The controversy over anti-gay lyrics in reggae music continues: performances by Sizzla and Elephant Man in Toronto have been cancelled following an outcry from Canadian organizations who came together under the “Stop Murder Music” flag. Police had already intended to monitor the concerts for “hate speech,” but then promoters pulled the plug on the events, scheduled for September 28 and October 6th.
Stop Murder Music Canada founder Akim Larcher told the Toronto Star that the reggae stars “shouldn’t have been allowed to get visas to perform in the country… it’s not about censorship or artistic freedom. That stops when hate propaganda is involved.”
We’ve covered the controversy over anti-gay lyrics in reggae music here before, as well as the current kerfuffle over sexist and generally nasty language in American hip-hop. While I’m inclined to side with artists, since offense and shock has always been a part of art’s power, is there a qualitative difference between calling for the murder of “batty boys” and calling women “hos”? Why do white artists seem to get a free pass, with the whole “I’m singing in character” defense? And when does exercising your right to free speech by protesting another’s speech interfere with their right to, um, speak? Answers to all these questions coming up tonight at 11.