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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Is Bayfront Park Amphitheater Playing Host to a Musician Who Sings About Killing Gays?

By Michael A. Jones -

Have any plans for the night of January 16? How about heading down to Miami, where you can catch a performance of Buju Banton, the Jamaican artist who has written and performed songs about burning gay people alive like rubber tires and murdering them by shooting them in the face with an Uzi. Yikes.
Kind of makes you wonder what the folks at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater are thinking, playing host to a musician with a penchant for lyrics like that. Indeed, Banton's anti-gay lines have cost him plenty of gigs here in the U.S., including a 2009 concert series at the House of Blues. LiveNation, the ginormous concert promoter, was even pressured to dump Banton from their list of sponsored concert gigs, in large part because of his homophobic music.
So what gives?
Well, for starters, Banton is currently in the United States, awaiting a February retrial for a slew of drug charges. Earlier this year, a jury deadlocked in the case, and Banton was set free on $250,000 bail. After some legal wrangling, a judge granted him permission to perform, if he could find a venue. Seems like the Bayfront Park Amphitheater is it.
Though Banton and his fans have long argued that his most controversial song, Boom Bye Bye, hasn't been part of his playlist in decades, YouTube clips of Banton singing the song in recent years have surfaced. The song has some particularly vile lyrics.
"Anytime Buju Banton comes, faggots get up and run."
Or how about: "If a guy comes near me, then his skin must peel."
And then there's: "Rude boy don't promote any nasty (queer) man."
Activists have long suggested that if Banton really wants to make amends for his anti-gay lyrics, he ought to take proceeds that he still gets from this song, and donate them to an LGBT rights organization, preferably one working to make life a little better in Jamaica for LGBT people. Now that would be sending a powerful message, particularly since just last week, an LGBT activist was executed in the country, for no other reason than the fact that he was gay.
But Banton hasn't expressed much interest in that idea. Just last year, Banton even went so far as to say that "'there is no end to the war between me and faggots." Indeed, doesn't sound like someone truly interested in accountability for lyrics that might have led or inspired anti-gay violence and murder.
So why would Bayfront Park Amphitheater be interested in giving Banton a soapbox? Send the venue a message that Banton isn't the type of act that should be welcome, at least until he's willing to apologize for his murder music. Burning gay people alive like rubber tires? Pouring acid on their skin to make it peel? Shooting them in the face with Uzis?
Yeah, that's not exactly the type of music the Bayfront Park Amphitheater should be giving credence to.

 petition text -

Please don't be a venue for homophobic music

Dear Bayfront Park Amphitheather,
It came to my attention that you are planning a January 16, 2011 concert with Buju Banton, a renowned Jamaican artist currently on bail for a series of serious drug charges. My concern today lies in Banton's history of homophobia, and in particular, music he has sung that has fostered a climate of violence toward gays and lesbians.
Banton's most famous song, Boom Bye Bye, openly calls for gay people to be shot in the face with guns, and says that they should be burned alive like rubber tires. Moreover, last year, Banton went on record saying that there "would be no end to the war between him and f*ggots." That your venue would sponsor a musician like this gives me serious pause and concern.
In recent years, the House of Blues and Live Nation have both dropped Banton as a sponsored act, in large part because of his history of homophobia. I urge the Bayfront Park Amphitheater to follow suit.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here] 


1 comment:

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