Saturday, November 14, 2009

Free speech, gay MP's and and Beenie Man

I'd never heard of Beenie Man until this week. Beenie Man is a Jamaican singer who has been invited to the Big Day Out.He is notorious for his lyrics and other statements promoting the killing of gay men and lesbians. Labour's Charles Chauvel has called for him to be banned from entering the country, deeming him to be a threat to security or public order because his lyrics will incite hostility.

Except, Chauvel is wrong. His lyrics will not incite hostility. The Big Day Out had already advised that Beenie Man will not be performing the offending songs, therefore his lyrics will not be an issue.I suspect Chauvel was fully aware of this, but would rather incite some hostility of his own.

For Chauvel, freedom of speech is less about the offensiveness under the law than it is about his own prejudices. I much prefer Green MP Kevin Hague's approach to this distasteful musician: He correctly calls the invitation shameful and is calling for the Big Day Out to withdraw its invitation. That approach is much more sensible than what looks like a bigoted approach from Chauvel.

Update The Big Day Out has cancelled Beenie Man for all the BDO's in Australasia.

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