I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the campaign against dancehall, as it has echoes of the thought police in action. But I’ve always been very uncomfortable with some of the extremely violent anti-gay lyrics as well. Now the British resort Brighton has become the first UK town to officially ban licensed venues from playing anti-gay or hate lyrics. Is this a good or a bad thing?
Should Buju Banton and other dancehall artists be filed alongside the neo-Nazi groups that have their lyrics and shows banned? This is the thought that struck me when I heard about Brighton’s decision. It’s interesting as the decision comes in the same week as the BBC decided not to censor the Pogues’ “Fairytale in New York” (check the link below for a snippet) which features an exchange of insults that includes the line, “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last.”?
After trying to “beep” the word “faggot”, the BBC eventually back-tracked. “While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom,” the BBC’s Andy Parfitt said.
If “maliciousness” is the criteria, then some of the anti-gay lyrics do indeed qualify. How should the media react? Is it OK for public authorities to weigh in? Who will decide which tracks qualify as “hate” lyrics? What do you think?