Buju Banton, the virulently anti-gay reggae singer who advocates the killing of gay men in his songs, continues to stir up controversy in Florida. After "Calls to Action" from numerous LGBT organizations in Florida against his tour, politicians are now weighing in.
City Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez issued a statement today denouncing the violent anti-gay lyrics of the performer, who will appear as part of a reggae show October 31 at the City-owned James L. Knight Center.
Buju Banton's song "Boom Bye Bye" advocates killing gay men with submachine guns and by pouring acid on them. Sanchez expresses his concern about the government banning Banton due to First Amendment right issues, but encourages the community to use their rights to peacefully protest the singer.
Read his full statement after the jump...
"I cannot believe in a time of world economic, poverty and hunger crisis - when we all need to bond together as one human family to uplift our brethren - we have an `artist' who encourages violent acts against gay people in his venomous lyrics.
Banton's 1988 song Boom Bye Bye advocates shooting gays in the head and setting them on fire. Several of Banton's shows in America have been protested by gay activists and some performances have been canceled.
"The First Amendment gives this man the right to spew his hatred from the stage. If we tried to ban him from using a City facility because of his message, we would endanger the very right to free speech that empowers us to speak out against homophobic `performers' and others who ignorantly and viciously attack the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community," said Sanchez
"Rather than trying to cancel the show, I think all people who believe in equality should use this as a rallying point to remind us that hatred still exists," Sanchez said. "I encourage people to answer Banton's violent and hateful lyrics with a peaceful, civil protest to show that our commitment to fighting hate is stronger than his words of evil."
Kudos to Sanchez for his reasoned approach to Banton's hate.
While I obviously find Banton's lyrics repulsive, I also think the government directly banning him is a dangerous precedent. Applying pressure to venues, promoters, and others to cancel the tours and, if that fails, protesting the event to educate those attending, is a way to go without sinking down to Banton's despicable level.