Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: I'll Take Actium and Trafalgar

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  • Tessa Houghton,

    Great post. The whole 'oh but why aren't you protesting/worrying about x, instead of/as well as y' tends to come from people who don't protest about jacksh**, in my experience - they just whinge when others don't follow the priority set they're too slack to act upon. It happens to me over and over re: feminism. While I also firmly believe that compassion is not finite, energy certainly is, and no one has the ability to take on every single fight they feel compassion for - not even the toughest of 'meatshields'.

    Knowing when to seperate art and artist, and when to conflate them can be tricky, I think, especially with music lyrics. However, I definitely think that this is a case where they need to be conflated. I hope the BDO pull him. If he does end up playing, I wonder whether it's better for people to ask for a ticket refund or to go and protest? Both seem like they have good, but different outcomes.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Don't read Gordon Campbells take on it then - it frustrated me and I'm nowhere near as involved in the issues as most.

    It should amaze me that we can be all up in arms calling for the forced expulsion from a Parliamentary party of someone who used the term "white motherfu*&er" in an email, but in the same week the same crowd are suggesting that a private festival deciding not to book someone who regularly called* for violence and death against homosexuals is some massive destruction of freedom of speech. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

    * there is contention as to whether or not he has stopped

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Don't read Gordon Campbells take on it then - it frustrated me and I'm nowhere near as involved in the issues as most.

    Too late. I found it really depressing. I have some deep respect for Gordon Campbell, but I found that column really unfortunate. Spurious accusations of racism aside, Campbell quotes from the intervew where Beenie Man denies having signed the Reggae Compassiontate Act and says that no, he doesn't promise not to play those songs again, but never mentions it in the column and writes as though he doesn't know about it.

    Tessa, the BDO has withdrawn its invitation to Beenie Man (which is not a ban, it should be noted, nobody's been 'banned'), but their comment on the fact makes very little sense to me. They appear to be saying, "We knew this was going to be offensive, but then we did it and it turned out to be offensive, so now we're not going to do it."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And no, boycotting murder music artists isn’t going to magically fix Jamaican culture. Nor does a protest at a rugby game bring down Apartheid.

    No it certainly doesn't -- but I make no apologies for http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2009/11/beenie-man-and-freedom-of-speech.html that Charles Chauvel's call for Beenie Man to be denied a visa to enter New Zealand was wrong on principle. And, I believe, an enormously dangerous precedent in practice.

    If people like you and me are "safe" in New Zealand, it's because our forefathers and mothers fought for the very freedoms we can too easily take for granted -- and surrender, or deny to others, with the very best of good intentions.

    And seeing the comments above, I don't have anything to say about the BDO "disinviting" the shitbag. Not sad it happened, but the BDO's programming isn't really a matter of compelling interest to me. The rather disturbing reasoning -- not least the nonsensically broad definition of incitement he uses -- of a man who is widely tipped to be Attorney-General in the next Labour Government is.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    which is not a ban, it should be noted, nobody's been 'banned'

    I haven't been invited to play at the BDO so I must have been banned too

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Charles Chauvel's call for Beenie Man to be denied a visa to enter New Zealand was wrong on principle

    I would agree with that, though I can also see that if you take the David Irving ruling as your existing precedent, then this is clearly worse.

    My partner and I, once upon a time, decided that if we ever did a big overseas trip, we'd go to the West Indies at the same time as the Black Caps and do beaches and cricket and booze. What I've learned over the last few years has taken that right off the menu - though these days I'd want to spend my 'honeymoon' in Cardiff anyway.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    Campbell quotes from the intervew where Beenie Man denies having signed the Reggae Compassiontate Act and says that no, he doesn't promise not to play those songs again, but never mentions it in the column and writes as though he doesn't know about it.

    I noticed that as well and it annoyed me. I was in two minds about Beenie Man until I read a bit more about him and read his actual lyrics about killing people. Had he really turned away from his former position whereby people should be murdered, then fine, but then he denied signing the RCA which seemed to be a promoters' PR action anyway.

    Free speech isn't a right to call for murdering people.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Free speech isn't a right to call for murdering people.

    Well no, that would seem to broach the agreed limits. But also note that isn't really what's happening here - he doesn't seem to go so far as incitement and his right to free speech hasn't been denied (Chauvel's OTT response rightly cast aside).
    It's just that a music festival has decided what he stands for doesn't align with it's own views (and those of a good number of it's customers). The free speech/muzzling/ban calls go well beyind what's happening here.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Gordon Campbell's argument from free speech is a weak one. Having the right to say something, as Beenie Man (what a ridiculous name), David Irving, and c. 1992 Ice T should have, is not the same as it being incumbent on us to provide a platform from which they can speak. I've replied to his comments.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    The free speech/muzzling/ban calls go well beyond what's happening here.

    Agreed. I think the BDO made a commercial decision that Beenie Man would not be an asset to their line up of artists and decided to drop him.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Free speech isn't a right to call for murdering people.

    No, but as I've noted elsewhere part of the Auckland Theatre Company's 2010 season is a new production of Romeo and Juliet -- a jolly little play that starts with the kind of gang brawling that gives Michael Laws a woody, goes through what would now be considered statutory rape and ends with a horrible teen suicide pact.

    When Baz Luhrmann's violent and serious sexed up film adaptation was the surprise hit of 1996, some people were arguing its rating should have been raised to an R18 for fear that it would "incite" copycat behaviour.

    Now, feel free to differ, but I agree with former chief censor Arthur Everard who said his ruling principle was to assume that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders aren't, in the strictest clinical sense, psychotic. They are capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality, and don't go out and copy what they see on a screen. When you start conflating the representation of an act, however vile that representation may be, with the act itself then you're walking a road paved with good intentions. And we all know where that ends up, don't we?

    I certainly think the ATC, and director Michael Hurst, would take strong exception to any claim that they're "calling for" teen suicide or murderous gang brawls.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    a jolly little play that starts with the kind of gang brawling that gives Michael Laws a woody, goes through what would now be considered statutory rape and ends with a horrible teen suicide pact.

    It's rather different, though. Portraying something does not mean advocating it, and Shakespeare comes nowhere close to even having any character say 'wouldn't it be great if all the teenagers killed themselves, now let's have sex with under-age girls'.

    Musichall is not advocating a fantasy, either, but something that happens in real Jamaican life with depressing regularity.

    Now, that doesn't mean that I think it should be banned, but pretty much all of the 'it's just like's I've seen on this haven't been even remotely equivalent. And I think the degree of 'incitement' or 'fantasy' shouldn't be judged against our culture, but the one it rises out of. Except in visa cases, where you are looking at the culture you're coming into. The Canadian Embassy in Jamaica makes all artists applying to perform in Jamaica sign a declaration that they've read and will abide by the Canadian Bill of Rights.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    I think there's an inherent difference between a play showing the consequences of bad human behaviour (and you have to admit it didn't work out well for the Capulets and the Montagues) and singing a song that directly incites violence.

    Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy that shows what horror a feud can bring about. You only have to read the prologue to see the point it's making. Line 6 specifically details the ending of the play, "A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life".

    But still, I think that Beenie Man can sing his vile songs provided he isn't directly inciting violence (and I'm honestly not sure if he is or not, as you say we aren't generally psychotic) and also I'm glad the BDO decided not to have him in their line up.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    Musichall is not advocating a fantasy, either, but something that happens in real Jamaican life with depressing regularity.

    For me, this is the real issue. Beenie Man comes from and feeds into a culture where killing people is celebrated and that's evil.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    Craig, your first link is broken. Also I don't see Charles Chauvel's "broad definition of incitement" - although admittedly I have just woken up. I don't get the relevance/context of that point either. Chauvel isn't basing his argument on the Crimes Act, which is where incitement would be relevant.

    Can you also explain for me why Chauvel's call to deny Beenie Man a visa is wrong in principle? Feeling is running high on both sides of the debate and there have been threats of violence made. I have no idea how serious the risk is, but we do have policy in the Immigration Manual that addresses this specifically, and that policy is the basis of Chauvel's letter. What is it about this that you disagree with?

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Personally, I think Chauvel was wrong, I think BDO can do whatever they wanted because they want to please a majority of their paying audience.I do think their point was that whilst aware of the contentious man's lyrics, they thought he had changed his way. Without confirmation of this, they really had to go with their personal feelings.
    I think there are heaps of controversial lyrics out there, e.g. Eminem, NWA. I must admit to listening to both those, and considered their lyrics as an education of areas I hadn't been. Jus' sayin'

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    but we do have policy in the Immigration Manual that addresses this specifically,

    So he was not needed. His intention may be in the right place but it becomes immediately divisive. I don't think that is helpful or any better.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Chuck D once stated that rap music was like the CNN for black people. It reflected what was happening in their community, the good, the bad and the ugly. What seems to have been lost in the outrage this week is that homophobia does not exist in Jamaica because Dancehall stars incite it in their lyrics, it is present in the lyrics because that accurately reflects Jamaican society.

    Bob Marley held the same views, but his vision of Babylon and damnation wasn't described with quite the same specificity so he gets a minor sainthood and is one of the driving forces behind our own Maori cultural renaissance in the 1980s.

    Life's weird eh?

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    Sofie, he was requesting entry be denied on the grounds of that policy. How does that make him not needed?

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    I find it hard to criticize Chauvel.

    If you replaced Beenie Man (who caused a certain amount of controversy when he was booked to play at a venue in New Haven, now that I think about it) with some benighted act that advocated the killing of (oh, I don't know) people with different melanin levels from their own, I doubt the "artist" would make it as far as the duty free shop at Auckland Airport before he was turned round and put on a plane back home.

    But that sort of clown probably wouldn't be invited to the BDO in the first place.

    What really seems to be going on here is that gay rights (and the right not have people advocating killing you because you're gay would seem to be one of these) may have made it into our laws, but they are not yet taken as seriously as those that prevent discrimination based on race or gender.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Bob Marley held the same views

    Robert Nesta Marley was a way in your face advocate of the use of a certain controlled substance. I've got one or two (dozen) members of the whanau who are pretty glad he wasn't denied a visa to enter New Zealand on that basis back in '79, because it was apparently an awesome gig.

    If you replaced Beenie Man (who caused a certain amount of controversy when he was booked to play at venue in New Haven, now that I think about it) with some benighted act that advocated the killing of (oh, I don't know) people with different melanin levels from their own

    Or cops? Sorry, but back in the day (1992), I wasn't down with then Police CommissionerJohn Jamieson trying to prevent Ice T from playing in Auckland, or attempts to have Body Count banned by the Indecent Publications Tribunal.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    What seems to have been lost in the outrage this week is that homophobia does not exist in Jamaica because Dancehall stars incite it in their lyrics, it is present in the lyrics because that accurately reflects Jamaican society.

    I'm pretty sure that the whole role model thing has been canvassed adequately in other threads, not to mention being fairly well-researched from what I understand, so I'll content myself with saying that these lyrics at best reinforce and at worst incite homophobia. They are NOT only a reflection, they have other attributes.

    Someone else can meat-shield now.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Because any visa application should look at their policy.If he is in a category undesirable then accordingly it should be addressed by the immigration department. It isn't Charles' department yet.That, was my meaning for not needed.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    they are not yet taken as seriously as those that prevent discrimination based on race or gender.

    Yeah. But we're working on it :)

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    ...as Beenie Man (what a ridiculous name)

    So you only listen to artists with sensible names then?

    In a genre with Busy Signal, Vybz Kartel, Spragga Benz and Red Rat, Beenie Man almost seems quaintly normal. :)

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

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