Songs of hate - Buju Banton / Beenie Man -

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Posted on October 6, 2009 - 6:43am by Anonymous.

Reggae dancehall performers Buju Banton and Beenie Man don't know me, but they say they hate me.

I'm a black man of Jamaican ancestry -- who knows, our Kingston roots may be intertwined somewhere in the past -- but because I am gay, they say they are at war with me.

They sing lyrics that incite their fans to murder and torture all gay people, even providing specific instructions:

Buju Banton incites listeners to shoot gays in the head, pour acid on us and set us on fire. Beenie Man suggests that his fans ``Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope'' and sings of a new Jamaica, ``come to execute all the gays.'' Buju suggests killing us with machine guns; Beenie recommends bazookas.

Banton and Beenie Man are both scheduled to perform in Miami's James L. Knight Center at the ironically titled Reggae ``Bash'' 2009 on Oct. 31. This Halloween-night concert is a personal affront and a physical threat to people like me. They are bringing their message of hate into my city, and inciting people to violence in my neighborhood. I call on the the city and the Knight Center management to cancel the concert, and for companies to end their sponsorship of the event.

Inciting violence

I am not alone in my outrage at the hateful and murderous message of Buju Banton and Beenie Man and their incitement of fans to violence against gays and lesbians. Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee venues have already cancelled the concert, and Toyota of Hollywood has withdrawn its financial support of the event. Nationwide, shows in Salt Lake City, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Richmond and Minneapolis have been cancelled.

Unsurprisingly, concert promoters have done two things: downplay the incitement to violence as Banton's youthful indiscretion and invoke his First Amendment right to free speech. ``He was just 15 years old'' when he wrote Boom Bye Bye, his first hateful call to violence, they say. ``He doesn't perform it anymore.''

That is simply not true. A Miami Herald reporter posted a video of Buju Banton performing Boom Bye Bye in Miami in 2007. Search the Internet and you'll see him onstage in a video posted September 2009, screaming: ``There is no end to the war between me and the f--gots!''

As for Banton's right to free speech, I'm a strong supporter of the First Amendment. I firmly believe that Buju Banton and Beenie Man have a right to hate whomever they want, and to speak loudly against them, onstage and off.

But they go much further: They publicly advocate murder and other forms of indiscriminate violence against people like me and incite their listeners to commit assault. No venue, public or private, is obligated to provide space for those who use ``fighting words'' to incite violence.

Speaking out peacefully

It is a sign of deep respect for the First Amendment, not an affront to it, to meet hateful speech with only speech, not threats of violence. And that is what fair-minded Floridians -- gay and straight alike -- have been doing all across the state. We are speaking out against the dehumanization of people and the murderous message these two dancehall singers continue to spew for profit.

If the concert goes on, you can be certain there will be protesters outside, exercising our First Amendment right to free speech. But we will not be inciting murder or violence against anyone. That would be dead wrong and illegal.

George Byars is a member of Equality Florida. He previously served as development director of the civil rights organization.


Anonymous (not verified) says:

October 12, 2009 - 11:31am

In regards to Tom Fisher's post:

Mr. Fisher,

I applaud your attempt at diplomatic PR, but this time it will not fly. I am a resident of the greater St. Augustine/ Jacksonville area, and though there is great bigotry and lack of concern for human rights where I live, I WILL NOT stand for acceptance of hate.

You better believe that I will spread the word that your venue is condoning someone of such heinous nature, and I will make it my mission to let all college students, frequenters of your venue, and anyone who will listen to boycott the event.

And how dare you attempt to so shamelessly promote Buju on this blog?! Hate is not acceptable. Do you understand? HATE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

By booking Buju, you and your business, Plush of Jacksonville, PROMOTES HATE.

Better believe this will NOT be the last you hear of me.

Thank you.

Anonymous (not verified) says:

October 8, 2009 - 11:14am

No matter what you do to cancel shows, that will never stop peoples opinion on your lifestyle. We have the right to disagree with what you are doing. Prove to me that a song from buju or beenie has directly hurt someone. Prove to me that any violent song,movie, vidoe game directly made someone act violent. There is a right to free speach, and I will always support that no matter what. Get over it and move on. You put so much effort into all this and there is so much greater problems going on right now.

George Byars (not verified) says:

October 7, 2009 - 4:19pm

Anonymous, you missed the point: you and Buju can SPEAK against anything you please, including two guys holding hands or kissing if that offends you. Neither you nor Buju, however, can legally INCITE VIOLENCE OR THREATEN PEOPLE, which is why this is not a First Amendment/free speech issue. The city and Knight Center should recognize that and cancel the concert.

Anonymous (not verified) says:

October 6, 2009 - 5:49pm

You people are so hypocritical. Whenever someone has something to say that offends you, you barrage people and make them cancel shows. What happened to the 1st Amendment? I don't barrage you when I see two guys walking down the stret holding hands or kissing, which offends me. We live in the United States of America...get over it!

GLBTQ Jamaica Linkup Mod (not verified) says:

October 6, 2009 - 2:36pm

poignant writing man

Scott in Tampa (not verified) says:

October 6, 2009 - 8:41am

My response to anyone that says they are financially strapped and must have a venue to generate funds - I would ask them in return - what if their ad sponsors pulled... How much would they generate then? Because - that is where we target next. If they choose to allow this performance - we must attack them where it counts - the bottom line.

Anonymous (not verified) says:

October 6, 2009 - 8:19am

The Orlando show that was cancelled at Hard Rock, is rescheduled:
11-01 Orlando, FL

Destiny Night Club

Destiny Nightclub
7430 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819

Phone 407.351.9800
Fax 407.351.9803

Laura M. Ramos
V.P. of Operations
Text: 407-744-8718

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