perverse pathology'. Really, is my attempt at keeping such artists out of my country sick, Professor Cooper? So, our Jamaican artist sings infamous songs, while those who would be at the receiving end of his murderous art are sick (aka pathological). Nice touch professor, truly a well-balanced statement. You should be safe in homophobic Jamaica (whatever that means these days).
What reasons has Professor Cooper on offer for her take on the issue?
Well, for starters, she points out that our artist hero hasn't sung the song in question for awhile and launched recently a CD hoping it would be bought by amongst others gays, lesbians, and - guess what - even slim people. Let me just say that to the best of my knowledge, he has not yet apologized and retracted the song in question. That a more market savvy performer tries to increase market share is understandable, but surely shouldn't be seen as evidence for a changed mind set.
Comes the professor's next reason: the US based ACLU is defending the artist's 'right' to perform. The ACLU, of course, also defends the KKK's right to propagate its racist views in public. It's the result of a particularly silly bit of US Constitution that puts virtually no limits on speech acts, unlike any other country in the world. You could not make such statements anywhere in Europe (neither the Jamaican artist's 'lyrics' nor the KKKs racist rabble-rousing). The result is that such societies are more cohesive and peaceful than the USA.
And another lost-case type argument from our literary professor. She claims, citing an unsubstantiated statement from an ACLU activist, that there is no causal evidence that hate speech calling for violence against minority groups leads to such violence. There is an obvious reason for this: actions usually have multiple causes, some conscious, others unconscious. We do know that propaganda works; why it shouldn't work in a pathologically homophobic place such as Jamaica remains a mystery to me. Gay people have experienced time and again spikes in anti-gay violence following high-profile homophobic statements by artists or politicians and the like. Equally, many minority ethnic people in Britain were deeply incensed when the BBC permitted recently the BNP leader Nick Griffin to speak on a program. They pointed out that the mainstreaming of racism will undoubtedly lead to an increase in racist violence. I wonder whether Professor Cooper fully appreciates the implications of her feeble attempt at denying the link between homophobic statements calling for violence against gays and lesbians and the occurrence of such violence.
Her last unsubstantiated claim is that fans potentially engaging in homophobic violence would not do so after dancing to artists' tunes encouraging them to kills gays and lesbians. Is she seriously suggesting that there might be people out there who were considering killing gays and lesbians and then these folks get prevented from doing this because they attend a concert with an artists calling on them to go through with their tentative plans? What can I say, this surely is a breathtaking empirical claim without any basis in fact.
So, there you go, now you know why us folks outside your island go out of our way to have your violence and art kept where it belongs, namely on your island - as your problem, not ours. Let Buju apologise for this song and we will welcome him with open arms.
Here is the reponse:
I realise that my letter to the editor has stirred up some ants nest amongst your kind but let me state that even though you are drawing my attention to President Obama being the most outspoken President on gay rights and him signing the bill expanding the law against hate crimes to include disabled, gender and gays (noticably last on the list), may I also direct your attention to the fact that he is also the first President to have brought so publicly to the White House the real meaning of upholding ideal marriage values that should exist between a man and a woman and their kids which he is hoping will be a learning curve to change the loss of sanctity to marriage which the American society has suffered over the years.
Those in the know also will tell you that the strong spiritual beliefs of President Obama does not allow him to accept a homosexual relationship as a personal endorsement but the game of politics is one which politicians play more out of expediency than personal beliefs.The nature of hate crimes in the USA is substantially different from Jamaica. Gays here are less likely to be attacked in public than Jamaica because the USA is not a homophobic society but the passage of this bill will do very little to protect them any further than the passage of the bill to protect blacks has done to protect them against hate crimes. In Jamaica, the facts are that most homosexuals who have been murdered had it done to them by their own lovers because of the high degree of jealousy which exist within that group, platonic relationships is a prohibition.
The be all and end all of this whole debate is that there is no need to waste legislative time formulating bills to protect any special group when the spiritual culture of that society such as the USA and Jamaica will never embrace it or even for that matter obey it and finally, you are asking us to extend tolerance as mere mortals, have you all asked God, who is immortal, what is his tolerance level to the reprobation of mankind, whom he created, to this immoral activity considering his response to Sodom and Gomorrah and how accepting will he be of your kind when he returns to judge mankind? also bear in might that drawing corrulations to wife beating, child abuse, rape, etc. does not add any credence to the acceptance of your nasty activities and no one will convince me that God created intimacy to be fulfilled in a lateral relationship as man+man or woman+woman and it was never his plan for kids to be raised in such relationships as he would have made it possible to reproduce in such a unit. I will not step back on my campaign against any special recognition for gays both here in the USA and my country of birth, Jamaica.
I made myself a promise not to argue with homosexuals about what's right or wrong because inherently, most of them know that that type of relationship is totally wrong because no one was created by a Holy God to have homosexual intentions, that is clear by how we were physically built and the natural tendencies that were instilled in us. Regardless of what anyone may say, homosexuallity is an acquired and learnt behaviour brought on by sinful intentions.It is none of your business why I choose to live in the USA and just to inform you that if the USA was a homophobic society much of what I encounter on a daily basis in public places would not outlive the light of day in Jamaica.
The views I hold for Jamaicans are the same I hold here because the natural laws of God are increasingly being pressured here and therefore I have to join those to help push back these forces of evil. I would ask you kindly to lay off and consider this coversation closed because if you continue, I will take pleasure in verbally hitting where it hurts.
Optimist by Nature.....One Love!!
my final email:
No one is asking anyone to accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, if so point out where that was done, don't just spew things without proper references.
Contrary to your belief that the US is not a homophobic society ... why would a hate crimes bill be needed ...think carefully before typing and don't let emotions crowd rational reasoning.
Only recently there was an incident caught on tape (unfortunately removed from YouTube) of a man attacked by two men. Plus the recent set of transgender attacks which include murders the difference is the system is designed to deal with issues like those hence the hate crimes bill again, if it weren't for the parents of Matthew agitating and using the respective legal recourses well ................
Even if the president does not support gay marriage as you have espoused he recognises that people are to be recognised which is the germane of the points, who people choose to sleep with or have a long term relationship with is not for anybody to judge or speculate after all it's the same Bible parts of which are conveniently used to beat us to the ground that says "Judge not lest ye be judged" then it's no wonder the opposition between pro and anti gay support are and will be always at odds until we agree to have tolerance.
Your response also missed the real reason as you had said for the letter which is the Gleaner's editorial are your views the same since my response?
As far as I am concerned marriage over the centuries have been redefined to make it look the way it looks now and is more a legal process than a ceremonial one. The cohabitation issues that follow the recognised public union between two people is left up the to individuals so united.
When gay groups or individuals ask for "MARRIAGE EQUALITY" it is not to live as a man and a woman and the misconception is pushed to bolster the anti gay position but to gain the relevant benefits accompanying the legally recognised union. That is the main thrust for demanding that recognition. Benefits such as death, health, pension including spousal is what counts.
I am certain you were addressed respectfully in my response but then again I don't expect better from folks these days who are clearly intolerant yet christian.
As Mr Ian Boyne puts it in his article today the discussions are too loaded with emotions and must be done in a rational and calm setting.
The JFJ Gleaner piece today as well clearly has shown the importance of rights equitably and justly distributed and the weakness of leadership in Jamaica. It is kinda hypocritcal for you to have left Jamaica I assume to live in the US where gays and other peoples exist under laws and a justice sytem that recognises them then to criticise Jamaica from there. HHmmmmm
Mr. Seaga has also has a piece on the key points of the Charter I suggest you peruse it.
No one was suggesting you step back from anything what are people like you afraid of that makes you get so defensive when someone suggest equality or tolerance specifically to LGBT issues. If homosexuality was contagious you would have had already as during your lifetime you have come across a gay person openly or clandestine.
As for murders real gays don't have to pretend to be gay in order to "eat a food" and when the hand is pulled then violence sets in. Read between the lines.
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
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thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)
Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.
Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.
Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.
This may have a psychological effect on the individual.
The police 119
Crime Stop 311
Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it
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