Bye Bye Buju

The Brighton Argus reports that murder inciting homophobe Buju Banton’s gig tonight at the Concorde 2 venue has been cancelled after the venue was given an ultimatum by Brighton and Hove City Council which threatened to revoke its licence if the show went ahead. Buju Banton, you may remember, recorded a song called “Boom Bye Bye“, whose lyrics went as follows:

(Two man) Hitch up on an rub up on
An lay down inna bed
Hug up on another
Anna feel up leg
Send fi di matic an
Di Uzi instead
Shoot dem no come if we shot dem

(Caw me say) Dis is not an bargain (Me say)
Dis is not a deal
Guy come near we
Then his skin must peel
Burn him up bad like an old tire wheel

In July 2004 the Guardian reported that he was being sought by police following an incident where “a dozen armed men forced their way into a house in Kingston on the morning of June 24 and beat up the occupants while shouting homophobic insults”. He finally appeared in court in October 2005, when the Jamaica Observer said that he was “mobbed by supporters” carrying placards and “proclaiming anti-homosexual statements and protesting Banton’s innocence”.

Two weeks before the assault Jamaica’s leading gay rights activist, Brian Williamson, had been found stabbed to death in his home. According to the Guardian, Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch “arrived at Williamson’s home not long after the body had been discovered. She found a small crowd singing and dancing…Others were celebrating, laughing and shouting “Let’s get them one at a time”, “That’s what you get for sin”. Others sang ‘Boom bye bye'”. Banton then performed the song at the Smirnoff Festival in Jamaica that August.

During a UK tour in September 2004 Brett Lock, of Outrage – and Harry’s Place – urged venues and local councils “to use their licensing and contractual powers get Banton dropped from the concert line up”. I suppose one could, if one wanted, argue that so long as he didn’t actually perform the song that incites the murder of homosexuals then the gig should have been allowed go ahead, but I won’t. The Argus quotes Lib Dem councillor Paul Elgood as saying “I am extremely relieved they have made this decision, which is the right one under the circumstances, as they have come under intense pressure from community representatives”, and Chief Inspector Steve Barry of Sussex Police, who said “We told them that in the interests of community cohesion, it would be desirable for the venue to take the decision to cancel the performance. It is the right decision”.

These are both excellent reasons to cancel the show. Another is that if you write – and continue to perform – a song like “Boom Bye Bye”, you shouldn’t expect to get away with it. Banton was eventually acquitted, for lack of evidence, of the assault charge in January this year; the magistrate told him “it is clear that something took place that was unlawful to extricate the men and that is wrong. They’re all sorts of legal recourse to take if you have a problem with someone in your community. I would hate to think you are discrediting your songs by your conduct”.