The issue of homophobic reggae lyrics is back in the news yet again, with an announcement that the German government is considering blacklisting homophobic lyrics from Jamaican performers. Artists such as Elephant Man and TOK are under scrutiny.
Censorship is always a touchy issue – but no less touchy than the protection of minorities. So why do I think the idea will fail?
The blacklist is intended to include media that glorify war and violence and incite hate. I can already see the resistance being put up by the games industries, some of whose titles are very borderline in terms of violence. Is it very PC, for example, to be revelling in the realism of blowing a soldier’s brains out in the WWII game “Call of Duty” when Europe is littered with graveyards of poor slobs that suffered just that fate?
Concerning the homophobic lyrics, Volker Beck, the leader of the Green Party parliamentary group, called on large Internet music sellers to already begin removing the CDs in question from their sales inventory. “Those in Jamaica who invoke hatred should not earn money with their music in Germany,” he said on Thursday in Berlin according to a report on DW-World.
The danger with these schemes is the difficulty of fixing the line between valid artistic expression and incitement to hate or violence. Who is going to draw that line? Something tells me this initiative will not get very far.