Sunday, February 8, 2009

Late Night at a Tim Horton's

To start off, I had a late night. I woke up a few hours after I went to bed, and as divas all know: sleep is the secret to fresh beauty. I sadly inform you now that I am a bit tired, have zipper marks on half my face, and have been chowing down on lettuce as a lunch and breakfast meal to get some energy in me.

The lettuce part will be it's own post, "the no good leafy green" post lol, but I will leave that for another day. The main point of today's post is related to my previous Kartel post. Which leads me to why I had a late night. No it wasn't me hard at work, more or less it was me and a cup of cold tea and 3 long hours of a debate on rights in Canada as related to Dance Hall artists.

As you may of noticed in the lyrics I posted, Kartel and Spice say they do not like gays, which is everyone's own opinion, but they take it to another level by saying that gays should be shot. This is where the debate started.

Although I'm all for freedom of expression, it is my belief that you should be free to express yourself as long as you are not infringing on the right to safety of someone else. This is a corner-stone in protecting people from other peoples ethnic/sexist phobias. In many way's it was present when slavery was abolished, and when people came to their senses and finally decided that there is no different between a white woman/man and a black woman/man. Each person may be unique, but all people share the same basic DNA and emotions, and deserve respect. This is where the Universal Declaration on Human Rights makes its stage entrance, it is by far the most important human document crafted since the modern world began to form. It may not be followed, but the idea is pure brilliance and should be upheld.

Now back to Dance Hall and its sometimes very homophobic lyrics, my partner thought that it is immoral to deny entrance to artists like Kartel and Spice because they sometimes sing about hating gays. He pointed to how they grew up and that homophobia is in large part a significant social norm in Jamaica (where these artists come from), and in turn they should not be punished for their personal beliefs as supported by their communities. I should also point out, he was coming at the issue from a personal background perspective so it was at times difficult to separate the emotional from the logical trains of thought, but each to his/her own. Below you will find my response, keep in mind I am thinking about this from my own perspective and directing it in a way that only responds to the potential actions I would take, not the groups that ask to ban certain Dance Hall artists.

So to start, free speech is not a part of are free to express yourself as long as that expression is not in conflict with someone else's right to life/existence. Safety from harassment being key. By this extension if an artist is promoting violence against any group it is reasonable to ask them to alter their performance if they want to perform in a country that gives the same rights to gays, as it does to straight people.

Following this logic, I believe it is necessary to not start to ignore Dance Hall music, but embrace it while letting the artists know that certain aspects of their lyrics are unacceptable, but that if they change we will more than embrace them. Perhaps their audience will grow, after all gay people don't only listen to Cher LoL.

To point to another example, addressing the issue my partner brought-up about asking someone to change their morality based on an issue they feel strongly about because you feel like you know better.
In my response I admit I was a little taken aback, after all I am one of those people who preach that people, especially in what is the global South, need not crappy help from the West; but need to be apologized to and given reparations for all the horrible harm that the West has and still continues to inflict (aka. World Bank...3rd world debt....the stealing of natural resources etc). I came back at this with my final though that will finish off this post: people have a right to expression as long as it does not impose on someone else's right to life free of conflict and violence.

Hundreds of years ago, white people were lead to believe that they were better than coloured people and through this they could enslave people. This in itself was wrong, and so a change had to be made, and it was. The people that believed (to their bones) that whites were superior were challenged and successfully so. This lead to Martin Luther King Jr. and again segregation being challenged. This happened because people did not buy into the idea that one person is better than another due to skin colour or creed. This is what has lead to a new president who represents a group of people who have long been harmed by social policies created so that a group in power could stay in power.

So to you who read this blog, I engage you in this discussion to think about not only what has transpired but what continues to have to transpire so that all people can live free lives. This is especially true now, when communities fear immigrants/migrants because they fear change.

Think...think...think.....act :)

peace and love

No comments: