Fans Support Buju Banton - "freedom of speech."


By: Claude Mills
Photo By: Carlington Wilmot

Buju_Banton_Tour_Gays_Reggae_Dancehall_Beenie_man_Elephant_manA.jpgA vocal segment of the population of Bloomington, Indiana has come out in full support of reggae superstar Buju Banton, and are incensed that he was not allowed to perform in the Bluebird Theatre last week as part of his 'Too Bad' tour of North America. obtained a copy of a letter from a frustrated fan called Rob Council who wrote that: "...I am one of many who are frustrated that Buju's show was cancelled in our town of Bloomington Indiana. I have had many a heated discussion with my gay and straight friends about this matter. And I understand their need to feel safe. But think of all the people put there who are actually out there hurting people for sick reasons. Think of all the horrible things going on in our world. One man's words are but a drip in the bucket of f---d up things going on.

Buju wrote a song about an opinion of his, I don't personally agree with it. But it is the man's opinion. It shouldn't be a reason to not let him perform. It's like calling all people who listen to him "fag bashers" the same way people like to say that all folks that listen to electronic music are drug users or saying that anyone who listens to punk is a racist skinhead and so on and so on. By cancelling the show we are oppressing our most important freedom. That's the freedom of speech."

For their part, Gargamel Music is outraged that the owner and manager of the club, Dave Kubiak, lacked the spine or moral fibre to stand up to the outrageous demands of the gay rights activists.

"Kubiak sold us all out, he sold out Bloomington, he wasn't thinking about the bigger picture, he is a sell-out. How dare he call himself a Buju Banton fan?" Tracii McGregor, vice president of Gargamel Music, said.

"Others fans have come forward to say they are upset, I got a voice mail message from one just yesterday. The cancellation is not news, not as much as people think...there are other factors at play here."

YardFlex: Is racism playing a role in the continued persecution of one of reggae's greatest ambassadors?

"Yes, I believe so. Of course, Hurricane Katrina is a great example of that. There is a double standard that exists for people of colour as opposed to their white counterparts. This situation not only exists in America, it is a reality that people of colour have to endure worldwide. A few years ago, the entertainer Mark 'Marky Mark' Wahlberg beat up a Vietnamese man in Boston 15 to 16 years ago. Today, we assume that he has moved on from that sort of thing, but why aren't people of colour given the same courtesy? Why is that?” she asked.

Mark Wahlberg was briefly one of the original New Kids On The Block, but after three months, he left the group, and afterward, ran afoul of the law. In 1986 he was charged with racial harassment of a group of African-American students, and two years later he spent 45 days in prison after attacking a Vietnamese man. He is now a major movie star appearing in movies such as 'Italian Job' and 'Planet of the Apes'.

In the meantime, Buju Banton is being haunted by his past.

"Buju's song, 'Boom Bye Bye' spoke for him in 1992 and was in direct response to an incident covered in the Jamaican press at that is the gay people who are breathing life into this song. Buju has made great songs since that, why is that song still being used against him 14 years later?"

Why indeed.

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