‘Gangsta rap’ seeked banned in music stores
A Toronto activist has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Canadian music store chain selling ‘gangsta rap’ that glorifies the mistreatment of women
The Canadian activist Valerie Smith is represented by the lawyer Cynthia Watson of Watson Labour Lawyers – a cutting edge union side labour law firm. Watson argues that Ms Smith’s rights under Section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code have been violated. Section 1 requires equal treatment with respect to goods and services.
Newswire Today explains that according to Smith and Watson ‘gangsta rap’ is not only at complete odds with the purpose of the Code because it promotes violence against women, the music store HMV is also condoning verbal abuse against women by selecting and selling this kind of music containing misogynist lyrics. This conduct contributes to gender based discrimination.
HMV is Canada’s leading music retailer and features gangsta rap on its website and in its stores. HMV challenged the ability of the Commission to address Ms. Smith’s complaint on the grounds that it is entitled to free speech under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to HMV, any order of the Tribunal restricting the sale of hate rap would violate its right to freedom of expression.
The Supreme Court of Canada, however, has held that freedom of speech is not an absolute right. In fact, Parliament has seen fit to criminalize hate speech against certain groups under the Criminal Code. Noticeably absent, however, is protection for women against hate speech. As a result, human rights legislation is currently the only means by which a woman can gain such protection.
In a recent decision, an Investigator with the Commission agreed with Ms. Smith that “some of the lyrics [of gangsta rap] are violent, hateful and abusive towards women and are clearly contrary to the values of the Code.” However, he decided not to refer the case further on the grounds that while the music is clearly offensive, HMV did not discriminate against Ms. Smith on the basis of sex in the provision of goods and services. Watson Labour Lawyers is currently appealing the decision.
If you would like more information about this case you can contact Cindy Watson directly at tel: +1 877 646 5595. Email: cwatson[.]watsonlabourlaw.com
Newswire Today – 25 September 2006: