Denmark: Reggae concert under close surveillance

NEWS

##PagePublishedLong##

Denmark:
Reggae concert under close surveillance

200 activitsts demonstrated against the performance of Jamaican rapper and DJ Elephant Man in Copenhagen on 21 May 2007 because he has incited to violence against homosexuals in his songs

    “Battyman fi dead! [Queers must be killed]
    Please mark we word [Please mark my words]
    Gimme tha tech-nine [Give me the Tec-9
                      (semi-automatic gun)]

    Shoot dem like bird”. [Shoot them like birds]
    Excerpt of lyrics from Elephant Man’s song ‘A Nuh Fi Wi Fault’

Inviting Elephant Man to perform in Copenhagen “could be compared to if someone in the 1930’s had invited a German nazi-band who incited to killing Jews,” said a city council member, Lars Rasmussen, as a response to what he termed as a “scandal”: that the Copenhagen concert hall The Rock was not stopped from organising this concert with Elephant Man at a time when the city was preparing for hosting the Olympic Games for Gays and Lesbians in 2009, the 2nd World Outgames, which are expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors to Copenhagen.

200 activists demonstrated in the street in front of The Rock on 21 May, demanding that Elephant Man’s concert should be cancelled. The week before the posters advertising the concert had been covered with a sign saying “cancelled”. Also a false press release had been distributed to news agencies and media houses stating that the concert was cancelled.

Click to go to www.skyjuice.dk
Excerpt of the concert promoter’s home page, www.skyjuice.dk

The discussion carried on in a number of full-page articles in the Danish daily newspapers, emphasising that it is not the first time this debate takes place. For instance, in July 2006, The Rock presented a concert with the Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton, and this caused similar friction between a homosexual organisation, the Danish National Association of Gays & Lesbians, on one side, backed by a demonstration of 300 participants, and reggae fans on the other side, primarily lead by a group called ‘Reggae for Tolerance’.

The owners of the concert hall The Rock where Elephant Man was about to perform on 21 May 2007 refused to cancel the concert, but promised in public to shut the electricity immediately if any homophobic remarks were heard from the singer.

The demonstrators carried banners saying “Fight the global racism, sexism and heterosexism”, and when a person carrying one of the banners was hit by a van, the crowd attacked the van with their fists and feet. The driver of the van managed to escape because police intervened to stop the violence. One demonstrator was arrested.

Hate crime charges in UK

In London in September 2003, the organisers of the British MOBO Awards, which took place at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 September that year, were condemned for “rewarding” three homophobic singers with nominations in the category “Best Reggae Act”. The gay human rights group OutRage! urged the Metropolitan Police to bring hate crime charges against Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man.

The three reggae singers have released songs variously urging the beating, shooting and burning of lesbians and gay men. These songs abuse gay people using the derogatory Jamaican patois slang, “batty man” and “chi chi man” (the equivalent of poof, bender and faggot).

The lyrics in question

Excerpts of lyrics from Beenie Man’s hit tune, ‘Bad Man Chi Chi Man’ (‘Bad Man, Queer Man’), instructs listeners to kill gay DJs:

    “If yuh nuh chi chi (queer) man wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!)
    If yuh nuh lesbian wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!)
    Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man!!!…
    Tell mi, sumfest it should a be a showdown
    Yuh seem to run off a stage like a clown (Kill Dem DJ!!!)”.

The Elephant Man track ‘We Nuh Like Gay’ goes:

    “Battyman fi dead! Tek dem by surprise
    Ghetta in shot head, cau me big gun collide…
    gimme me Tech-9, General B. wid de chrome an waa shine
    Harry Toddler shot out ah bugger-man”.

Elephant Man’s song ‘Log On’ celebrates setting fire to a gay person and stamping on their body:

    “Log on and step pon chi chi (queer) man
    Dance wi a dance and a bun (burn) out a freaky (queer) man…
    Step pon him like a old cloth
    A dance wi a dance and a crush out dem…
    do di walk, mek mi see the light and di torch dem fass”.

Click to go to myspace.com/elephantmandj
Elephant Man – caused controversy in Copenhagen because of his lyrics


Not everything is allowed

As a point of departure, no censorship can be imposed or subsequent legal steps be taken against musicians because of what they express in their music. The European Court of Human Rights has interpreted artistic freedom of expression in a broad way. In a judgement from 1988 the Court observed, that “Those who create, perform, distribute or exhibit works of art contribute to the exchange of ideas and opinions which is essential for a democratic society. Hence the obligation on the State not to encroach unduly on their freedom of expression”.

However, there are exceptions, e.g.:
• Propaganda for war is always unlawful, as is advocacy for national, racial or religious hatred.
• States may also limit freedom of expression if it is necessary for a certain number of other reasons:
• Respect of the reputations of others (defamation),
• Protection of national security, public order, or of public health or morals.

In any case such limitations must be prescribed in a national law.


What is ‘hate music’?

Sources (in Danish):

Politiken – 21 May 2007:
‘Homofobisk reggaestjerne kan f

MetroXpress – 23 May 2007:
‘K

Go to top
Related reading

Back to top