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Home > Culture and Society

Beenie on the run

27 August 2004

In the same week that Spike Lee was attacked by lesbians for seeming to suggest that all they really need is a large black cock, Outrage! were back on Beenie Man's case.

Just in case you've been wallowing in blissful ignorance, Beenie Man is a Jamaican dancehall megastar who, frankly speaking, hates queers and wants them dead. He probably feels threatened in some way. The girl. Outrage! are 'the world's longest surviving queer rights direct action group' and understandably, Beenie's barbaric and infantile stance rather rubs them up the wrong way. That's about the size of it. But after years of their usual pit-bullish perseverance, it looks like Peter Tatchell and co might finally be getting somewhere.

Outrage!'s main concern is that in his all-but-unintelligible-to-the-Western-ear rants, Beenie Man advocates all manner of homophobic violence, including the shooting, burning and drowning of gay people. The most-referenced Beenie couplet is from a number called 'Damn'. It goes like this: 'I'm dreamin' of a new Jamaica / come to execute all the gays.' But if that's too sophisticated for ya, get a load of this, from Batty Man Fi Dead: 'All batty man fi dead! / From you fuck batty den a coppa and lead / Nuh man nuh fi have a another man in a him bed.'

It's easy at this point perhaps to shrug and think, 'Fuck it, the guy's a jerk, ignore him, he'll go away.' But without people speaking out, Beenie and the bollocks he spews are not going anywhere. And it's not as if we can assume that no-one is taking him seriously. After all, this is not the same thing as us writing, 'Please, dear reader, for the sake of humanity, go catch up with Bush on his 'Moving America Forward: America's Heart and Soul' tour and fly a fucking plane into his face at once.' This is completely different. This is serious. This is 'reggae dancehall's undisputed King' shifting hundreds of millions of gay-bashing units in a homophobia-hotspot where gay men are regularly - shockingly regularly - persecuted, tortured and killed.

As Tatchell put it in a recent letter to EMI and their subsidiary Virgin Records, 'Free speech does not include the right to encourage the criminal act of murder.' (But remember: it wouldn't really be murder with Bush. It'd be a mercy killing.)

Outrage! have been on at the people behind the MOBO awards for years, telling them that Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel and other artists 'who incite the murder of gay people (or anyone else) should be shunned, not rewarded'. But what with the large amounts of record company cash tied up with the whole venture, MOBO have been unwilling to shun anyone; especially anyone who's had 60+ number one singles.

But Tatchell just keeps on. However much the profitmakers stymie and wriggle, he just keeps on making smells and embarrassing the hell out of them. Now he's beginning to get results. From September last year when Beenie's name - Anthony Davis incidentally - was foremost amongst those in a dossier presented to Scotland Yard's Race and Violent Crime Taskforce, an incitement to murder investigation is underway. Less than two weeks ago, under pressure from angry, rational letters from Germany's Lesbian and Gay Federation, Puma warned the batty-fearing fools to cut that shit out. Their official statement read: 'Puma's policy does not tolerate hate statements of any sort.' They forgot to add, 'anymore'. But that's fine. It's all good.

Also earlier this month it appeared that the artist himself was beginning to get the message, when he released the following statement to the press: 'While my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others, and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs.'

Surprisingly eloquent that. Can this really be the same man who wrote the words: 'Yagga yagga whoa / Yagga yagga whoa / Lord Lord Lord Lord / Yagga yagga whoa / Yagga yagga whoa / Lord Lord Lord Lord'? Of course not. Indeed, less than 24 hours later, during a Radio Jamaica interview with Clyde McKenzie, Beenie's head of PR, it became clear that the 'apology' was actually written and released by damage-limitation execs at Virgin Records. McKenzie made it clear not only that Beenie was not apologising for hating gays, but also that he reserved the right to go on doing so.

Oh well. Not to worry. The tide is turning anyway. Over the past few months gay-baiting reggae stars have had concerts cancelled in Germany, Belgium, the UK and the US. And this week Beenie Man himself was banned from appearing at tomorrow night's lucrative MTV Video Awards concert. Tatchell takes all this as a very good sign: 'The days when reggae stars could incite homophobic violence with impunity are over.' Let's hope so. Because that would be nice.

In weaker moments it's almost tempting to pray for the arrival of a hard-core gay gangsta rapper called MC Bumrape who would give those uppity raggamuffins a taste of their own medicine. But that would be counter-productive. Tatchell's methods are much better. Use the law, use civil disobedience, use angry letters and shouty placards, use whatever you can just to stop the ignorant fuckwit getting his nasty nonsense heard.

After all, a few less morons calling for violence has got to be a good thing.

President Bush is currently on the campaign trail by the way. Don't miss him.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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