Canada: Reggae shows cancelled after protests

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Canada:
Reggae shows cancelled after protests

Jamaican reggae stars Elephant Man and Sizzla have been forced to cancel two concerts in Toronto, Canada, after locals protested against their homophobic lyrics.

Elephant Man (real name: O’Neil Bryan) was due to play at the mega-club Kool Haus in Toronto on 5 October 2007, but the gig was cancelled following an outrage by the Stop Murder Music Canada coalition – a group of 20 organisations seeking to have the star and his band banned from the country because they say their lyrics are homophobic and incite violence against gays.

Sizzla’s 28 September show at the same venue was also pulled over the controversy.

Akim Larcher, the founder of Stop Murder Music Canada, said, “It’s not about censorship or artistic freedom. That stops when hate propaganda is involved.”

Activist and Canadian author Orville Lloyd Douglas says “there are a lot of double standards here,” because these organisation’s “don’t go after Eminem or Marilyn Manson.”

Larcher says the focus of his group is to bring awareness of homophobia in Jamaica. According to Amnesty International, attacks and threats on gays and lesbians in Jamaica are on the rise.

Elephant Man performed in London’s Music Hall on 1 October 2007 after having promised to avoid his most provocative lyrics. London police, which has a ‘hate crimes unit’, was present at the show and the manager of Music Hall, Steve Ballah, said he was prepared to unplug the mike for Elephant Man if he sang objectionable stuff, such as the song ‘Log On’ which critics say contains lyrics teaching a dance that encourages people to “stomp on” and “crush” gay people.

Elephant Man’s Canadian booking agent, Chris Hines, said his client no longer plays ‘Log On’ and is sorry if his music has offended people. “He knows what he did back then was wrong, and he says he won’t perform those songs again,” said the booking agent.

In St. Catharines, Canada, Elephant Man was rebooked at another club after a scheduled appearance was cancelled by a club manager.


Legitimate censorship?
Freemuse has previously reported about gay activists fighting the anti-gay music, the socalled ‘murder music’, which has led to the boycott of several reggae musicians. Some lyrics have also been investigated by the Scotland Yard and as a result, the British government has been considering banning certain reggae stars from entering the UK.

Freemuse’s position when it comes to the censorship of music that glamorises violence and promotes hate is clarified by the Freemuse chairperson Martin Cloonan: “While it is an anti-censorship organisation, Freemuse does recognise that there may be occasions on which free speech can legitimately be restricted. In general we judge on a case by case basis and are guided by international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”



Sources

Google News – continously updated:
Seach ‘Elephant Man’ + ‘Sizzla’

The Sun – 1 October 2007:

‘Controversial rapper heading for London’

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