Information on Stop Murder Music (Canada) and Egale protests against hate musicians
Stopping sales of 'murder music'
Coalition pressures retailers to drop some dancehall
February 14, 2008
By Krishna Rau
A coalition of queer, black and human rights groups is trying to persuade music retailers to stop selling music by certain Jamaican artists.
The Stop Murder Music Canada (SMM) coalition has sent letters to HMV Canada, Quebec retailer Archambault Musique and Apple, which owns iTunes. In the letter SMM asks the retailers to stop selling music by Jamaican dancehall artists whose songs contain violently homophobic lyrics.
"We hope that you will agree that HMV Canada should not be a platform for antigay artists to promote hatred with the sale of their music in Canada," reads the letter to HMV. "You may be unaware that a number of dancehall artists have openly advocated, encouraged and glorified the violence and murder of gays and lesbians in their music."
Last year SMM was able to force the cancellation of shows in Ontario by dancehall artists Sizzla, Elephant Man, Capleton, Baby Cham and Beenie Man.
"I'm hoping that these corporations understand that these lyrics are dangerous to gays and lesbians, promote homophobia and contravene our hate laws," says Akim Larcher, the founder of SMM Canada.
The letters include examples of lyrics such as Elephant Man's "Dance wi a dance and a bun out a freaky man" (Join our dance and let's burn out the queer man) and "Boom boom! Batty boy them fi dead," (Boom boom! Queers must be killed) by Sizzla.
According to Amnesty International and gay human rights groups attacks on queers in Jamaica are widespread. The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays reports 43 mob attacks on queers in 2007 and that at least 10 queers were murdered between 2005 and 2006.
On Jan 29 of this year, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, a mob broke into the home of four gay men and used machetes to sever the limbs of one man who is in critical condition in hospital. One victim is still missing and is believed to have died after jumping off a cliff to escape his attackers.
"We would like to prevent any profiting from those songs," says Larcher. "We have to create spaces where this music is not sold, profited from or shared easily."
Members of SMM say they're not advocating censorship, and SMM is holding a panel discussion on free speech on Fri, Feb 29. Academic and author Rinaldo Walcott — who teaches and writes about black popular culture — told Xtra in November the issue is hate.
"This music represents hate to such an extreme that it calls for the extermination of gays and lesbians," he said. "Stop Murder Music is not about censorship. It's saying that certain kinds of speech that are so hateful are not welcome in our society and under our legal system."
Larcher says Apple is the only retailer to respond so far. He says he received a call from an Apple executive saying the company has formed a team to look at the issue. He says SMM will be approaching other retailers.
"We're looking at sending a message by targeting those retailers that are the largest," he says.
None of the retailers returned phone calls or emails from Xtra.
The Sound Of Hate, a panel discussion and public forum, will be held on Fri, Feb 29 at 6:30pm in room 2158 of U of T's Medical Sciences Building (1 King's College Circle). Panelists are poet and activist Staceyann Chin; academic Rinaldo Walcott; DJ and activist Nik Redman; Stop Murder Music's Akim Larcher and Ultimate Entertainment booking agent Rahim Visram; Angela Robertson moderates.
Murder music artists allowed into Canada again!
Toronto, Ontario, December 5, 2007: Despite assurances from Ultimate Entertainment not to bring “murder music” artists into Canada, we have learnt of two new performances here of the unapologetic anti-gay artist Baby Cham.
Lyrics by anti-gay Jamaican dancehall artist Baby Cham violate the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act by inciting violence and murder against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) communities. Upcoming Canadian concerts should be cancelled and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should deport Damian Beckett, aka Baby Cham says Stop Murder Music (Canada).
“Anti-gay lyrics in dancehall remains one of the leading vehicles of converting homophobia into violent actions in the Caribbean” said Akim Larcher, spokesperson for Stop Murder Music (Canada). “His presence in Canada can be perceived as a license to incite violence here.”
Gareth Wiliams co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), echoes this sentiment and believes that dancehall is being used as an instrument in Jamaican and Caribbean society to incite oppression, violence and murder to silence the LGBT communities.
“Concert promoters have a responsibility not to provide a platform for artists that openly promote violence against any group in society,” said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. “We hope that the promoters will do the right thing and live up to their promises by cancelling these concerts as other countries have done in the past.”
Lyrics by Baby Cham include “Bun fassy-hole and batty bwoy” which calls for queers to be burnt, “Poop man fi drown a dat a yawd man philosophy”,  sung by Baby Cham calls for queers to be drowned. Whilst in concert in Guyana this past month Baby Cham and other artists could be heard repeatedly throughout the night saying “Bun all batty man.” Baby Cham has remained unapologetic for his lyrics.
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For more information:
Akim Larcher, Stop Murder Music (Canada), 416 268-1622
Helen Kennedy, Egale Canada, 416 270-1999
 Burn queers (English translation).
 Gay men should be drowned and that’s a Jamaican philosophy (English translation).
No compassion for dancehall
October 7, 2007
By Krista Henry and Teino Evans, Staff Reporters
The dancehall fraternity silent about the 'gay attacks' on local artistes who have had their shows abroad cancelled and in some instances been banned, might soon have to break its silence.
For years, protests from gay activists have dogged the careers of Jamaican artistes internationally. Deejay Shabba Ranks' career was stopped in mid-flight when he experienced the backlash of responding to a question about Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye. And, since doing that song in the early 1990s, Buju has been plagued across the globe with banned concerts, a trend which has now spread to the likes of Beenie Man, T.O.K., Capleton, Sizzla, Elephant Man and others.
If gay activists get their way, Sizzla and Elephant Man will no longer be allowed to enter the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The Canadian Gay Rights Lobbyist, in collaboration with the U.S.-based 'Stop Murder Music', campaign, has decided to try to convince city officials in Ottawa to ban the reggae artistes based upon their refusal to sign the Reggae Compassionate Act, a document of allegiance to the campaign's mission.
The group is claiming that the performers incite hatred against gays and lesbians and are breaching Canada's anti-prejudice laws, which state that people who incite hate crimes may not be permitted to enter the country. At the 2007 U.K. MOBO awards, Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel had their nominations withdrawn due to homophobic lyrics. MOBO organisers demanded the pair apologise for anti-gay lyrics in some of their early songs after complaints from gay rights campaigners.
These are just a few examples from many instances that have occurred in the United States, England, France, Canada and parts of the Caribbean, which have huge consequences for the music. Despite being banned, there are numerous artistes, such as Sizzla and Buju Banton, who are not backing down.
Sizzla could be banned from performing in Ottawa, Canada. - Nathaniel Stewart/Freelance Photographer
While some chose to maintain their silence, like president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM), Desi Young, who said he had "no comment" on the issue because it was a "tricky issue", others have voiced their opinion.
According to Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment, the constant bans could mean bad news for the music on a whole. Hamilton said that the industry needs to tackle the issue and to define what the problem is, whether it is that these artistes have sung homophobic lyrics or continue to sing and perform homophobic lyrics.
"No one can stop the artistes from saying it's wrong. However, spouting violence as a solution to the problem of homosexuality is wrong. There are issues in promoting murder music, which is wrong. Some of the messages are too strong and a lot of it is misunderstood. We don't want people to equate our music with homocentric issues and think there is nothing more to these artistes... They should not be judged by that," Hamilton said.
He added that "there are not enough artistes crossing the threshold into American music and right now, with record sales and ticket sales down, we don't need that distraction".
While there was a major debate over the popular Chi Chi Man song by dancehall group T.O.K., they say they have not been affected by gay right activists and don't see the campaigns as having any significant impact on dancehall music.
"There is no evidence that gay right activists have impacted dancehall music in any significant way. I think dancehall music is stronger than any one topic or force, I mean apart from certain artistes not being able to travel to certain parts of the world because of things they have said (in their songs) in the past, I can't say for sure that they have had much impact," Craig T said.
He added that it "is a double-edged sword. There is a fine line between freedom of speech and censorship an' is just a line that all artistes have to be aware of and depending on who is listening to the song, it might me construed differently".
Another T.O.K. member, Alex, felt that these campaigns only highlight dancehall in the same negative light.
"I feel it has a negative impact because they feel that dancehall music is only centred around one topic and it is sad that these people always try to isolate and paint dancehall music in a negative light," Alex said.
In looking at further possibilities of reaching an amicable solution to the problem, entertainment lawyer Lloyd Stanbury says "I think the solution has to start with honesty on both sides. The gay activists need to demonstrate clearly that their actions are not in fact a strategy to promote and spread the acceptance of their lifestyle and resist any objections that might come from persons who do not subscribe to it".
He continued: "On the other hand, the reggae and dancehall community need to demonstrate clearly that they are not in fact promoting violence against gays".
Additionally, Clyde McKenzie of Shocking Vibes Limited says "I think it has to be a case where we open the eyes of the artistes of what opines internationally and they decide what to utter or confine themselves. Different countries have laws and we can't change these laws, so the only thing we can do is build awareness among the artistes. I think a lot of the artistes are now coming to understand that maybe if they want to operate in certain markets they will have to know the guidelines and once you have that kind of awareness then everything will be cool".
"I think sometimes the artistes are being penalised for things they say here (in Jamaica) because people (worldwide) can hear your utterances in Jamaica and they judge you and form protests against you based on what is said," McKenzie said.
Carleton students cancel performance by artist who called for killing of gays
October 3, 2007
By William Lin
A performance by Jamaican reggae dancehall artist Elephant Man has been cancelled after a public outcry over some of his song lyrics about killing gay people, organizers said yesterday.
Elephant Man was slated to perform tomorrow after he was invited by the Carleton University Students Association.
But strong opposition came from the community and a Toronto-based coalition that said the lyrics are hateful.
"We just couldn't go forward with the show if some people were going to be uncomfortable by his presence," Carleton University Students' Association president Shelley Melanson said in a statement.
Canada's Stop Murder Music coalition had sharply criticized the scheduled show, saying the lyrics have called for the killing of gays and lesbians.
In one song, Log On, Elephant man sings: "Join our dance and let's burn out the queer man."
"The student association did the right thing and stepped up to the plate and did their social responsibility in holding up Canadian laws and values," said Akim Larcher, a spokesman for the Toronto-based Canada's Stop Murder Music coalition.
"It's unfortunate that they didn't do the proper research and background information on the artist, that they had to make a decision after the fact."
The students' association initially said the reggae artist has changed his views, and that he would not be performing any old songs. "He no longer holds those views," Osmel Maynes, the executive who organized the concert, said last week.
The artist sent the association a written statement indicating that he wouldn't perform the songs in question and that any music he performs "should not advocate violence against any person or group of persons, as all human life is sacred."
Ms. Melanson said she hoped the turnaround would be seen as positive.
"We thought this was an opportunity to turn this into a positive event and use it to combat homophobia. Unfortunately, Stop Murder Music didn't feel this way."
Mr. Larcher said Elephant Man has not made any public statements denouncing those views and continues to perform the anti-gay songs in Jamaica, where gay-bashing is a big problem, he said. This year alone in Jamaica, 98 gays and lesbians were attacked in 43 incidents, Mr. Larcher said. Four gay men were killed, while four lesbians were raped, he said.
On St. Valentine's Day, three homosexuals were cornered in a pharmacy by a mob. "There were 200 or more people outside screaming and calling for their death. Police intervened and gunshots were fired and tear gas was sprayed in order to disperse the crowd," he said. Some people in the crowd were singing anti-gay lyrics from dancehall songs, he added.
Refunds for those who bought Elephant Man tickets will be available at point of sale with proof of purchase, the students association said.
Controversial rapper heading for London
London Free Press
October 2, 2007
By Claire Neary, Special to Sun Media
Jamaican reggae rapper Elephant Man, judged too offensive for Toronto, is scheduled to play in London tonight.
But that's only if the artist, whose real name is O'Neil Bryan, avoids his most provocative lyrics, which critics contend promote violence and hate toward gays and lesbians.
Manager Steve Ballah of the Music Hall said he's prepared to unplug the mike for Elephant Man's scheduled 9 p.m. show if he sings objectionable stuff, such as the song Log On.
Critics say the song contains lyrics teaching a dance that encourages people to "stomp on" and "crush" gay people.
"We won't tolerate that. We've held lots of (gay) Pride events here," Ballah said, adding he's hired extra security for the show.
London police, including the force's hate crimes unit, are aware of the show and "the police will be present," said Staff Sgt. Chris McCoy.
Elephant Man was to have played a Toronto club, The Kool Haus, on Friday night, but the club nixed that performance at the 11th hour.
"Had I been aware of the nature of the lyrics, I would not have allowed the booking," club manager Charles Khabouth said in a release.
In St. Catharines Saturday night, Elephant Man was rebooked at another club after a scheduled appearance was cancelled by a club manager.
Yesterday, a spokesperson for a coalition of organizations that promote human rights urged the London club to "step up to the plate" and scrub tonight's scheduled show.
"It's really unfortunate that this London venue hasn't decided to take the lead and show that homophobia and the promotion of violence is not acceptable in Canada," said Akim Ade Larcher, spokesperson for Stop Murder Music Canada.
Supporting Elephant Man in Canada only ensures his success in Jamaica, Larcher said.
"Artists like Elephant Man are symbols of violence against gays and lesbians, and allowing them to perform here is an insult to Canadian values," he said.
But Elephant Man's Canadian booking agent, Chris Hines, said his client no longer plays Log On and is sorry if his music has offended people.
"He knows what he did back then was wrong, and he says he won't perform those songs again," Hines said last night.
"I don't support anyone bashing anyone. By talking to him about it, I know that he's sorry," he said, adding he has a document from the rapper saying he won't sing Log On and other songs about which there have been complaints.
Hines said Elephant Man has played eight shows on his Canadian tour, which started last week in Winnipeg.
Ballah said he will speak with the artist to make sure he doesn't perform Log On.
Show won't go on for artists accused of anti-gay lyrics
September 30, 2007
By Chris Jai Centeno
Two concerts have been cancelled after mega-club Kool Haus pulled the plug at the last-minute on two controversial reggae and dancehall artists.
Entertainers Elephant Man and Sizzla were scheduled to perform last Friday night and Oct. 5 respectively, but both Jamaicans have been under fire from human rights organizations who say their lyrics are homophobic and incite violence against gays.
Akim Larcher, founder of Stop Murder Music Canada - a coalition made up of 20 organizations that promote human rights - says the federal government has remained silent in this issue.
"They 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," says Larcher.
It was reported Wednesday that police would monitor the concerts in case the artists ventured into criminally hateful territory.
Stop Murder Music has also called on the CRTC, which regulates radio and television airwaves, to step in and ban .
But activist and Canadian author Orville Lloyd Douglas says "there are a lot of double standards here."
These organization's "don't go after Eminem or Marilyn Manson."
Larcher says the focus of his group is to bring awareness of homophobia in Jamaica.
According to Amnesty International, attacks and threats on gays and lesbians in Jamaica are on the rise.
Kool Haus could not be reached for comment yesterday. Ticket sales for the O'Neil Bryan (Elephant Man) show had been poor.
The unmagnificent seven
September 27, 2007
By Richard Burnett
If I told you that dancehall reggae superstars Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel and Elephant Man are nothing but a bunch of "niggers," you'd all roundly and rightly kick my ass. But when hatemongering reggae dancehall performers publicly support or advocate violence against "battyboys" - Jamaican patois for "faggots" - few people raise even an eyebrow.
But in Jamaica, ground zero in the war over dancehall, there have been a reported 98 gay-bashings so far this year, including four lesbians who were raped and four gay men who've been killed. And anti-gay dancehall has become the music of the people.
That is why the three-year-old international campaign against these dancehall performers is called Stop Murder Music.
And the just-formed Canadian chapter is protesting Elephant Man's 12-date Canadian tour that began Sept. 20 in Winnipeg and brings the dancehall don to Montreal's Rialto on Oct. 5.
When Hour's August 2004 cover story interview with Sizzla made national newscasts and international headlines, the Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) unsuccessfully tried to shut down Sizzla's Montreal concert.
"After our denunciation of Sizzla's concert in Montreal in 2004, Foreign Affairs Canada's office in Kingston, Jamaica, requires all artists to sign a formal declaration to respect Canadian laws and values on equality and non-discrimination," CRARR executive director Fo Niemi told me this week. "Obviously, this is not enough because some of these artists continue to promote anti-gay violence in their songs."
In fact, Sizzla performed twice in Montreal in 2006, at the Medley and E.B. Club Lounge. Beenie Man also headlined E.B. Club Lounge last Nov. 10 and Buju Banton performed at CÉGEP André-Laurendeau on July 28. Now Elephant Man returns to the Rialto on Oct. 5.
So this month Stop Murder Music (Canada) - whose coalition includes CRARR, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Caribbean Human Rights Group, African Canadian Social Development Council, AIDS Committee of Toronto, Amnesty International LGBT (Canada) and Montreal's Gayline - fired off a letter to federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley demanding Canada bar Elephant Man from entering the country.
"Even though Elephant Man was not denied a visa, our campaign is still a victory because our purpose is to bring awareness and education on this issue," says Akim Adé Larcher of Stop Murder Music (Canada) in Toronto, where the local police hate crimes unit will monitor Elephant Man's Sept. 28 concert. "These artists use dancehall as an instrument against gays and lesbians in Jamaica and to silence the LGBT community in the Caribbean."
The coalition also wrote the Canadian Recording Industry Association, Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque (ADISQ), Canadian Independent Record Production Association and Canadian Broadcasters Association to ask their members not to support, sell, sponsor or broadcast performers like Elephant Man. Meanwhile, in a June 2007 deal brokered by U.K. gay rights groups OutRage!, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton reportedly signed the Reggae Compassionate Act (RCA) disavowing homophobia. Banton and Beenie Man have since publicly claimed they never signed the RCA.
Says Larcher, "Next time they sign it must be before an independent witness in a public forum in Jamaica. We're through playing games."
About the equally despicable concert promoters, Larcher adds, "They're reneging on their social responsibility to uphold Canadian law and human rights. For them it all comes down to money."
Ironically, the same weekend Elephant Man (signed to Bad Boy Records by P. Diddy) performs at the Rialto, the BBCM Foundation hosts its positive vibes Black & Blue circuit party at Olympic Stadium.
"Everybody gay and straight is welcome," says BBCM head honcho Robert Vezina. "We wouldn't bring in an artist that's anti-anybody. We're cosmopolitan, inclusive and open-minded. You're free to live as you want in this country. But to bring a reportedly anti-gay reggae artist to Montreal during Black & Blue is really in bad taste."
CRARR's Niemi says, "Sponsors of the concert, the Rialto and other clubs should cancel the rental contract now because they may be held morally and legally responsible for hosting, displaying and promoting symbols of discrimination which these singers have become."
But Elephant Man's Montreal promoter Luc Jeanty of the YB Entertainment Group told me, "I would not promote a show that promotes anti-gay violence. I've told Elephant Man that out of respect for me he has to be politically correct. None of his [anti-gay] songs are in his setlist. In Jamaica it's their own little world. These guys can only talk about what they see. But Elephant Man says he [also] signed all the papers."
I could not find any public record of Elephant Man signing the RCA.
Adds Niemi, "CRARR is examining legal actions under the Quebec Human Rights Charter against Elephant Man, the concert promoters and other sponsors for promoting anti-gay discrimination. It will announce these actions in October."
In other words, the mice may yet chase the Elephant Man out of town.
Police to monitor songs for anti-gay lyrics
September 26, 2007
By Nicholas Keung
Toronto police will monitor this Friday's concert by Jamaican dancehall artist O'Neil Bryan, also known as Elephant Man, after receiving complaints that the performer incites anti-gay violence through his music.
"Their lyrics, in my opinion, do tend to step over the line in regards to hate propaganda and advocating harm to one of the identified groups," said Det. Gary McQueen, of the hate crimes unit.
"These entertainers have had some issues in other countries, in London, England, in particular," he added, referring to another complaint against Miguel Orlando Collins, a.k.a. Sizzla, who is booked at The Kool Haus Oct. 5. "We are looking at these situations to see if they apply to our experience in Toronto and Canada."
Despite protests by the Toronto-based Canadian Caribbean Human Rights Group, immigration officials have issued visas to both Bryan and Collins. The latter was banned from the United Kingdom in 2004. Bryan arrived in Canada last week and has performed in Winnipeg and Victoria, where local police closely monitored the concerts.
The artists' offensive lyrics use derogatory terms for gay men in Jamaican patois.
Yesterday, a spokeman for Bryan's Toronto host, The Kool Haus on Queens Quay, also condemned the singers' anti-gay lyrics but said its hands were tied because of contractual agreements with both performers. Last week, a St. Catharines union pulled the plug at a CAW hall for Bryan's stop there.
"I am a million per cent against lyrics that promote hatred against gays and lesbians, women, religions and races," Kool Haus CEO Charles Khabouth said via phone from Las Vegas. "Had I been aware of the nature of the lyrics, I wouldn't have allowed the booking."
Khabouth said contracts were signed months ago and he had not been aware of the lyrics. Ticket sales for Elephant Man's show have been poor, with only one-third of the 2,180 seats sold. Sizzla's concert is expected to draw 1,500.
That's little comfort to the organizers of the Stop Murder Music campaign, made up of 20 advocacy groups thatbelieve music by homophobic dancehall performers has contributed to mob attacks against gays in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Police could charge the artists if they perform anti-gay numbers.
The artists' Toronto promoters, Ultimate Entertainment and Chris Hines Ent., say the performers don't have the power to "invoke violence and murder" against gays and lesbians.
Turning up the beat
Group wants 2 Jamaican musicians banned
September 26, 2007
By Brett Clarkson, Sun Media
Helen Kennedy, Rinaldo Walcott and Akim Larcher are members of Stop Murder Music (Canada). The group wants musicians Elephant Man and Sizzla banned from playing here. (Craig Robertson, Sun Media) Two hugely popular Jamaican dancehall artists should be barred from performing their upcoming concerts in Canada because of their anti-gay lyrics, a human rights group says.
Elephant Man and Sizzla should both be stripped of their performance visas by the federal immigration minister because their lyrics contravene the Criminal Code's hate-speech provisions, members of the Stop Murder Music (Canada) coalition said at a press conference yesterday.
"It's unfortunate that the very people that are fuelling and propagating this violent environment are basically being given a platform in Canada," coalition member Akim Larcher said. "This is unacceptable and the minister needs to step in."
Larcher, a gay man who grew up in St. Lucia, said both artists have "huge followings" in the local Caribbean community. He also said homophobia is rampant in the GTA's Caribbean community.
Elephant Man, whose actual name is O'Neil Bryan, is touring Canada and is scheduled to play Friday night in Toronto at Kool Haus. Sizzla, whose name is Miguel Orlando Collins, is slated for a gig at Kool Haus on Oct. 5.
An aide to minister Diane Finlay said yesterday that while she "strongly condemns" the lyrics, there's no legal means to deny the artists entry to Canada if they haven't been found guilty of a criminal offence that would be the Jamaican equivalent to Canada's hate-speech laws.
The aide said Citizenship and Immigration has warned Elephant Man that if he breaks the law, he'll be deported. Toronto Police will be "monitoring" this Friday's concert to make sure Elephant Man doesn't break the law.
Jamaican 'murder music' doesn't belong in Canada
September 22, 2007
By Warren Kinsella
"Burn all white people. Queers must be killed. Kill sodomites and queers -- they bring disease. Shoot and kill them." And:
"Queers must be killed -- take them by surprise. Shoot them like birds. Step on the queer man like an old cloth. Let's burn the queer man."
Sound like entertainment to you? Me neither. Those words are a sampling of some of the lyrical offerings of Jamaican dancehall singers Sizzla and Elephant Man, respectively. And both of them will be in Canada shortly (Sizzla, in fact, may already be here). Both men -- who are significant stars in Jamaica -- have in fact been in Canada many times. Their oeuvre is known, to some, as Murder Music.
So why are we letting them in? Why are we playing host to a couple of racist, homophobic creeps? It's a question Akim Larcher is asking, and he's not alone.
Akim Larcher is a gay man living in Toronto. Originally from St. Lucia, the soft-spoken Larcher moved here a few years ago to escape the anti-gay violence that he says is too prevalent in Caribbean culture. Along with the Stop Murder Music organization, Larcher is asking the federal government to exercise its discretion--as it has done before, with the likes of Holocaust deniers such as David Irving, foreign neo-Nazi hardcore bands and extremists like Sheikh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq -- and deny Sizzla (real name: Miguel Orlando Collins) and Elephant Man (real name:O'Neil Bryan) entry to Canada.
"The federal government hasn't responded, and we're disappointed by that," says Larcher. "They need to make a decision soon, and one based upon the law."
The law, without much doubt, is quite clear. Multiple provisions within the Canadian Human Rights Act and provincial human rights codes prohibit expression which, explicitly or implicitly, contains discrimination of the sort found in many, many Sizzla and Elephant Man songs.
Sections 318 and 319 of Canada's Criminal Code, more seriously, make it an offence to advocate genocide, or wilfully promote hatred against identifiable minority groups. With their lyrics, Elephant Man and Sizzla are arguably doing that.
In 2004, Sizzla was told he would not be permitted a temporary work authorization in Canada unless he went along with what the Canadian High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica, called an "Entertainment Declaration." Sizzla signed the declaration, indicating that he had read the relevant provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Sizzla also agreed he would not "engage in or advocate hatred against persons because of their sexual orientation." (He apparently was not asked to refrain from invocations that "white people" be "burned.") The following year -- when safely back in Jamaica--Sizzla recorded another song in which he mocked what Canada had required him to do.
As Britain's Guardian newspaper reported at the time, Sizzla was unrepentant: "They can't ask me to apologize. [Gays and lesbians] got to apologize to God because they break God's law."
Other countries have been quite a bit more forceful in their opposition to Sizzla, Elephant Man and their dancehall rude boy ilk. In the past, Britain has denied Sizzla a visa. In the United States and across Europe, dozens of concerts by dancehall star Beenie Man -- who also calls for "sodomites" to be burned alive -- have been cancelled. Elephant Man, for his part, has also been targeted by boycotts, dropped from award ceremonies and investigated by the U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service for his execrable music.
Larcher says it's possible that Canadian authorities are not acting against the likes of Elephant Man and Sizzla because they simply cannot understand the dense Jamaican patois. But he's skeptical. "A detective I spoke [to] with the Toronto hate crimes unit said he needed someone to translate the Jamaican patois," says Larcher. "But the lyrics are readily available on Google. And their music continues to be sold by HMV and iTunes."
I happen to agree with Akim Larcher and the Canadian Auto Workers (which pulled a venue for Elephant Man in St. Catharines this past week): Elephant Man and Sizzla shouldn't be welcome in Canada. There is ample precedent, and no shortage of laws, to keep them off Canadian soil.
Diane Finley, Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, needs to quickly giveSizzla's and Elephant Man's "music" a spin. And then she needs to tell them to sing their songs somewhere else. Not here. - Warren Kin-sella blogs for the Post and at www.warrenkinsella.com.
Gay groups protest Jamaican rapper
Canoe - JAM Showbiz
September 21, 2007
By Andrew Hanon - Sun Media
EDMONTON - His songs call for gay men to be incinerated with flame-throwers, crushed like bugs and stepped on "like an old cloth," and he's bringing his music to Edmonton tonight.
City hate-crimes cops will keep a close eye on Jamaican dancehall artist Elephant Man's show at Gingur Sky Lounge, police spokesman Jeff Wuite said yesterday, to see if he breaks the law and incites his fans to go gay-bashing.
But Vince Ngu, the club's promotions manager, said Elephant Man, aka O'Neill Bryan, won't be singing any of his anti-queer tunes. Instead, he will concentrate on his newer, lighter numbers that focus mainly on dancing.
"He might have a song or two about not being fond of gay people," Ngu said. "He's an artist. I'd rather promote him as an artist than for how he conducts his personal life."
But Murray Billett, a member of the city police commission and outspoken advocate for the gay community, called Elephant Man's anti-gay songs "nothing short of vitriolic and hate-filled," and the message that gays should be exterminated is "un-Canadian."
That's exactly the same argument that Toronto-based Stop Murder Music (Canada) made to the federal government when Elephant Man and other Caribbean dancehall artists applied for visas to tour Canada.
Spokesman Akim Larcher said earlier this month the group tried unsuccessfully to convince federal immigration minister Diane Finley to turn them away. Larcher said having them promise not to perform their anti-gay songs in Canada isn't good enough.
Larcher, a Caribbean immigrant, said that Canadian authorities would never allow someone who advocated the slaughter of racial minorities into the country, even if they promised not to propagate that message here.
"Imagine if an artist called for Jews to be killed or blacks to be hung being allowed into the country," he said.
Murder Music is a term coined by gay activists in England to define Caribbean dancehall music with violent anti-gay lyrics.
He said homophobia is "rife" in the Caribbean. In Jamaica alone, he said, Amnesty International reported nearly 100 attacks on gays and lesbians last year, including the murder of four gay men and rape of four lesbians.
Ngu said that Elephant Man's hateful songs were written when he was younger; he's since matured as an artist. He compared Elephant Man's anti-gay songs to rapper Eminem's earlier work, which depicted spousal violence and graphic murder.
"(Eminem) made one song about violence and everybody wanted to ban him, too."
Larcher said that even if Elephant Man doesn't write anti-gay songs any more, he has never renounced or apologized for his old ones, which are still easily accessible in Canada.
Elephant Man's anti-gay lyrics
Log On is one of his biggest hits. Lyrics are in Caribbean patois, with interpretation by Stop Murder Music (Canada) in parenthesis.
Log on and step pon the chi chi man
(Log on and step on the queer man)
Dance wi a dance and a bun out a freaky man
(Join our dance and let's burn out the queer man)
Step pon him like a hold cloth
(Step on him like an old cloth)
A dance wi a dance and a crush out a bingi man
(Join our dance and let's crush queer men)
Do di walk, mek mi see the light and di torch dem fast
(Do the walk, let me see the lighter and torch*)
*lighter and torch: makeshift flame-thrower made from an aerosol can
Ottawa asked to bar controversial musicians
September 19, 2007
By Nicholas Keung
A human rights coalition is urging Ottawa to ban two Jamaican dancehall artists from coming to Canada to perform music it says incites violence against gays and lesbians.
O'Neil Bryan, a.k.a. Elephant Man, and Miguel Collins, known as Sizzla, are known for their antigay lyrics, said the Toronto-based Canadian Caribbean Human Rights Group.
Bryan is scheduled to arrive and perform in Winnipeg Thursday to launch a 12-city Canadian tour. He and Collins are also booked by Toronto's Kool Haus on Queens Quay on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 respectively.
"Compared to these two, (rapper) Eminem is much less expressive in inciting violence and murder," said Akim Larcher, a spokesperson for the Stop Murder Music campaign, which is supported by more than 20 community groups.
"Artists have the right to free speech, but their presence in Canada can be perceived as a licence to incite violence. Canada has banned anti-Jew, anti-black people from entering the country. This should be no different."
The group said the offensive lyrics include lines such as "Battyman fi dead! Tek dem by surprise," "Log on and step pon chi chi man" and "Shot battybwoy, my big gun boom." (Battyman and battybwoy are derogatory terms for gay men in Jamaican patois.)
According to Gareth Williams, of the Jamaica-based advocacy group J-FLAG, Bryan and Collins use music as an instrument to preach anti-gay violence in Jamaica, which is often described as a macho, homophobic culture.
In the first half of this year, he said, 98 attacks against homosexuals were reported in Jamaica, including four fatalities and four rapes of lesbians. Some incidents were documented by Amnesty International, which in April condemned increasing mob violence against gays there.
"Concert promoters have a responsibility not to provide a platform for artists that openly promote violence against any group in society," said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, a campaign supporter. "We hope that the promoters will do the right thing and cancel these concerts."
Citizenship and Immigration spokesperson Karen Shadd-Evelyn refused to comment on the case, but said people facing hate crime allegations from the public can be deemed inadmissible to Canada and border officials do consider such factors.
Today, a St. Catharines union pulled the CAW Hall for Bryan's stop there. Officials with Toronto's Kool Haus could not be reached for comment.
In 2000, Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, made headline news when then Ontario Attorney-General Jim Flaherty asked Ottawa to stop the rap mega-star from entering the country to perform at SkyDome because his lyrics advocated violence against women. The attempt failed.
Murder music artists should be denied entry to Canada
Stop Murder Music (Canada)
Working Group of the Canadian Caribbean Human Rights Group
September 13, 2007
Toronto: Lyrics by anti-gay Jamaican dancehall artists' Elephant Man and Sizzla violate the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act by inciting violence and murder against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) communities. Upcoming Canadian concerts should be cancelled and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should deny their entry to Canada says Stop Murder Music (Canada).
"Artists like Elephant Man and Sizzla have the right to free speech, however their lyrics incite violence and murder against a person based on their sexual orientation," said Akim Larcher, spokesperson for Stop Murder Music (Canada). "Their presence in Canada can be perceived as a license to incite violence."
Gareth Wiliams co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), echoes this sentiment and believes that dancehall is being used as an instrument in Jamaican society to incite oppression, violence and murder to silence the LGBT communities.
"Concert promoters have a responsibility not to provide a platform for artists that openly promote violence against any group in society," said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. "We hope that the promoters will do the right thing and cancel these concerts as other countries have done."
Lyrics by Elephant Man include "Battyman fi dead! Tek dem by surprise" which call for queers to be killed (English translation: Queers must be killed! Take them by surprise). "Shot battybwoy, my big gun boom", sung by Sizzla calls for queers to be shot (English translation: Shoot queers, my big gun goes boom). Whilst on tour in Europe this summer Sizzla performed his anti-gay anthem Nah Apologize, "I will never apologize to any queers." Elephant Man has remained unapologetic for his lyrics also.
Stop Murder Music (Canada) campaign is a coalition of over 20 organizations that promote human rights both in Canada and abroad.
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For more information: Akim Larcher, Stop Murder Music (Canada), 416 268-1622 Helen Kennedy, Egale Canada, 416 270-1999
Stop Murder Music (Canada) - September 10, 2007 letter to The Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Stop Murder Music (Canada) - open letter to music industry leaders